In the Indian biking context, some years back, all the action was only in the 100 cc segment. Then came the 125 cc segment and finally the 150cc segment took over most of the buyers and the eyeballs. It is now the highly developed and most checked after segment. Most of the buyers with a low budget can still plonk for an economical 150cc bike. Earlier on we had covered the basic entry level bikes like the Discover 150 and the Yamaha SZ-X. Now we have two slightly more upmarket but still entry level 150cc bikes like the Hero Honda Hunk in India as also the Yamaha SZ-R in India. Both these bikes come from reputed manufacturers and have been revamped as of late. The Hero Honda Hunk is quite a popular figure in the sales chart for its manufacturer whereas the Yamaha SZ-R is the more upmarket variant of the SZ-X with the addition of a disc brake. With the launch of the SZ-R, it remains to be seen in this contest now, if the Hero Honda Hunk still stays on top or not.
If looks can win over customers, then both the bikes here are evenly matched. The Yamaha’s approach may seem the more conventional of the duo. The Hunk, just like its name suggests is a beefy animal. Most of the bikes from Hero Honda’s stables are lean ones and the Hunk defies the convention. Now, atop its bikini fairing sits the new ridged flyscreen. The front mudguard is also now somewhat altered. The Yamaha SZ-R in the meanwhile uses the same profile as the Yamaha Gladiator from the yore but with a more enlargened visera. None of these bikes have the split handle bar configuration. The mirrors of the Hunk look more beautiful however the ones on the Yamaha are more functional. Palm grips on both the bikes are comfortable ones. The Hero Honda Hunk in India now comes with a digital dash which includes a central round tachometer (analog) and a small speedometer which actually doesn’t justify the digital tag. The fuel gauge is a tacky piece though. Also the chrome garnish around the tachometer is a kill overdone. Switchgear could have been vastly improved as many Hunks have been reported with faulty switchgear. On the tail lamp front, it is the Hunk with its all LED configuration and white glass which impresses. The Yamaha gets a headband type tail lamp which on its own looks good however pales in comparison in front of the Hunk.
On the other hand, the Yamaha SZ-R in India gets a tachometer as a new addition. The meter dials are pretty simple to read and understand as also the switchgear feels more intuitive to use. Even though both have tank recesses, the ones on the SZ-R feel more comfortable even for tucking in tall knees. The Hunk’s on the other hand interferes time and again with the taller rider’s knees. The Hunk gets a well padded seat and one which is very similar to a split seat arrangement. You sink into the seat rather than sit on it. The SZ on the other hand makes do with a soft setup, which though not problematic in city rides, can cause a sore backside on the occasional highway ride. Both the bikes come without kick starters whereas their earlier variants had kick as also electric starters. Chances are that the pillion in the SZ-R would slide forward under hard braking however in the Hunk, mimicking a split seat arrangement, the pillion seat has a stopper in front of it which prevents the pillion rider from sliding forward. By the way, both bikes don’t offer much in terms of storage as the front wind guard is too closely bond with the bikini fairing. The grabrail however is more upmarket on the Hunk with its alloy treatment whereas the one on the SZ is more like the tubular arrangement found in bikes of the Bajaj Caliber era. Build quality is excellent in both however the one in the Yamaha feels a tad better than Hero Honda’s.
The riding position in the Hunk is distinctly sporty whereas the one in the Yamaha is more commuterish. Thumbing the electric starter elevates this notion since the Hunk has a more sporty exhaust note whereas the Yamaha is more of Honda type refinement. Riding the Hunk first revealed that the gearshifts aren’t butter smooth and are still carried over from the older model. There is a typical clunk sound from the linkage type gear system. However once the bike sets rolling, the going on is smooth thereafter. Performance wise, the Hunk with its 149 cc engine and 14.4 Bhp of power touches the 60 kmph mark from naught in only 5.4 seconds. Its top speed however is only 108 kmph. The bike runs out of steam at the 80 kmph mark and redlining it to its top speed reveals immense vibrations. The Yamaha SZ-R on the other hand gets the same 153 cc motor from the FZ however this engine has been highly tuned for efficiency now. It makes 12.1 Bhp of power now. However torque figure of 1.3 kgm is the same as that of the Hunk’s. The gearshifts in the SZ are far more better however the SZ-R is a relaxed performer. The 0-60 kmph dash was completed in 6.0 seconds. The top speed however matches that of the Hunk at 107 kmph. The trademark of this motor, its smoothness, isn’t lost in the transition of eking out better fuel efficiency though. Brakes on both are effective however the all disc plus the high grip MRF Zappers setup in the Hunk ensure that the Hunk stops way ahead of the Yamaha. If one literally relies on the drum in the Yamaha (at the back) and its spindly TVS tyres, then accidents would be a common affair. The disc at the front is progressive for the SZ-R and it is a welcome addition to have a disc in the front rather than the all drum setup that one gets in the SZ-X. The same spindly tyres on the Yamaha provide it with less grip while cornering as opposed to the Hunk which dishes out dollops of feedback. As far as ride quality is concerned, the Yam with its softer setup impresses. The Hunk with its twin gas reservoir shocks provides for a good ride, two up.
As another safety measure, Hero Honda offers the Hunk with a leg guard however Yamaha offer it to customers only if the customer insists on having it. Fuel efficiency is pretty much pitched on the Yamaha’s side with the SZ-R returning 49.4 kmpl overall whereas the Hunk returned 47.2 kmpl.
Now comes the time for the verdict as to which bike is better than the others. The Hunk bests the SZ-R on almost all the parameters in the looks department. However if looks alone were to sell bikes then the Karizma ZMR or the likes of Pulsar 220 would have found many takers. Alas! We are talking about budget conscious people here and ones desiring 150cc frugal machines. Personally, we would prefer the Hero Honda Hunk just because it offers an all disc setup plus half digital instruments. However sense says that one should opt for the SZ-R. The primary reason being the price. The Yamaha SZ-R price in India is Rs 55,500 whereas the Hero Honda Hunk price in India is Rs 64,316. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. As for the Indiandrives comparison, the Hunk bowled us over.