In an attempt to steal the two-wheeler market from the three Indian giants Hero Honda, Bajaj and TVS Motors, which collectively account for almost 85 per cent of sales, Japanese bike manufacturers like Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki will launch scaled-down Indian versions of their international superbike models.
Superbikes are motorcycles that have 800cc engines and can cost upwards of Rs 10 lakh if they are bought in India. Japanese manufacturers plan to offer re-engineered versions with much smaller engines and fewer trimmings at prices ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
The superbikes that are being considered for such an overhaul are Yamaha YZF R1, Honda CBR 1000, Suzuki GSX R and the Kawasaki Ninja.
The re-engineering exercise involves putting in a lower-capacity and fuel-efficient engine and building a new chassis on the lines of the parent model using cheaper, lighter material. Other components built by using best-in-class material in the high-end bike will be replaced by aluminum and rubber components for the Indian version.
Expensive meter console units, twin disc brakes and wide tubeless tyres all basic features that contribute the high price tag of a superbike will not be available in the cheaper version.
“There are some superbikes in our international line-up of motorcycles that can be fine-tuned for India,” said Naresh Rattan, divisional head (sales and marketing), Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India.
HMSI and Yamaha Motor India launched a product each in the local market, CBF Stunner and R 15, respectively, which are directly inspired from their CBR 1000 and YZF R1. The Indian re-engineered versions, which were launched over a month ago, are up for sale at Rs 53,000 for the 125cc Honda CBF Stunner and Rs 97,000 for 150cc Yamaha R 15.
Suzuki Motorcycle India is also gearing up to launch a similar model, which will be based on the GSX R series (priced at Rs 13-14 lakh), before December this year. The Indianised version will have an engine capacity of about 250cc, and is expected to cost close to Rs 1 lakh.
“We will launch two bikes before the end of the calendar year, of which one will be a mass-market premium model and the other a superbike,” said Atul Gupta, vice-president (sales and marketing), SMIPL.
“The premium model will be a model which will be inspired by the GSX R range of superbikes,” he added.