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Review: Bajaj Discover 125ST

Driven August 2012

Review: Bajaj Discover 125ST

Manufacturers use the term ‘all-new’ rather liberally. However, Bajaj’s reincarnated Discover is a legitimate all-new effort. Why go through all the trouble? Well, to infuse the entire range with the freshness and aggression of the new Pulsars, that’s why. Instead of a ‘family face’ like all those car manufacturers are slapping on, Bajaj motorcycles get a family attitude. Nice. And they all get four-valve heads too, it seems, but more on that later.

The first ever Discover was a classy looking motorcycle – lithe, simple and timeless. Then Bajaj went and ‘version two-ed’ it and it was never the same gain. Those simple lines were marred by pointless graphics and all-black everything. Bulk discount on black paint, methinks. And it continues with the new one.

The colours/decals on the new Discovers lined up for the ride were too reminiscent of the older Disco, and I have no doubt this in entirely intentional. I understand that Bajaj is aiming this motorcycle at the more sedate homo sapiens among us, but brighter colours would help it appear fresher, as befits a new motorcycle.

Nonetheless, the new Disco’s panels are rather shapely (for a hardcore commuter) and the bike looks more substantial than before. The headlight is suitably edgy and aggressive, though you find yourself thinking, “Haven’t I seen that somewhere before?” The same goes for the tank, side panels and tail section. Perhaps customers in this segment want familiarity. Illusions aside, the wheels are among the best-looking ones in the country, in my opinion, and the front one even gets a 200mm petal disc bolted on to it. Not bad at all.

Then there’s the rear monoshock – a segment first – and it does well to clean up the rear. The new cylinder assembly features corrugated fins for better heat dissipation, though it looks like it’s been given finishing touches with a sledgehammer. However, despite all the newly acquired suavity, the Discover still has a few utilitarian cues – the footpeg assemblies, the brake and gear levers and that awful mass of plastic on the rear wheel – and these let it down. Perhaps if they made it entirely fancy, it’d be too close for comfort to the Pulsar 135?

However, when you ride the Discover, it feels like a typical Bajaj commuter – it’s grunty, eager and has enough shove to overtake irritating traffic. The 125cc motor gets a new head with four valves and makes 13bhp and 10.8Nm, numbers that were 150-territory not so long ago.

It’s a torquey little motor, this one. The ‘ST’ in the name stands for Sports Touring/Tourer – not sure which one, but it doesn’t matter what they call it. This is no highway warrior, it’s a city dweller. The gearing is short – top gear, 30kph type of short – and this gives the Discover good rideability in traffic. It does rev to 9000rpm, but there’s no point because you’ll be out of breath before you get there. What you do is, get to 60-80kph and don’t lose momentum.

Handling is nimble, to say the least. The Discover is always eager to stitch together gaps in traffic. The monoshock helps a great deal, though there’s no mistaking it’s set more for comfort than track attacks.

Ride quality is excellent and I never once hesitated to smash over potholes. Being a Bajaj, there is a bit of hooligan inside the Discover. And it didn’t take long for me to take to jumping kerbs. All in a safe and controlled environment, of course.

The tyres are a let down and act as a massive neon sign to your senses that you’re on a commuter. Handling would be even better if it had better tyres. I do not understand why manufacturers constantly undermine those two contact patches that keep a motorcycle right side up, even more so with Bajaj, which always infuses a fun-to-ride element in its bikes.

All said and done, the new Discover 125ST rides great, handles well, offers reasonable performance and is likely to conserve your wallet at the pump as well.

The numbers
125cc, single cylinder, 13bhp, 10.8Nm, 5M, 125kg, Rs 53,000 (ex-showroom, Mumbai)

The verdict
A solid, no-nonsense motorcycle. If you want nonsense, go look at the Pulsars.

Kartik Ware

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