Bajaj Dominar 400 Review
The Dominar 400 was a game changer motorcycle when it was launched in 2016. It allowed many Indian buyers to own a 400cc motorcycle that came loaded with some great features and styling
The Bajaj Dominar 400 was a game changer motorcycle when it was launched in 2016. It allowed many Indian buyers to own a 400cc motorcycle that came loaded with some great features and styling. And all this for a price that didn’t look far-fetched. But the sales were uninspiring, and their 'haathi mat paalo ads defied comprehension, which didn’t help Bajaj's case either. Ultimately, the brand realised that the only way to bring some major sales is by giving this power cruiser the necessary ‘major’ changes. That’s what the 2019 Dominar 400 is all about. Big upgrades for big tourers!
The Dominar was always known for its road presence, and with the 2019 model, things have gone to a new level. Firstly, the new paint scheme which Bajaj calls the Auroral Green, does turn heads. This colour has been launched to give the bike a bit more youthful and vibrant feel. Secondly, the upside-down forks have enhanced the overall look. It not only gives the bike an imposing look, but makes the bike look complete. (Remember the CS 400 concept from Auto Expo 2016?)
Then there’s the twin barrel exhaust, which makes the Dominar look a bit leaner. The headlamp has been reworked to make it look smaller, but mechanically, nothing has been changed. The pillion seat gets the ‘D’ logo – a feel good factor touch.
The 2019 Dominar 400 is a better packed motorcycle now. The 375cc single-cylinder engine now gets a DOHC setup. The bike is more powerful at 39.5bhp – an increase of 5bhp over the previous model. But the torque stays at 35Nm. The engineers have worked hard to reduce engine vibrations – one of the main concerns on the older Dominar. While the weight has increased by 2kg, the power-to-weight has increased too from 190bhp/ton to 214bhp/ton.
The 43mm USD forks have replaced the old telescopic ones. Bajaj says this has been done to provide more comfort and better handling. Both the instrument clusters, primary and secondary, have gone through major updates. The primary cluster now shows additional ride data like average and real time fuel consumption and distance to service indicators. The secondary cluster, on the other hand, shows the gear position indicator.
The 2019 Dominar is now equipped with rear view mirrors that sport a new design. Along with that, there’s cast aluminium stalks. Also, the side stand has been reworked to provide better support, especially when touring with heavy luggage. To make it more touring friendly, the Dominar is now equipped with bungee straps, which are neatly tucked under the seat. Small addition, but a thoughtful one.
The Dominar 400 was a fast motorcycle, but with some major upgrades, this Bajaj has now become better in munching miles. The additional 5bhp has given extra oomph to the bike to not only ride faster, but to also maintain that speed for longer durations. Twist that throttle, and it wouldn’t take much time to reach the 100kmph figure. In fact, the bike continues to feel energetic at 120-130kmph. The excellent mid-range, and the linear power delivery imparts the Dominar 400 churn with its comfortable touring abilities. The bike does 120kmph in just 7000rpm, with the bike redlining at 9500rpm. Thanks to the Bajaj engineers, there’s hardly any vibes till 8000rpm. Post that, some can be felt on the pegs and the seat. The gearshifts are direct and the throttle response is crisp.
The ride on the Dominar, especially the high speed ride has improved quite a bit, thanks to the new USD front forks, and softer monoshock. The bike maintains its composure at high speed without any drama. There were some really bad roads enroute to Lonavala, and yet, at the end of the ride, I was not saddle sore and neither did my back require any attention. The overall cornering dynamics of the Dominar have improved a tad. But we’ll talk about this in detail when we get the bike for a few days.
The brakes, however, could use some more work, especially at the front. At high speed, the front demands a great deal of lever work to slow down the bike. Plus, there’s not much feel on the lever. The rear though is progressive and offers good bite. The dual-channel ABS continues to work well.
Bajaj is yet to reveal the price of the 2019 Dominar. But expect to see a good increase in cost, thanks to the inclusion of high-cost hardware like USD forks. If the Pune-based manufacturer increases the cost by Rs 20,000, it will make the Dominar cost Rs 1.83 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). Even at this pricing, the Dominar is value for money. It gets more power, better equipment and the most importantly – it can do high-speed touring really well.
Photography by Kapil Angane
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