For a decade now, Bajaj’s Avenger has been performing duty as an affordable, likeable cruiser within the reach of those wanting a light, cruiser-esque motorcycle without the need to bust a bank. The Avenger brand though seemed to have taken a backseat over the past few years, all thanks to the Pulsars, and the Avenger barely got any updates except for higher displacements. Bajaj has just spawned a series out of the Avenger though, including comprehensive styling updates and three variants. The highlight though is the smaller, more efficient and more affordable Avenger 150. But a 150cc, cruiser motorcycle for riding distances, seriously?
To put that in favour of Bajaj Auto, you’ve got to admit, the 150cc segment is a sweet spot for manufacturers – 150cc bikes after all tick a lot of boxes for a lot of bikers with various needs. And Bajaj has been ahead in creating new categories, segments within segments always – and as far as 150s go, they offer everything from an executive bike in the Discover 150 to a streetbike in the Pulsar 150 and an adventure tourer in the Pulsar 150 AS! So does a 150cc cruiser complete their range? Swing a leg I did to find out, and here’s what I could make of Bajaj Auto’s youngest, smallest Avenger.
The Avenger 150 Street gets the same design and matte finish as its elder siblings, the Avenger 220 Street and Cruise. In fact, from a distance it is difficult to differentiate the 150 Street from the 220 Street thanks to their identical alloys and matte black finish. The 150 Street though gets a dark blue hue with a glossy finish as opposed to the 220 Street’s matte black paintjob. Despite being a new motorcycle in the family, the 150’s design is the same as the Avenger that we have been seeing all these years. All three Avengers, including the 150, have been given some comprehensive updates and few design changes though for a fresher, more contemporary appearance. The matte black finish has become the norm for cruisers of late, and it isn’t surprising Bajaj has gone in for the same with the 150 Street.
You don’t really need to scour the motorcycle to figure out that the inspiration for its styling comes from Harley-Davidson’s Street 750. The design of the Avenger’s alloys and single pod speedo/odo/tripmeter, matte black theme for the engine, forks with black rubber bellows, exhaust, handlebars, mirrors et al look clearly inspired by the American cruiser that also uses the ‘Street’ moniker. Not that we’re complaining, as this is a neat execution and the overall effect is nice. The headlight offers white light for better illumination we’re told, but it wasn’t possible to get a feel as we only got to ride the bike in the day.
The Avenger 150 Street gets a 17-inch alloy upfront and a 15-incher at the back in keeping with the cruiser styling, and these do well in giving it a low stance. The single pod instrument cluster now gets a digital odo/tripmeter, while the arrangement of the tell-tale lights on the fuel tank has been revised – this is a bit irritating though, since you have to almost search for the neutral light or the light for the turn indicators till you get used to this arrangement. The clear lens indicators look nice, though I felt an LED tail light would have given the rear a more contemporary look, along with the new, matte-black finished grab rail. In a nutshell, this is a nice motorcycle that will appeal to the target audience, especially since matte finishes are in vogue currently.
Engine and Performance –
The biggest talking point. This 150cc mill has been around for a really long time, and Bajaj has been working on it consistently, each time it has updated a model using the engine. As a result it feels extremely smooth now, with a silky feel throughout the rev range. Bajaj claims low to midrange torque delivery has been beefed up significantly this time around, and I was pleasantly surprised to note how punchy the motor feels. Rolling on the throttle even in higher gears results in noticeable acceleration, and this is easily the best state of tune for this air-cooled motor. Not that it was missed, but the Avenger 150 does not get the 220’s oil cooler. Power output is on-par with most 150cc motorcycles in the market at 14.5PS, while peak torque produced is 12.5Nm.
The Avenger 150 feels quick and despite its higher weight of 148kg as compared to other 150s in the market it should be nearly as quick in terms of acceleration. The engine feels best cruising at 80-90kmph and should make the Avenger 150 a likeable tourer. And that’s besides the fact that it will be good commuter in the city with its kind of performance and well-spaced gear ratios. Another big improvement is the gearbox – shifts are a lot better with a more positive feel and slot better than before too. The clutch is lighter as well, adding to the pleasant feel, be it in city or on the highway.
Ride, Handling and Braking –
The Avenger is relatively light as far as cruisers go and that helps in making it agile despite its long wheelbase and cruiser virtues. It isn’t exactly a corner carving tool but the Avenger 150 will be fun in the hills. The suspension setup offers a likeable balance of handling and comfort as the bike soaks in undulations and broken roads well while aiding confidence when either pushing hard around corners or cutting through traffic. Brakes are good too, offering ample bite, while tyres offer good grip.
Riding, Ergonomics and Pillion Comfort –
Bajaj claim to have raised the saddle height by 15mm by increasing the foam thickness on the seat. The seat felt comfortable initially, but after a couple of hours of riding I felt it could have been softer. The pillion seat is the same as before and isn’t too wide, and would not be comfortable for a pillion over distances. That apart, the riding position is nice as the footpeg-seat-handlebar combination is at angles comfortable enough for riders of varying heights.
On the whole, one has to admit Bajaj is creating yet another niche by launching what is the first ever 150cc cruiser in the country. Small capacity cruisers are commonplace in other markets and do well, and we see no reason for the Avenger 150 Street to not click with buyers wanting a motorcycle offering a mix of performance and efficiency along with the looks and feel of a cruiser while being light enough to ride in city every day. The matte black finish adds to its appeal, giving it a contemporary look. The star of the Avenger 150’s show though is its brilliant engine that offers brisk performance, good refinement, and is mated to a slick five-speed gearbox. All this at Rs 75,000 ex-showroom New Delhi, a price point that’s in the same league as regular 150cc motorcycles. So yes, to sum it up the Avenger 150 Street does complete Bajaj Auto’s 150cc product portfolio, and in a way that’s hard to not appreciate.