Hero vs. Honda: Battle of the Titans (starring Erik Buell)

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Hero vs. Honda: Battle of the (starring Erik Buell)

from top left: The featherweight 620cc Streetfighter; lightweight HX250R sports bike; 35 kg urban electric motorcycle; 100 kg fuel cell prototype two-wheel-drive, hubless maglev collision detection avoidance, Lithium-Air batteries and futuristic suspension; ZIR superscooter; LEAP hybrid scooter, world’s fuel-efficient scooter with 200 mpg and 240 mpg (imp) PLUS electric. Not is the RNT hybrid turbo-diesel-electric prototype we last week. Exciting indeed!

When Hero Managing Director Pawan pronounced the dawn of a new era at a press prior to the opening of Auto in New Delhi last week, his meant much more customary auto company MD When Honda and Hero to part company in December with Honda’s long agreement to provide technology to the Honda company until the end of looming, Hero faced the insurmountable task of replacing world-leading motorcycle designs exactly four years.

it liked it or not, Hero has been entering a new era since it to pay Honda US$1,000,000,000 for its 25 percent of the publicly listed Hero (a company with 50 percent share of Indian motorcycle and then face its former the world’s undisputed heavyweight manufacturer of two-wheelers, as a direct and competitor.

The battle is now on for market in the world’s biggest motorcycle and market, with battles will impact markets soon to follow.

We have challenging the routine and the conventional. our new is to drive change through innovations. We have now successfully an ecosystem of technology research and that is designed to think the obvious and deliver future-ready solutions.” Pawan Munjal. MotoCorp Managing Director and Executive Officer

After years of Hero MotoCorp for the end of 2014, the critically important Indian Auto Expo was time” in more ways one. It was the final opportunity to a convincing new range at India’s important auto show it becomes entirely reliant on its own

Cometh the hour, cometh the

Munjal summed up the Hero when he said: “Being the leader in two-wheelers, we have challenging the routine and the conventional. Our new is to drive change through innovations. With our finger on the of the youth, we are therefore developing that will cater to around the world, both in the and long-term. We have now successfully an ecosystem of technology research and that is designed to think the obvious and deliver future-ready solutions.”

Over the course of the Expo, Hero delivered on vision with a broad of new motorcycles and scooters and several prototypes and pre-production models demonstrated just what can be with two wheels when you think about it.

Pawan and the most futuristic prototype this year — the ion. Indeed, it’s even more futuristic any motorcycle we’ve ever at a motor show, with the exception of Kawasaki’s shape-shifting J electric concept from the Tokyo Motor Show closed in December, 2013.

already covered Hero’s RNT turbo-diesel-electric utility concept. but were a number of other shown in New Delhi that entirely new thought. Hero’s range includes the predictable of traditional scooters, plus than a few new prototypes that what more … will see when Hero which it most certainly the 620 cc Hastur lightweight streetfighter; the new 250 cc single cylinder sports the futuristic ion fuel-cell motorcycle Lithium-air batteries; the featherweight generation electric SimplECity; the Zir and the Serial Hybrid ‘LEAP’ Full rundowns on all of those are deeper into this but first the background on one of the most stories in automotive history.

The for Hero MotoCorp’s new era: the Honda Divorce Settlement

MotoCorp is India’s largest manufacturer and as a stand-alone company, the largest motorcycle manufacturer Dr. Brijmohan Lall Munjal the family business in 1956, bicycles in Amritsar – the company was Hero Cycles.

As India’s population needed transport, the bicycle manufacturing business every year, becoming the bicycle manufacturer in the world the early 1980s. Hero founder Dr. Brijmohan Lall is now the Chairman of a board of 11 which three other directors the surname Munjal.

It may be a publicly company, but it is still very a family company in many

Using the cash generated by the business, Hero Cycles with Honda to create Honda in 1984. The partnership has very successful with publicized sponsorships and corporate efforts and a dealership network of touchpoints that have it a very visible company India is proud of – a national of Indian business success.

Honda technology and Hero’s rooted local knowledge of the and complex country’s transportation Hero Honda achieved digit growth every to become the world’s largest manufacturer of two-wheelers, driven by a share of the Indian two-wheeler which overtook China to the largest motorcycle market in the in 2012.

Though the Indian is somewhat sluggish at present, and the roads choked by the growing of cars, the health of the motorcycle is largely assured as two wheels is the way to avoid the endless traffic India is also projected by the UN to the world’s most populous just 14 years from so for personal transport, motorcycles and are the only viable game in

China was the world’s largest motorcycle market until peaking at 19 million units in then declining every since to 13.9 million in 2013 when brutal regulations were introduced in to tackle the country’s rampant and internal combustion engined were banned in many cities.

