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Hero Debuts Bikes Developed with EBR

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Hero MotoCorp has revealed several two-wheeled designs at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo developed jointly via its technical partnership with Erik Buell Racing (EBR). The new motorcycles include a production-ready 250cc sportbike, as well as a surprising 620cc naked standard. Hero also premiered a pre-production version of its electric Leap scooter, along with intriguing concept models like the quirky diesel-powered RNT and fuel cell-powered ION.

“Being the global leader in two-wheelers, we have been challenging the routine and the conventional. Our new motto is to drive change through path­breaking innovations,” said Hero CEO Pawan Munjal in a press statement announcing the new models. “With our finger on the pulse of the youth, we are therefore developing products that will cater to customers around the world, both in the near- and long-­term. We have now successfully developed an ecosystem of technology research and development that is designed to think beyond the obvious and deliver future­ready mobility solutions.”

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This latest batch of Hero designs are a significant development by the Indian giant. One of the greatest uncertainties after Hero’s 2010 split from former joint venture partner Honda was how the Indian company would move forward with R&D and technology innovation. These new models are the by-product of its technological partnerships with EBR and other design firms (Hero also debuted three scooter models co-developed with Italian design firm Engines Engineering).

The new models also tease Hero’s global plans: “Two-wheelers have a brilliant future,” said Munjal during an online stream of Hero’s presentation at the Indian Expo. “Which is why we are getting ready for the future. We are increasing capacity to produce more. And we are entering markets with newer segments – not just in India but also globally.” 

Hero HX 250R First Look

Perhaps the most important new model from Hero is the production-ready HX 250R – a 250cc sportbike to directly challenge its former JV partner’s CBR250R. Hero has long touted its standing as the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, but it is really the largest-volume manufacturer, primarily producing low-cost small-displacement models for its high-volume domestic market. So it is significant to note that the HX 250R will be the largest-displacement motorcycle ever produced by the company – with its current lineup ranging from 97cc to 223cc (the 620cc Hastur cuurently designated a prototype).

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The HX is powered by a dual overhead cam, liquid-cooled Single. Displacement is 249cc from an 81mm bore and 48.5mm stroke. No official power claims are listed in Hero PR literature, but The Indian motor news site, www.motorbeam.com (which also provided some of the Indian Expo photo coverage for this post), reports 31 brake horsepower and 19 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the CBR250R most recently turned the MotoUSA dyno drum to 23.75 rear wheel horsepower and 15.66 lb-ft torque. A promotional video for the HX does claim 0-60 kmph (37.2 mph) acceleration in 2.7 seconds, and Hero boasts “best-in-class performance” for its new quarter-liter offering. 

The HX powerplant sources modern electronic fuel injection, and also features two switchable engine maps – Power and Economy. The 250 transmission package is a six-speed constant mesh gearbox, with a wet multi-plate clutch.

The engine is a stressed member of what Hero dubs a "geodesic tubular frame" chassis. The suspension package is a 37mm telescopic fork up front and an off-set rear shock – the latter offering five-step preload adjustment. Like the Ninja 250/300 and CBR250R it rolls on proper bike-sized 17-inch wheels and tubeless tires.

An optional ABS braking package is offered on the HX 250R, with three-piston Brembo calipers pinching the single 300mm disc front. A 220mm rear disc out back is linked in the combined braking system. Claimed curb weight is listed as 306 pounds (139 kg), with the HX offering a 3.4 gallon fuel capacity.

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Our current impression of the bike is limited to photos only, but the HX 250R plainly looks to be a more refined bike than the existing Hero models we sat on at the EBR AIMExpo booth. The controls and components appear a quantum leap forward from the low-cost parts found on existing Heros, with the HX’s digital instrument console and LED lights prime examples.

(While the current crop of Hero bikes are undoubtedly low-cost/high-volume mount, the EBR reps at AIMExpo were keen to tout that their Hero imports would honor a five-year warranty. They will also be quite affordable. How affordable we can’t specify at this time, except to share the cryptic tease from EBR that consumers will easily be able to “buy one with a credit card…”)

In its domestic market, where the HX is considered a large-displacement model, this “race insipired” 250cc sportbike will directly challenge the aforementioned CBR250 from Honda’s subsidiary Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI). It will also, presumably, square up against a single-cylinder version of the Ninja 250, which Kawasaki has recently debuted for the Asian market.

No word yet on pricing, or if and when the HX would make it to US shores under EBR distribution.



UPDATE: The above text has been updated since initial publication with more details from the official HX 250R spec sheet provided by Hero MotoCorp. * Special thanks for Faisal Khan and Indian motor site, MotorBeam.com, for the photo support.

Hero Indian Auto Expo Photo Gallery
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Hero and EBR Technical Partnership
The HF-Deluxe is 97.2cc and has a retro vibe.
The Hero Honda joint venture powered Hero into its status as the world’s highest-volume manufacturer. However, Honda withdrew from the 26-year JV in 2010, selling its 26% stake in the JV to focus on its own Indian subsidiary, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI). While Hero would continue to produce existing designs under license from Honda, the big unanswered question was how the Indian company would handle R&D – a role which is being filled in part by Hero’s partnership with EBR.

