Bajaj first launched the Discover motorcycle in India during 2004, and now, it has a total of 6 motorcycles wearing the Discover badge. Bajaj proudly calls the Discover as a commuter brand, but with multiple variants which look more or less similar to each other, there is more cannibalisation in the market rather than attracting more audience. Recently, Bajaj launched the Discover 150F and 150S motorcycles which the company claims will change the perception of commuter bikes in India. These bikes running on a newly developed 145cc engine pack more punch than before and bring in quite a few styling changes to the segment.
The commuter segment in India has a lot of products from leading brands to those making a new entry in the market. Bikes in this segment are more focussed to do the utilitarian commuting job rather than looking funky or making the commute quicker than each other. Starting with the segment leader Hero Splendor, motorbikes in the segment look bare bones and offer little differentiation. This image is what Bajaj is trying to break with the new Discover 150F and 150S. Where the 150S is a regular, naked street bike; the 150F is what will interest a larger audience. With semi-faired styling, the Discover 150F will fight against the Honda CBF Stunner and Hero Ignitor. So will this make the cut? Will the commuter segment switch to better performance and relatively better looks? Let’s find out…
Ex-showroom Delhi price:
- Discover 150S (disc): Rs. 55,030
- Discover 150S (drum): Rs. 52,030
- Discover 150F: Rs. 59,034
We reviewed the semi-faired 150F version of the Discover and it does the job of standing out amongst competition. From the front, the semi-fairing is hard to tell with the headlamp covering maximum area. The DC headlamp gets a clear lens and dual pilot lamps on either side. Conventionally placed turn indicators also have clear lens and the ORVMs are mounted on the handlebar and not bolted on the fairing. Medium size wind deflector on the fairing does a decent job of keeping the windblast at minimum.
From the side profile, the bike looks relatively long for a commuter motorcycle. A long 1,305mm wheelbase, long seat and the fairing make the bike appear longer. There is nothing fancy here, the small semi-fairing on the side has a mesh section which is recessed and there are body decals on the tank and on the fairing. A chunky Discover badge is located on the fuel tank and is a chrome piece. Sleek side and rear panels make the bike look slimmer towards the back. On the lower side, everything is painted in black. The engine, chassis, alloy wheels and the exhaust pipe; everything is in black. For times when the electric starter doesn’t help, Bajaj has provided a kick-starter on the Discover 150F. Bajaj likes to call this alloy wheel design as ‘spider-web’. At the front, you have a 240mm disc brake with a half cover on top, which looks weird. Exhaust pipe gets a chrome heat shield and the pillion rider gets grab rails. Seat is very long and will accommodate two with ease. A 150F sticker is seen on the rear panel, below the pillion seat. On the left hand side, you have a conventional saree guard and the drive-chain is completely covered. Tail lamp is a 3-step LED setup and is bright enough to aid visibility during a foggy ride. Rear mudguard is big and eliminates the need to add an ugly looking tyre hugger, and will also reduce mud spray during monsoon rides. A small tyre hugger and a rear monoshock wrap up the styling department.
Instrumentation and ergonomics:
Switch gear is typical Bajaj with the same old layout and quality of plastics used is decent. Controls are right in place and user friendly. We would have loved a engine-kill switch on the Discover 150F for the added convenience on those red lights. Instrument cluster is a digital + analogue unit with amber backlit. In the centre, you have a analogue speedometer with a digital cluster on the RHS which displays time, odometer, tripmeter and fuel gauge. In and around this, you have a couple of tell-tale lights. Fuel tank cap is a conventional flip-up unit in chrome. Handlebar is a stainless steel unit and it would have been great if Bajaj painted this in matte black / silver. Handlebar height is commuter friendly and you can easily spend your time here without any pain felt on your wrist. ORVMs are big enough to show you what’s happening behind, however, your elbows do intrude a little.
