BikeWale TrackDay 2019: Bajaj Dominar 400

06 May 2019, 05:15 PM Vikrant Singh

Introduction

I know, it’s a bit odd. A power cruiser on a race track. The raked out front end, the upright seating, the low set footpegs, and the long wheelbase aren’t really virtues when it comes to going flat out corner after corner.

But then, it fits our theme for this year’s track day perfectly. It is a street bike. And it is performance oriented. After all, it does make almost 40bhp in its new avatar. And, it has some good hardware now as well. The bike now runs a four valve head, it gets upside down front forks, the suspension is better damped, and the brakes have improved too.

Performance

And on the track, one can immediately feel the difference these changes have made.

Coming into a corner, C2 for instance, one can brake harder and later on the Dominar now. The front forks don’t flex or tie themselves in a knot anymore. And because there’s more feel, one can carry a bit of braking into the corner as well. The latter helps negate the ill effects of a raked out front when entering a corner.

Bajaj Dominar 400 [2019]

Bajaj Dominar 400 [2019]

  • Displacement373.27 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)39.4 bhp
  • Kerb Weight184 kg
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 1,90,002

Mid-corner, if you are carrying enough speed, you will ground those pegs. And quite easily. That’s something that comes with the Dominar, being a cruiser of sorts. But, here again, its weight ensures that the rear tyre doesn’t pivot around the pegs as easily and thereby result in a crash.

But it’s the corner exit that truly makes the Dominar fun to ride on the track. The good mid-range grunt, a linear throttle response, and wide contact patch at the rear allows one to start rolling on the throttle early and a bit aggressively. Which means, as one starts to pick up the bike towards the exit, the throttle is almost near the stops. And, as a result, one finds the Dominar charging out of the corner like its namesake dog breed charges towards an intruder (not the bike). It just makes you smile.

Handling

Well, with that steering geometry and the weight and the wheelbase, the Dominar was always going to need more than a hand at the race track. It also requires your triceps to get it to change directions in a hurry.

The transition from C2 to C3 or from C10 to C11 at MMRT does require one to muscle the bike a bit. And the bike’s front end geometry creates this vague and mute period during the direction change wherein the rider can’t feel much of the front end. And that’s not a nice feeling.

It’s also not the best at turn entry. And, entering too hot isn’t something the Dominar enjoys at all. Plus, when going around the long and fast C7, the bike wallows a bit. And, it’s also not the easiest to tighten lines with.

Track Goodness

One look at the Dominar and you’d never even thing about bringing it to the track. But we did. And we can tell you it’s actually quite likeable and manageable on a race track.

However, if you are a track junkie, then it won’t be a lot of fun for you. And if you are serious about doing more than one track day a quarter, again, it might not be a great fit.

But, if you like cornering, and riding fast, and challenging yourself, which is what a race track offers, but not on a regular basis, the Dominar works. Plus, it is one of the few motorcycles that you can ride to the track, on the track, and then back from the track, without breaking the proverbial sweat! How cool is that.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

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