After 2 decades of joint venture between Hero and Honda the time finally came where they ended its collaboration. It was much unexpected as Hero Honda had become the highest selling bike company in India. It was the only brand people preferred for commuting to offices and nearby distances for almost a decade.
After separation Hero is now Hero Moto Corp. But the company is aware that it cannot make its stand alone in the market so the company has got in a partnership with USA’s Erik Buell Racing for technology adaptation.
All Hero Honda bikes had Honda’s technology in it. Although Honda is still supplying parts for the existing makes, Hero Moto Corp is looking to bring in high end bikes in coming decades with help of its strategic partnership.
For now to lead the way Hero Moto Corp has launched Impulse, a dual purpose bike.
More than a decade back Bajaj went the similar way but could not find success. Now with the demand and requirement of such bikes, Impulse can make a mark.
Let’s see what it says on paper.
||Air cooled, 4- stroke single cylinder OHC , Self start
| Max. Power
||9.7 kW (13.2 Ps) @ 7500 rpm
||13.4 N-m @ 5000 rpm
||D.C – CDI Ignition System
Looks like a standard configuration of a 150cc bike. But wait, read more. There are things that make this bike apart from the usual 150cc bikes.
Transmission & Chassis
||5 Speed constant mesh
Perhaps a 6th gear could have made a significant difference.
||Telescopic Hydraulic Shock Absorbers
||Swing Arm with Mono Suspension with Nitrox
Mono suspension with Nitrox is nowadays seen in most bikes. The long front suspension is what to look out for.
| Front Brake
|| Dia 240 mm Disc
| Rear Brake
||Internal expanding shoe type (110 mm)
It’s the era of disc brakes. And not just in front.
Wheels & Tyres
| Tyre Size Front
|| 90 / 90 x 19 – 52 P
|Tyre Size Rear
|| 110 / 90 x 17 – 60 P
Typical off-road size.
||12 V – 4 Ah, MF Battery
||12 V – 35 W / 35 W – Halogen Bulb (Multi -Reflector Type)
|Tail Stop Lamp
||12V – 0.5 W / 4.1 W LED Lamp
|Turn Signal Lamp
||12 V – 10 W (Amber Bulb) x 4 nos (Multi-Reflector-Clear Lens)
Very basic electrical. 55W bulb would have given better light for night rides.
Here is where it stands apart significantly. Highest ground clearance on an Indian bike.
|| 11.1 Litre (Min) – 2.6 Litre (Useable Reserve)
11.1 includes 2.6 useable reserve.
On paper the numbers show a standard 150cc make but since this is a dual purpose bike it had to have features that are required to ride this machine across slush, dirt, knee deep water and various other non-tar terrains.
Power, Performance and Delivery:
What Hero says that they have made a high torque ATFT engine. Well that’s just a technical way of putting up your product. What it exactly means is that the engine is the same 4-stroke engine used in CBZ Hunk and Honda’s Unicorn but in Impulse it’s peppier and refined. It has been designed to deliver high torque output. From riding the bike for just 100kms we could feel how it’s marked by lively action than any other 150cc bike.
The gear ratio has been altered to provide the rider low end torque so pick up on off-road terrain can be done at ease.
Though max torque it delivers is 13.4 N-m @ 5000 rpm, I think it still comes short by few units. While riding through slush the given performance specification was satisfactory but on a rally or dirt race I’m not sure whether it will be enough. Anyhow, for regular riding it won’t disappoint you.
5-speed gear box – While continuous shifts I noticed the gearing system to be quite tall. Result, the 4th and 5th gears are ideal for touring with least fuel consumption.
The bike is very light in weight. When riding through traffic, overtaking vehicles and moving ahead is quicker than any other bike I have ridden. The motocross seat lets the rider move his weight front and back. The seating position itself is very comfortable and the soft cushioned material makes long trips free from fatigue. Also the seat has been bolted on to the body. You cannot open it like any other bike. The utility compartment for tool kit, first aid and the bike papers is located on the left side of the bike. Unlocking and locking is very user friendly.
The handle is positioned in such a way with the foot pegs of the rider that you can even stand and ride this bike comfortably.
The only thing you have to worry about is the wide handle where the knuckle guard and mirrors are mounted. When passing between stationary vehicles they tend to touch on either side even when you are sure the whole bike can pass through.