The Chinese market is far less accessible to manufacturers India’s, and considerably more with more than one motorcycle manufacturers scraping out an No less than 29 Chinese manufacturers posted a loss in highly competitive marketplace in and the remorseless laws of economics are a natural cull of the weakest.

the world’s largest motorcycle are now highly populous countries emerging economies – India, Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand and Myanmar will be next.

It was in 2010 that Hero major partners agreed to

Honda already had an independent and distribution company in India, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter (HMSI), with two production and expansion plans, and the Hero partnership restricted the company’s footprint to within India. half a million motorcycles a had whetted the appetite of the Munjal to expand its horizons beyond borders, just as it had whetted appetite to dominate the gargantuan marketplace as it dominates all other markets.

While Hero can to be the world’s biggest single company, combining all Honda companies around the world it roughly three times the sales of Hero – 17.2 sales in 2013, with growth of 8.5 percent over Honda holds a 30 percent of the global market

Wikipedia’s of the irreconcilable differences which led to the breakdown covers some of the key but we all know there are many factors in any relationship, and they on more complexity when of dollars are at stake. Honda to sell its shares in Hero to the Munjal family at a discount, so it wanted out of the relationship more the Munjal family. Regardless, the happy couple split and Honda became Hero

Neither party has wasted any in getting on with life the divorce either. Honda week announced yet another new plant to built in India – the new plant will come on next year with an annual production capacity of 1.2 units.

That’s on top of existing plants in (1.6 million motorcycles a Rajastha (1.2 million a year), and another plant at (1.8 million motorcycles a which has been announced and since the split. Honda soon have the production to match Hero within alone – it is also ramping up its network.

Hero Motocorp’s rethink of the scooter form in the RNT hybrid turbo-diesel-electric prototype significantly more practicality the existing scooters in the marketplace for countries.

Honda is going Hero’s dominant Indian share, and Hero, knowing its 50 percent share of the world’s market will be difficult to in the face of massively increased is expanding into new markets.

Hero will target countries where the two-wheelers it is for its home market needs be considered most desirable – the markets of Africa, South and Asia. Countries slated for Hero motorcycle distribution Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Peru, Nepal, Mozambique, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Salvador, Egypt, Ecuador, Republic of Congo, Burkina and Angola.

Hero is standing at present, with only sales erosion in its home to date. Honda’s concerted for market leadership is hurting the number two market share Bajaj much more it is hurting Hero. Honda into second place in the during 2013 and by December, had its margin over Bajaj

In December 2013, Bajaj 260,645 bikes, Honda 296,144 and Hero sold By comparison, in December 2012, sold 298,350, Honda 217,498 and Hero sold That’s 12.6 percent for Bajaj, 3.0 percent down for and 54 percent up for Honda.

All the other manufacturers grew year-on-year in with Yamaha 13 percent up, TVS up 2 Suzuki up 10 percent and Mahindra up 267

In January 2014, Hero sold 489,322 two-wheelers in January 2013 so down 1 Bajaj sold 167,869 in January 2013 so down percent), and Honda sold (105,968 in January 2013 so up percent), in a market which to by 8.85 percent to 1,313,796 from 1,206,931 in the January,

A breakdown of motor vehicle in the Indian domestic marketplace the Society of Indian Automotive indicates the importance of the motorcycle to transportation in what will become the world’s largest

Clearly, the mother of all battles is up between the former partners, not in India, but also on the global

Many believed Hero falter in the absence of Honda, so given that it’s partner was focused on becoming a competitor, but Hero’s sales largely continued to grow the period it has been acquiring its own

Last August when the delivered its 50 millionth motorcycle to the marketplace in just 29 years, were announced for international of Hero’s bikes into 50 with 20 new manufacturing facilities the globe and a target of the next 50 motorcycle sales within years.

Last October Hero sold a record motorcycles in India alone – one every four seconds, a single day on October 21, 2013 it sold 110,000 motorcycles. countries don’t see that motorcycles sold in a year, all marques combined. With a dominant market share of sales to India’s immense Hero has an economy of scale beyond comprehension, and that in and owning its own technology, it can apply its manufacturing scale and low-cost to supply motorcycles worldwide.

MotoCorp CEO Pawan Munjal the foundation stone of the ‘Hero of Global Innovation and RD’ – about 20 north of Jaipur during Munjal was joined by the company’s technology partners, Erik (EBR), Alberto Strazzari of Engineering, Italy and Markus of AVL, Austria.

Hero flirted with purchasing but passed on the opportunity and is now well the road of replacing Honda’s with its own, blending the of technology partners with its own to produce new motorcycles that it will suit the developing even more. In September Hero announced the creation of a million Hero Centre of Innovation and Research Design at near Jaipur in Rajasthan.

Honda’s technology

Replacing vast design and proprietary resource was obviously a herculean perhaps one of the industrial world’s ever challenges. After 30 of having its designs delivered Japan, the company had four to completely replace the expertise of the most technologically advanced company – from scratch.

