I got to ride one for a short distance. I was not really impressed to start with. It felt more or less like a Super Splendor/Glamour/Gladiator/Shine would or should. It didn't feel as fast as a Discover at high revs... no, this bike wasn't for me. Then I parked for a minute and got chatting with this chap. I was parked next to his Splendor, and when I told him that the bike was Rs 41,000 ex-showroom, he remarked that that was roughly what he paid for his bike.
Then it struck me. I was riding a proper 125cc bike that cost as much as his 100cc bike. And mine had a digital dash (fuel, battery, speed, no tacho), LED tail lamps, a neat front number plate that folds flat over bumps (a lever connects to the top of the number plate to the bottom triple clamp. The plate is spring loaded at the bottom. When the suspension compresses, it pushes the plate forward and flat. Benefit? Fairing can be mounted lower. I'm told a patent has been applied for and will bet that the all/most of the next bunch of motorcycles from Bajaj will sport this), standard electric start (yes, standard) and a box/saree guard that isn't lockable but a neat cubby hole nonetheless. To look at, it isn't jaw-dropping, but it is not anonymous and certainly striking. The XCD looks quite eye-catching, especially as an upgrade from the rather ploddy 100-110cc bikes we're used to.
Riding about, I liked the early torque and cruising the stupidly low speeds in ludicrously high gears is possible – should this fuel economy fixation thing be happening to you. The torque curve is flat and high, but I thought the top-end was a bit weak. I'm not completely sure about it yet, but it might just be that the early torque is so much, that it makes the respectable 9.5 bhp top-end look all wilted and all. Could also be that the peak power comes in at an early 7,000 rpm, so when the revs do get up high, you're past the power peak and suffering. But as I said, more on this when I get to properly ride the bike, as opposed to mooch it for ten minutes.
Ride and build quality is good, handling is light and maneuverable. In fact, the bike is remarkably light. At 112 kgs, it should be one of the lightest in the market right now. Which helps both the performance and the mileage aspects. And don't ask me why, but if you're buying one, get a bike that's wearing Eurogrips as OEMs and the Dunlops. There's not much in it, but the Euros, my source tells me, are slightly better.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the XCD as long as I can remember that it's supposed to compete with the Splendor/Platina. Problem is that the XCD is no effortless at being a regular 125 (Super Splendor-Glamour, even Gladiator, I think) that it makes that fact very hard to remember.