THE recent collaboration between Modenas and Bajaj has seen the introduction of a slew of models, most recently the Pulsar 200s.
Well-received by the motoring press and public, the two models, the naked Pulsar NS200 and the faired Pulsar RS200, are also competitively priced. Cars, Bikes and Trucks (CBT) was recently invited by Modenas to test their newest addition to the fleet, the D400 Dominar as well as the Boxer 150 and the two Pulsars in the country of their birth; India.
As well as testing the bikes, CBT was also given a tour of the manufacturing plant in Chakan, Pune, and we were very impressed with the scale of the operations.
The plant, which can produce 4,000 units a day, employs close to 5,000 personnel. The plant practises the Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvements and it is also almost fully self-sustaining and environmentally friendly.
A total of eight models are assembled at the plant, of which four are KTM models and the others the Bajaj. Incredibly, the main plant in Waluj, Aurangabad, is 10 times bigger!
The Chakan plant is also the research and development centre for Bajaj motorcycles and houses a 2.9km test track. A long twisty section is connected by a banked corner to the 1km straight, a good test of any motorcycle currently built by Bajaj. As well as testing the bikes at the test track, we also sampled them at a private road near the Oxford Golf and Country Club in Pune.
The Dominar was the one we were most interested to try out as Modenas will launch it in Malaysia in the first quarter of next year. As four-stroke singles go, the D400 is quite heavily specified, with a beam frame, 43mm front forks and monoshock rear suspension. The front 320mm disc brake and 230mm rear disc brake are equipped with twin-channel ABS while the 17-inch wheels are shod with a 110/150 tyre combination, par for the course for mid-size sportsbikes.
The DOHC, 373cc four- valve fuel-injection engine produces 34.5hp and 35Nm of horsepower and torque respectively. It comes with a six-speed gearbox and is equipped with a slipper clutch. It weighs 183kg , possibly a wet weight with all fluids and half a tank of fuel. The naked Dominar is styled in the current fashion, with aggressive lines and a segmented, multi-panelled 13 litre tank and sharp rear end.
We like the instrumentation layout, with a secondary panel on top of the tank, which is emblazoned with the “Flying B” when you turn the key.
The other, possibly more interesting, bike is the Boxer 150. A simple 150cc four-stroke single with a torquey power delivery and simple, homely looks (with an off-road twist) is interesting because it fills in a gap in the market. The utilitarian single performs admirably and seems indestructible and according to Bajaj officials, carries up to four people and goods in their African market.
On the test track it manages an indicated 115kph and reaches that speed quickly due to its low gearing. It also buzzes happily and never seems stressed. Suspension-wise, it is perfectly adequate for the performance needs of its target market.
The star of the test track is, of course, the D400. Selling well in all Bajaj markets, the Dominar is also Bajaj’s first big bike and is described by them as a sports bike. In terms of specifications, it can be described as such but it will need to prove it on the test track.
First impressions upon firing up the big single is a quiet, thrumming exhaust note and good response to throttle movement. The gears slip in easily and quietly and spaced normally, where the top gear is almost an overdrive gear.
However, the rev limiter comes in quite early and implies there may be more to come from the engine as it was quite willing to go beyond. Vibration is extremely well controlled with only a little bit evident in the footrests. We managed an indicated top speed of 155 kph before we had to shut off for the fast left at the end of the 1km straight.
We think the D400 could get away with a two-tooth larger rear sprocket and still reach the same top speed but with an increase in the rate of acceleration. If the rev limiter is pushed further up, a higher speed is definitely on the cards.
The avid modifier would be intrigued by the potential of this engine. After all, a similar KTM RC390 will reach at least 170 kph. Furthermore, the D400 has no wind-cheating fairing to increase its potential, so there may be even more to come in future.
The handling is safe and sure, with the spring rate on the soft side for comfort. Stability is good at high speed and even in corners at a seven-tenths pace. The secure handling, weight and softish suspension mean a little bit of agility is lost but nothing that a few tweaks wouldn’t solve. The beam frame could handle twice the horsepower easily and the hefty forks and swingarm just as well.
In conclusion, this is one bike that we would relish for a long-termer, just so to find out the real potential of the Dominar. In short, we really rate the Dominar highly and the only real question would be; what is the retail price? We think it should be in the region of between RM18,000 and RM20,000. The Dominar could be Modenas’ game-changer and help boost its brand in the Malaysian market.