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At times, you just know that a motorcycle has been planned, designed and executed well in the very first minutes of riding. Such a bike is quick to leave a look of approval even before clocking a handful of kilometres on it. And this feeling is more satisfying when the motorcycle belongs to a manufacturer that was the pioneer of the segment being spoken about here. Pioneer, because it was Hero Honda (now Hero MotoCorp) who introduced the concept of premium 150cc bikes to us two decades ago with the CBZ. And over the years, Hero introduced successors to the CBZ, but none of them cast as definitive an impression as the first one — until now. Say hello to the all-new Xtreme 160R.

This new Hero has power and agility, two important factors that make a motorcycle fun to ride, but the company has also paid proper attention to the design and functionality of the motorcycle. In a world filled with edgy and chiselled-looking bikes, the Xtreme 160R has a little bit of everything, all of which falls well into place. First up, one can’t help but notice the smooth continuation of the fuel-tank covers to the side panels, to make for a one-piece look. What also stands out is the droid-shaped front end and the cleverly sculpted tail section. I also liked how the dual-tone partition line keeps to the design and defines the knee recesses on the tank. The heavily-smoked-out tail-lamp along with the integrated pillion grab handle gives the bike’s rear a petite look. Also, the stubby yet chunky exhaust merges smoothly with the overall design. On the whole, it is always nice to have a motorcycle whose mass is concentrated between the two axles, making it look balanced even when parked.

Now, one might think that the Xtreme 160R is probably just a cosmetic job with the same underpinnings as its various predecessors, but that isn’t quite the case here. You see, Hero went back to the drawing board and developed a new frame and motor from the ground up. The choice and quality of materials used here have heavily impacted how the bike feels and responds to rider inputs. The bike tips the scales at 138.5 kg and makes 15 bhp, and so offers an engaging power-to-weight ratio to exploit. And I could feel it every time I dumped the clutch from standstill, or dropped gears to carve lines around corners and got back on the throttle for a quick exit. Speaking of corners, the Showa-sourced fork and the 7-step adjustable monoshock deliver a planted ride. The motorcycle communicates well about available grip through the handlebar, seat and ’pegs, keeping you in control.

And while all this happens, the saddle offers a riding triangle where I’m at ease to have fun. The slightly raised handlebar, mildly rear-set ’pegs, and the comfortable 790-mm seat height offer a sporty yet ergonomic stance. Speaking of ergonomics, the raised seat hump keeps the rider in place every time the throttle is opened aggressively, and it also supports the lower back during commuting, making saddle time much more comfortable.

Coming back to the powertrain, the test bike was fresh from the factory with only a single-digit reading on the odometer. While this secures the fact that the bike hasn’t been ridden by anyone before, it also states that the motor required running-in before it unveils its true character. I opted to take this opportunity to run the bike through its gears at different rpms. There is a good lump of torque present from the bottom end right through the midrange of the rev band. Meanwhile, gear shifts needed a bit of effort due to the newness, but felt positive in every shift, while clutch action was easy and smooth. Later on, once the engine felt more relaxed, I was able to use the remaining part of the rev band, and for the couple of days I spent riding it, I can surely say that I wasn’t disappointed. Despite the freshness of the motor, reaching 110 kph didn’t take much effort. And while there were vibrations at high rpm at the ’bar and ’pegs, they weren’t very intrusive.

Furthermore, complementing this setup are the brakes which come with a sense of peace of mind on the go. The test bike was the top-spec variant with disc brakes at both ends. The feedback from the petal discs is strong with ample bite on offer whenever I grabbed a handful of its controls. This especially goes well along with the grip provided by the MRF Revz s tyres that are apt for this motorcycle. However, you only get single-channel ABS, and that’s a bit of a cheap trick for a bike as nice as the Xtreme 160R.

To sum things up, the Xtreme 160R, in my opinion, is the truest descendant of the legendary CBZ that feels right and sparks joy every time you swing a leg over it. Hero MotoCorp seems to have finally got it right after several iterations of the CBZ/Xtreme over the years. Hero is back in the game with a motorcycle that delivers what every entry-level performance-motorcycle buyer expects, a genuine challenger, at last, to every 150-160cc player out there.

Hero Motocorp Xtreme 160R

Displacement: 163cc, single
Max power: 15 bhp@8500 rpm
Max torque: 1.42 kgm@6500 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed

Type: Tubular Diamond

(F/R): 37mm telescopic forks / 7-step Monoshock

(F/R): 276 mm single disc / 220 mm single disc

(F/R): 100/80 R17 / 130/70 R17

L/W/H (mm): 2029/793/1052
Wheelbase: 1327 mm
Ground clearance: 167 mm
Seat height: 790 mm
Dry weight: 139.5 kg
Fuel capacity: 12 litres

PRICE: Rs 1.03 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)