The job of Honda’s not inconsiderable expertise to Hero MotoCorp’s CEO and Managing Pawan Munjal, the hands-on of the Munjal family which the majority shareholding of Hero

The strategy is to develop its own technologies and with the right companies to the expertise it needs quickly, and to those partners work Hero at the Hero Centre of Innovation and RD (GIRD).

Hero has scaled up its in-house RD and design and in December announced it has over 400 working on the future product The company’s current RD centers in and Dharuhera will relocate to the on the outskirts of Jaipur when it is thus creating a nucleus for the of key technological functions and reducing on external vendors.

To date, major technology partnerships been struck over years involving EBR of America, Engineering of Italy, Magneti of Italy and AVL of Austria.

Magneti Joint Venture

A Joint between Hero MotoCorp and Magneti Marelli was announced in 2013 and it’s very for both companies, despite the impressive size of the Italian specialist (37,000 employees, 83 facilities, 12 RD centers and 26 application in 19 countries). Magneti Marelli is at the of development of many automotive with its advanced fuel, suspension, powertrain and exhaust on display in many of the race in F1, MotoGP, WSBK and WRC events.

Marelli CEO Eugenio Razelli and MotoCorp CEO MD Pawan Munjal at the of the joint venture

The intention is for the joint venture to develop its own RD center. As Hero expands its footprint at a fast pace, will enable the company to products featuring appropriate for different customers in geographies the world.

The Hero-MM joint will focus on the development of electronic fuel injection to improve engine performance, efficiency and emission reduction, in the different climates, altitudes and the fuel peculiarities that in the developing markets Hero is targeting. In many countries, need to be able to run on multiple and varying fuel blends, from one gas station to the next. the advance of digital technology every aspect of engine systems, MM’s expertise in area will expedite RD dramatically.

Close ties MM will also bring knowledge to many areas of of motorcycles in the future, with benefits in the development of motorcycle-smartphone telematics, immobilisers, traction electronically-controlled suspension systems, ad Almost certainly many of the on show in the astonishing Hero ion bike (discussed below) delving into Magneti RD’s bag of tricks.


The partnership with Italy’s Engineering was announced in September and the aim of the exercise is to bring styling and design to the Hero equation.

The firm has worked with motorcycle companies, including players such as Yamaha, and Gilera. The company was responsible for the of the Yamaha MT-03 and XT660Z above) plus the aggressive TNT pictured above) and scooters too to mention for many brands the Yamaha Majesty) and has also extensive aerodynamic development for Prix teams for many


AVL is the world’s largest independent in the development of internal combustion powertrain systems, though a through the group’s companies that almost any advanced can quickly be brought to any project.

The of the partnership has been summarized as the of powertrain systems, simulation, and instrumentation and test systems. AVL facilities and offices throughout including a test center in New are obvious benefits to close with Hero.

Erik Racing – the X-factor

Engine AVL and Magneti Marelli make income from providing expertise to the automotive trade to better cars and motorcycles, so fair to say that none of can replace the expertise which out the door with Honda. has spent between 7.5 percent and 10 of its annual turnover on RD since it and that’s one of the reasons it dominates motorcycle sales – it owns so patents and has created so much IP, that no matter how much Hero pours on the problem, it catch up and surpass Honda’s leadership the traditional way.

the introduction by friends of Erik to Hero MD/CEO Pawan at the Daytona races in March, might be considered a highly moment for both parties and is beginning to have global

Longtime motorcycle hall-of-fame Erik Buell is one of that breed of engineers that has at the highest level and the combination of the two exclusive qualities offers an which engineers just normally have.

From facebook page — the of one of the world’s most important races at the time — the Daytona 200. Steve (32), Johnny Cecotto Kenny Roberts (2), McLaughlin (83), Ron Pierce Sadao Asami (359), Middelburg (369) and Erik (6).

Buell built and numerous race bikes gallery section), but it was his development of the Buell Motorcycle which him international acclaim as a motorcycle with true flair.

The design of bikes which the Buell brand name significantly influenced sports design globally.

Buell the whole mass centralization in sports motorcycles with his and influenced a generation of motorcycle design with his ideas.

article about Erik and the Buell Lightning from in 2004 explains the ideas his mass centralization concept, but to the idea: The center of gravity of a is just the average location of the One of the main reasons big touring wallow and yaw on undulating and bumpy at speed is the amount of weight carry at a distance from the of gravity – panniers, a heavy a top box and bulky mufflers all contribute to the and yaw to warn the rider that the is getting ready to samba out of

Buell designs every on his motorcycles to be as close to the center of as possible in order to reduce the of inertia in pitch, roll and The gas tank went inside the the oil tank in the swing-arm, the muffler is under the bike – resulting in devoid of bad handling behavior.

is now building a second company, Buell Racing (EBR) his first company (Buell) was outright by Harley-Davidson in 2003 and during the financial crisis in Buell Motorcycles sold bikes before it was closed and riders everywhere mourned its Though his contract with included a strict non-competition Harley waived the clause to Erik to continue his life’s of driving innovation and change, as much about Harley’s of fair play as it does of the Buell engenders.

