Feb 16, 2006

Blaze of glory?

Kinetic just launched India's first large-capacity (no laughing, strictly relative term) maxi-scooter (big-boned automatic scooter with spacious accomodations and lots of painted bodywork). Originally called the Italjet Millenium, then the Kinetic Blade (we found out later that Bajaj had already registered that name), then the Kinetic Millenium and finally, the Kinetic Blaze.

To quickly run through the specs, the Blaze runs a 165cc four-stroke single-cylinder motor that appears to be borrowed from the far-from-well-received GF series motorcycles. You'd be hard-pressed to tell because the eager but shrill and rackety engine has been given the R&D equivalent of a Sabira Merchant etiquette program. The 'fixed' engine gives the Blaze 11.6 bhp to play with. Which makes it the first Indian scooter to breach the 10 bhp barrier. Heh heh.

More to the point, down a open straight stretch of road, the Blaze will easily pull past 100 kph before it runs out of breath. Even with the throttle pinned for everything it is worth, the Blaze does not feel to stressed, which is something I like. In traffic, acceleration is brisk enough for quick overtakes and most people unexpectedly find themselves staring at the rather large (pretty also) rear end of the Blaze, another thing I enjoy.

And it isn't just a big re-interpretation of the usual point-and-shoot commute scoot either. This one handles like a machine its size should. You can swoop into corners and power out of them and actually enjoy the feeling, rather than being super-alert and always ready, just in case the scooter misbehaves. Which is one thing it seems not to know how to do.

Perhaps the sort point is the ride quality once good pavement ends. When I put the Blade through the rough stuff, it seemed to abhor the prospect, thudding, clattering and shuddering a constant protest to my still full-rolled on throttle. Even at more sedate rates of progress, though, the telescopic shocks and twin rear shocks that work so well on better surfaces appear not to have a clue. Then again, I am told the bike I got ride was a prototype, and not a regular production vehicle so stuff can still change. Hopefully, the bad road ride quality will.

This monday, Kinetic announced the pricing for the bike: INR 49,999 ex-showroom Pune for the drum brakes version (in pic). Tack on another three grand for the disc option. It is fast enough to need the disc, mind you. So I think the drum version should not be purchased at all.

But the question is, should you buy it? Well, I'm divided. First of all, the scooter itself is very nice and all of that sort of thing. As such, there isn't much by way of product specification/feel deterrents. However, the brand on the visor does say Kinetic. Which means poor finish levels and fairly sticky service quality... And I remember hearing that the GF series of motorcycles didn't do that well on reliability either... Er... No, if I were a scooter buyer, I'd definitely wait for a lot of people to buy the Blaze, read up on their experience and then make the decision. And you?

Here are the tech upshots:
165.12 cc, 4 valves, SOHC Single cylinder engine. 11.6 bhp@7500 rpm , 1.2 kgm@5000 rpm Variomatic, Elec start. Underbone tubular chassis, Telescopic forks and hydraulic shock absorbers, 220mm disc brake optional, 130mm drums. Dunlop 120/70-12 and 130/70-12. 1990x700x950mm. Wheelbase 1495mm. 136 kg dry. 6 litre fuel tank.
0-50kph in 5.5 sec, Fuel efficiency: 40-45 kpl, Top speed: 85 kph (All figures claimed)


Anonymous said...

hey thats a pretty good blog you got going there.. keep it up!
reading up on the latest bikes to hit, i must say that suzuki and honda disappoint; and i agree with u that this is no vietnam where desis are going to fall over themselves for the jap stuff (at least i hope not! one can never say for sure!!).

the blaze is what sounds really cool and interesting. kinetic seems to be the only people with some guts to try to do some new, cool things like in rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

Yeah i agree
Kudos to Kinetic
they are doing some very good work lately with comet, blaze and Jupiter looks good too!
I have bought a Blaze recently, and its perfect! It has made my commuter a million times better than my previous motorcycle (HH passion).