Hero Splendor Pro Classic – Expert Review
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The pros: Looks are similar to Royal Enfield Continental GT, engine does decent job in offering comfortable riding with no irritating noise and vibration. lightweight and easy to handle.
The cons: The quality of materials doesn’t feel substandard.
The crux: But if you’re looking at owning a café racer styled machine which costs less (approx Rs 50,000 ex-showroom), offers good fuel economy also, then this bike is your machine.
Hero MotoCorp has always been known for producing automobiles for the masses. They’re the largest two wheeler manufacturer on the planet, and are vastly responsible for ensuring motorcycles reach even the remotest parts of our country. Their flagship machine the ‘Splendor’ has been a popular choice of motorcycle in most parts of rural and urban India and has had a wonderful run since its inception in 1994. Over the years the machine received various updates including an electric start and a new engine in 2010, but at its core it still remained the high fuel economy dishing motorcycle that it was meant to be.
In the past the Hero Splendor had variants such as the Splendor +, Splendor Pro and currently its popular variant is the Splendor iSmart, but the one variant which made heads turn, and literally became the talk of the town is the Splendor Pro Classic, commonly called the Splendor Café Racer.
Launched at the 2014 Auto Expo, this machine was something radical from the India auto giant, and totally unexpected. Of course the fact that it was launched soon after the Royal Enfield Continental GT with extremely similar designing gave everyone the idea that this machine was a design rip-off of the Continental GT. We test rode the Hero Splendor Classic Pro recently and here is what we think about the desi café racer.
First look at the machine and you can spot the similarities it has with the Royal Enfield Continental GT. Right from the mirrors, to the single seat and the cowl, but then again these aren’t Continental GT specific. Most café racers follow a certain design language which sets them apart from the other motorcycles; these include clip on handle bars, spoke rims, round mirrors, single seats, rear set foot rests, light weight, elongated fuel tanks all of which give the vehicle a racer look.
The Hero Splendor Pro Classic has a few bits such as the single seat with the cowl, the spoke wheels, the mirrors, the round indicator lamps, but that’s exactly where the similarities to the original concept of café racers end. The reasons are obvious, the Splendor no matter how it is designed is still targeted at a mass audience for whom a motorcycle is a mere means of commuting than indulge in leisure riding. The Splendor Pro Classic looks fairly decent and the quality of materials doesn’t feel sub-standard either. The foot pegs are not rear set which aids in comfort even when one wants to ride this machine over longer distances and even for longer periods.
The head lights, wheels, fuel tank and the analog display meter are the same as the regular Splendor on sale; what differentiates the two is the ‘Classic’ decal and the seat cowl. Dimensionally the Classic pro is 20 mm shorter than the standard Splendor, and the length differs by 65mm too. That said the Splendor Classic Pro sure manages to attract its fair share of attention with its looks. Even during our test when we halted for breaks and even during fuelling, the machine generated enough curiosity and second glances. It took a while for people to register the fact that this is the Splendor, but in a better, sauvier avatar. It is indeed a looker.
Engine and performance
The Splendor Classic Pro features the same 97.2cc engine present on all other variants of the Splendor including the Splendor +, Pro, Super Splendor as well as the iSmart which makes a puny 8.36PS of power with eight Nm of torque. Yes, the numbers sound insubstantial on paper, but it does a decent job of offering a comfortable ride with a very subtle punch of power at the low end when needed, especially in city riding conditions. And while you’ll really have to milk the engine if you wish to see three digit speeds, the Classic Pro does a fairly impressive job of cruising steadily at speeds of 80- 90 kmph without the engine sounding as if it’s about to die. Power delivery is linear. I recently rode the Splendor Classic Pro over a good 700 kms for around 12 hours at constant speeds of 85 kmph, at times even managing to cross 90kmph, but the engine felt calm and composed, with not a hint of stress; this trait certainly had me impressed. So if you’re considering travelling long distances on this café racer, be assured it will easily accomplish that task. Just don’t expect it to perform like a race machine, because it is not.
Ride and Handling
The Splendor has always been a light weight vehicle - nimble and easy to flick, and this combined with the current styling and the low height gives the motorcycle an edge over the predecessor. If you’re used to riding big motorcycles, say something even like a Karizma, the Classic Pro will seem like a toy bike. Not that there is anything wrong with toy bikes. I personally found this short stance fun to ride as it allowed me to firmly plant my feet on the ground once astride the bike, something I can’t do with quite a few motorcycles.
Seating is comfortable even for long distances and doesn’t leave your backside that sore, since its design isn’t as aggressive as you’d expect a café racer to be. The riding position is comfortable on the back as well as on the wrist; it fares pretty well on ergonomics. The foot pegs are not rear set which further adds to the comfort of the machine. Although rear set ones would have given it a good edge, handy while leaning into corners. Though the Splendor Classic Pro comes with drum brakes, they have sufficient bite ensuring you don’t go kiss the vehicle in front of you. Suspensions are smooth and as I mentioned earlier the light weight gives it good agility in chaotic city traffic, as well as on corners.
Since its launch last year the Hero Splendor Classic Pro hasn’t really been able to strike a note with consumers, mainly because people have always had the impression that the splendor is a work mule, and some have had difficulty in accepting the machine in this café racer avatar; not that they don’t praise it, they do, but they can’t seem to accept it. The other deterrent has been the single seat, which again is not very popular for a vehicle used as a trustworthy mode of commute for families for donkey’s years. Maybe if Hero MotoCorp would have tweaked the engine to suit the discerning consumers taste, the bike would have done well, which given its sales figures is disappointing.
I personally have not seen a single Splendor Pro Classic on the streets of Pune, besides the one I rode. But if you’re looking at owning a café racer styled machine which costs less (approx Rs 50,000 ex-showroom), offers good fuel economy and is not a hassle to maintain, not forgetting to mention comes from a brand known for its reliable machines, then the Splendor Pro Classic is your machine. There is no other budget friendly choice either, as it is the only other café racer besides the Royal Enfield Continental GT available on sale in the country today.