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.”
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).
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.
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.