Hero announced a strategic alliance with EBR in early 2012, with Hero sponsoring the Wisconsin-based company’s AMA American SuperBike racing efforts and EBR hinting at its future R&D collaboration with its design contribution of the initial Leap scooter prototype. The Indian marque would go on to purchase a 49.2% stake in EBR last July. The two companies further confirmed their cooperation during the inaugural AIMExpo, where EBR debuted the 1190RX and announced it would be the US distributor of Hero motorcycles.

While EBR reps insisted at AIMExpo that the Hero offerings slated to arrive by mid-2014 would be limited to low-cost production models then currently in existence, these latest designs presented at the Indian Expo are tantalizing potential entries into the US market, particularly the production-ready HX 250R and the prototype Hastur.
 
Hero HX 250R Specifications
The Hero HX 250R was developed jointly with American firm Erik Buell Racing.
Engine: DOHC, liquid-cooled Single
Bore x Stroke: 81 x 48.5mm
Displacement: 249 cc
Clutch: Multi-plate wet
Gearbox: 6-speed constant mesh
Front Suspension: 37mm fork
Rear Suspension: Single shock, 5-step adjustable for preload, Shim Valve Damping
Front Brakes: 300mm disc, three-piston caliper, combined braking with optional ABS
Rear Brakes: 220mm disc, linked. Combined braking with optional ABS
Front Wheel/Tire: 17 x 2.75 alloy wheel 110/80R-17
Rear Wheel/Tire: 17 x 4 alloy wheel 140/70R-17 Head Lamp: Twin 12V - 35W / 35W - Halogen Bulb , DC - Multi-Reflector Type
Tail/Brake Lights: LED
Length: 82 inches (2085mm)
Width: 29 inches (735mm)
Height: 45 inches (1145mm)
Wheelbase: 54 inches (1370mm)
Curb Weight: 306.4 pounds (139 kg)
Fuel tank capacity: 3.4 gallons.
 
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Comments
spokes   February 19, 2014 08:40 PM
Lou Dobbs, an American television personality and radio host, previously on CNN, now on the Fox Business Network, has written a number of books explaining how global markets work. This is his second book. War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back (2006). ISBN 0-670-03792-3.

SCBonneville   February 19, 2014 01:53 PM
Hey Bart, thanks for the response... I'm totally aware of the "global economy"... and all that that implies.. and yes, trade is good... What I bemoan is the fact that it is not a level playing field... i.e: India has a 100% tariff on motorcycles imported there... but yet they want to be able to export motorcycles to the US and be uber competitively priced based on their low labor rates, no tariffs here, etc.. It seems that Ross Perot was actually right about a couple of things when speaking about "free trade" (and specifically NAFTA)... "that sucking sound you hear....." As an "old fart" who remembers when... it's just frustrating to see what's happened to industries here... Our own fault though, really... get competitive or get run over... Sorry, I'll get off the soap box now... Good looking bike though...
MCUSA Bart   February 19, 2014 10:18 AM
SCBonneville, I don't disagree with what you're saying, but I also believe you are right that it's an un-winnable argument. The motorcycle manufacturing market is global - that's just the reality. Many of Honda's bikes are made in Thailand, along with some Triumphs. Certain BMW engines are manufactured in China... I would actually like to write a feature on where all this motorcycle stuff is made, because it's an interesting story. The flip side of globalization for American companies is that as international markets change, the potential for growth is staggering. Consider India and China, at well over 2 billion people... If Harley-Davidson, or one of its rivals, could capture even a sliver of that market, the results would be game-changing. And don't forget, those tariffs are against us now - but not always so, as H-D benefited from a 45% duty on Japanese bikes in the 1980s. Also, I need to clarify the "buy them with a credit card" statement, what EBR's rep meant to imply is that the Hero models initially distributed in the US will be remarkably affordable. But we shall have to wait until we hear exactly what those Hero models and prices will be.
SCBonneville   February 19, 2014 06:20 AM
>No word yet on pricing, or if and when the HX would make it to US shores under EBR distribution.< Hmmm... I wonder what the pricing would be if there was a 100% tariff added (as India does to foreign built units) to the price, since it is neither built or assembled in the US? Would you still be able to purchase it "with a credit card"? But again, that would be un-American to do that... right? Typical "Wal-Mart mentality... I don't care where it comes from... I just want it cheap" All the while, dollars and manufacturing jobs (what few are left) continue to run out of the US like a scalded dog... and consumer debt (see that "buy it with a credit card" statement) rolls on up... The next obvious question then, to me, is... "How long before Harley starts bringing in parts/assemblies (aren't they already doing this on their new 500/750's?) and then fully assembled units from their facilities in India"? And then when do India built Triumphs begin arriving from their new factory (instead of their Thai plant)? And of course Hondas and KTM's... Of course the cheap Chinese brands are sure to be close behind too... Sorry about the editorial rant... and yes, I know this is an un-winnable and useless argument... It does gall me though that this "global economy" thing is such a one sided affair and that we (America) have an open door or port policy, all the while countries that ship in stuff made at third world labor rates (and not having to deal with EPA/OSHA/etc. regulations), have huge tariffs in place for items heading to their ports...