Back in the late winters of 2016 the Pune based Motorcycle manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd launched the highly anticipated 400cc motorcycle, this gave birth to the Dominar brand, India’s first sports touring segment motorcycle. Equipped with a 400cc engine coupled with Dual channel ABS & slipper clutch. Bajaj put forth a strong competition knocking on Royal Enfields doors, who was and is the market leader in terms of volumes of the classics.
This was the beginning of the era of sports tourers, riders who love to tour across the country with their fast modern tourers. The Dominar 400 managed to gather strong backing from the biking community & matured tenured riders, and as of today, every state, rather every major city in India has a Dominar Riding club. Bajaj Auto also conducted post sales activities with customers through their Hyper Rides & Hyper Tours, allowing their customers, to experience their Dominars across the terrains of India. The Dominar proved its mettle by being the First Indian motorcycle to complete the Trans-Siberian Odyssey& the Artic to Antartica Odyssey, not just that but the Dominar also conquered the terrains of Upper Mustang, then what else was left in the recipe that would have made buyers jump at it..! In 2019, Bajaj Auto updated the Dominar 400 with an All New DOHC setup, forged side stand & Stylish Mirrors, 43mm USD forks & better Rear Suspension to make the deal much sweeter, at just an additional cost of 18k over the Dominar 2017’s entry level pricing of Rs. 1.56 lakhs.
That brings us to the question, why the Dominar 250? Well, Consumer insights tell us, the Super Sports category (200-400cc) at an average has 43% first time buyers industry wide, as compared to the Dominar which has had only 18% first time buyers. Insights also tell us, that the idea of owning a 400cc motorcycle for a first time buyer, made him feel intimidated, but the Dominar 400 was the GO-TO choice for Tenured matured riders who wanted a fast reliable sports tourer to fuel their thirst for sporty riding with this upgrade. Globally, quarter litre bikes or 250cc bikes is the largest growing segment, with the domestic market of sports segment growing at a pace of 23% CAGR of 5 years. With this insightful understanding of the Global & well as domestic market, Bajaj Auto saw an opportunity to expand the Dominar Sports Tourer legacy. A 250cc Entry Level feature loaded Sports Tourer was missing in Bajaj’s line-up, and that’s exactly what the Dominar 250 is.At first sight, you might never be able to differentiate the Dominar 250 from the Dominar 400UG, but careful examination will help you differentiate the both. The Dominar 250 will be available in WINE BLACK & CANYON RED colour options only, which the Dominar 400UG in the AURORA GREEN & WINE BLACK options. The bike looks exactly the same as the elder sibling, which in a way will help strengthen Dominar’s brand image and positioning in the masses.
The front end is loaded with a bright Tried & tested LED headlamp that ensures you see where you are going, no matter what. It’s mounted to these newly developed 37mm USD forks by Endurance, with radially mounted 300mm disk brake which gives best in class braking performance.These forks are mounted to the exactly same perimeter frame from the Dominar 400, which has proven its reliability in all these times. We had especially loved the Rear Suspension update that Bajaj had got in the Dominar 400UG making it provide better damping & comfort, and the exact same unit has been installed on the Dominar 250 along with a 230mm brake setup. Both the front and rear get steel braided lines, for best performance in braking. The frame has been loaded upon 100-80-17 section on front, and 130-70-17 MRF Nylogrip S soft compound tyres which we got to test In Pune’s heavy rains. The tyres inspire great confidence and provide the Dominar 250 ample agility& traction to be your daily city hooligan and weekend highway tourer.
It can take the nastiest of bumps with ease, and will just glide through without causing much discomfort. The Dominar 250 has also lost approximately 7kgs of weight in this transition. Bottom line, the Dominar 250 does complete justice in ensuring the quality of comfort, control and riding engagement along with rider safety is delivered. The Dominar 250 gets alloy wheels from the elder sibling, but misses out on the diamond cut finish. The Tail lamp and all other body panels & dimensions are exactly the same as the elder Dominar 400. It’s a Dominar no doubt. The rider triangle remains the same as the UG, so does the seat height of 800mm, does not demand a very aggressive stance, rather its more laid back, best suited for touring.
