The Bajaj Avenger Street 180 has the bigger powertrain here; the 180cc DTS-i unit churns out 15.3bhp and 13.7Nm of torque. It is slightly more powerful than the Suzuki Intruder’s 14.6bhp 155cc engine, although the latter makes more torque - 14Nm. The Intruder makes up for the power deficit by being two kilograms lighter. Also the Intruder’s peak power and torque kick in at 8,000rpm and 6,000rpm respectively, which is 500rpm sooner than the Avenger. Nevertheless, the Avenger is quicker in the sprint to 60kmph, taking 5.08 seconds as compared to Intruder’s 5.26 seconds.
Keep the numbers aside, and it is a completely different ball game. True to its looks, the Avenger feels calm and laidback, and the power delivery is flat. The acceleration numbers show that it is no slowpoke, but there is hardly any excitement in the way it puts the power on the road. A buzz sets in at the footpegs and the tank at 50kmph in the fifth gear, which keeps keep intensifying as you gather speed. Although it will keep going until 110kmph, the Avenger feels out of breath and reluctant to push any further by the time you hit 90kmph.
The Intruder on the other hand, is just as exciting to ride as the Gixxer. There is an addictive burst of torque at 4,000rpm and at 7,000rpm, which egg you to keep the engine on the boil. There are hardly any vibrations to speak off apart from a slight buzz on the footpegs, and it feels in its element even when cruising at 100kmph. And the excitement isn’t limited to the power delivery.
Of course, the Intruder designers were handed the chassis, but what they have done with it is impressive. The Intruder feels just as nimble and flickable as the streetfighter, and the light steering responds well to the smallest of inputs. It is hardly a matter of time before you start scraping the footpegs. The Avenger isn’t far behind either. The heavier steering and the pullback handlebar makes you work a little harder to get the best out of it. Get the hang of it, and the Avenger can be really fun around corners too. And this is achieved without compromising on the ride quality. While the Intruder feels a little stiff on rough patches, the Avenger soldiers on unperturbed.
At crawling speeds however, you can notice the difference a modern chassis makes. The Intruder feels well balanced and much easier to handle despite the footpegs being much further away. The Avenger can be a handful at slow speeds.
On a cruiser, the rear wheel carries a substantial weight and the rear brake becomes more crucial to stop the bike. Surprisingly, the Avenger doesn’t even get a disc at the rear. The drum has decent stopping power, but it starts sliding if you are too reckless. The front 260mm disc has a great bite, but there is hardly any progression or feel. The MRFs break traction in no time if you aren’t careful.
The Intruder’s front 266mm disc offers good stopping power, although the initial bite and progression could have been better. The rear has a good stopping power and maintains traction as long as you don’t stomp on the pedal; then it will slide, for the ABS is a single-channel unit and works only for the front.
The Avenger’s bigger powertrain takes a toll on the efficiency. It returned 44.7kmpl as compared to the Intruder’s 47.2kmpl on our standard test cycle.