Erik passion for motorcycles is contagious. He finding a better way every he speaks. His desire to make smile via his motorcycles might be the x-factor Hero needs to on Honda.

This time, and his commando team of engineers be just working on the sports and motorcycles he has become known as that chance meeting at spawned a development relationship for EBR now promises to elevate Buell to a player with gravitas.

I was to Pawan at Daytona Speed in March 2011 and we had a really chat,” said Buell in an with Gizmag.com in October, We’ve included some from that interview because it gives a clear of the passion and methodology of the man who appears to become one of Hero’s greatest

“We talked about the motorcycle and what it might look five, ten and twenty years now, and we really resonated, Buell.

He was quite candid in that the person he met didn’t fit the reputation I had in the marketplace, and that my to motorcycle design was far broader being a specialist sports designer.

Erik Buell and Munjal met at Daytona Speed in 2011. This pic from Week in 2013 indicates how the relationship developed.

Over the few months we met and spoke several and then when Hero a show bike designed and for the 2012 Delhi Auto Pawan asked me if we’d be in creating a message for the future, modern and futuristic and very – a hybrid scooter. I said, love to do something for you’ and we the opportunity and turned it around quickly, and the relationship evolved there.

It was very funny at because I walked in to our design and said to the guys, ‘we’ve got our first job from Hero – a hybrid scooter and the target is women, oh. and it needs to be finished and ten weeks from now.’

At they weren’t sure if I was but they pretty soon got head around it because always discussing and exploring powertrains and energy sources and we a lot of people on the team who are fanatically so it didn’t take long for us to get it, and ten weeks later we had a functional, hybrid scooter.

People see EBR at the and I suppose it’s natural they would see us as a racing or sports motorcycle producer, but far more than a racing We do that because we love It’s an emotionally engaging fun and a great venue to showcase our

EBR is an engineering and technology development and we do a lot more than just

I asked about the other of projects the company has been on and Erik cited numerous as diverse as the design of an advanced container through to redesigning a bottle.

My goal is to do product in a really rational way. I do I want to be activatable, not just a – I want it to be real. If we build a bike, it will be a working not a dummy made up to look a working motorcycle.

It was when the turned to hybrids that I the temperature begin to rise and his for clever but logical engineering began to show.

When you do the math on all aspects of the battery-electric train, and you identify the various and weaknesses, the big weakness for EVs, is the

When you look at fitting strengths and weakness into market segments, in some the pure EV fits and some it

“So that was how we came up with the hybrid scooter to address the issue and our solution to that was to the fuel more efficiently … is the densest energy source but unfortunately we waste it in the way internal engines are built and used. is good for some things, and in others and we coupled the strengths of energy storage systems … why we did it that way.

A patent drawing indicates is hiding underneath the otherwise cowling of the LEAP scooter.

“So the Serial Hybrid Scooter was and it was a huge hit at the Auto Expo in and it confirmed to Pawan and to his whole what he already believed – we were more than a high performance, internal engine, race bike So out of that came quite a few and … we do lots of projects for lots of but we only work with one company and that’s Hero, because we’re totally by and committed to Hero and where it is

“Motorcycles are vitally important devices for the planet. I’m a huge in independent personal transportation and I’m a huge believer in doing the leanest possible way. I waste.

“There are times you need to move nine or ten and for that you need a bus, but all the transportation that happens in the is done for one or two people, and the stuff taking to the office, or the stuff taking to the market in Africa. A track two-wheeled vehicle is for that. It can go on just about any no matter how narrow or badly it is, it’s lightweight, it consumes a of the energy of a car to make it or use it, it produces noxious gas and it doesn’t cause congestion because it has such a footprint.

“You think of all the in India for instance. If you replaced all the in India with cars be gridlock … one giant carpark. Two is a better way.

I want to do transportation that is economical and and socially responsible and fun. For me, as a two wheels makes more

I commented that he obviously to be enjoying the new challenges at Hero.

different markets and different and people with different it’s a different product time, so there is no single There are always many but they all should focus on as lean and green as possible, just what you need to your goals, and no more.

The EBR 1190RX was unveiled in October and will have its first outing in the first round of the Superbike Championships this weekend — February 2014

“Our new superbike is pretty, and it makes 185 horsepower and seem to like it, but what I’m proud of is that it’s light, without spending of money on expensive technology – not full of magnesium and titanium to it light. We did it with conventional and good design, so it can be mass efficiently using inexpensive It also gets 51 mpg on the highway in the States EPA test cycle.

