2018 Bajaj Avenger 180 First Ride Review

08 March 2018, 06:59 PM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

Why would I buy the Bajaj Avenger 180?

It is good looking, has a remarkable performance and is worth the price.

Why would I avoid the Bajaj Avenger 180?

Engine harshness and no rear disc brake.

No, this bike is not a tribute to the first Bajaj Avenger that was launched more than a decade ago in 2005. Yes, that was also a 180cc motorcycle that eventually went on to become the 220cc one that we see today. But then, this Avenger 180 replaces the ageing Avenger 150 to give the sales a shot in the arm while also tackling its new attention-seeking rival, the Suzuki Intruder 150. The new Avenger 180 promises to offer more value for money and also, it just didn't make sense to retain the outgoing bike. 

How is it to ride?

The Avenger 180 offers what most cruisers are meant to offer- a low-slung design and a relaxed riding position. It is built on the same diamond frame architecture that’s being used since the Eliminator days but is packed with modern cycle parts. The 180cc motor is borrowed from the Bajaj Pulsar 180 but has been re-tuned to churn out less power at 15.4bhp and 13.7Nm. This linear power delivery suits the bike’s character. The strong midrange, which is Bajaj’s forte, makes it easier to cruise through the highway traffic. The motor isn’t the most refined of the lot, but Bajaj has managed to keep the NVH well under control. The vibes starts to kick in post 80kmph, and can be felt mostly on the footpegs. It’s possible to ride the Avenger 180 at 50kmph in the fifth gear but if you go below that, the engine will stall. The Avenger 180 offers a smooth ride between 80kmph and 90kmph. The five-speed gearbox on this bike has been improved quite a lot. Thanks to the light clutch, changing gears on the Avenger 180 is an easy task especially in the maddening city traffic.  

The seating triangle hasn’t changed on the Avenger 180. You sit low with legs stretched out to the front and hands running parallel to the ground. The wide rider’s seat offers a good amount of comfort, thanks to the right cushioning. Despite being the heaviest in the segment, the Avenger 180 feels light on its feet. The right weight distribution also aids manoeuvrability in the city. 

Bajaj has increased the suspension travel at the rear to 108mm from the earlier 98mm. This setup is slightly on the firmer side, but it doesn’t feel unsettled on broken roads. The suspension also absorbs the road undulations pretty well. The 260cc front disc and 130mm drum at the rear does a decent job at stopping the bike. However, the front has a wooden feel on the lever, and the rear one requires some extra effort to use. 

Anything else I should know?

Other than enticing the buyer with a bigger engine, Bajaj has tried to enhance the design of the motorcycle, especially at the front. The new headlamp (which Bajaj likes to call ‘jewel inspired’), blacked-out windscreen and long black fork gaiters do manage to up the bike’s overall appeal. The single seat gets a leather feel but lacks the finesse. Bajaj has done an excellent job at integrating the pillion backrest with the grab rail. This is a result of the constant feedback from its Avenger 150 customers who would have appreciated the presence of a back rest, just like on the Avenger 220 Cruise. 

You should also know that the Avenger 180 doesn’t get the new digital display that’s present on the Avenger 220. Rather, it is fitted with the simple analogue speedometer display with a small LCD display that shows the odometer and a single tripmeter. While the quality of the paint and cycle parts are striking, the switchgear is a big disappointment. The buttons have a tacky feel and show clear signs of cost cutting. 

Should I buy one?

The Avenger 180 is one handsome looking motorcycle and is the most affordable cruiser in India right now. And that makes it too good to be ignored. It has the right combination of cosmetic features to attract even a passer-by to the showroom. With a stronger 180cc motor and some new features, Bajaj has definitely managed to hit the right spot, again. And with all this, the Avenger 180 is dearer than the Avenger 150 by just Rs 4000, which is a fair premium. So if you’re in the market for a good looking affordable cruiser, you know where to go. And if you can spare a bit more, there’s another Bajaj for you, but with a bigger heart. 

Where does it fit in?

The Bajaj Avenger 180 has been priced at Rs 85,498. Its nearest rival, the Suzuki Intruder 150 retails at Rs 99,995 and that’s where the other two Bajajs are placed, the 220 Cruise and the 220 Street

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

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