Words by Aninda Sardar
From the original CS400 concept shown to the world at the Auto Expo 2014 to the reality that is the Dominar 400, it hasn’t been too long a journey for Bajaj Auto. Others have taken much, much longer to translate concept to production ready, and finally a product that you can ride and own. We took the Dominar 400 for a ride to Panchgani to see just how much of our environment we could actually dominate. Here goes…
What is it?
We’ll start with what it isn’t. The Dominar 400 isn’t a naked hooligan bike. It is, first and foremost, a tourer, albeit with some sporty attributes. It’s competitors would include the Royal Enfield range and the Mahindra Mojo rather than the KTM Dukes. A smart move by the company there, no doubt. After all why have cousins encroach on each other’s territories? And therein lies the biggest difference perhaps between the Dominar and the Pulsars.
You bet! Yes, the perimeter frame has been seen before and the engine internals are shared with those of the 390 Duke. Their application though is unique to the Dominar. For starters, Bajaj have ditched the DOHC layout and thrown in an SOHC unit instead. The DTS-I technology introduced on the Pulsars continue on the Dominar but in the latter everything is geared to give you a meaty bottom and mid range rather than saddle you with a peaky machine that may be enjoyable to ride but can get tiresome over distances.
What separates the Dominar most from the rest of its ilk is perhaps ergonomics. It’s extremely well sorted and even after a full day’s riding I sense little fatigue as I write this. Needless to say, the bike’s styling is of course all new and distinguishes it from anything else that Bajaj has had in its kitty till date. There are of course elements that remind you of certain other bikes, like the split instrumentation for instance or that devilish set of tail lamps. But every influence has been neatly integrated to give you a package that isn’t a sum of parts but is complete in its own right.
Fun to ride?
A good frame, a willing engine. At this point I should say go figure, but I’ll elaborate. The bike handles exceedingly well. Despite the 180+ kilo weight, it doesn’t feel heavy. At all. It’s nimble and you can flick through corners without effort. And if you are in the correct gear, which you should be in anyway, then there’s enjoyment ready for you in a ready to eat box at every turn. Yes, it’s fun to ride for sure.
Ok, like everything else in the world the Bajaj Dominar is not flawless as a product. There are indeed some niggles. Take gearing for instance. A bike that wants to be a tourer should have had taller ratios for fifth and sixth, to give it those slightly longer legs. There are no provisions for attaching bungee cords to tie down your luggage. But on the plus side, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, which in my books is a huge plus. It’s got a fantastic headlamp that really lets you dominate the dark, which means riding after sunset is no problem at all. Most importantly, at ₹1.5 lakh (ex-Delhi) Bajaj is throwing in twin channel ABS for added safety. You still need a verdict to tell you if it’s value for money? It’s time to say, go figure.
For the more detailed review of the Bajaj Dominar 400, stay tuned for the upcoming issue of evo India
Evo rating: 3.5/5