It has been eight months since I packed my bags, hopped on my RX 100 and rode to Bombay with a dream. Not the kind of dream that this city is famous for, but a dream nonetheless. And since my journey started with a 100cc commuter (yeah right), it only seemed fitting that I get the grand tour of Bombay on a commuter too (the more sensible kind of course). So it was decided that with Janak as my guide we’d explore a few quaint corners of the city with the Hero Splendor and the TVS Radeon.
Our first stop was the fuel station where we each filled up for Rs 200, which should be enough for all the day’s escapades right? Only one way to find out, and that was to get on with our little expedition. The bikes chugged along in as tame a fashion as possible and we made our way to one of the most recognisable landmarks in Bombay, the Victoria Terminus, now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of the city.
Next of course on our list was the Gateway of India, another iconic monument that is synonymous with the city of Bombay. And although it was just the wee morning hours, the place was packed with people from all walks of life. Why wouldn’t it be? Watching the sunrise from there is quite a pretty sight. Right opposite was the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel which was commissioned by Jamsetji Tata and opened in 1903. We sat there for a little while looking at the many boats bobbing up and down in the water and watching the rays of morning sunlight bouncing off the two little commuters parked in front of us.
Both the Hero Splendor as well as the TVS Radeon are pretty comfortable commuters, and while the suspension does feel a tad stiffer on the Radeon, both handle rough roads with ease. I have seen slightly modified examples of both motorcycles being ridden through the roughest of terrains, so I also don’t doubt their capabilities at all. The two commuters also have great fuel efficiency figures, so I was pretty confident that we wouldn’t have to stop and fuel up again for the remaining duration of our excursion.
We then headed towards Sassoon Dock and watched as the fishermen unloaded their catch. This reminded me of the early Sunday mornings in Mysore when I used to go with my dad and buy fresh fish right off the boats. As we watched, Janak and I debated as to which fish and what preparation we felt was the best. The people around us must have been left wondering what we were trying to accomplish there because after all that fishy talk we departed exactly as we arrived, empty-handed that is.
By that time I had started to feel a bit peckish, so we made a dash for Britannia and Co. in Ballard Estate for some Kadak Chai and egg sandwiches. Given the urgency and the existence of open roads on the way, we whacked open the throttles and barrelled down the roads at whatever little speed the two little commuters could offer. Both commuters were quite peppy and managed to dish out quite enough power to put smiles on our faces. We would have liked the confidence of disc brakes when it came time to slow down, but the drum brakes did quite a satisfactory job.
And while the Radeon seems to have borrowed quite a few styling cues from the likes of the Splendor, the former does carry a lot more bling with chrome accents in abundance. Both bikes are exactly what one pictures when one thinks of a commuter motorcycle. Compact, robust and frugal as can be, but push them a little and there’s an element of fun to them too. Especially those instances of zipping through traffic with ease, owing to the petite nature of the bikes. We could almost feel ourselves blending into the traffic around us at red lights, but almost immediately leaving everyone else in the dust as soon as it turned green.
During the course of our trip, we also passed by the Haji Ali Dargah, Marine Drive, as well as other iconic landmarks of the city of dreams. One thing I noticed was that there was always something or the other happening somewhere at any given point in time, and maybe that’s why Bombay is also called the city that never sleeps. It makes sense though because the most important dreams are the ones that come to us while we are awake. Both the Splendor and the Radeon seem to embody that spirit of rewarding hard work and encouraging one to step out of comfort zones. Not to mention the capacity for immense fun, as long as one has the appetite for it.
MOTODATAHero Splendor+ XTEC
7.91 bhp@8000 rpm
0.82 kgm@6000 rpm
Type: Tubular double cradle frame
F/R: 130-mm drum / 130-mm drum
F/R: 80/100 R18 / 80/100 R18
Rs 76,446 (ex-showroom, Delhi)
8.2 bhp@7000 rpm
0.88 kgm@5000 rpm
Type: Single cradle tubular frame
F/R: 130-mm drum/ 110-mm drum
F/R: 2.75x18 / 3.00x18
Rs 74,510 (ex-showroom, Mumbai)