Mahindra Pantero review, test ride

Autocar India
First Published: 14:11 IST(5/1/2013)
Last Updated: 14:24 IST(5/1/2013)
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Mahindra unveils 110cc Pantero and Centuro bikes. We get astride.
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Its two years since Mahindra 2-wheelers launched their first motorcycle late in 2010, the Stallio; a commuter bike that didn’t quite enthuse India’s demanding and fast evolving two-wheeler market. Mahindra has taken things in the right spirit though, investing wisely to build an independent R&D capability and bringing their think tank together to improve the bike. Back with a bang, the Stallio has now been reborn the Pantero, after Mahindra 2-wheelers has drawn on their substantial resource pool to perfect this 110cc motorcycle, before diving back in.

Mahindra 2-wheelers tell us the Pantero is a completely new motorcycle, apart from which they have also introduced another model, the Centuro, built around the same platform. For the enthusiasts, there’s news the single-cylinder, 292cc Mojo remains under development, for the moment an unspecified while away from production.   
 
The Pantero and Centuro are both 106.7cc commuter bikes, housing single headlamp units with LED pilot lamps encased within individual bikini fairings. The Pantero looks identical to the erstwhile Stallio, using saffron backlit digital instruments with an analogue tachometer tucked beneath its tinted visor. The Centuro is positioned slightly higher in the market, a relatively feature-rich bike built around the same platform. The Centuro comes equipped with a handsome digital instrument console, this using white backlighting while providing a service due reminder, an economy and power riding mode indicator, a trip counter, odometer and clock. Furthermore, the Centuro will sell equipped with a novel theft deterrent system. The Centuro uses a smart looking, LED torch equipped and flip-to-open key which houses a 128 bit secure access chip that triggers an alarm whenever a duplicate key intrudes, further cancelling ignition to immobilise the bike. Another button on this smart key makes the Centuro lights wink, making it easy to locate the bike in a crowded parking lot.
 
The relatively basic Pantero comes with decent quality palm grips, and switchgear that includes a pass-light flasher, plus handlebar mounted choke lever. Additionally the Pantero shows off a lockable tool-bay. Both bikes come equipped with handsome, 5-spoke and 18 inch alloy wheels, while their engine bays and other lower parts sport an all-black finish, including the exhaust, this fitted with a chromed heat guard.
 
Both bikes house the Stallio’s familiar, but extensively reworked and improved, four-stroke, 106.7cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine, now generating a healthier 8.4bhp at 7500rpm, with peak torque close to earlier, at 0.87kgm at 5500rpm. The new powerplant retains common bore and stroke dimensions with the Stallio, now rechristened as the MCI-5 engine, short for Micro Chip Ignited, 5-curves. Mahindra 2-wheeler R&D chief, PS Ashok informs us minor tweaks to engine state-of-tune separate both motorcycles. The Pantero and Centuro bring to the table now industry standard friction killing roller bearings for their rocker arms, a redesigned piston assembly, improved induction plus a better lubrication system. Both bikes come with identical, 4-speed, 4-up shifting gearboxes. Throttle response is better than on the Stallio at low engine speed, a key factor on commuter bikes like these, but our ride was brief, so we must reserve verdict till after strapping on our test equipment. What’s immediately apparent however, is the Pantero gearbox being a solid improvement over the Stallio, a giant step forward. Properly spaced gear ratios and a lighter clutch feel at the control lever are also available, all of which were missing from the first motorcycle.
 
Mahindra has undoubtedly improved upon the earlier engine and claim the new Pantero is capable of 0-60kph in 8.8 seconds, although we look forward to our independent testing to clarify this.
 
The Pantero and Centuro deploy twin downtube steel frames, a marginal 1.87kg lighter than the Stallio, with telescopic fork front suspension and a set of adjustable rear shocks. It’s disappointing to note the rear suspension is still bolted to an obsolete, tubular steel swingarm, that few Indian motorcycles continue to deploy today.
 
The Pantero and Centuro’s upright riding positions feel just right for bikes built for city commuting, and are complimented by long, well-padded riding saddles that aid comfort. The Pantero uses alloy steering braces and ride quality is decent, with some room for improvement. Both new Mahindra bikes use MRF tyres, marking another big improvement, with grip levels now adequate for this segment. Stopping power is via 130mm drum brakes front and rear, with a disc brake presently not an option.
 
Prices for the Pantero and Centuro are soon to be announced, but expected to be competent. Look out for our detailed ride report in the upcoming Autocar India issue, Feb 2013.
 
Fact File

Engine
Type                   106.7cc, Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke
Power                    8.4bhp at 7500rpm
Torque                  0.87kgm at 5500rpm
Power to weight    70bhp per tonne

Transmission
Gearbox                 4-speed, 4-up

Dimensions
Wheel base            1265mm
Ground clearance  165mm

Chassis & Body
Weight                  120kg
Wheels                  5-spoke alloy, 18 inches
Tyres                    2.75 x 18– 3.00 x 18 inches

Suspension
Front                     Telescopic forks
Rear                      Twin adjustable shocks, tubular steel swingarm

Brakes
Front                      130mm drum
Rear                       130mm drum

Economy
Tank size  13.7 litres


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