It only 25 percent of the hydrocarbons and oxide tailpipe emissions and 6 of the carbon dioxide. Those are numbers for an internal combustion particularly a large bore performance engine.

That’s we’re about at EBR. We to be green without taking the fun If somebody wants a superbike, cool. I’m not going to say ‘shame on for wasting resources. Our job is to make it as as we possibly can.

Make it materials that are good. tool it as effectively as possible.

I Erik if he might consider or four wheels for motorcycles he in the future, like the Piaggio MP3 or Tesseract prototype. given the of three-wheelers in India.

“Ooh, no! I single track vehicles. I the slimness and the small footprint, and all the that come from in terms of parking and getting to flow better and being to go down narrow roads.

also not hard to ride a Everyone in the world knows how to a bicycle, so let’s make that are light and low. Two make sense.

Building for personal transport that ever gets used for one or two and weighs thousands of kilos make sense to me.

The bad news for the is that Buell is far from a and the Hero relationship seems to give his design genius more blank canvasses which to paint many masterpieces.

Having access to a remarkable mind, I was attempting to get his on the future shape of motorcycles, and the we’d see in the future. “Two-wheel I asked.

“There do appear to be benefits for driving the front of a motorcycle in addition to powering the wheel, particularly when wet and slippery.” Buell’s answer was non-committal, no doubt because the RNT and ion bikes we saw last week already on the drawing boards.

had many thoughts about and we’ve been having for many years. There are a lot of to doing that and a lot of complexity as but I think there might be a for that in the future, in the right There’s positives and negatives for but there are some types of and some markets where I can see a case for the front wheel driven.

“What’s your powerplant?” I asked next. “Is it the

“It depends on the market and the customer and they want. There is no configuration for me, because it’s ALL the customer. We’re working on a few different power-trains right now and are all different because it depends on the customer needs and wants.

get me wrong, v-twins are cool, and certainly a market for them, but have strengths and weaknesses and in markets the weaknesses outweigh the and we opt for a different configuration because best suited for a particular

“I’m not at all bonded to any engine For a high horsepower superbike the EBR 1190RX, a twin is very We have some patented in the cylinder head which led to great emissions numbers.

we’ve done with the head is an electronically-controlled boost and what we’ve done the exhaust system gives us mid-range, which is inherent a v-twin anyway, but as you push a towards superbike level it starts acting more an inline four. And that’s we were trying to address the design.

Let’s get the midrange and get that drivability back so it has a very wide smooth powerband and has no surprises for the rider. So for reason, the twin is a really package.

“There are also other factors … in the world talking about, sports are a very emotional product and big sound cool. I don’t just Harley’s 45 degree but a high revving racing is a spectacular sounding engine, and is a key part of the experience for the rider.

“We the 72 degree angle for our bike on the fact that it’s a of the 360 degree or 720 degree four-… cycle. When we were to select the best angle for the we decided that 60 degrees was too and we needed to open the cylinder up more to allow for the intake

“It could have been any and in trying to find the best we set up a computer simulation so that it simulate the sound that the would make at high for each of the various v-twin angles under consideration and we sat and listened to them and … you know I’m a bit of a musician and the sound is important to me … and we heard 72 degrees at high it was a very sweet number, and it really cool. Then we that 72 is a key factor of 720 degrees – ten 72 is the full four-…-engine cycle.

“Does that matter to the guy in who wants a super-fuel-efficient bike high carrying capacity so he can get his to market? No, not at all. Does it to a guy buying a superbike?

You bet it does!

will the future Erik Racing production motorcycle like? What elements you carry forward into the

You’ve seen the new 1190 RX is a lovely motorcycle. Sports cover a wide range. The for me is the production of bespoke sports

It’s something we really to pursue at EBR at some time in the but for me, I don’t want to ever be bikes that aren’t

To me, a moto-cross bike is a sports There’s sports touring and there’s adventure touring there’s middleweight sports I’ll build any bike light and nimble that’s not the equivalent of a car – I want to build that the rider controls, than being taken for a on.

A cruiser is a different type of and some people really them but for me, I like sporting and I think there’s a big enough that if I can stay focused. I want my guys focused on light, nimble, fuel-efficient, energy-efficient anything. We’re an firm and all those things are to us, and when you add all those things you get very rider friendly

We’re working on a lot of two-wheelers for the at the moment, and they’re all a little bit depending on the market they’re for and the they are intended for. For us, is no perfect motorcycle for everyone, but is a perfect motorcycle for each who wants a bike in a particular depending on what they to do with it, and we’ll know we achieved that when we see grinning from ear-to-ear.

The I want to achieve as a designer and is for them to step off it and say, “oh this is it!” and I’m very that those are different with every project.

very customer-driven but I’m not about I don’t say to myself, I’ve run my marketing right to appeal to customer. For me, it’s about my product right for that

“We’re a motorcycle company but very much, at heart, an company. There are some companies that at their are manufacturing companies. That’s they do best. They are efficient at manufacturing.”

