Bajaj has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat with Dominar’s killer pricing. We delve into the economics behind this move
The Dominar 400 has been one of the most anticipated bikes of 2016 and now that it is here, enthusiasts are treated a astounding news about the bike's pricing - the base version can be yours for Rs 1.36 lakh, while the ABS equipped model has been priced at Rs 1.5 lakh (both prices ex-showroom Delhi) The base version is, in fact, only Rs 3,000 more than Bajaj’s own RS 200, and that has left many befuddled as to how Bajaj did it. Some claim Bajaj will be leaking money on this move while one went to the extent of wondering aloud if black magic is involved (in jest of course). There is no question that the killer pricing makes the Dominar 400 the sweetest deal of the year. The question is how did they manage that in times of rising costs. Now we know that Bajaj has the knack of making feature-packed bikes at affordable prices and if you look close enough you will notice there are some interesting places where Bajaj has focused on to get the price down.
The Dominar 400 shares the same engine block as the KTM 390 but that is were the exotic nature ends. The KTM 390 bikes use a double overhead cam (DOHC), which affords a higher rev ceiling. The Dominar meanwhile uses a single overhead cam (SOHC), which is simpler and more affordable while delivering the laid back demeanor of the Dominar. The valve train been optimised for low and mid range performance that affords it great flexibility in the real world. And there is the case of the third spark plug which fits in the place evacuated by the missing camshaft, Bajaj’s trademark which helps improve combustion efficiency that improves mileage and emissions. Granted the Dominar makes substantially less power than the KTMs but then it should offer better flexibility at lower revs and in an unstressed manner. The lower power output allows for simpler, more affordable materials to be used in the engine.
Being lightweight comes at a price. So the Dominar skips the exotic lightweight chromium-molybdenum trellis frame (as seen on the KTMs) for a pressed steel perimeter frame similar to the ones seen on the Pulsar NS and RS. Of course the frame has been strengthened to bear the stresses of the larger capacity motor. The Dominar might lose out on the agility of the KTMs but should possess excellent high speed stability.
Upside Down Forks:
When the CS400 concept was first showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo, one of the talking points of its big-bike visage was upside-down forks. The transition from concept to production saw Bajaj drop the Upside-down forks for conventional albeit beefy 43mm forks. The reason being the upside down forks cost five times more than conventional units. The switch then saves Bajaj a lot of money.
Now the Dominar’s most direct rival - the Mahindra Mojo comes fitted with top-spec Pirelli Diablo Rosso II which cost an eye watering 25 thousand rupees a set though if you have the Mojo, you can get it for 16 and a half thousand rupees (but thats a story for another day). Even the KTM 390 Duke and the RC 390 have super sticky Metzelers. They are great if you want to indulge in some knee dragging. Now the Dominar 400 gets MRF-sourced Revz C1 rubber which we doubt, will be as grippy as the Pirellis and Metzelers. However, these tyres are expected to perform well for touring duties and apart from being more affordable will offer a good mix of longevity and grip.
Now while Bajaj might have saved money in these areas, thy have splurged in features like full-LED headlamps, full-LCD digital instrument console, ABS and a slipper clutch. So while Bajaj might have made the Dominar 400 extremely affordable, they certainly have not made a cheap motorcycle.