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  • Sachin Sen

Hero’s All-new 2023 Karizma XMR: Lots of Firsts. A New Era Begins for Hero

2023 Hero Motocorp Karizma XMR
The all-new Karizma XMR; Hero's most modern and technogically sophisticated motorcycle...

The Karizma was the best and the greatest motorcycle in 2003 by the then Hero Honda. It was written. While it wasn’t the most powerful motorcycle an Indian bike manufacturer made at that time (that title remained with the hugely underperforming Bullets), the Hero Honda Karizma was the quickest and the fastest motorcycle by an Indian company. It was, by far, the best thing Hero and Honda jointly made. And we all loved it. It was aspirational.

The Karizma not only started a whole new segment, it kick-started sport-biking for us, and introduced the culture of sport-touring to Indian motorcycle enthusiasts. Karizma did a lot of firsts…

So, is it a coincidence that on the 20th anniversary of Hero’s most loved motorcycle, we are getting the all-new Karizma, now called Karizma XMR?

While the original was a trendsetter and gave birth to a whole new segment, the 2023 Karizma XMR is mostly a new beginning for Hero Motocorp more than what it is expected to do for the segment. The new Karizma is entering a well-established market of 200cc motorcycles spearheaded by the segment king, the KTM RC 200. The new Karizma is more about a new beginning for Hero and the direction the company takes for its performance bikes from here on.

2023 Karizma XMR

2023 Hero Motocorp Karizma XMR
All-new liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve, 210cc single-cylinder held by a steel trellis chassis...

In all honesty, the 2023 Karizma XMR is better than I thought it would be. And the reason for my initial lower expectations is Hero itself, after what it did to Karizma after gen-1. The last generation Karizma (before it was discontinued for good) was such a terrible motorcycle. It felt as if the bike came from a company that doesn’t know how to make motorcycles. It was that bad, it was a nightmare, like a bad memory…

But with the all-new Karizma, thankfully, Hero is finally making a proper entry into the small performance bike category, and things look good so far. Starting with the engine, which is completely new from the ground up, it is Hero’s first liquid-cooled engine with the DOHC architecture. It is 210cc with 4 valves and produces 25.5 PS of power at 9,250 RPM and 20.4 NM of torque at 7,250 RPM, pushing the compression ratio to a good 12:01. Generally, this is not a big deal, but it’s the first time such a performance-oriented approach has been seen from Hero.

Perhaps what’s even more impressive is that Hero, this time, didn’t put this new engine in a traditional down-tube chassis. This is a completely new motorcycle, remember? So the chassis is all-new too and for the first time ever, Hero has developed a high-tensile steel trellis frame for excellent handling dynamics, especially at higher speeds.

At the same time, there are some cost-cutting measures as well, but those are not really frustrating at the price (INR 1,72, 900) the Karizma XMR is introduced at. The front forks are typical telescopic forks measuring at 37mm, non-adjustable, of course. The rear gets a gas-charged monoshock with 6-step preload adjustability. On that note, Hero is likely to bring a more premium version of the Karizma XMR in future with upside-down front forks. Or, Hero may simply update the Karizma with USD forks in the next cycle. Braking hardware is good though. If I’m correct, the front 300mm disc is the largest ever seen on a Hero motorcycle so far. At the rear, there’s a 230mm disc and both discs are petal type. Also, there’s dual channel ABS.

2023 Hero Motocorp Karizma XMR
Proportionate design, nice fully-bodied panels, all-LED lighting, and LCD display

Coming to the design, I’m happy to see that this is a pretty good looking motorcycle. Once again, I was doubtful and afraid that Hero would mess up the design based on Karizma's previous fully faired designs. But this time, it seems that Hero has carefully considered all aspects as they deserve.

This is a well-proportioned motorcycle and the entire body work looks just enough. Nothing seems to be overdone, which is very nice to see. And the bike manages to look good from all angles. And while it’s a matter of subjectivity, I like that the bike doesn’t look like the original Karizma. It was a good design, but I really don’t miss it as long as the new one looks good, which it does.

The riding position is also completely different from the original Karizma; it is sporty with two-piece handlebars but they are positioned high enough for a relaxing experience. This should be engaging yet comfortable for long-distance riding.

There are a few things the new Karizma XMR does that are not yet seen on other motorcycles in its segment; for example, adjustable windshield (however, it only has two positions), and auto-illuminated headlights that have Class D twin projector lamps. The display console is LCD and provides turn by turn navigation through smartphone bluetooth connectivity.

The Karizma XMR is available at an introductory price of INR 1,72,900 ex-showroom, which is good competitive pricing. It definitely looks good enough and everything inside the body work promises good performance too. And this is a good beginning for the rebirth of the Karizma brand, indicating better and more powerful motorcycles from Hero.


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