Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ben's Corner #14: What's the new discovery? - TJJ's Exclusive

Tomorrow is going to be a great day for automobile enthusiasts as Bajaj is going to re-launch the legendary commuter bike, Discover 110 after a very long gap of 13 years. Yes, it was back in 2005 that the technological marvel, which re-wrote the history books of the Indian automotive scenario, was first showcased to the public. The surprise doesn't end here as tomorrow's product is going to set new records just how its predecessor did.

Discover 110 was the second variant under the Discover sub-brand of Bajaj. Around a decade ago, when it was launched, it came with never-heard-of features in the commuter segment like self-starter, alloy wheels, maintenance-free battery, dual spring suspension and pilot lamps. In those days, these features were considered to be premium ones reserved only for high-end bikes. Not only that, it was one of the first commuters to cross the 100 Kmpl fuel efficiency figure. Even today only two bikes: Hero Splendor iSmart and Bajaj Platina Comfortec command this number. Performance-wise, the Discover 110 was, again, a class apart. Sporting a 111.63 cc engine, the bike exerted 8.51 PS of power at 7,500 rpm and 9.37 NM of twist force at a much lower 4,500 rpm.

Though the 110 was discontinued in 2007 to pave way for the bigger Discover 135, its void was immediately felt in the market as the other brands started making similar engines then. In fact, CB Twister, which was a killer product from Honda, had a 110 cc engine. TVS Star 110, Suzuki Hayate 110, Hero Passion Xpro and Yamaha YBR 110 also had 110 cc engines. It was Bajaj's 110 that actually displaced the 100 cc commuter segment to a slightly more powerful 110 cc one. Even in the absence of Discover 110, Bajaj made some break through achievements like Discover becoming the highest selling bike in the whole-world in October 2012 when it sold 1,22,968 units of the bike in that month, while Hero sold only 1,21,018 units of the then highest selling Splendor.

Spy shot 1

But those achievements were, indeed, short-lived with the brand slowly dwindling in sales. In the mean-time Bajaj launched many more variants of the Discover like the 125 ST, 150 F and also fiddled with a 100 cc engine in the form 100 M and T. Again no strategy worked out for them. By 2016, they were forced to discontinue all the variants of Discover except the 125. There was no new Discover for the past two years. With this history at hand, tomorrow is not only a day to re-live for Bajaj but for the fans as well as the brand has reached where they started.

Although there is no concrete information about the new Discover 110 now, a few spy shots released on the internet a few days ago give us some clue. Just as what I said in the beginning of the article, the new 110 gets an all new analogue-digital instrumentation for the first time in a Bajaj commuter. Secondly, the bike gets a rev-counter, again, first in a Bajaj commuter. The rigid double cradle chassis has been replaced with a single down tube frame helping the bike shed a few kgs weight resulting in better fuel efficiency figure. We can expect nothing short of 100 Kmpl. New 'Y' shaped alloy wheels can been seen which looks cool. The suspension is a gas charged nitrox unit. The bike also gets a new black finish. Rest everything remains the same as before.

Spy shot 2

Coming to the engine, its specifications are unknown but expect the engine to better than its predecessor with power of around 9 PS which again will be the segment-best number. The engine will be BS IV compliant for sure and will feature Bajaj's DTSi and exhausTec technologies. In the end, the 110, which many were longing for these many years, is back again. Will it turn the table for the ailing Discover brand? We will get to know in the near future.

Those magical numbers!

Bajaj's patented technology 'exhausTEC' is one of the reasons behind the brand's engines having a broad torque-band. It is a resonator-like box (shape and size roughly like a small packet of potato chips) which joins the exhaust pipe as it passes the foldable footpegs under the engine. This little box creates roughly the same effect as a two-stroke expansion chamber. And allows Bajaj to reap huge benefits in terms of twist force, a precious commodity on short-stroke rev-head engines. The brand still uses this technology in its offerings.

- S Ben Raja,
Chennai, Jan 9, 2018.

The above review/analysis is completely the perception of S Ben Raja alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only. This author is correspondent for an English daily working on auto beat stories for over a year. Reach him at benraja4@gmail.com.

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