The Karizma was my first crush, and you know how firsts are always special. It was the first “big” bike that I experienced (as a pillion), and the first I aspired to own. But forget hitting this jackpot of a bike, I hadn’t hit puberty. But by the time I was capable and responsible enough to have it in my life, the Karizma R was gone, and its dolled-up sibling, the Karizma ZMR… well, let’s just say that wasn’t my taste. So, the dream, the promise the kid made of having a life with the Karizma R was left unfulfilled.
Now, after all these years the Karizma is back, and the thing about firsts is that you can never truly get them out of your head or heart. And as luck had it, we bumped into each other, though briefly, and the kid inside me was gleaming with joy.
I fell in love initially with the OG Karizma because of the way it looked. The fairing with shrouds, smoked visor, and indicators integrated into the bodywork… all that was superbike stuff (remember Dhoom debuted around then?). No wonder, the Karizma had everyone drooling. Seeing the Karizma XMR from afar reminded me of that very time.
Draped in the iconic yellow paint, flaunting a very sporty design with a full fairing, mean-looking LED headlight, smoked visor clip-on handlebars and the sharp bodywork… this was still superbike stuff. And it wasn’t just me. Bystanders gave the bike a second, and even third glance. Heck, some even stalked us till they could. That’s the charm of the Karizma, right?
And those who tried stalking us, well, they couldn’t do that for long because… it’s the Karizma afterall. Looks was one thing, but what made the attraction stronger with the OG Karizma was its 223cc powerhouse. Almost 20 horses on tap was fun, addictive and dangerous (for the preteen me, of course). The liquid-cooled 210cc unit on the XMR, it is somewhat like that. It is the most powerful and the torquiest in the segment.
So, brisking it away from the constant stares wasn’t tough. And the Karizma XMR complied too. We were cruising at triple digit speeds and both of us were happy, but it’s always wise to slow down things a bit too, right? And the Karizma XMR happily agreed to that too. We were passing through the bustling city traffic and the Karizma’s city mannerisms floored me. It didn’t want me to constantly work the gearbox, but just soak in the experience. And throughout the evening, I wasn’t fatigued, thanks to the not-so-overtly sporty ergonomics.
And it wasn’t just the engine or the ergonomics of the XMR, but the chassis too. Something I remember I admired about the previous one too. Raging hormones and little experience can have disastrous consequences, no? Reminiscing, I did some stupid stuff with the Karizma but it was forgiving and had my back, teaching me some valuable lessons. The Hero Karizma XMR felt a lot similar. It can switch directions with ease, and if you do end up doing something stupid, it’ll save your skin. The kid who fell in love with the Karizma would have welcomed the XMR in his life with open arms. But the 30-year old me?
Well, the kid was drawn by the looks, and though the XMR looked ravishing from afar, a closer look was somewhat disappointing. The quality of that iconic yellow paint was not what I’d want on a bike that I’ll admire everyday. Even the finishing of the panels themselves didn’t seem up to the mark. But that’s something that could be fixed in the subsequent batches…hopefully. But there are more pressing matters.
The OG Karizma was also appealing because it was a big bike in a market full of small bikes, and the XMR isn’t, but that’s not exactly the problem. Yes, it is the most powerful and the torquiest in the group, but it didn’t make me feel that way. The XMR didn’t have the peppiness or eagerness one would expect from a bike like this.
Similar is the thing with the chassis. It is compliant, and the suspension does a pretty good job of handling bumps and undulations. But if you try pushing the bike hard through corners, the soft front suspension feels wallowy and is like a wake-up call to calm your inner teen.
If I was a teenager now who experienced the Karizma XMR as my first “big” bike, I would have definitely fallen in awe with it. For the tech-savvy generation, it has Bluetooth connectivity, turn-by-turn navigation, and even an adjustable windscreen whose execution could have been more efficient with a simple knob or clip, but nonetheless it gets the job done.
But for anyone with experience, the Karizma may not pull your heart’s strings. It sure is obedient, but that isn’t always a good thing. The connection always feels special and deeper when the communication is both ways, something I have with my KTM RC 200 since the last nine years.
Though my story with the Karizma didn’t go the way I had hoped, the XMR will surely be the new crush of youngsters.
MOTODATAHero Karizma XMR
25.15 bhp @9250rpm
2.08 kgm @7250rpm
Type: Steel trellis frame
F/R: 300-mm disc / 230-mm disc
F/R: 100/80-17 / 140/70-17
Rs 1,73,900 (ex-showroom Delhi)