Hey this is Rahul, for those who don’t know me already, I own a 2013 KTM Duke 390 and have reviewed motorcycles like Suzuki Hayabusa and BMW S1000RR on this my channel, but today I feel a special excitement.
Because today I am riding the Bajaj Dominar, and this motorcycle, begins a new era for Indian performance biking and more importantly it fills up a nice gap which existed in the market for a very long time.
If you have watched other reviews of the Dominar you may have heard the term Power cruiser. When you think of a cruiser you think of ample torque a lower seat height and centre of gravity along with a longer wheelbase but when you think of a naked bike you think of power, handling, great braking power and a 50:50 weight distribution. Combine the characters of both and you get something called a power cruiser. When a Sportbike manufacturer like Ducati went to create a cruiser they ended up creating the Diavel, which is a prime example. In my review I will mostly focus on whether this motorcycle can live up to the power cruiser tag or not?
The motorcycle has a very upright, almost cruiser like seating position but the handlebars are not raised like a traditional cruiser. They are street styled handlebars which means they make the motorcycle very easy to flick though lanes at high speed and provide a lot of feedback and feel. I really love this handlebar, they are not too raised and neither too low, definitely a lot better than the raised clip-on handlebars that Bajaj used to have on the Pulsar AS200. the saddle on the Dominar is wide and though it’s soft and comfortable, it’s not like the plush sofa seat type that causes back pain in long tours. This one is firm enough so that you don’t sink into the seat.
The Bajaj Dominar is powered by a 373.2 cc single cylinder engine that produces 34.5 BHP of power at 8000 RPM. Also 35 NM of torque at low 6500 RPM.
Peak power isn’t the only power, the power that this motorcycle is delivering in the low and mid range more than makes up for the loss in the top end. Remember, as a power cruiser, I am expecting all day riding at around 120 km/h and at that speed in 6th gear the engine feels just so relaxed and stress free.
Also no spec sheet can explain how smoothly the power comes on and how the power builds up as you twist the throttle in a very predictable and linear pattern. Whereas the Duke has a sudden explosion of power after 5500 RPM the Dominar doesn’t surprise you anywhere along the rev range and though it takes the thrill away, the Dominar is an easy bike to trust and I felt confident right from the first time I twisted the throttle. I remember that Pulsar AS150 and RS200 both had a throttle response delay.
After twisting the throttle the power came in a tad late and I was never really a fan of that. Glad to see they have fixed it in the Dominar. I don’t want to exaggerate but the way this motorcycle produces a strong torque and builds the power progressively, it kind of reminds me of the Kawasaki Z1000, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s as powerful as a Z1000 but it definitely follows that same pattern and I think that’s a great feat for Bajaj engineers.
If you regularly ride on smooth highways you know that the touring speeds are usually 80- 120 kmph and the Dominar Engine is feels the best in this rev range. I think instead of going for the peak power at higher revs and pleasing the “Top speed fanatinc crowd” they have gone for something more mature and usable which will attract the bikers who take riding long distance seriously.
Ease of Use
Apart from the comfortable ergonomics, the bike has a slipper clutch which is very light and easy to operate, imagine having to ride through bumper to bumper traffic and you won’t feel any pain on left hand. The 6 speed gearbox is also very smooth and reminds me of Japanese bikes and it has a very usable suspension setup. The front is relatively hard to maintain the composure of the motorcycle while cornering or doing a fast flick on the highway but the rear is set up soft and it gobbles the bumps. On the way back we might encounter some bad patches on the highway, and we can see how it performs there.
Another thing is their addition of the full LED headlights, I was riding it in a dark alley right after the launch and the headlights provided an illumination level that I have never seen on a Indian stock bike.
The bike also gets a 13 l fuel tank capacity and I am expecting a mileage of around 28 km/l so the range should be around 360 km, which is decent enough. I mean you would have to refuel every 300 km by keeping the last 2 liters in the tank as a precaution, and even if you ride 300 km at a stretch it’s still a long distance to go without a single stop. On my Duke 390, I usually refuel every 200 km or so.
The mirrors are also pretty functional and I can actually monitor what’s going on behind me without looking at my own elbows.
The bike is extremely flickable in the city and even lane changing at higher speeds feels easy. There is no roll from the rigid chasis and front feels very sure footed and gives the feedback that I am always trying to find in naked motorcycle. I’m also a big fan of the weight distribution and filtering in traffic is pretty easy.
Brakes and Tyres
When you make a motorcycle fast, you would need a lot of stopping power. Especially if the motorcycle is heavier, it becomes even more important. Bajaj hasn’t tried to save any money on the brakes. It gets 320 mm single disk up front and the rear is a 230 mm disk. The bike has a perimeter frame which has a more 50:50 sort of weight distribution so the rear brakes can also be used for some additional stopping power, combined with the front.
While I was riding a goat came into the highway and I had to drop speed very fast and honestly no better testing for the brakes then sudden panic braking. The motorcycle performed really well and I don’t feel that ABS was activated, I managed it with progressive braking itself.
There is the safety net of a dual channel ABS that is optional. I stress on the word dual channel because unlike the ABS on the RS200 which was only there for the front wheel, this time the ABS works on both the wheels and if you are planning to buy one, I strongly recommend you go for the ABS version. Trust me, it saves lives.
