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Buying your first bike? Read this first

By Rajesh Alva
August 20, 2018 09:15 IST
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These bikes are a good mixture of style, mileage, performance and affordability, says Rajesh Alva.

You could still be in college, gazing proudly at your two-wheeler license.

Or you could be starting out at your first job.

And you might be dreaming of riding there in style, on your own bike.

Tom Cruise and actress Cameron Diaz ride a motorbike on the set during the filming of

IMAGE: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz's bike ride in Knight And DayPhotograph: Javier Barbancho/Reuters

If you are looking to buy your first bike, you will be spoilt for choice. This can be a problem because the Indian market is overcrowded in the commuter segment as well as in the 150-160cc segment.

You could also be tempted by the many options available in the sports, cruiser and naked sports bikes segments as well.

But you need to choose your first motorcycle wisely, so that it satisfies your daily needs, does not burn a hole in your pocket and backs your personality.

You might feel tempted to opt for a sports bike or any other heavy motorcycle that will allow you to zip through the traffic or race on a highway. While I won’t say this is bad choice for a beginner, do remember these fuel guzzlers are difficult to ride and expensive to maintain.

If you are on a restricted budget, I would suggest you consider the commuter segment or bikes in the 100cc-125cc category. They are easy to maintain and offer great fuel efficiency.


However, if your budget allows it, do consider the 150cc-160cc segment as well. These bikes work well for everyday use as well as an occasional outdoor trip. They are a good mixture of style, mileage, performance and affordability.

Your checklist

Before buying your bike, here’s what you need to do.

  • Check your basic requirement. Do you want a bike for your daily commute or for an occasional weekend ride?
  • Good brakes, decent power and acceptable fuel economy are essential.
  • You must be able to manoeuvre the bike easily through traffic.
  • Maintenance and repair cost should be reasonable,
  • Spare parts should be easily available. Remember, it is the gearbox and engine parts that bear the brunt with a rookie rider.

My recommendations

I've limited it to five bikes.


Honda CB Hornet 160

Photograph: Kind courtesy Honda India

Honda CB Hornet 160R
Price (ex-showroom, Mumbai): Rs 87,304 – Rs 95,304
Mileage: 58 km per litre

Targeted towards the younger generation, the Honda CB Hornet 160R has registered decent sales.

It is powered by a four stroke, air-cooled 162.71cc engine, which produces 15.6bhp @ 8500rpm of power and 14.76Nm of torque @ 6500rpm.

The bike has 276mm disc brake for the front wheels and a 220mm disc brake for the rear.

The Combined Braking System is offered as an option.

The Honda CB Hornet 160R has a good service network throughout India. 

Honda CB Hornet 160R
Engine 162.71cc, Air-cooled, 4 Stroke, SI BS-IV Engine
Power 14.9 bhp @ 8500rpm
Torque 14.50 Nm @ 6500rpm
Transmission 5 speed
Top Speed 106 km/h
Tyres 100/80- 17 Tubeless (F) and 140/70- 17 Tubeless (R)



Suzuki Gixxer

Photograph: Kind courtesy Suzuki India

Suzuki Gixxer
Price (ex-showroom, Mumbai)Rs 78,316 - Rs 88,920
Mileage: 63.5 km per litre

The Gixxer has a powerful engine that runs as smoothly as butter.

It has good brakes, is easily manoeuvrable in traffic, offers decent mileage and is currently the best-selling Suzuki motorcycle in India.

The company has clearly worked hard on its design. The Gixxer has a smart triangular headlight, a modern looking exhaust and a good exhaust note.

Both the handling and riding dynamic are good.

The Gixxer is powered by a single cylinder, air-cooled, 155cc engine. It produces 14.8ps @8000 rpm of power and 14Nm of torque @ 6000rpm.

Suzuki Gixxer
Engine 162.71cc, Air-cooled, 4 Stroke SI
Power 14 PS @ 8000rpm
Torque 13.92 Nm @ 6000rpm
Tyres 80/100 – 17 Tubeless (F) and 110/80 – 17 Tubeless (R)



Bajaj Pulsar 160 NS

Photograph: Kind courtesy Bajaj Auto

Bajaj Pulsar 160 NS
Price (ex-showroom, Mumbai)Rs 82,496
Mileage: 60 km per litre

After the success of the Pulsar 200 NS, Bajaj introduced Pulsar 160 NS.

Except for its engine and tyres, the Pulsar 160NS shares most of its components – including its looks and design -- with 200 NS.

The Pulsar NS160 shares the engine with the Pulsar AS 150.

It is powered by a four stroke, 4-valve oil cooled engine which produces 15.5Ps @ 8,500rpm of power and 14.6Nm of torque @ 6,500rpm.

The engine refinement levels are better than the Pulsar 150; we can easily say this is one of the smoothest Bajaj motors out there. No other company offers an oil cooled engine in this price bracket.

The 240mm disc brake in the front and the 130mm rear drum brake setup works well, but a rear disc break would have been a better option.

Bajaj Pulsar 160NS
Engine 160.3 cc, 4 Stroke, 4 Valve, Oil-cooled, DTS-i
Power 15.5 @ 8500rpm
Torque 14.6 @ 6500rpm
Tyres 80/100 -17 Tubeless (F) and 110/80 -17 Tubeless (R)



Yamaha FZ S V2.0

Photograph: Kind courtesy Yamaha Motors

Yamaha FZ S V 2.0
Price (ex-showroom, Mumbai)Rs 83,042 - Rs 86,042
Mileage: 53 km per litre

Yamaha’s revamped version of FZ S looks and handles better than its predecessor.

While the FZ S V 2.0’s smart new design makes it look aggressive, the pillion seat is compromised because of the dedicated riding posture.

But its revised bikini fairing and split seats make it an excellent combination of performance and style.

Yamaha claims the 2.0’s engine is 14 per cent more fuel efficient than its previous version.

The bike is powered by a four stroke, single cylinder, air-cooled engine which produces 13.2Ps @ 8000rpm of power and 12.8Nm of torque @ 6000rpm.

Yamaha FZ S V 2.0
Engine 149cc, Air-cooled, 4 Stroke, SOHC, 2-valve
Power 13.2PS @ 8000rpm
Torque 12.8 @ 6000rpm
Tyres 100/80-17 Tubeless (F) and 140/60-R17 Tubeless (R)



TVS Apache RTR 160 4V

Photographs: Kind courtesy TVS Motor

2018 TVS Apache RTR 160 4V
Price (ex-showroom, Mumbai)Rs 81,535 - Rs 91,535
Mileage: 57 km per litre

TVS has launched a new version of the Apache RTR 160 this year. This is not a facelift or a cosmetic update; the Apache RTR 160 4V is a brand new motorcycle.

The design, though inspired from its earlier version, is bold and minimalistic.

The bike comes in both the carburettor and Fuel Injection variants.

The rear disc brakes are optional for the carburettor variant but the FI variant gets the rear disc as standard.

As the name suggests, it has 4-valve head engine that generates 16.8Ps of power @ 8,000rpm along with 14.8Nm of torque @ 6,500rpm respectively.

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V
Engine 160cc, 4 Stroke, Oil-cooled
Power 6.8PS @8000rpm
Torque 14.8Nm @ 6500rpm
Tyres 90/90-17 Tubeless (F) and 130/70-17 Tubeless (R)

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Rajesh Alva /