Sit on the bike and the seat has enough room for you to find your suitable riding position. Seat compound however is on the firmer side and a soft gel seat cover would work wonders during long rides. Foot pegs are conventionally placed as per commuter standards, and have a rubberised top to offer better grip. Gear lever is a heel and toe shifter and the gearshift pattern of all-up needs some time getting used to in times of almost universal 1-down 4-up gearshift pattern. The heel section of the shifter is on the higher side and you have to play around with your left foot while shifting gears. For the pillion rider, the seat is more slim than for the rider and hence, is slightly harder. The seat is long and hence, even those on the heavier side will have plenty of room here, even for women who prefer to sit sideways. Also, while sitting sideways, the saree guard has a foot-rest to accommodate the pillions feet. Full size grab rails also help the pillion stay in place during bumpy rides.
Engine, performance and handling:
Powering the Discover 150F you have a newly developed 144.8cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, DTS-i engine producing 14.5 PS of power @ 8,500 RPM and 12.75 Nm of torque @ 6,500 RPM. Engine is mated to a constant mesh, all-up, 5-speed gearbox. The bike is based on a semi-double cradle chassis and it lends pretty predictable ride and handling. Engine is capable of achieving a top speed of 110 kmph and for commuters, this might be on the higher side. Fire up the engine and you have a bare bones, no nonsense startup. Exhaust note is mild and vibrations are well controlled; on the foot pegs as well as on the tank. The engine does sound typical of Bajaj with a decent amount of induction noise. Our bike was brand new with just 20-30 kilometres on the odo, but on idle at say a traffic junction, the engine did stall when in neutral. The electric start isn’t seamless as well and requires you to hold the button for a couple of seconds.
Use your heel to slot it in 1st gear and wring the throttle, you will notice that the bike has noticeably stronger acceleration compared to the bikes in the commuter segment and even some other 150cc motorcycles available in the market. The missing tachometer does take away from the fun as you accelerate the 145cc motor, but you can tell when the power delivery is about to taper. The engine gets slightly gruff higher on the revv range suggesting that you need to upshift. If you compare the bike to other 125cc commuters, the engine performance, although classified in the same segment will prove as an upgrade. The bike gains momentum quickly and even in-gear acceleration will keep enthusiasts happy for times when they want to munch miles faster. The new engine is not only about more performance though, it is equally happy lower down the revv range and you can scoot around in city traffic without too much fuss. You can ride the motorcycle in top gear at speeds as low as 45-50 kmph without any engine knocking, however, we do not advocate lugging the engine.
Light clutch and predictable gearshift quality keep the rider happy in city traffic. The bike is light and tyres are on the skinnier side helping you flick it around in traffic easily than a few other 150cc motorcycles. The semi-fairing is also slim and does not require too much of an effort in finding a gap on congested city streets. Suspension setup in on the stiffer side and coupled to a hard compound seat, ride quality is on the firmer side. 17” 80mm tyre at the front and 100mm tyre at the back provide moderate levels of grip, but don’t go overboard trying to attack your favourite corner; the tyres are commuter friendly and might throw in some surprise if the road conditions are less than ideal. Riding position relaxed all through and even taller occupants, both the rider and pillion will be happy with the available room.
Where the acceleration is rather punchy for a commuter, Bajaj hasn’t paid enough attention on the braking department. Yes, the rear drum brake has decent bite and exudes confidence, but the front disc brake setup is very, very poor. Front disc brake bite is low and slow and stopping power only with the front brake is sub par. Brakes feel spongy and one will need to plan well before accelerating fast about when he will need to hit the brakes to stop right on the desired spot.
So, is the Discover 150F worth it? Yes. For the price it is being offered at and with the added flare due the semi-fairing, it will surely attract those who are in the market for a commuter motorcycle. Predictable handling, decent fuel efficiency and punchy acceleration will surely make the cut for those who prefer form over function. And just in case you are not a fan of the faired motorcycles, you can always move away to the Discover 150S. The big question remains, will a semi-faired 150cc motorcycle eat up into the Pulsar 150 sales? You never know, and the company isn’t bothered either as long as they drive in a customer and sell a product, whatever it might be. So if you are in the market for a new motorcycle, surely give the Discover 150F and 150S a shot.