Coming to the most important part of the equation, the heart. Well, at first, being a Dominar 400 owner myself, I had this doubt on my mind since Bajaj called us to ride the Dominar 250, I had it getting stronger & stronger as the day came closer only to shatter in minutes. The Dominar 250 comes equipped with a 248.6cc KTM derived DOHC engine with a bore x stroke of 72 x 61.1, exactly the same from Duke 250 & Husqvarna twins, but to suit its purpose comes with a Compression ratio of 11.9 as compared to 12.5. This Twin spark engine Liquid cooled engine delivers 27PS of Power at 8500rpm & 23.5NM of Torque at 6500rpm that delivers crisp linear & butter smooth power delivery through-out the rev range.
Another surprise for me was the Engine cut-off rpm limit. The Dominar 400 has it at around 9000rpm, while the Dominar 250 can be pulled upto 10500rpm, giving you that extra 1500rpm to extract enough juice to take you to a top speed of 140kmph. The bike can do 100-120kmph all day with ease, without any hiccups or need to wait for the engine to cool down and do checks for fallen nuts and bolts, but you will surely have to wait for fuelling up, since the tank has a capacity of 13 litres only. So, yeah, the engine does not feel underpowered at any point, and has its own characteristic nature I feel on the Dominar 400UG. On paper its 12.5PS less power, but never during my ride did I feel am actually missing out on anything. Average Indian highways allow you to cruise at 90-110kmph, which the Dominar 250 can do continuously maybe for days thanks to liquid cooling which sadly the competition misses out on, neither do they deliver this sporty, engaging & comfortable a ride. The Dominar 250 delivers a ARAI certified mileage of 35kmpl, which answers the ‘kitna-Deti-hai’ question we Indians had on our minds with Flying colours. With this, the Dominar 250 gets usable range of about 300-350kms. Remember, never ever let your fuel injected bikes tank run dry, it affects your fuel pump, which can heat up & get spoiled.
In terms of features, I have already mentioned the LED headlamp and tail-lamp setup, it gets LED indicators, Dual channel ABS with slipper clutch for those urgent downshifts and braking moments, twin console display, back-light switch console, the same double barrel exhaust with that heavy exhaust note from its elder sibling and a Dominar 250 badging differentiating it. The primary console is an all digital setup with a RPM meter, speedometer, odometer, 2 trip meters, fuel gauge and a clock. It has lights for indicators ON, Neutral gear, Low Oil pressure. The secondary display has warning lights for check engine, ABS system warning, high temperature indicator, high beam.
Another important aspect of owning a motorcycle is the post sales costs incurred and after sales service. I hope there is no doubt on this at least, that Bajaj Auto has the most accessible and pocket friendly spare parts, availability off course differs area to area. Cheap spares parts in turn translate into savings in total cost of ownership of the vehicle. And a strong network and availability of dealerships make sure, you don’t need to travel far and long just to get it fixed or buy a spare part.
Coming to the last part of the story, what do we think? Well at the price point it has been made available, the Dominar 250 costs Rs.45000/- less than the Duke 250 and approx Rs.25000/- less than the Husqvarna twins, which are actually siblings to Dominar, targeting a different segment. They all belong to the same family tree of Bajaj Auto Ltd. So in terms of competition, there are the Gixxer250 twins and the Yamaha FZ25, which cost approximately the same as Dominar 250, but neither of them feature liquid cooling or USD forks or Radial callipers.
Well, I think at Rs.1.60 Lakh, the Dominar 250 is the most value for money 250cc Sports tourer motorcycle, that can fuel the thirst for amateurs and first time buyers who want to tour the world around them on two wheels. The platform is a proven platform with 6 Odysseys to its name, and can be your entry ticket into the world of sports touring. This motorcycle is meant for those matured riders, who need a laid back sports tourer, without flashy colours and aggressive riding stance. With a seat height at 800mm, the Dominar 250 should be accessible to a wide range of market with height more than 5’’5’ of height. I personally own a Dominar 400 since 2017, have seen the brand evolve to UG and been riding it too for quite some time, let me tell you, these 37mm USD forks or slicker tyres or the smaller brakes in no way dilute the riding experience, engagement levels or the feedback I get from the Elder siblings.
Bajaj Auto now has 4 motorcycles globally in the Quarter litre market with the fifth, the RC250 soon to come. Bajaj Auto has got its aim on the Globally growing Quarter Litre segment with its RC250 in super sports format, Duke250 in naked sports format, Svartpilen in Scrambler format, Vitpilen in the Café Racer format & the Dominar 250 for the sports touring format. With 5 different platforms, Bajaj is all geared up to hit their competitors hard, very hard.