Bajaj has been quick to capitalise on the success of its ‘Invincible’ V15 by launching the second member of the ‘V’ family – the V12. Still a commuter, the V12 slots in below the V15 and will serve as a model intended to make inroads into the competition’s market share by offering superior value for money. While the V15 was priced at a premium as compared to its primary rivals, at Rs 56,283 the V12 is very competitively priced.
This price has been achieved by employing several techniques to keep costs down. The front forks are slimmer, wheels different and tyres skinnier. The part-digital instrument cluster of the V15 has given way to a fully analogue unit and aluminium bits and pieces have been replaced by steel and plastic. The biggest cost-saving measure, however, is the 125cc engine, which is a derivative of the Discover’s motor. However, it has been significantly revised to produce more pulling power. In fact, the V12 produces at least 1Nm more torque than any of its competitors.
Beyond these cost-cutting measures, the V12 is identical to the V15. In fact, the only thing that would really give the V12 away to the untrained eye would be the badging. Up front, you have the same butterfly-shaped headlight and the same sculpted, muscular tank. The wide seat is also the same, and so is the café-racer-style rear seat cover. Bajaj will also differentiate the two ‘V’ bikes by means of their paint schemes – the V12 comes in attractive colour combinations of white-on-red and orange-on-black.
Bajaj is very direct about the fact that despite its premium appearance, the V12 is, in fact, a commuter, true for all bikes in the V series. And as a commuter, ease of riding and fuel efficiency have taken precedence over outright performance.
Let’s get fuel efficiency out of the way first. Bajaj claims that the real-life mileage of the V12 will hover in the range of 50-55kpl, something which is the standard for this class.
In terms of ease of riding, the V12 impresses. The riding position, to begin with, is quite relaxed. You are seated upright, the handlebars are well within accessible distance and the seat is wide and well-padded. The fairly low saddle height of 780mm is also suitable for riders of most sizes. The skinny front tyre makes for easy manoeuvring in traffic, and overall, the bike is quite easy to control.
The 125cc block makes 10.7hp and a healthy 11Nm. What’s nice about this motor is that all the pulling power is available from low revs and power delivery is linear all throughout. In fact, the bike picks up speed better than you would expect, and hits 80-100kph quite easily. Engine vibrations are fairly well-contained as well until about 80kph, after which they manifest perceptibly in the seat and foot pegs. However, commuters won’t generally be riding at those speeds. On the whole, refinement is very good, making the V12 feel like a more premium bike than its price tag suggests.
What also helps the V12’s performance is the five-speed gearbox that its engine comes mated to. The fifth gear, which is uncommon in this segment, not only lets you cross the 80kph barrier comfortably, it is also likely to boost fuel efficiency on highway runs. The clutch and gear lever are easy to operate, although the relatively high torque minimises the need to change gears often.
Stopping power, due to cost-cutting, is provided by drums up front and at the back. The front drum felt like it lacked adequate bite, but this might be because the front drum was not fully worn in on the test bike.
Suspended on 30mm telescopic front forks and twin gas shocks at the back, the V12’s ride is reasonably pliant. It feels composed on the highway, but the ride gets slightly jarring on bad sections of the road.
- Engine: 124.5cc, single-cylinder, air cooled
- Power: 10.7hp at 7,500rpm
- Torque: 10.9Nm at 5,500rpm
- Price: Rs 56,283 (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Like the more powerful V15, the V12 is an impressive effort from Bajaj. It matches its rivals, if not exceeds them, on almost all fronts, be it performance, ride comfort, fuel economy, price or build quality. But the place where it definitely exceeds its rivals is its premium appeal and desirability. This is precisely where its value lies – it adds a dash of much needed glamour to a segment that is otherwise looked down upon as utilitarian and drab.