The 2014 Indian Auto Expo was quite a big show for Hero MotoCorp. India’s #1 two-wheeler manufacturer came out with plenty of new concepts & production ready models which created quite a buzz in the industry. Be it the 150cc, Zir power-scooter or the quirky looking diesel + electric RNT concept. Amongst all this, Hero had a plethora of refreshed models on offer. Some with just new decals, while some with a cosmetic steroid shot. Capitalizing on the popularity of ‘Cafe Racer’ styled bikes, Hero MotoCorp also revealed the Splendor Pro Classic. Now, for more than a decade, the key selling point for the Splendor has been how much you can travel in 1 litre of fuel, and nothing else. This time however, it is trying to attract customers who love poser bikes. And of course, this will still deliver those big kmpl figures. While some ridiculed this move, we think there is a definite market for these bikes here in India. Yes, the Splendor is a commuter brand. But it doesn’t mean that those looking at commuters do not want some extra swag. They say money can buy happiness, true. But who said little money can’t buy happiness? For Rs. 50,000, the Splendor Pro Classic is the maximum style you can get out there in the market. So what good is this entry-level cafe racer on the streets? We revved the nuts out to find out…
First things first, the Splendor Pro Classic, just like all other Splendor models is compact in size. Dimensions are typical of commuter segment and the bigger you are, the smaller the bike feels under you. But then, in this cafe racer avatar, it looks really good. Trust us when we say this, at every signal where we stopped, the Splendor Pro Classic was an eyeball magnet. Sounds weird? Well, even we were surprised by the amount of attention it gathered amongst those who were unaware about the bike being officially on sale. Hero MotoCorp offers the Splendor Pro Classic only in two colours, black & red. The red will be the preferred colour for those who are interested in this bike since it adds that little bit more to the styling in a brighter shade.
At the front, you get a nice, chunky round headlamp placed low. It gets a chrome ring around the lens to add more to the bling factor. A small headlamp fairing like the Triumph Thruxton should have been available as an optional accessory. Guess we are asking too much. Turn indicators are round, old-school looking units with amber coloured lens which do justice to the cafe racer styling. Turn indicators also get chrome casing. Below, the front mudguard is again seen in shiny steel / chrome. This we think is a little too flashy and Hero should have opted for a silver painted unit instead of this gaudy one. The full size mudguard also gets a small plastic extension at the bottom to avoid mud spray on the engine / rider. Telescopic front fork is shared with the other Splendor models and is painted in silver. Rear view mirrors are also round and get a chrome casing. Hero MotoCorp offers a crash guard / leg guard with the Splendor Pro Classic, again seen in shiny steel finish.
If it is difficult from the front to note that this is a Splendor Pro Classic, from the side, you will surely not mistake it for anything else. The bike is a single seater, but the rider seat is quite long & accommodating for one person. It gets a cowl at the back painted in body colour. This cowl however is a little bulky when looked at from the rear and is not proportionate compared to the fuel tank. Fuel tank is identical to the other Splendor models and gets the conventional fuel filler cap on top. On the side, it gets minimum decals, and we are glad there is not too much of it. Below the tank, on the RHS is a small lockable storage compartment made out of plastic. The side panel covering the battery needs to be opened with the help of your keys. Also, the side panel has the ‘Splendor Pro’ badge while a ‘Classic’ sticker is slapped on the cowl behind the seat. Engine area is familiar territory, what we have seen for decades. A horizontally mounted 100cc engine painted in silver & grey.
At the back, the exhaust pipe of the Splendor Pro Classic is again identical to other Splendor models. A lot of cycle parts have been shared to keep costs under check. However, something different would have surely differentiated the bike better. While other Splendor models have a body coloured cap over the rear suspension, the Classic has a chrome unit. Looking at the bike from behind, the round seat cowl is unique to look at and surely grabs attention of those following you. There is also a small ‘Hero’ sticker slapped over here. Rear mudguard is rather short, and we like it this way. It is again a shiny steel / chrome unit which houses a round tail lamp, reminiscent of the Yamaha RD350. Round, amber coloured turn indicators are placed right next to the tail lamp. The bike also gets a pair of reflectors mounted sideways for lateral visibility at night. The bike runs on spoked rims & houses drum brakes at the front and back. The Splendor Pro Classic gets a full chain cover, however, a half cover, just on top would have looked better.
If you’re budget is only up to Rs. 50,000 or around this figure and you don’t want the usual boring looking commuters, the Splendor Pro Classic has more than enough swag.
