Hero Motorcorp may be the world’s largest two wheeler maker (by volume) but when it comes to in-house product development, the Indian behemoth has just started taking baby steps. The Hero Maestro Edge and Duet automatic scooter twins mark the start of a brand new innings, the one which has no involvement whatsoever from its erstwhile technology partner Honda. In that respect, the brand’s first homegrown platform naturally holds a massive significance as it gives us a fair idea on where the company stands now in terms of R&D might.
On the sidelines of the launch, we got an opportunity to get ourselves acquainted with both scooters in a controlled environment and here are our first impressions.
Hero Maestro Edge
Hero’s new flagship scooter certainly has an air of freshness to it. The design is characterized by well accentuated surfaces, sleek apron mounted front indicators, prominent headlamps, a compact visor, silver finished silencer canister, a black grab rail and classy rear LED combination lights.
The scooter also comes equipped with alloy wheels and an external fuel filler cap which is cleverly hidden underneath the bodywork, above the taillight. Hero has got the color palette spot on and the paint quality is easily the best in class, thereby enhancing the perceived quality of the product significantly. Speaking of quality, fit and finish are mostly good, the grade of plastic used is decent and the switchgears offer a nice feel (we particularly like the pass button integrated into headlamp dim/bright switch).
It suffices to say that styling and clever design are going to be the Hero Maestro Edge’s strongest traits.
Whereas its plastic bodied sibling aims to attract youth, the all-metal Hero Duet attempts to appeal to the masses with its conservative unisex design. A quick first glace is more than enough to observe that the scooter has several design features that puts it very close to the segment queen, the Honda Activa.
The Duet features a steering-mounted headlamp sandwiched by clear lens turn indicators and wears a funky ‘V’ shaped chrome embellishment on its front apron. Other design highlights include body colored insert on the mirrors, chrome strips on a heavily contoured engine cover with tiny vents, 3D logo, a huge grab rail with 10 kg load carrying capacity and a wedge shaped taillight cluster.
Again, color options and paint quality add to the appeal while build and material qualities are at par with the segment.
If at all there is a grouse in this department, it has to be the narrow adjustment range of the rear view mirrors in both scooters which could be a pain for tall riders.
Engine and Transmission
Hero Motocorp has developed an all-new 110.9 cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine which is mated to a CVT (Variomatic Drive). The motor has 8.31 bhp at 8,000 rpm and 8.30 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm in store which are adequate by segment standards.
While the engine is a strong performer with a bolder note than most scooters, the CVT falls a little short of our expectations. Under hard acceleration, the rubber brand effect lasts longer than expected, resulting in a comparatively sluggish low and medium speed acceleration. That said, overall performance is satisfactory when ridden normally and the powertrain offers a strong surge post 50 kmph, all the way up to 80 kmph. Refinement is good for most part if not the best in segment.
The Hero Maestro, being the lighter of the two, naturally offers a slightly better mileage of 65.8 kmpl. The all-metal Duet manages to deliver 63.8 kmpl. Both these are claimed figures and we didn’t get a chance to check the real world economy during our short test ride.
Ride, Handling and Braking
The new Heroes opt for conventional telescopic front fork upfront and single-sided hydraulic damper at the rear. The slow speed ride is bumpy with pot holes throwing both vehicles off balance but that is an inherent trait of Indian scooters. Things improve as speeds increase and the twins’ well damped suspension system offers decent comfort and impressive straight line stability. Generously proportioned seat with optimum cushioning further adds to the overall comfort level.
The Maestro Edge has a longer wheelbase (by 16 mm) than the Duet and a slightly taller saddle height, so there is a small yet noticeable difference in the way the two models go around a corner. While they both feel planted and easy to handle, we found the heavier Duet to be marginally nimbler.
The Hero Maestro Edge comes shod with 90/90-12 front and 90/100-10 rear tyres whereas the Duet employs 90/100-10 at either end. Despite the difference in tyre specs, Maestro Edge and Duet offer pretty similar braking characteristics.
Front and rear drum brakes are co-ordinated by Integrated Braking system which certainly helps riders who have the habit of deploying only the rear brakes. That said, the system does rob a good chunk of feel and feedback from the brakes levers, especially the front. Also, we would have liked more bite from the brakes.
Features list play a very influential role in a value conscious market and Hero Motocorp understands it very well. The duo is equipped with some pretty clever and useful goodies that are sure to be welcomed by customers. Here are feature highlights of top-end variants of the scooters.
Hero Maestro Edge: Twin parking lamps, engine immobilizer, mobile charging USB 3.0 port, remote seat and fuel lid opening, pass switch integrated into the dim/bright switch, Integrated Braking System, a digi-analogue instrument console with trip meter, illuminated underseat storage box, alloy wheels (bigger 12-inch front wheel), side stand indicator and service due reminder.
Hero Duet: All-metal body, Integrated Braking System, USB charging port, illuminated underseat storage box, remote seat and external fuel lid opening, pass switch, service due indicator, side stand indicator, twin parking lamps and digi-analog instrument console with trip meter.
The Hero Maestro Edge and Duet have impressive features list backed up by good quality levels and the brand’s immensely strong presence across the country (6,300 network points). The former also benefits from a design that stands out.
The twins emerge as well rounded products and there is absolutely nothing wrong with their fundamental aspects but there are peppier and more dynamic scooters in the segment.
That said, Hero Motocorp’s maiden self-developed platform puts to rest any doubts one may have had on the stalwart’s product development capabilities without Honda’s involvement. If these two products are any measure of what is to come in the future, it’s safe to say that the company will have no difficulties in maintaining its status quo as the market leader.