New Delhi: While premium luxury cars take the fancy of the well-heeled and status conscious there is another adventurous, fancy free and young-at-heart Indian who wants to buy a motorbike not because he cannot afford a car but because he wants to experience the thrill and excitement of high speed on the road - on a motorcycle.
Starting with Yamaha India launching its super premium bikes in India in 2007 a number of two-wheeler makers have got into the act and one can expect a whole lot of gorgeous looking mean machines on Indian roads in the near future.
Japanese mean machines
Japanese bike-makers have begun to see the potential for their performance bikes now and after Yamaha Suzuki Motorcycle India has launched its legendary super premium sports bikes the 1,340 cc Hayabusa and the 1,783 cc cruiser Intruder M1800R in India. The bikes come with a steep price tag of Rs12.5 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi). The company has set a modest target of selling around 300-365 units in a year.
Not as stunning in terms of looks, but way more stunning in terms of straight-line performance is the Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa. Even though it has been launched in India very recently, the bike has been breaking drag-strip records (and competitors' hearts) for almost ten years now. The new generation 2008 model is arguably the biggest, baddest and the fastest hypersport production machine in the world (capable of a restricted top speed of 298 km/h), and Suzuki has played smartly to showcase its absolute best in India.
The bikes will be brought in as completely built units from the company's Japan facility, which adds to their price.
The bikes will be available in seven cities across India including in all the metros.
According to the company the launch of the performance bikes indicates the seriousness with which the company is viewing the Indian market. The company is targeting to sell 360 bikes in India in the first year.
Suzuki is further planning to launch more super-premium models in the next six months from the GSX series. These bikes are powered 800 cc and above.
Yamaha's power packed pieces
Yamaha India launched its international flagship superbike, the 1000cc, 180PS YZF-R 1, in December last year. The bike was a big contender at the World Superbike Series. It comes priced at Rs 10.5 lakh at select Yamaha showrooms across the country.
There are other offerings from Yamaha which give more sedate and comfortable rides. This segment includes the Yamaha MT-01 launched with the R1 back in December 2007. Its 1670cc V-Twin engine gives a huge 150Nm of torque and its real appeal lies in its rugged exterior.
Ducati has come into India and plans to sell its entire range of 15 super bikes. The company has for the present launched five bikes here and will bring in another 10 by the end of this year to help the company achieve the target of selling 50 units in 2008. This will also include its 696cc Monster that is currently under the process of getting homologated. With engine capacities in the range of 850cc to 1,200cc, these bikes would be priced between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 50 lakh and will be sold through typical Ducati showrooms. The company is planning to invest $3-4 million in the country in next three years to set up showrooms, first two of which will shortly come up in Mumbai and Delhi, followed by Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai next year.
The company has tied up with Precision Motor Co., its sole dealer throughout the country.
Ducati has some of the most gorgeous looking bikes on the road. In India its entire range will be n sale. At the bottom end of the range is the V-twin powered Monster 696 (Rs 13.8 lakh ex-showroom) while the stylish Hypermotard (Rs 18.2 lakh) comes somewhere in the middle. The top of the spectrum is occupied by the high tech race-ready WSB winning 1098R superbike (Rs 48 lakh exshowroom ). Gabriele Del Torchio, CEO, Ducati Motor Holding, said the company expects to register a year-on-year growth of 10 per cent in India.
Bajaj Auto's Austrian connection
Bajaj Auto has tied up with Austrian motorcycle maker to bring in its range of top-end bikes like 690 Duke and the RC8 super bike in the country.
Japanese bike maker Kawasaki is also tying up with Bajaj Auto for dealer and service support for its own brand of Japanese bikes.
While the Indian market is being seen to have tremendous potential volumes are too low for the bike makers to think of beginning local production. Hence all these bikes are being flown in as completely built-up units, which, needless to say, add to their price making them off limits for a large segment of the market.