This ought to be a no-brainer. The market is abuzz with how Hero has brought out its own take of erstwhile partner Honda's Stunner, so putting the new Hero Ignitor through its paces should be no different from a day out on the Stunner.
So we thought.
The bike delivered to us for the test-drive was brand new, still wrapped up in plastic, the figure zero grinning at us from the mile-log. So, sadly, this review cannot be about making the Ignitor jump around, but going through the paces more sedately, since the engine has really not been broken in.Looks
There is precious little to choose between the Ignitor and the Stunner. But this is not really about comparing the two bikes, but about the Ignitor itself, right? So, it is a big, tall bike, with a handsome 17.5-cm ground clearance. The seat is high, so a short man like me has to reach for the ground, but while driving, the high seating position more than compensates for this. The rakish lines, the semi-faired front end, the colour-coded mirrors, all make for a very handsome vehicle. At first glance, the body gives the impression that it a bigger bike, not a 125-cc.
A digital speedometer, trip meter and clock embellish the instrument cluster, with fuel and tachometers in analog. The switches are handy, and there is a headlight flasher. The clutch lever does not come into play to fire the self-start - a welcome measure - unless the bike is in gear. Now, if they could have put in an engine-cancel switch and a side-stand alarm as well.
Split seats are the rage these days, and the Ignitor has gone with the trend. The cushion is rather hard (which is also the trend), but that hopefully means it will last longer. The high seating and the handlebar position make it rather comfortable to steer this horse around. The clutch is pleasantly soft - we got to really grind it out in peak traffic, with no cause to complain.
The Hero engine has technology that did not exist in Stunner - what it calls ATFT (Advance Tumble Flow Induction Technology). When the carburettor pumps in the air-petrol mixture into the engine, it goes as a jet stream. In the case of ATFT technology, a swirling motion is introduced in this process which, it is claimed, makes the combustion better. Result: greater efficiency, less pollution, more mileage. Whether all this translates into better real-time performance, one cannot say at this stage: like we said, the bike is yet to be broken in. Maybe a long ride after it has done 3-4,000 kms would give a clearer picture.
What we do find, as we snake through traffic, is that it has enough in it to take us to the forefront, but if we try to really take off, or compete with the larger-engined Pulsars or Apaches, the Ignitor runs out of steam. Not surprising, because it is an unequal fight, but having said that, it does not give up without a fight. And pushed, it touched 100 kph in reasonable time, so a final top speed in the region of 110 seems likely. It is content in the 50-60 kph range, and that is more than enough for day-to-day functioning.Handling
This is where we were pleasantly surprised. The version of the Ignitor that we tried did not have disc brakes, nonetheless the braking is quite capable. Even around bends at reasonably high speeds, they did not let us down. Hero has put reasonably big - and tubeless - tyres, and they make for clinical point-and-shoot handling. Excellent through traffic, though on clear stretches, as we said, the engine runs out of wind.
The Ignitor's engine is the self-same as the one in the Stunner, but Hero has tweaked the manner in which it dishes out its power. So the maximum torque of 11 Nm (which is the same as Stunner, too) becomes available at 5,000 RPM - a full 1,500 lower than the Honda bike - which makes the Ignitor peppier in stop-start situations.
Imagining that the Stunner never did exist, the Ignitor is generally a fun bike to ride around. We sure would like to see how it shapes up after a couple of thousand kilometres. Maybe a short update in a few days.