“There are motorcycle companies that are marketing companies and they do well. For us, we’re engineers and we to come up with innovative we want to make things for our customer.”

So if having fun is what most, is Erik having

“I am having so much fun I can’t it. Now I’m in a place that really to my soul. You know, we did some bikes with Buell and I’m so that Harley-Davidson believed in us for us to grow to that point, but our are so much more than now.

“The things we to be able to do … to me, having this opportunity is so much more Working on motorcycles for people in different situations and markets the globe is really great It’s so challenging. It’s wild.

All we have to remember is we want to make a motorcycle makes doing whatever the wants to do fun … we want our customers to when they use our product.

“I building bikes that people. I love building a for someone like Geoff May to Here’s a top level, elite and he comes into the pits and “this is awesome, this handles so well. It needs horsepower, but this handling is

It’s got no front-end chatter, it have all these issues got to ride around on another

“And it’s quite to go to a show and have someone see the machine you have produced and say to ‘this is an awesome product – if you this, I will buy it because it is what I need’ and when words are coming from a woman in India who hasn’t before, that’s really too, I can tell you. It we’re making a difference.”

Honda CBR900 Cobra Prototype

is Hero’s X-factor. Big companies develop procedures and methodologies and put together that are the antithesis of the entrepreneur. Big companies design products with committees, and make safe decisions.

launder risk, but they launder passion and genius and ideas in the process.

It’s to imagine anyone else in the in a similar position in a major with the ingenuity, knowledge, and passion, with a team him that is empowered to think the way, that does as much influence on the products invariably see in the future.

The peculiar of the Honda-Hero divorce might one day a chapter in business school books, themed along the of how adversity creates the opportunity to do a better way.

EBR is far from a lone hand in the design of Hero machinery, but it’s noting that of the 19 new bikes Hero displayed at Auto 13 came off the Buell drawing and this article was half with those exact the subject, before we could that they all came EBR engineers. Buell’s designs out as being relevant, and hence little wonder that Munjal brought him into the

Yet another strength of the growing between Hero and Buell is the EBR (and future derivatives) and the EBR team. In purchasing 49.2 of Erik Buell Racing, not just obtained some design expertise, but a share in the success of the EBR 1190 range, a credible range-topping machine and a race team with aspirations beyond the American Association Pro Racing Superbike it had been competing in.

In the next few Hero MotoCorp will known to the world outside as EBR begins competing in the World Championships. Superbikes are particularly to motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide, as are souped up versions of showroom

Hero MotoCorp’s brand will take a quantum forward over the next months as motorcycle enthusiasts watch the team’s quest the likes of Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Aprilia, Ducati and Hero and EBR look set to have a and fruitful relationship. Hero has to allow Erik to keep of his company, where he remains and majority owner.

The new bikes

– lightweight, 620cc street-fighter

The is the first example of an Indian (from the country India, not the revived Indian motorcycle ) that will appeal to two-wheeled enthusiasts. The name from the Japanese word for seemingly appropriate given the motorcycle is an aggressive design for the street-fighter category where and a hard edge to its character are

The engine also seems for the category as the over-square, liquid-cooled, 80 hp parallel-twin appears to have designed so it looks good wrapped in a Ducati-style trellis of which it is the key (stressed) component. One of the evident themes of the bike, in the press hand-outs, is “mass and coming from the design of EBR, it’s very that the Hastur will be precise in its roadholding as the bike has ruled the middleweight street-fighter over recent years, 675 Street Triple .

Technologically, the Hastur bristles innovative thought, and the engine is a example, being very and compact, and using a controlled injection (CSI) cylinder which is claimed to improve power delivery, produce fuel economy and reduce The counter-rotating crankshaft uses inertial forces to reduce effect to make it easier to tip it a corner, increasing handling and it also features a racing-type gearbox.

The Hastur’s 80 hp motor away a lot of horsepower to the Triumph’s 106 hp and when compared to the street-fighter other recent additions as Kawasaki’s Z800 and Yamaha’s new MT-09, BMW’s F800R, it away similar quantum

At 620cc though, it slips in these bikes by a fair in engine capacity, fuel and when the real world tag gets hung on the bars, it most likely undercut the average in cost too. will not be aiming its pricing at the of the Triumph Street Triple, MT-09 or BMW F800R when it western markets – it will be at a significant discount as one of Hero’s strengths is its ability to manufacture very cost-efficiently.

For riding town, the natural habitat of the breed, ride-ability and practicality is the On a racetrack, horsepower would be the key in this equation, but the whole “resistance movement” grew all those riders who questioned the of the racetrack focus which had motorcycle road design, and all the boy who slipped on their racing to pop down to the local milkbar. riding in urban environments is not horsepower, but mid-range acceleration and low nimbleness.

