Bajaj Avenger 180: First Ride Review
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The 2018 Bajaj Avenger 180 brings more performance to the table, but how much value does it add to the package?
Bajaj introduced the Avenger range back in 2005 with a 180cc motor. Although it was replaced with a 150cc and 220cc version later on, it seems the range has come full circle with Bajaj deciding to reintroduce the 180cc variant as a replacement for the variant powered by the smaller motor. But why replace the Avenger Street 150? Well, Bajaj says there is no substitute for displacement. A larger motor offers more power which comes in handy in the city as well as cruising down the highway. While that may be true, we are here to find out if a larger motor affects the value of one of India’s favourite cruiser or not.
With the discontinuation of the Avenger Street 150, the new 180cc motorcycle becomes the most affordable cruiser in the Indian market. Unlike the 220cc version, which is offered in both ‘Street’ and ‘Cruise’ guise, the 180cc cruiser is only available in the ‘Street’ variant.
The Avenger Street 180 looks similar to the 220 Street. Hence, it gets the new oblong-shaped headlamp with integrated LED DRLs at the bottom introduced in the 220 Street facelift, which was launched earlier this year. It also gets a new flyscreen above the headlamp to distinguish it from the now discontinued Street 150. These two elements give the bike a fresh and modern look.
Unlike the Street 220, the Street 180 sticks to the analogue single pod instrument cluster borrowed from the older 150cc cruiser. The Avenger 220 facelift, on the other hand, received all-new digital instrument cluster in 2018. The analogue fuel gauge with warning lights continues to be placed on top of the fuel tank. This panel also gets a small digital readout for the odometer and trip meter.
Other elements that have been carried forward from the smaller motorcycle include the switchgear, which feels dated given the hard plastics and rubbery feel. Bajaj could have equipped it with the better switchgear from the new-gen Pulsars instead.
There are minor changes to the seat as well. While the shape and the positioning remain the same as before, it gets a new texture like the one seen on the Street 220. The rear grab rails have been updated and now get a padding on top that doubles up as as a backrest for the pillion. If you want a proper backrest, however, you will have retrofit the unit from the 220. This could spoil the street look of the cruiser though.
The taillight is new too but carries on with a single halogen bulb. But Bajaj has clearly given a thick texture to the face of the cover to make it look like an LED. Other cosmetic updates include new graphics and two new colours that include a darker shade of red and black. But, even with all of these updates, the overall design remains the same and has started to show its age. You could argue that like Harleys, the design remains timeless. But even the Harley-Davidsons of today have been overhauled to keep up with the times.
Engine And Performance
The Avenger gets the Pulsar 180's engine. However, the 178.6cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder, 2-valve motor has been detuned to reduce NVH levels to give it a more relaxed, cruiser-like attitude. It makes 15.5PS at 8500rpm and 13.7Nm of torque at 6500rpm (as opposed to 17PS at 8500rpm and 14.2Nm at 6500rpm on the Pulsar 180) which is still more than the 14.8PS output of the Suzuki Intruder 150. The Intruder, though, makes 0.3Nm more torque and despite all its extra body panels, weighs 2kg less.
The Avenger 180 feels relaxed at higher rpms, but a mild buzz begins to creep past 50kmph through the seat, handlebar and mirrors. Although it is not bothersome, it is just enough to distort the mirror’s visibility. More than just the performance, what took us by surprise is the engine’s usability. Despite having tall gearing, the bike pulls cleanly in fifth gear from speeds as low as 30kmph. The 5-speed gearbox has also been lifted straight off the Pulsar, but with a revised final drive. It uses a 38-tooth rear sprocket (Street/Cruise 220 uses 36) lifted off the Avenger 150. This helps the bike gather speed quickly, making it feel peppy in traffic while also offering a relaxed cruising experience at 70-80kmph.
On our short stint with the bike, we managed to reach a speedo-indicated 120kmph. Accounting for the speedo error, the achievable top speed should be in the range of 110-115kmph. Bajaj says that the Avenger 180 will return a mileage of 45kmpl in the city, which is par for the course.
Ride And Handling
A cruiser is meant to be comfortable. And for this fact, Bajaj could have equipped the Avenger 180 with the Nitrox gas charged rear shocks from the Pulsar and Dominar range. However, you have to make do with conventional springs with 108mm of wheel travel. This translates to more pliancy from the suspension and the ability to soak up larger bumps and undulations, despite being set up on the stiffer side. The Avenger never felt unsettled despite going over a few big undulations, nor transmitted any judders to the rider on broken roads. The ride gets better with speed and the shocks never bottomed out anywhere.
The shorter handlebars give the Street a more manageable reach in the city, but might just feel cramped for larger riders. The seat cushioning remains soft and comfortable in short city stints. But we are yet to evaluate its effectiveness on longer journeys.
Handling, though, remains unchanged. The 180 remains nimble (for a cruiser) to ride in the city owing to its light front end. What impresses us most here is the short turning radius, which makes making U-turns easier despite the raked out forks. However, the light front doesn't inspire confidence in high-speed handling as it feels vague with the bike reluctant to turn in. Also, the bike tends to be a bit bouncy in corners if you are pushing it too hard. There are two tyre choices on offer - MRF radials or Eurogrip. Our test bike came with MRF tyres which provided good grip in most conditions.
The stopping power from the 260mm front disc and 130mm rear drum could do with a little more bite, but remains progressive throughout. The Avenger 180 feels happiest in the city and during the occasional highway jaunt.
The Bajaj Avenger 180 is priced at Rs 85,498 (ex-showroom Delhi), which is around Rs 5,000 more than the Avenger 150 it replaces. For the extra dough, you get a better-looking bike with added performance. Even with this small hike in price, the Avenger Street 180 remains more affordable than its direct rival, the Suzuki Intruder 150, by Rs 14,500. If you are looking for a budget cruiser, the most affordable one in the market has just upped its game.