Styling and Lineaments:
This is the first bike in India where the exhaust is not located on the right side rear end below but high above, just near the pillion seat. When riding through water you need not worry about water getting sucked in. In fact you can park this is knee deep with no worries. Also the cover given over it is off good heat repelling quality. Rider and the pillion are safe from getting burnt or feeling the heat.
Sound is not sporty or off-roading bike type. It’s more silent like Honda’s Unicorn.
The bright LED lights can be spotted from far distance and even in the darkest hour.
The front mudguard is plastic fibre and very flexible. You can literally bend them by your hand. It’s very sturdy and strong. I believe you may not need to replace it ever.
Low maintenance sealed endless drive chain. A first from Hero Moto Corp, Impulse drive chain is one piece. There is no chain lock used.
Electricals are operated by dry and maintenance free battery.
The rider’s foot pegs fold up. Spring mechanism has been given to it so when the bike falls while off-roading the foot pegs goes up rather than breaking off.
The grab rails provided are thick, strong and have anchor points on each side at two ends. You can put a bag/luggage on your rear seat and mount the hooks of the bungee net on those points.
Plus the length of the grab rail is long. Almost covering the sides of the entire rear seat.
For looks – sharp, blunt and edgy graphics are used. Orange and Green making the bike look very dynamic. Otherwise it’s also available in Red, Blue and Black.
Suspension and Braking:
The first time I took the bike over a medium sized pothole I felt like I’m sitting inside a Toyota Innova. The nitrox gas-filled mono shock rear suspension is very soft. On a rough patch or damaged surface you get a smooth ride.
The long front suspension does wonders going over small boulders and rocky surfaces. It’s the perfect ingredient to climb on an off-road track. Even on speed breakers I hardly had to slow down.
Front wheel has been given disc brakes operated by single piston calibre. But it’s not a similar case with the rear wheel. Internal expanding drum brakes are installed and when braking at regular intervals I felt a spongy feeling on operation. Only when I took it offroad I realised it was purposeful as you don’t want your wheel to lock up during hard braking while tackling obstacles.
Instrument cluster and console:
Hero Impulse has a very simple common looking and not so thrilling console. There is a normal looking tachometer, redlining from 8 X1000 rpm. An average looking digital speedometer. Standard signal and time indicators. Odometer with two trip meters. Upper headlight ON indicator.
The only new thing given is a service due indicator.
From off-roading point of view, meters like fuel range display and altitude indicator would have made it stand out. Oil level low and battery life signals would have also made it significant.
The overall look and feel also is not very impressive. Even PS 3 console is more glossy and glamorous. Now I’m not saying make it fashionable but at least not a toy look thing.
Wheel and Tyres:
The front fender has been raised high up. Front wheel has a large diameter. The front rim size is 19 and rear is 17. Also no mag wheel, this comes with straight pull spokes, just perfect for tough terrains. The CEAT tyres have stud pattern threads and front comes in 90/90 size while rear is 110/90. They have good grip on dry as well as wet roads. Medium compound quality. Should last for a good 25000kms.
Hero Impulse is a very basic entry level dual purpose bike. It has its strong points which work out so great and flaws which can be corrected or ignored. But if you love to ride country side and go on offbeat tracks then this is currently most ideal bike in Indian two-wheeler market.
Also if you are a regular commuter and want a smooth ride to your destination on not so smooth road then Impulse is the answer for it.
If Hero Moto Corp would have launched Impulse with a Karizma engine then this bike would have gained distinction. It would have outmatched any other bike in 150cc category and would have been a serious threat to even the 250cc segment in India.
I hope Hero Moto Corp reads this.
High Five for –
• India’s first transroader.
• Best for Indian roads.
• Decent mileage of 50km/litre.
• Tall stance.
• Cheap spare parts.
• High ground clearance.
• Low maintenance.
• Fix mounted seat.
Low Downs –
• Little overpriced.
• No protection from water and mud hitting your shin during monsoon.
• No rear disc brake.
• No kill switch.
• Screws and bolts catch rust in 5-6 months. (But again we are located close to the sea.)
– The rear end of the bike has compatibility for installing a trunk to store luggage. The weight load capacity is 7kgs.
– On the front wheel you can remove the reflectors and mount a mud flap which is seen on Bajaj Discover. This will stop the water/mud coming on the shin area.
– Since there is no main stand, in the event of puncture fixing the tyre will be troublesome. Best will be to fill the tube with puncture resistant gel. You can find the products from established brands like Motul and Oko.