Instrumentation & ergonomics:
Well, the Splendor Pro Classic is a looker, no doubt. But given the price, it maintains the bare bones equipment. Instrument cluster is a twin-pot layout with chrome rings on top. The LHS dial hosts the speedometer and an analogue odometer while the RHS hosts the fuel gauge, neutral light, side stand indicator & high beam notification. Turn indicator signals are placed below each of these dials, on either side of keyhole. Rear view mirrors are placed low, and the stalks do not run wide enough. This results in a lot of your arm covering the mirror space.
Switchgear is basic, and plastic quality is just average, as is the case in this segment. You get a self-start button on the right, that’s it. LHS switchgear is cluttered with low beam, high beam, pass switch, turn indicators & horn button.
Hop on the Splendor Pro Classic and you are instantly happy with the seat. Firstly, it is very accommodating, even for the heaviest of riders. Secondly, the seat compound used is very soft and cushiony making it a good place to be. Seat has perforated leather upholstery.
Handlebar is not a clip-op, but a regular bar designed to look like a 3-piece section. It is placed flat and offers a good forward biased riding stance. If only Hero had played with the rider footrest, to move it behind a bit, things would have been ideal. As of now, the rider leans ahead to grab the handle, but his feet remain in typical commuter position. Not that it is uncomfortable, but is a mix of both worlds and the best of none. Still, if you sit on a regular Splendor and then on a Pro Classic, those looking for some fun would prefer the cafe racer position. Those who are new to this riding style will need some time getting their wrists comfortable with the position. We don’t think there is an optional pillion seat available and neither is there a mount to bolt-on the pillion footrest. Getting on & off the bike is fairly easy too since the bike is small in scale.
With a kerb weight of just 109 kg, the Splendor Pro Classic is easy to maneuver in traffic.
Engine, performance & handling:
Powering the Splendor Pro Classic is the same 97.2cc, 4-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled, OHC, under-square petrol engine producing 8.36 PS of power @ 8,000 RPM & 8.05 Nm of torque @ 5,000 RPM matched to a 4-speed gearbox. These figures are 0.86 PS & 0.1 Nm more compared to the Splendor+, but identical to the Splendor Pro.
Fire up the engine and the Splendor Pro Classic idles with minimum vibrations. NVH levels are acceptable by segment standard, both on the handlebar as well as on the footrest. Slot the bike in first and you have to twist your wrist a bit to get the bike moving. Exhaust note is very mild and muted while doing so. The Splendor is built for basic commuting and it shines in this department. The sales figures also represent this. The engine is smooth and the gears slot in nicely within the city. The toe & heel shifter although boring to look at, makes slotting easier. Gearing however is a bit tall, and you need to revv hard to make quick progress. Within the city, thanks to the 109 kg weight, the bike is very manageable.
On the highway, the Splendor feels a bit limited when it comes to delivering as much fun you would expect from a cafe racer. The bike tops out with the needle hovering between 90-100 kmph, and we do not recommend hitting these speeds on this bike anyway. The engine isn’t very happy while you revv the nuts out of it. The vibrations creep in on high RPMs and also, the engine note is rather gruff. On the highway, it is best to ride the Splendor Pro Classic around or below the 70-80 kmph mark. The bike has decent low & mid-range punch and at times when you want to zoom ahead from a traffic light, you won’t be disappointed.
Suspension setup is complaint and the ride quality will keep the solo rider happy. It does feel a bit stiff on rough roads, but on the highways, the bike remains planted. Even when towards the end of the power band, riding around 80-90 kmph, the suspension provides a confident feel to the rider. Tyres however are punny, and focused more on fuel efficiency. If you are looking at enjoying the cafe racer styling a bit too much by hitting those corners, think of upgrading the rubber. Not that the current tyres do not offer good grip, they are acceptable by all means. Braking performance comes from drum brakes at either ends. Brake bite is very good by segment standards, and not even once did our wheels lock up during the entire 200 km test ride.
The Splendor Pro Classic is an old-school cafe racer inspired motorcycle and offers pure motorcycling fun. Yes, it is small, and might look punny to some, but then, it is fun, and very affordable. Does this bike have a market? Of course it does. We know plenty of riders out there buying rusted Yamaha RX100s and modifying them to a cafe racer, then why not just buy this. It is reliable, frugal & BRAND NEW. We don’t remember grabbing so much attention ever on a 100cc motorcyle. So if you care less about top speed, and don’t want to spend a bomb on a poser bike, make sure you give the Splendor Pro Classic a shot.