When it comes to motorcycle sales numbers in India, Hero MotoCorp, with over 50 per cent market share, is your true champion. But, when a scooter brand like Honda Activa manages to outsell Hero's long standing champion, Splendor (even if it is for a month or two), it ought to send alarm bells ringing at the motorcycle maker's Vasant Kunj office in Delhi.
So, what does Hero do? It shows its intent of becoming a big scooter player in the only way it knows: by showcasing a whole bunch of new scooter models - some mainstream, some concepts and some cutting edge - but many nonetheless. Now, that huge line up is slowing beginning to surface with price tags.
Meet the Hero Maestro Edge. A ground up, new scooter which shares very little with the Maestro (says Hero) apart from its name. The scooter is built on what Hero calls is its new scalable platform for scooters. This platform can spawn larger capacity scooters too and can be used to serve up female, male or even hippy-centric scooters. And it should give Hero economies of scale. A good move then.
Back to the Maestro Edge and it is powered by a 110.9cc single cylinder, air-cooled engine which Hero claims has been developed completely by its engineers. It makes 8.3bhp and exactly the same torque in newton metre. Nothing revolutionary there. And as expected, it is mated to a CVT transmission. The cycle parts are a standard affair: offset telescopic forks upfront and a unit swingarm setup at the rear; typical of almost every scooter that makes it to showrooms these days.
According to Hero, the Maestro Edge will standout for two reasons: styling and features. Styling might be subjective, but there's no getting away from the fact that the Edge does have good road presence. The bright colours, the larger 12 inch front wheel, an in your face head lamp and a huge LED tail unit (which incidentally also houses the fuel filler cap), together give the Edge a fresh and modern stance. It also has this fancy looking exhaust guard and stylish part-digital-part-analog instrumentation.
In terms of features, there's side stand and service indication; a mobile charging USB point; and a combination lock with immobiliser. The combination lock opens the seat, the tail mounted fuel filler and of course locks the handle and turns on the ignition.
Now, we did take a short spin on the scooter but a cordoned off, well paved, roundabout sort of a route isn't the ideal place to judge the Maestro Edge's capabilities. But we did learn three things. One, it is a spacious scooter with a large seat and a big enough floor board to actually carry something more than a rucksack without it fouling with your shins. In fact, it has good under seat storage too, and a handy hook on the steering column. Two, the riding position is upright and the seat firm, which should make it handy to run to the grocer or other nearby places with. And three, Hero's integrated braking system does work well even though it's an all drum setup.
Who, then, is Hero targeting with the Maestro Edge? Given it costs Rs 49,500 for the base LX version and Rs 50,500 for the mildly better specced VX version (ex-showroom in Delhi), it is only about Rs 1,000 more expensive than the Maestro itself; a scooter Hero still pays royalty for. So, even though Hero says it wants to attract a larger pie of young, male riders with the Edge, wouldn't Hero absolutely love it, if the Edge actually replaced the Maestro altogether? After all, the Maestro Edge is significantly better specced.