I have started the unusual comparisons stuff in the cars sector so now is the time for the bikes section. Today I have got the Bajaj Avenger 220 Dtsi in India on one spectrum and the Royal Enfield Classic 500 in India for a comparison. Now many would ask that how can you compare a 220 cc bike with a 500 cc single seater. The answer lies in the fact that both are the top end cruisers that their manufacturers produce for the Indian customers. So while the Classic 500 makes strides even abroad, the Avenger 220 rarely sees foreign locations. Moving over that fact, I can also see a big difference in their approach towards cruising and also the price tag. Overcoming all these differences, I am going to compare these two cruisers and lets see how it turns out to be. So here is the tete between the Avenger 220 and the Classic 500.
Bajaj Avenger 220 Dtsi : The Bajaj Avenger 220 Dtsi in India is largely carried over from the Kawasaki Eliminator which was launched in India in the year 2001. However while the Kawasaki was all about chromed styling, the Avenger makes do with some bits of plastic as well. The awkwardly positioned key insert of this bike somewhere closer to the front suspension makes it a pain in the a**. Shorter riders would first have to fiddle with the handle bars to get past them. But then it is a low slung cruiser, the American style. You get long flat pads to place your foot on. The rear view mirrors are also bathed in chrome whilst the instrument cluster stands out from a distance. It gets classic chrome backed indicators as also a closely chiseled fuel tank with the tell tale lights on it. The chain cover is exposed to show a sporty nature. The pillion gets a backrest which is nicely padded. The tail light is nothing to speak about and carries over the design from the Eliminator.
Royal Enfield 500 Classic : The Royal Enfield Classic 500 in India, as its name suggests is one heck of an old school design. However traditional mixed with modern is what Royal Enfield aims to project out of this bike. For starters, it has got that very familiar face, which I am sure wouldn’t change even in the future. Viewed head on, one would be very confused as to which Enfield is approaching them. The tank has now got tank pads on both the sides.The meter dials are also pretty much the same like every other Bullet in town. The mirrors are in chrome and circular. The exposed springs and the bulky engine do convey that this machine means serious business. So people would be aghast to note that the Bullet 500 Classic is for the loners with a single seat. However buyers can specify a pillion seat as well. The tail lamp is also “classic” Bullet style.
The newer “Old” bike, the Royal Enfield Classic 500 wins in the looks department.
Handling and ride quality
Bajaj Avenger 220 Dtsi : Cruisers are supposed to be more partial towards the ride quality rather than out and out handling. The double cradle downtube frame of this bike makes it tipping into corners far more easier than the high set handle bars may make it look like. Infact peg scraping action is more easier on this bike. The 130/90 x 15 section rear tyre hugs the road like no other and it is a joke that rarely would even a new rider fall off the Avenger. The ride quality though is forgiving and even over the harshest of the bumps, the nicely padded seats and the fine tuned suspension don’t let transmit much of the shocks. The handle bars however feel a bit slack and dampen much of the enthusiasm while cornering. But the Avenger only behaves itself on well grounded tarmac. Show it some of the off-roads and the fat section rear tyres would seem like the one from a Splendor. Almost all of Bajaj bikes have alloy wheels and the company could have done well to give this bike the alloy wheel treatment. Seating is spot on however the taller me had some problem riding the bike at low speeds and in traffic. Its not as maneuverable as some other cruisers in the market. The pillion is also pampered however some one taller than 6 feet would find that the backrest actually hurts rather than supporting them.
Royal Enfield 500 Classic : You don’t buy a bullet or any other Royal Enfield bike for corner carving but the Royal Enfield 500 Classic squashed aside this belief of mine. The 18 inch tyres at both the ends with the rear tyre now boasting of a fatter 110/90 section, the bike finds a new stability. But starting with the seat, one more than one occasion I found myself slipping backwards. This was due to the sheer power that this bike makes. Can’t comment on the backseat really as the test bike didn’t have it. Riding position however is spot on for the Classic with no undue stress on the wrists or the legs. The seat is also a spring one. The ride quality is good but not better than the Avenger. The handling definitely is. The taller seating does allow one sufficient leverage to tip the 182 kg bike to a corner without having this thought at the back of the mind that maybe you wouldn’t be in one piece after exiting the corner. But the Classic holds its ground firmly. It is also very stable unlike the others from its clan. The handle bar also takes the least effort to be maneuvered. However that saying, in the city, this bike is a handful to control and steer. Where it scores is also the off-roads where the bike feels planted and more so in comparison with the Avenger.
