First ride review - 2015 Bajaj Avenger Cruise 220 and Street 150
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Way back in 2005 there were only a few cruiser motorcycles. One of them was the Bajaj Avenger. It made you feel like a king and with it being made in India, it didn’t cost you a pretty penny either. The Bajaj Avenger had undergone some engine changes in the past, but now they’ve revamped their range. Meet the Cruise 220, the Street 220 and the Street 150. But since the Street 220 and the Cruise 220 are mechanically the same we’ll skip the Street 220 for now and go for a spin on the Cruise 220 and the Street 150.
The Pros: Engine is more refined, better handling and braking has been improved
The Cons: Styling is still the same after 10 years
The Crux: It’s a value for money cruiser.
Design and features – The new Avengers have retained a lot of their looks from the previous models but there are a few minor changes now. The ever popular round headlight now gets a white hue rather than the standard yellow and the instrument console now gets a digital LCD screen. The cruise 220 gets a couple of chrome bits to glam it up while the Street 150 gets a sporty matt black paint job. Both motorcycles get an indicator console on the fuel tank that shows you the neutral, high beam and turn indicator signals but it gets very frustrating as you have to take your eyes off the road to look down at them. The pass light switch too is a bit awkward to use but you’ll get used to it in time.
The new grab handle looks sturdier and the exhaust gets a long overdue re-design. The tail light looks dated and we wish they would have designed something new or even experimented with an LED tail light. The main distinguishing styling difference in the new Avenger 150 is the 12 spoke alloy wheels. It seems to be inspired from the Harley Davidson Street 750 and we’re not complaining because it’s what’s going to make this motorcycle sell like hot cakes. The Cruise 220 on the other hand gets metal spoke wheels in shiny chrome to give that traditional cruiser look.
Engine and Performance – The engine on the Cruise 220 is the same one used in the previous Avenger but Bajaj has said that they have tweaked it for better low and mid-range grunt. It still puts out 19PS at 8400rpm and 17.5Nm at 7000rpm. But while riding you can feel that little extra punch in the lower rev range and that’s what the Avenger badly needed. The engine in the Street 150 is a big step up for Bajaj. Even though it’s the same engine from the Pulsar putting out 15PS at 9000rpm and 12.5Nm at 6500 it’s been fine tuned to such an extent that this could very well be the best state of tune for the engine ever. The engine noise and vibrations have been cut down to a great extent so much so that it almost doesn’t feel like a Bajaj engine. We only got to ride the motorcycle for a little while and so weren’t able to test the performance or get a fuel economy figure.
Ride, Handling and Braking – Once you sit on the Avenger, you’ll notice that the seat height has been increased by a little bit to give you a better position while riding. The handlebars on the Cruise remain the same but the Street gets a lower and flatter handlebar lending a more comfortable ride quality. The combination of the lower handlebar and slightly higher seat make manoeuvring the Street a very easy task in spite of its slightly heavier weight of 148kg. Bajaj have spent a lot time refining the gearbox and it’s paid off. Shifting gears is smoother and the clutch feels lighter too which is good for commuting in the city. Pulling through the rev range is quick with ample grunt even in the higher gears. The Street touches 90-100km/h quickly and can cruise along comfortably at 110km/h. The speedo showed a top speed of 117km/h but the true speed may vary. We were very impressed with the handling and performance of the Street 150, but the Cruise 220 didn’t excite us much. Its handling felt similar to the old Avenger 220.
The suspension setup on both motorcycles remains the same but they’ve been set a little stiffer to address the problem of bottoming out. Unfortunately this has made going over bumps a little painful. The wheel size and tyre size of both motorcycles are identical with a 90/90-17 in the front and a 130/90 – 15 at the rear. The MRF zapper tyres though don’t offer enough feedback. Braking on the Street 150 was much better than we expected. The front brake now offers a good amount of feel and bite while the back brake can be barely felt. The Cruise 220 gets Brembo brakes up front which is a definite plus point and they work well too.
Verdict – In the Indian market there isn’t much competition for the Bajaj Avenger. Simply because every other cruiser costs above a lakh of rupees whereas the Avenger Cruise comes with a price tag of Rs. 81,000 and the Street 150 for Rs. 72,000 ex showroom Mumbai. So for under a lakh you can get a powerful cruiser motorcycle that chugs along nicely and looks cool too. We were very impressed with the amount of refinement and how well the Street 150 responded to rider inputs and with its Harley Davidson like looks, it’s definitely going to be a fast seller.