It’s been five years since the much publicized divorce between Hero and Honda took place. But even after that former was still reliant on the latter for technology. Hero had a huge challenge at hand which was setting up their own research and development wing and creating their own technology. And now after half a decade the company has hit its first major milestone in this journey of going solo by launching the Splendor iSmart 110 i3S, the first ever product developed in house. Over the last few years Hero MotoCorp has been the dominant leader in the commuter motorcycle segment with over 65% market share, thanks to the popular Splendor range, Passion and HF Deluxe brands. With the introduction of the new Splendor iSmart 110 in its portfolio, the company is hoping to further augment its undisputed leadership in the category. The milestone product enters the market within six months of being showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo.
New graphics, dual tone mirrors, fenders and cowl along with a new tail light and muffle with chrome tip give the bike a sleek look from the rear. A sleek-looking grab handle adds to the overall look of the bike. There are four color schemes instead of single color on the bike and that works well especially in this segment. The new styling language of bike extends to its enthusiastic exhaust note. The instrument cluster is a mix of analog and digital which also hints towards premiumness. There’s a service due indicator as well which provides timely service reminders. The bike also comes with alloys and tubeless tyres.
The iSmart runs on a 110cc air-cooled single cylinder, 4-stroke motor which is the only BS-IV compliant engine in the segment. It gives a maximum power of 9.2 bhp and has a good torque figure of 9 Nm. There’s a 4-speed gearbox which has smooth shifts and along with the engine ensures good pulling power on the bike. The bike races from 0-60 km/h in roughly 7.5 seconds. The company has come up with some never before seen technologies in the segment. Primary among them is the idle start stop technology where the engine automatically switches off when the bike is left in idle for 10 seconds. A press of clutch brings it back to life and this ensures good mileage which the company claims is 70 kmpl. In case you do not want the i3S or Idle-stop-start system it can also be disabled at the push of a button which is placed conveniently at the position of a kill switch. The bike also has something called torque on demand as well as Automatic Headlamp On (AHO) feature gives the bike a unique character, provides enhanced visibility and adds to the safety of the rider while riding in low-visibility conditions.
A sleek looking grab handle adds to the overall look of the bike. There are four color schemes instead of single color on the bike and that works well especially in this segment.
Ride & Handling
The iSmart i3S rides on a new frame that Hero says offers improved durability. With low centre of gravity, the balance is surely better. But the ride quality on the bike is a little stiff and surely can do with a few improvements. The double cradle design of the bike though does help matters a bit. It also helps that the bike offers a good ride position even for tall riders. The big wide seat also ensures that even after spending long hours on the bike the rider is less likely to feel tired with the commute.
The new Hero Splendor iSmart i3S is everything and more you expect from a commuter bike. Riding on the much reliable Splendor bandwagon the bike delivers on almost all counts. It packs in a lot of style that is complemented well by things like features as well as good mileage. Yes at Rs. 53,300 (ex-showroom, Delhi) it may be a little overpriced when you compare it to some other 110 cc bikes, but looking at some segment first features, it does become a good value for money option.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars