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Hero Splendor Pro Classic

01 October 2014, 12:18 PM Ninad Ambre

Introduction

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

The Hero Splendor Pro Classic, the first ever 100cc Cafe Racer in India has started rolling into dealerships and we are the first to review this motorcycle.

Cafe Racer-styled motorcycles were very famous back in the 1960s and thanks to the retro-styled motorcycles like the Royal Enfield Cafe Racer (Continental GT) and the Triumph Thruxton, they have suddenly found a new lease of life in the Indian market. Hero MotoCorp, as part of their innovations, showcased their version of a Cafe Racer motorcycle - the Splendor Pro Classic at the Auto Expo in February this year. This public debut garnered a lot of interest, though not everything was positive. While many liked the retro-styled Splendor, others were a little critical of a Cafe Racer-styled motorcycle that didn’t have much performance to boast about. 

It was a bit difficult to understand the idea behind this 100cc Cafe Racer and if it would be actually launched for the Indian market. It wasn’t very surprising though, as the motorcycle exhibited at the Expo was a production ready bike. Hero has now officially put the bike on sale in limited numbers and it is being dispatched to a few dealerships in batches. 

The Cafe Racer motorcycles have always been preferred mostly by enthusiasts, mainly people who could afford to build/buy a custom bike that might not be practical but looks so good that it would leave a person awestruck. While the name Splendor won’t inspire much from an enthusiast, we try and find out if the Pro Classic can carve a niche for itself in the mass market.

Looks and Styling

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

A first look at the motorcycle has a striking and arresting effect on anybody. Whoever doesn’t know what motorcycle this is, will surely get surprised once he sees the Splendor badging. It will take some time though for the thoughts of it being a copy of the Royal Enfield’s Continental GT to fade away. Then it grows on you. Though Hero MotoCorp has not made a plethora of changes to the actual Splendor, I will appreciate the company's effort on the styling.

The company has done a decent job in the interest of giving the motorcycle a Cafe Racer look even if they have kept the same frame as the old Splendor. The changes are phenomenal which give the bike all the customary design cues for a Cafe Racer motorcycle. These include the round headlamp, orange side indicators, low handlebar, elongated fuel tank, spoke- wheeled tyres and a bulging rear. It is of course small considering all the premium bikes that have used these design cues, but its small size does not affect it negatively. Put this in perspective with the looks of any other 100cc motorcycle with age old design and the Classic Pro beats each one of them hands down.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

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Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

  • Displacement97.2 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported70 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)8.1 bhp
  • Kerb Weight109 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 51,863

Aligned with the large circular headlamp, the orange indicators complement the twin-pod cluster pretty well. The circular chrome ORVMs with black bars also add a little bling. The front fender, leg guards and the exhaust are completely embellished in chrome which might be liked by a few while some others might find it as a blemish. Any which way, this bling factor is mellowed down by the subtle paint job and minimal stickering all over. The new Splendor Pro Classic is offered in two shades of Carbon Black and Solid Maroon.

The side panels are carried over from the Splendor, which get the same subtle stickers as on the fuel tank. The seat looks as big as a horse saddle and the rear seat cowl is not a pleasant sight either. It is blown out of proportion and the bulge at the end seems to be the biggest part on the motorcycle, even larger than the fuel tank. Nevertheless, the simple 'Classic' and 'Hero' badging on it looks nice.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

The fully covered chain guard gets a contrasting beige-grey colour that accentuates the clutch case, although, I think an open chain cover could have looked better. Thankfully, the chrome on the rear mudguard is well hidden behind the tail lamp and registration plate with reflectors. The perfectly carved circular tail lamps and orange side indicators complete the Cafe Racer look.

I am sure there are going to be more than few who will not like the looks of this motorcycle, but even they will have to appreciate the efforts of Hero. In a segment where looks and styling haven’t changed since ages, the Classic Pro is a breath of fresh air.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Instrument cluster and other features

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

The headlight is prominently large and does the work efficiently at night within the city. Same is the case with the tail lamp and the side indicators. But with the advent of multi-reflector lights which spread a lot of light, it gives a feeling that the intensity of these could have been better with the multi-reflector setup. Nevertheless, they do a decent job and look spectacular. 

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

The twin pod analogue instrument console sits perfectly above the headlamp and is minimalistic in design. The cylindrical units in black are surrounded by chrome accents which look shiny and nice. The font on the speedometer is simple and large which is nice especially amidst all the cramped up digital consoles on modern bikes. The company has maintained the retro look and the analog console does the job to the point of simply showing speed, kilometres travelled and amount of fuel.  Like all the new bikes from Hero MotoCorp, this Splendor Pro Classic also gets a side stand indicator which sits in between the neutral and high beam light indicators. The side indicator lights are on both sides of the key slot.

Unlike other Cafe Racer motorcycles, which get clip-ons or clubman handlebars, the Splendor Pro classic gets a differently shaped handlebar. This has been designed to resemble clip-ons but understandably it is still a singular bar type handlebar. It still gives a good feeling with its downwards taper and low placement close to the fuel tank. The handle grips are hard as compared to the ones offered on other Hero motorcycles and the quality of the switchgear is something I am not happy about. The number of switches and their placement (ergonomics) is adequate and reasonable, but the company should have provided better quality materials considering that the Pro Classic is the most premium in the Splendor motorcycles range.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Also, the company should have given the age old 'twist-to-open' fuel cap instead of the current flip to open fuel lid which has a twist-to-open fuel cap inside. This is absolutely inconvenient, what is point of opening the lid with a key and holding the lid with one hand and the fuel cap with other hand while the fuel bunk attendant fills the tank up? Nevertheless, the good thing is, with the fuel tank capacity of 11 litres, there will be very few instances of opening the lid considering the bike gives a decent fuel efficiency of more than 55kmpl. Despite all this equipment, the kerb weight of the bike tips the scale at just 109kg.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

The Splendor Pro Classic is the first and the only single seat offering from Hero MotoCorp. The shape of the seat might be a turn off but the seat is soft and firm enough to make the rider feel comfortable. Also coming to the rear seat cowl, what the company could have done is offer storage space below it. 

It is not a practical motorcycle for a normal Indian buyer. Firstly, there is no pillion seat and secondly no space to tie any luggage. While I am sure most will find an innovative way of carrying the luggage, Hero should make arrangements to provide a pillion seat at least as an option.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Engine and Performance

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Generally Cafe Racer motorcycles are built for performance – obtaining maximum by being both lightweight and powerful. While Hero MotoCorp has used part of the general philosophy by keeping the Classic Pro extremely light, in terms of engine specifications, they have taken things too lightly.

The motorcycle is powered the by the same 97.2cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine as seen on other 100cc Splendor offerings. As the motor is tuned a bit to churn out 8.36PS of power and 8.05Nm of torque, it has an advantage of almost 1PS over the standard Splendor.  However, the torque figures remain the same and the bump in power is very negligible. With the technical specifications almost same at the current Splendors, there is nothing spectacular with this powerplant that sets apart the Splendor Pro Classic from its siblings. The mill comes mated to the same four-speed manual transmission.

Back in the 5os Cafe Racer motorcycles were built by pairing the most powerful mill from one motorcycle with the best performing frame and suspension set up from another motorcycle. However, all these theories can be put aside as Hero MotoCorp’s basic idea was offering the bike with a retro look. Yes, unlocking power from the engine and improving handling are also important factors that make a true Cafe Racer, but considering the target mass market of this motorcycle all of that is not necessary. With this tried and tested engine on the Splendor Pro Classic, fuel economy figures of 55-65kmpl are certainly achievable. This is what will matter the most apart from the reliability factor, which Hero has been acing for many years.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Ride and handling

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

If we go back to the definition of Cafe Racer motorcycles, it still means a style of motorcycle for quick rides from one "transport cafe" or coffee bar to another. Well the Splendor Pro Classic can also do that, but, quickly? Not really. But it can certainly cover all the cafes in your city in a single tank of fuel!

Also, Cafe Racer motorcycles were designed for speed rather than comfort. The actual bodywork and control layout of a Cafe Racer does not simply incorporate some classic styling cues but typically mimics the style of a contemporary Grand Prix road racer.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

The company seems to have taken the leverage of a Cafe Racer bike to be uncomfortable otherwise and have not experimented too much with the Splendor Pro Classic’s riding dynamics. The main reason behind this is the absence of rearsets or rearset foot pegs which has resulted in making the rider's position very awkward. The placement of the front foot pegs is the same as the one on the current Splendors which is good if you have a high handlebar. But, with the low slung narrow handlebar which allows the rider to tuck in, the current placement of foot pegs makes the rider's posture painful and very obstinate with all the brunt being  borne  the rider's back. The continuous swooping down position is bound to give back problems to the rider.

The good part though, is that the handling is still good enough. It is easy to ride in traffic and has not lost any dynamics of the standard Splendor due to the design.

The front disc brake is given a miss and the braking is done via 130mm diameter drum brakes at front and 110mm diameter drum brakes at rear. However, the lack of a front disc brake wouldn't hurt much when one comes to think of the Splendor Pro Classic and stopping power is decent considering the speeds that you will regularly clock with the tiny engine.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Verdict

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

There have been classic models from the great names in motorcycling history like BSA, Vincent, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Ducati, BMW etc. whose bikes have been used to make custom Cafe Racer motorcycles. It would be surprising to know that an Indian manufacturer like Hero MotoCorp would also be added to such a list someday. And while entering this segment they have added another feather to the cap of the world’s highest selling motorcycle.

Now ideally it should make me proud, but does it? No, not really! The company has roped in most of the signature traits of a Cafe Racer motorcycle and purely on looks it has got the gate pass, but why not build something that will make enthusiasts happy? Why not use the ZMR engine or may be even involve Eric Buell and get something better for the enthusiast? Something that will take on or even outperform the Cafe Racers available in India today.

However, let’s come to terms with the Cafe Racer motorcycles scene in our country. The Splendor Pro Classic is the only motorcycle which joins the league of locally produced Cafe Racer-styled bikes in India along with the Royal Enfield GT. At an attractive price tag of Rs 53,900 (ex-showroom Delhi), the Splendor Pro Classic is the most affordable Cafe Racer-styled motorcycle in the Indian market right now. It sits above the regular Splendors in the company's portfolio and for the added amount you pay for the Classic over other Splendors, you surely get the most stylish bike in the Splendor range. While the Splendor Pro Classic might not succeed in arousing the interest of the enthusiasts, but with such a lucrative price tag, Hero MotoCorp has definitely brought a product which will give a consumer with a budget of Rs 60,000 something different from what can be bought from the motorcycle options currently available. The bike should please many buyers in the rural markets who intend to buy an exclusive bike on a budget without compromising on fuel efficiency.

Hero Splendor Pro Classic

Gallery

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