The tyre sections are as wide as the Duke 200 and 390 and it gets the REVZ tyres from MRF. We’ve had some issues in the past from the Duke 200 owners about these tyres and mainly it has been about wet grip and lean angle stability. But on the braking area, the tyres provided enough friction to slow down the motorcycle quickly. Also you can always change the tyres to something softer and stickier if you want and I expect MRF’s new soft compound the masseters coming in for this bike within the next 6 months or so. Remember the price tag on the motorcycle would have increased with the usage of better tyres so Bajaj took a decision with majority of users who would be fine with these tyres.
Suspension and Chasis
The front of the bike gets 43 mm telescopic suspension but it’s not an Upside down suspension like the KTM Duke series. They are setup relatively hard and this makes the bike easy to control and the feedback through them was very accurate and I really loved the stability and rigidity it offered over all riding conditions.
Also going over bad sections the road, even at high speeds the bike seemed to glide over it, I didn’t feel much even on speed breakers. The bike has good ground clearance and it kind of reminded me of the suspension of the Suspension setup of the Mojo.
Though I would say that the Mojo felt kind of not connecting with the corners and leaning that motorcycle was more difficult whereas on the Dominar it’s really easy.
Honestly 162 kmph (speedo indicated) what I got personally in the testing, with 148 kmph (true top speed claimed by Bajaj) is good enough. I mean ride it at 120 kmph and feel how effortless it is.
Looks are subjective they say and if I am looking at the Dominar it’s not an all new ground breaking design. It follows the lines of the Pulsar 200NS which I honestly think was the best looking Pulsar. And you can call it Pulsar 200 NS on steroids. The fuel tank is huge and that along with the headlight cluster takes most of the attention, the little console on the tank is a nifty touch.
Overall the motorcycle has road presence and looks like a big bike. Bajaj also claims a new high quality 3 layer paint on it, to my eyes, it really looks good. There are 3 colour options but my vote goes for the white one as it really makes the bike look big and elegant at the same time, though I would like to see a matte black option on sale in near future as well.
I’ve seen a few other reviews and it seems everyone is so excited that they are not talking about the negatives of this motorcycle at all. But as a complete reviewer my job is to cover everything about a motorcycle both good and bad. But before we get into it, I would like to say that most of it is nitpicking as it was really very hard to find many faults with this motorcycle.
First of all there was a few highway corners where kept the throttle pinned and leaned slightly. The rear of the bike seemed to slide off the line a bit, since the tyres are about 200 km old during this testing, this shouldn’t be happening. To be fair I was over 150 km/h in one of those leans so most riders may not experience this. Still, this could be happening due to 2 reasons. Either it’s due to the softer suspension on the back or it’s due to the tyres.
I’ve had a discussion with the Highway man about this as well and he too wasn’t much impressed with the tyres, I think the softer compound Masseters that we tested from MRF some time back, would have been a much better choice to handle the torque of this motorcycle. He also pointed about a little bit of exposed wiring which could have been done better but honestly, I wouldn’t bother much about it.
Another thing that did bother me was the weight. 182 kg kerb weight definitely makes the bike quite heavy but thanks to the low end torque you don’t really feel it bogging down the performance in the lower RPMs. But a lighter weight would have made it faster though I understand when you are cost cutting a few heavy alloys have to brought in as lighter alloys which do the major weight reduction really drive the costs up.
I really wanted to adjust the rear suspension and test the bike to find out more about its cornering stability but on this test we couldn’t do it. Maybe on the next one we will play around with it and we can explore further.
There have been a few queries about vibrations on this motorcycle as well and honestly I couldn’t feel vibrations through most of the rev range. But when I was in a higher gear and somehow had to slow down without shifting, I was riding in a very low rev. At that point there was clear vibrations through the bars and footpegs. Now I wear these thick Dainese leather gloves and mild vibrations usually do not filter through to my hand and my feet are also clad in these TR course out boots from Dainese. Vibrations filtering though them did concern me.
But the moment I went over 3500- 4000 rpm the vibrations completely disappeared and the motorcycle had the smoothness which left nothing to complain about.
This being a naked bike there will always be a windblast problem. Some naked bike’s still have some aerodynamic channelling but on this one I really felt whacked by the headwinds. Now I do wear a very aerodynamic leather suit which reduces windblast but even then the winds were something I couldn’t altogether ignore. I want Bajaj to come up with a wind shield as an accessory for this bike because I think that will make living life on the highway that much easier.
We always have to remember that the seating position on this motorcycle is very upright and that does increase the wind pressure on the rider. Nothing that a tall, touring windshiled can’t fix, so if I bought this bike, that would be the first thing I will upgrade. And a pair of Ogio saddlebags will be my only other modifications before I hit the highway for a long tour.
Overall the Bajaj Dominar performed way over my expectations but I don’t expect you to blindly take my word for it. Test ride of this bike is available at your local dealership and if you have already ridden it, do leave your feedback in the comments down below and also read what other riders are saying about it.
Thanks for reading, and the story continues on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/rahul.mazumder