The Ronin is welcoming right from the moment you swing your leg over the bike. The low seat height of 795mm makes it effortless to hop on, and flat-footing is extremely easy for someone as tall as me at 5’11’’. Considering the bent in my knees while placing my feet on the ground, even the shorter riders will find the seat height accessible. What’s equally manageable is the 160kg kerb weight, which makes moving the bike around a cakewalk.
Before I got going on the bike, I admired the view from the saddle; a wide handlebar, a high and offset console, and a bulbous fuel tank. And typical of neo-retro offerings, the overall ergonomics are comfortable and neutral accompanied by a seat with thick cushioning. However, gripping the fuel tank with your knees doesn’t feel natural as the fuel tank isn’t tapered enough towards the seat.
On the move, the Ronin feels stress-free and almost effortless to ride with the engine playing a big role in that. It’s profoundly tractable and can be ridden at 30kmph in fifth gear with the revs sitting at around 3,000rpm. Gas it from there and the acceleration feels reasonably brisk until 7,000rpm, beyond which the pull starts tapering off. The meat of performance truly lies between 3,500rpm and 7,000rpm, which meant navigating the narrow and mildly busy streets of Goa was a relaxed affair. And adding to the pleasant experience were the light clutch and a slick gearbox.
Plus, the Ronin’s engine is refined and free of vibrations for the most part, even if the bassy exhaust note suggests otherwise. You can feel a mild buzz on the fuel tank and footpegs only after crossing 8,000rpm but it’s not disturbing. As for its highway performance, we didn’t have wide-open stretches at our disposal but, at every opportunity, I sped it up to nearly 90-95kmph where the engine felt relaxed.
It is also easy to steer around. Obviously, the handling isn’t as sharp as the Apache 200, but the Ronin doesn’t feel odd or disconnected by any stretch. Although we couldn’t push it hard around corners, thanks to the continuous rains, it felt agile and stable at decent lean angles. Then, the Remora tyres held up quite well even in the wet which only added to the good handling. It’s a similar story in terms of braking too, with the front delivering ample bite and lever feel while the rear being pretty progressive.
The ride quality was plush for the most part. Through sharp-edged undulations like road joints or potholes, the rear felt a bit firm and the front boasted a quick rebound. However, the ride was not at all back-breaking or annoying. In fact, it felt composed while going over bigger bumps and minor surface imperfections on the road.
I also tried mild off-roading through a rocky section and the suspension didn’t feel crashy or extremely bouncy. However, standing up and riding the Ronin feels really unnatural because of the tank design and the handlebar placement. While the former is too wide for a proper grip, the latter is pretty low to be standing up comfortably.