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Review: Hero Splendor iSmart

Driven June 2014

Review: Hero Splendor iSmart

The Splendor’s simple and frugal ways of functioning have made it a legend. However, with the market now favouring new, well-equipped, yet equally as frugal motorcycles, the Splendor has received its fair share of cosmetic makeovers. Now, in a bid to keep the legend alive, Hero MotoCorp has put some serious thought into its bread-and-butter model.

So, what’s new here? From the looks of things, the Splendor iSmart sports a funkier-looking headlight cowl with a new meter layout behind it (with a nostalgic analogue trip meter), new panels and snazzy stickers strewn all across, alloy wheels, and a grabrail at the back that’s missing a piece. But at the heart of all that is different, lies the little blue switch to the left of the handlebar with ‘i3s’ marked on it. This switch indicates the inclusion of Hero’s idle start-stop system – or i3s in Hero-speak. This bit of tech comes as a first for motorcycles produced and sold in the country. With the switch engaged, the Splendor iSmart functions just like a four-wheeler with start-stop technology – leave the engine idling for a couple of seconds and it automatically shuts off. Press the clutch, and the engine revives itself. This fuel efficiency-aiding tech may cause your head to itch, because one would think that something as simple as an engine-kill switch would be equally effective, it’s just that you have to press two buttons instead of using the clutch. But this has not seriously affected the pricing of the motorcycle.

Dynamically, the Splendor iSmart is just like the old Splendor we’ve grown accustomed to, with its four-speed gearbox and fuss-free motor. The handlebars are close enough to the rider to allow an upright posture on the comfortable seat. The seat has been given the treatment too, with stitching that adds a touch of premium to the mix. You won’t be hitting triple-digit speeds very often with this one, but the bike adapts very well to low speeds. Up to around 50kph, the engine is in a sweet spot, while the suspension and brakes work well over undulations. Riding easy throughout the day, we managed to get a mileage figure of 64kpl. And with the 10.5-litre fuel tank, the iSmart should be good for 500+ kms on a single tank-up. Performance of the iSmart, with 7.6bhp on tap, feels rather lackadaisical compared to the competition, and if you push towards 60kph, the 97.2cc motor starts to feel strained. Exceed that, and there’s a good chance you won’t stop in time in case of an emergency on this 110kg featherweight, with its skinny tyres and drum brakes. Switchgear quality is not the best either.

As far as the overall riding experience is concerned, the Splendor is still a very frugal and easy-to-ride bike, but it just doesn’t match up to the livelier, more thoughtfully-equipped Bajaj Discover 100M that’s similarly priced. However, Hero’s five-year warranty may be an attraction for potential buyers.

The numbers
Engine: 97.2cc, air-cooled single-cyl, 7.6bhp, 8Nm, Test KPL: 64; Fuel tank: 10.5l; Weight: 110kg; Price: Rs 51,340 (ex-showroom, Mumbai)

The verdict
The small-hearted Hero is now 10-15% more fuel efficient than it was before. Still not the best in the segment, though.

Christopher Chaves

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