Pune feels refreshing and welcoming in overcast conditions. Yet, Tuesday morning last week was quite breezeless when the new Bajaj Discover 125cc ST – the ST in the appellation stands for Sports Tourer -- sprung to life. The throttle delivers the typical DTSi sound – of a sturdy colt snuffing and straining at the leash at the starting gates.
By ‘tourer’, Bajaj means occasional trips of a couple of hundred km rather than any hardcore 1000-km type of stuff.
The new Discover is perhaps Bajaj’s answer to the commuter segment that craves for a sporty bike but ends up compromising the urge for price and mileage, much like the Honda Stunner.
This Discover 125cc ST promises to deliver on both flair and efficiency. With a stylish cowl, the headlamp has the feel of Batman’s mask and the pilot lamps come up as eyes stare hungrily on the road ahead.
The handlebar fits well with the comfortable posture that the bike engenders, unlike the forward stance of the higher Pulsar 180cc.
With a sporty feel, stylised decals, higher power and competitive mileage, Bajaj is trying to enter the niche of ‘sports commuter’ segment now occupied by the Stunner.
“It is an affordable Pulsar,” a voice from somewhere in the rear wafts in.
Like the 125cc Bajaj Discover, which was re-launched last year, this one too has an all analogue instrument console and the handle mounts too are more or less the same.
However, the knees fit well into the 10-litre tank recess, making the rider feeling compact and in control. While the grab-rails are still the same, the tail lights exhibit a fiery grin.
The front has a telescopic suspension but the rear features, for the first time in this class, a nitrox (gas-based) mono-shock suspension, much closer to the centre of gravity which gives the bike better control and stability even in sharp turns.
The front has a petal disc brake which comes out loud against a matte-finish five spoke alloy wheel supporting a TVS tube tyre. The rear has a drum brake, like others in the 125cc segment. The front brake offers good feel and feedback and the rear, well, we didn't use too much on the ride.
There has been some cost control measures in terms of tyre type, base and rim to keep a focus on the daily commuters, a ride down the circuit tells you that they are still oriented towards better mileage. There is an aftermarket for upgrades though.
We were told to test the colt on busy Pune roads during peak office hour.
Prod the starter and the engine comes to life, then you can slot into first on a one-down-five-up pattern gearbox and we're off, a dozen-odd petrolheads checking out the nifty machines.
The ride through the rest four gears feels easy enough, with the engine showing no signs of stress at some rough throttling. The vibrations do become a little intrusive as we rough it out on speedbumps et al, but that doesn't stop the engine from pulling hard.
The bike waded through traffic comfortably and even zoomed pass a few peers due to its nimble and light handling. It gave a lot of confidence at higher speeds and when braking suddenly, which is saying a lot.
The bike claims a top speed of 105 kmph and we have no doubt it will get there safely -- we didn't want do verify that because it was a brand-new bike and the engine needed to break-in.
Thanks to the innovative four-valve engine introduced by Bajaj for the first time in the Pulsar 135, the cylinder sucks in more air and hence delivers a maximum torque of 10.78 Nm albeit at a higher rpm of 6500, a big 1000 rpm more than the current Bajaj Discover 125 cc.
This leads to the engine delivering a maximum power of 13 PS at 9000 rpm, unlike the earlier avatar which offered 11 PS at 7500 rpm. We'd have liked some more down-low torque, but for something sportier, it works well. It demands that you wring it to get to the power. The 5-speed 'box transfers this torque and power with ease to the tyres and the biker feels smooth shifting gears.
However, the neutral still has to be fished for a few seconds. The one down and four up gear set-up is a welcome change, unlike the all-downs of other offerings from the bikemaker.
Bajaj claims the Discover 125 ST offers a mileage of between 65 and 70 kmpl on road, but this is something we couldn’t verify since the test ride was quite small for that.
Bajaj plans to recapture the enthusiasm and imagination of daily bikers which the Discover Sprint promised in 2004. From our first ride, we can safely say Hero had better watch out -- this one has the trappings of a daily stunner too.
Bajaj Discover 125 ST
Kitna deti hai? 65-70 kmpl in company test
Power: 13Ps@9000 rpm (max)
Torque: 10.78Nm@6500 rpm (max)
Height: 1078 mm
Fuel tank: 10 litres
Full tank good for: over 600 km run
Colours: Red, Light Blue and two shades of Black
Target buyer: The urban commuter who, once in a while, would like to gun down a 200 km stretch with a pillion rider