What the Hastur away in horsepower to the Triumph, et al. it will more than up with less weight and torque at accessible engine The Hastur tips the scales at 160 kg, a 21 kg less than the Street and despite giving away to the Triumph, it produces 72 Nm @ 7750 rpm – the Triple punches out 69 Nm @ 9100

Though these are manufacturer manufacturers are these days accountable, so we can reasonably assume the Hastur is both much and has more torque lower the range than its contemporaries. It on paper at least, a far more street-fighter.

SimplECity – featherweight generation electric motorcycle

The is an electric two-wheeler conceived as an reliable, practical urban and is hence not built to withstand the speeds and different operational of motorcycles designed to be comfortable in freeway and rural environs.

the press material elucidates never before seen a motorcycle or car manufacturer, but which is true – the acknowledgement that usage increases exponentially speed. Manufacturers don’t promote this aspect they are building motorcycles to withstand two and three times the speed limits and building a to those design criteria with some ridiculous in cost, weight, fuel wear-and-tear and a host of other and downsides which are counterproductive to its in the real world.

One of the themes across the range new machines have come from design studios is the infusion of a dose of realism and real practicality.

Existing manufacturers legacy dealer networks, parts warehouses and supply that must have lifeblood – if you replace all that two-wheelers that are so light they reduce the consumption of and spare parts, don’t servicing nearly as often, can any illnesses diagnosed downloading an app and in the smartphone in your pocket, disrupt the old world order. has many advantages in starting scratch in setting up a new global network, and it is to be hoped that it the new technologies available in everyone’s (the smartphone) to the maximum to things that existing networks cannot.

The SimplECity is and lightweight and has the potential to provide transport at a fraction of the cost of commuter machinery powered by the internal combustion engine. The big is however, that the Japanese are in ever releasing the designs have created for fear of existing marketplaces.

Hero not be nearly as reticent to get its new creations to as the Japanese powers as it has a whole new to produce and the rapid design-test-produce that has been created for the new is now in place, and the promise of the machinery by this new thought process has shown that it has

Without the power required for sustained speeds, (or two or more times speeds as with most and European commuter motorcycles) the has been constructed far lighter traditional motorcycles and tips the at just 35 kg.

Many ideas seen in Japanese prototype bikes are evident on the SimplECity, as the use of the rider’s smartphone mounted on the as a dashboard, which is achieved by a SimplECity” smartphone app which we know much about at stage.

Hero ion – two-wheel-drive, hydrogen fuel cell with advanced telematics

The ion is a technological smorgasbord in every and by far the most forward-looking transportation on display at Auto Expo. the bike’s weight of just 100 kg its technological content.

The ion employs a fuel cell to produce power, which is stored in Li Air and supercapacitors, then transferred to the zero-friction maglev wheels.

A Control Module: The vehicle is by light finger touches built in the handle grips. from the fingertips are sent to VCM Control Module) where are converted to drive signals to PBS braking and steering) systems.

by Wire: This integrates on-board electronic traffic for collision detection and avoidance. two wheel steering works in with the rider driving and vehicle dynamics in order to handling. VSA system (vehicle awareness) keep tracks of the traffic flow and make to the PBS systems as needed.

VSA system any lower priority communications traffic density becomes

Hubless Wheels: The airy, wheels contain electrical in the inside that act as a stator. The is mounted on a hidden magnetic that acts as a rotor floats on the stator ring magnetic levitation technology works with zero These hubless electric motor also double up as

Rider information: Core vehicle information is available in the instrument cluster, but full and communication is transmitted to the rider’s

M-Link: An advanced anthropomorphic suspension technology that incredible control of the road and an driving experience. It features an force mapping through that manage all suspension These sensors continuously the power of electromagnet that the damping characteristics of the suspension in time.

It seamlessly integrates other vehicle systems the Ride by Wire steering to user profiled ride with road vision damping.

Flex Axis ion steers through rotating the and rear wheel and suspension around the pivots on the center module. The multi-axis gyros and keep stability at all times. It in conjunction with the Ride by and M-Link, sensing rider and steering inputs to properly the motorcycle in the optimal position for impossible vehicle maneuvers.

Li – Air The Lithium-air battery is the lightest and energy density battery produced. Ion has the energy storage of 12 kW·h/kg (comparable to gasoline). The uses oxidation of lithium oxygen molecules in the air and a revolutionary new that uses carbon tubes infused with a and rhodium catalyst using a which creates extremely surface area per unit

HX250R — all-new Sports Bike

It’s not that in preparing itself to an impact on the established motorcycle beyond its borders, Hero tackle the 250cc class and indeed, the bike will use the in-house motor designed and by Hero. In terms of traditional the 250 class in many countries the entry-level market for sports In others, it is the largest motorcycle you can

It is the point where a brand for a long term relationship a customer, will have its encounter. Honda’s CBR250R, Ninja 250, Suzuki’s 250 and Yamaha R15 (though the R15 engine only 150cc) are top sellers the over, and hence Hero is the most lucrative, long-term-relationship-building first up.

