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Rookie rider on the motorbike block

It?s easier to stay at the top in Bollywood than in the executive commuter segment, writes Deepesh Rathore as he puts the Caliber 115 against the LML Freedom

india Updated: Apr 16, 2003 18:08 IST

Designing an executive commuter bike can be quite a daunting task nowadays. For one you have to beat everyone already in the market and design a product that will be a class leader for the next few months. At the same time you have to use the existing bits and pieces as much as possible in order to keep costs low.

Take the LML Freedom for instance. The bike uses a modified version of the Energy FX engine and the LML R & D guys took pains to ensure that the bike had the best package in its class, even down to the headlight beam. They reigned supreme for some months till the guys at Akurdi decided to throw a challenge.

Enter the Caliber 115, the ‘115’ moniker indicating at an obvious superiority over its peers and not the engine size which remains unchanged at 111.6cc. Bajaj claims near magical figures of 9.0bhp, 100kph top-speed and 90kpl.

That beats the competition (Freedom) by 0.5bhp, 10kph and 5kpl in terms of claims and takes the Hoodibaba directly to the top of the sweepstakes. But at the time of the Freedom’s launch and before that Victor’s arrival, those bikes were also at the top of the business. Heck, it’s easier to stay at the top in Bollywood than in the executive commuter segment.

Standing neck-to-neck both bikes seem to follow a conservative, please all approach to styling. By conservative we mean that none of them is as adventurous looking from any angle as the Yamaha Libero.

Clear glass seems to be a necessity rather than a luxury and both bikes come with clear headlamps and tail lamps.

The Freedom scores in terms of styling as it appears a bit more balanced than the 115 and the two-tone seat covers on the Deluxe model really stand out. The 115 on its part has improved a lot in the styling department from the past members of the Caliber family. On the move it’s difficult to match the Caliber 115’s agility in the exe-commuter department and even the sprightly Freedom is no match. The sporty LML tries to make ground at the corners but loses more on the straights to the 115.

A major deciding factor in this segment is how well the bikes hold up in the long run where it’s a wait and watch for the Caliber 115 while the Freedom has already proved itself.

With near neck-to-neck pricing, it all boils down to the fuel economy where the Caliber 115 has an edge again. In fact as an overall package, the 115 is quite commendable and gets our vote here.