The Scimitar is the first product from the Chennai-based Altius Automotive Technologies. Altius initially plans to manufacture small displacement, 400 - 700cc multi-fuel motorcycle engines which can additionally be used for applications such as power generation or construction. They commence production in the first quarter of 2012, with an aim to achieve a high percentage of indigenisation from day one.
The Scimitar, based on the Kawasaki KLR650, looks like the typical multipurpose, on/off-road motorcycle. A basic fairing surrounds the rectangular headlamp, and the military bike also gets an IR light to help boost night vision. In India, this will become the only motorcycle to run on diesel, or a choice of JP8, JP5, JP4, AVTUR, JET-A1, and even biodiesel thanks to its multi-fuel technology.
The Scimitar’s 670cc, single-cylinder engine is a liquid-cooled four-stroke, wet sump unit that relies on indirect injection (IDI) for your choice of heavy fuel. You get 5.4kgm of torque produced at a low 3,300 rpm.
The Scimitar’s exhaust note, while not refined, is without the bothersome clatter that is expected of a diesel. A 20-minute ride, however, confirmed that this is no petrol power plant.
The engine feels heavier, the revs building gradually with a tardy, but predictable throttle response that takes some time getting used. Acceleration and performance feel sluggish but it pulls with a steady perseverance.
The Scimitar is smooth as long as you don’t push it hard. The transmission is a conventionally toe-shifted, five-speed unit that sticks with a universal one-down, four-up configuration. The company’s claim of a top speed of 150kph is something we have not tested ourselves yet.
You sit comfortably upright on the Scimitar but shorter riders will struggle. However, on the go, it’s this and the wide handlebar that help provide a welcome, commanding feel and nice leverage.
The suspension on our test bike seemed a bit stiff, although our ride was too short to form a firm opinion on ride quality. The dual-purpose on/off-road knobby tyres offer tenacious grip on dirt roads but lack confidence when cornering on tarmac. Altius claims the Scimitar is good for 46.6kpl when ridden at a constant 90kph, which is par for the course.
At the outset, the tough-as-nails Scimitar does have great potential in India, where our pothole-ridden roads beg for a sturdy motorcycle like this. Altius has indicated an attractive Rs 1.5-1.75 lakh price for this really unique motorcycle.
Price: R 1.5-1.75 lakh
Ground clearance: 211mm
Fuel tank capacity: 14 litres
Dry weight: 176kg
Engine layout: Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, Indirect injection: (IDI), diesel
Power: 33bhp at 5700rpm
Torque: 5.4kgm at 3300rpm
Specific output: 49.2bhp
Power to weight:
187.5bhp per tonne
Rear suspension: Linked monoshock, dual side swingarm
Front brake: 280mm
Rear brake: 240mm petal disc
Wheels: Wire spoke
Rim size (f-r): 21-17 inches
Tyre size (f-r): Dual purpose 90/90 x 21 - 120/90 x 17 inches