The Classic on this count wins as a supreme all rounder.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Bajaj Avenger 220 Dtsi : The Bajaj Avenger has got many engine swaps from the time it was introduced. A year back, it had the engine from the Pulsar 200, a year before that, the engine from the Pulsar 180 and now from the flagship, P220. This 220 cc engine makes 18.8 Bhp of peak power at 8400 rpm whereas the peak torque of 1.78 kgm is available at 7000 rpm. Transmission is via a 5 speed gearbox. The 0-60 kmph run is achieved in only 5.2 seconds whereas the 100 kmph run comes up in 14.4 seconds. The rush that one gets from the Dtsi engine is incomparable. However the gear shifter is nowhere smooth as the Pulsar 220’s and is clunky. The oil cooler also works overtime to ensure that this bike stays at the peak of its optimum operating temperature. The new version doesn’t have a kick starter and idle is pretty much throaty. The top speed however is a disappointment at 115 kmph. I would have preferred atleast something close to 130 kmph. Brakes are very sharp and slow down the 153 kgs bike in no time. Moreover, there is a good feedback pulsating from the front lever. Wish that Bajaj had provided a disc at the rear as well. Fuel efficiency is good for a 220 cc motor at 41 kmpl in city and 48 on the highway.
Royal Enfield 500 Classic : The Royal Enfield Classic 500 in India gets the UCE engine with a displacement of 499 cc. This engine makes 27.2 Bhp of peak power at 5250 rpm whereas the peak torque of 4.21 kgm is made at 4000 rpm. Shifting duties are via a 5 speed gearbox on the left hand side of the bike. Having an electric starter has made things easy and the new bike now starts up without much of a hassle. Slotting into first gear makes one realize how much torque this bike is laden with and one which promises instant pickup. Unlike other Bullets which actually take some time to start building up the pickup, this one is ready to wheelie off. The 0-60 figure comes up in an unbelievable (for a Bullet) 3.6 seconds and the 100 kmph is dispatched in just another 7 seconds. This is really amazing and the bike pulls cleanly upto its top speed of 126 kmph. The classical Bullet thump has been stifled with the ever increasing emission norms however the Classic does give some aural respite from the other newer members of its ilk. A disc in the front does give some confidence for late braking however do keep in mind that the disc has to stop 183 kgs of weight. Unfortunately there isn’t much feedback from the disc brake and the rear drum’s performance is nothing to speak about. The Classic covered a longer distance than the Avenger to come to a complete stop. Fuel efficiency from a 500 cc motor is strictly okay at 28 kmpl in city and 35 kmpl on the highway.
I would go with the Avenger on this one.
I know verdicts cannot be given on bikes which are almost a lakh rupees from each other however since we are talking about top end products from both the manufacturers here, a verdict has to be given. And the winner is the Royal Enfield 500 Classic. It outshines or is at par with the Bajaj Avenger 220 in almost all of the aspects. Plus Bullets have a charm of their own. However along with the charm, they bring along a notorious name for reliability or the lack of it. There are many examples of Bullets with oil spills and engine snags. But as some say, that is the charm of being married into the Bullet family. You earn a kind of respect from fellow road users, truckies included. However if you plan on buying the Bajaj Avenger 220, then you wouldn’t be far off from buying the perfect cruiser. It has got the looks, comfortable seats, power and fuel efficiency. Plus Bajaj bikes are highly reliable and hence would guarantee better long distance jaunts. The main factor however for many would be the pricing. The Bajaj Avenger 220 Dtsi price in India is Rs 72,565 whereas the Royal Enfield Classic 500 price in India is Rs 1.43 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. Choose your pick amongst this steeds and you wouldn’t regret buying either.