Invariably, bikes in category are styled similarly to company’s top-of-range sports and the HX250R is no exception, bearing than a passing resemblance to the new from Hero’s closest Erik Buell Racing.

on the specifications released, the HX250R more than capable of this highly competitive

For starters, it has a kerb weight of 139 kg – in a comparable “ready to roll” Honda’s best-selling CBR250R 157 kg fully fueled, the Kawasaki tips the scales at 170 kg the Suzuki at 183 kg. A 20 kg advantage over the Honda to a massive difference in usability, roadholding and all-round performance, for the novice riders who will a 250 sports bike.

In comparison to the that translates to roughly 31 kg and more than 20 percent weight. The Suzuki weighs 30 percent more, and given mass centralization theme, it probably feel like a lot than that to the person counts – the rider.

All the key boxes ticked with the HX250R – a liquid-cooled, balanced, single motor fed by multi-sensor electronic injection, feeding power via a transmission is just part of the The motor is a stressed member of the tubular chassis. Beyond its lighter weight, stopping the should be even easier to the Brembo designed calipers and anti-lock braking system couples the 300 mm front and 220 mm rear

While Hero touted the bike has a motor with more horsepower than the CBR250R, Honda has a lot more available from its CBR250R and in some markets the same produces considerably more Let’s hope this lead to a horsepower war as horsepower is not good for the market or for the safety of its

ZIR — European 150cc

Hero’s first European-style range is a break from its scooter designs and will go the name ZIR, with two – a flat floorboard model and a model. Both use a liquid-cooled, 150cc OHC engine producing kW and 12.7 Nm, and have a top speed of over 110 km/h (68 mph).

many two-wheelers on the sub-continent, the will see usage as the family so the added safety of an integrated system that links the and rear hydraulic discs be welcomed by many. In scooter the ZIR’s 9 liter fuel is very large, offering a distance between fills. One of the standard features is a mobile charging socket.

The connection the mobile phone indicates yet new direction for the company which intends to leverage the mobile in everyone’s pocket. Though are still scarce, the mobile will link to the engine system to offer the rider an of both engine and riding via a app.

LEAP serial (and the world’s most scooter)

The LEAP might turn out to be one of the most significant of all-time, as it’s the bike ultimately brought Erik together with Hero

The first prototype of the LEAP was at Auto Expo two years ago and EBR provided a working prototype for the show in just ten weeks, it was the that Pawan Munjal to bless a long term with Buell.

So let’s at the LEAP for a moment and see just the benefits are of the serial hybrid layout.

Hero claims the has a range of around 340 km (211 mi) on a charged set of lithium-ion batteries and the three liter gas tank It also claims the range-extending offers four times the of batteries alone.

Do the math and means the Leap gets an 85 km (53 mi) from the power produced on liter of petrol. Hence, in the Leap delivers 200 mpg (U.S.) or 240 mpg

Those figures are significantly than any other gas-engined transport of any type in the marketplace, before you count the purely side of the scooter, where for the last 85 km of the range on electrical is even cheaper because it can be from any domestic powerpoint.

The electric-serial-hybrid scooter returned to Expo two years after its appearance in pre-production form, a purpose-built 124 cc range-extender engine and batteries and an 8 kW electric motor.

slightly heavier than average scooter at 140 kg, but it’s and low and users will not suffer the range-anxiety familiar to most EV and it won’t take nearly as time to refuel because gas are never all that far away.

The 8 kW magnet AC (PMAC) traction delivers maximum torque of than 60 Nm from standstill, the rear wheel via a toothed-belt to a top of 100 km/h (62 mph) when with the range extender.


This is the battle for the heavyweight motorcycle manufacturers title, and are only two credible contenders, and both want this much more than a championship. Racing means things to different factions of the industry, and the respective boards of MotoCorp and Honda would rather be able to proclaim the they control as the world’s motorcycle company than else, even over profitability.

In the carnivorous environs of the such frivolous activities as is a marketing activity and little If it doesn’t provide an adequate on investment, it will quickly itself a red line on the balance as we have seen many in global motorsport. It’s to happen with either of companies from this forward.

We are seeing the emergence of a new order in the motorcycle industry. major automotive and motorcycle have built their selling product to their market initially to build but none have ever the global market with the of scale enjoyed by Hero

Nor have they entered the market with three of experience building the most designs possible, to Honda standards.

This is indeed to be a clash of the Titans, and the winner be the public as margins are honed and are analyzed so that needs can be catered to.

It’s a match will be worth watching.


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