Photographs by Vishnu G. Haarinath
It’s been more than a decade now since Bajaj introduced the Avenger cruiser motorcycle. What started its life with a 180 cc motor borrowed from the Pulsar, it later became more suited for highway riding with the introduction of 200 cc and 220 cc offerings. The Avenger 200 was later discontinued, and the entry-spec 180 was replaced with a more frugal 150 cc motor to make the cruiser more accessible to the masses. But, as they say, what goes around comes around. The company feels that the commuter motorcycle segment, which previously ranged from the 100cc motorcycles up to the 125cc bracket, has breached into the 150cc area. And hence the relevance of the 150 cc motorcycle decreased, The Avenger Street 150 was always looked upon as a stylish motorcycle first, before being someone’s everyday workhorse. Which is why the re-introduction of the Avenger 180 makes sense. And if not convinced enough, then little extra power is always a good thing, isn’t it! So, apart from the swap with a more powerful motor, what else does the new Avenger Street 180 get? We find that out in our First Ride Review:
Since the time Bajaj introduced the Street and Cruise variants of the Avenger, the former has been referred to by many as the affordable version of the H-D’s Street 750. And now with the introduction of the Avenger Street 180, the resemblance increases even more, especially when viewed from the rear. Upfront, the circular headlamp has been replaced with a slightly oval-shaped (or ‘skull-shaped’ as Bajaj calls it) unit that incorporates a strip of LED DRLs on the bottom. There is also a tinted visor which along with all the cosmetic upgrades gives the motorcycle the appeal of the Sportster. And that should be well-appreciated by buyers.
Bajaj has been keenly listening to the valuable feedback they receive from their customers and has worked on making the appropriate changes. For the Street 180, Bajaj has included a padded grab rail which was missed on the Street 150. Not only does it act as a backrest for the pillion, but also enhances the look of the cruiser, too. Next up is the increase in suspension travel at the rear, which has gone up from 98mm to 108mm. It allows more movement for the twin shocks and thus better absorption of bumps. Elsewhere, the instrument console features speedometer and a small digital gauge for the odometer and trip meter. Other tell-tale lights and fuel gauge are now located on the fuel tank, which although are in line with the cruiser’s style, do need some getting used to, as they do not come in the field of view.
The 178.6cc unit powering the Street 180 has been tuned for a flatter curve in the low- and mid-range. That is fitting considering it’s a cruiser we’re talking about here. And the lows and mids is where the motorcycle is going to be ridden most of the time. The same proves extremely helpful when riding the Street 180 in the city. One can cruise in the city at legal speeds in fourth gear with sufficient torque available. Drop a gear on the slick 5-speed box, and the 180 picks up pace without too much hesitation. Out on the highway, slot into the top cog and the bike is an absolute breeze to ride. Apt Feel like God feeling, then? Well, almost. Having said that, its sweet spot is between 80kph to 90kph, beyond which, mild vibrations can be felt through the foot pegs, but they aren’t exactly unbearable.
While riding the motorcycle around the city, the soft seat cushioning makes the ride a lot more comfortable, but how it would perform on a long distance trip remains a question for now. Apart from that, the Avenger has been a good handling motorcycle despite being a cruiser. Enter some nice smooth corners and the motorcycle handles them well, that too with a surprisingly good amount of lean. And that can be really addictive. The seating position is the same as the previous model’s: a commuter-oriented posture, excellent for riding in the city but can become tiresome during long distance journeys out on the highway.
The cruiser sports a 260mm disc for the front while the rear gets a 130mm drum. There is no option for a disc brake at the rear and the chances of incorporating one anytime soon seem to be unlikely. ABS has still not been included in the equipment list and isn’t being offered even as an option. However, even with the existing setup, the Street 180 stops quickly without much protest. There is a slight wooden feel when you squeeze the brakes hard, but considering the kicked-out forks, it’s justified.
To sum it up, the 2018 Bajaj Avenger Street 180, with the revised look and more potent engine, promises to be an appealing cruiser to lot to buyers in the market. Priced at Rs 85,498 (ex-showroom, New Delhi), it demands a premium of just Rs 5063 above the price of the now-discontinued Avenger Street 150 — a sweet deal, then. And to top it off, all of this is achieved while being the most affordable cruiser currently on the market. In the end, Bajaj’s call on upgrading the Avenger 150 back to the original 180 variant seems to be a valid decision for the brand — and a lucrative one for the buyer.
Bajaj Avenger Street 180
Displacement: 178.6cc, single
Max power: 15.3 bhp@8500 rpm
Max torque: 1.39 kgm@6500 rpm
(F/R): Telescopic fork/twin shock absorber
(F/R): 260mm Disc/130mm drum
(F/R): 90/90-R17 / 130/90-R15
L/W/H (mm): 2210/806/1070
Kerb weight: 150 kg
Fuel tank: 13 litres
PRICE: Rs 85,498 (ex-showroom, Delhi)