There’s a strong possibility that you may never have heard of Hero Motorcycles, an Indian motorcycle company. Perhaps if you’re a fan of Erik Buell Racing you’ll know more about them as they own 49.2% of Buell’s latest venture. But fast forward to five years in the future and we guarantee you’ll be not only know all about Hero Motorcycles, there’s every chance you might own and ride one.
Just to give you some perspective on how big Hero is, in the time period between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014, they sold 6,245,960 motorcycles – that’s tirple the amount of motorcycles than have been sold in the United States for the last six years! Of course, when you’ve got over 50 per cent market share in a country with 1.252 billion people then that’s not so hard to achieve. But Hero Motorcycles aren’t content playing in their own backyard or just expanding into developing nations – they’ve got their gaze firmly set upon the western world.
Glancing through Hero’s current catalog wouldn’t get anyone too excited. Their highest capacity machine is 223cc and the styling of their bikes wouldn’t be considered stylish or modern. But that will change very soon with Hero developing bikes especially targeted at the more mature (and more performance hungry) western markets.
Their first strike will be the Hero HX250R. Looking like a more angular version of the Honda CBR300R, the HX250R represents a massive leap forward for the Indian company. Developed in conjunction with Erik Buell Racing, it features a 249cc single cylinder liquid cooled engine which produces 31PS maximum power and 26Nm peak torque, couple to a six-speed gearbox – performance figures that roughly put in line with the baby Honda.
While it won’t be as quick as either Kawasaki or Yamaha’s entry level level options nor have the reputation for reliability that Honda has, you can be guaranteed the HX250R will be cheaper than the Japanese bikes by a decent margin – a crucial factor at that end of the market.
More interesting however is the Hero Hastur, a liquid-cooled 620cc parallel twin powered naked bike that makes the Kawasaki Z1000 look conservative. While only a concept at this stage, Hero claims it produces 79 bhp, 53 lb-ft of torque with a 0-62 mph time of 3.8 seconds. This would put it firmly in the market that is currently occupied by the likes of the Ninja 650R and Honda CBR650F.
Most exciting about this concept is that it weighs only 160kg – considerably less than those two aforementioned machines. Adding to that the heavy involvement from Buell in designing the Hastur, should this bike make it into production, on paper at least looks like a brilliant machine.
So when is Hero making it to the United States, Britain, Australia and so on? Potentially as early as later this year although 2016 is more likely. By then, Hero may have the Hastur in production which would give them the ability to target both new riders and more seasoned ones looking for something different. And with Buell involved, they could well shake the market up considerably.
All praise our new Indian overlords!