The ubiquitous Splendor soldiers on with its tried and tested mechanicals and now adds connected tech to the mix
Like every kid who wished to ride their dad’s motorcycle, I also grew up yearning for a chance to ride the Hero Honda Splendor that my pops owned back in the 90s. Back then and probably even now, the Splendor was a household name, like Bisleri. I did ride it during my college years and now I get to swing my leg over its newest avatar - the Hero Splendor Plus Xtec.
It gives me a sudden rush of nostalgia, recreating all the pleasant memories from my childhood. Those 200- odd kilometre temple trips with my family of four on our Hero Honda Splendor. The times I used to pray for the final bell at school, as Pops would wait at the gates to pick me and my brother up. I used to enjoy sitting on the fuel tank and experiencing wind in my hair. It was the humble Splendor that played a part in my affection for all things with two wheels and a motor. The Splendor is also an image that brought mobility to the emotionally-rich middle-class families staying true to its caption ‘Desh ki dhadkan’. The motorcycle single-handedly brought an affordable and reliable mobility solution to the common masses.
Ever since its inception three decades ago, the Splendor remained true to its form but followed new trends like alloy wheels, fresh decals and new features. It even spawned different variants, like the Passion which got more upmarket body panels but retained the Splendor’s tried and trusted mechanicals. Thanks to heavy demand, the Splendor soldiers on, the most recent being the Splendor Plus Xtec. The motorcycle now gets connected features making it interesting for the budget-focused consumer.
It retains the familiar bodywork but integrates an LED DRL into the headlamp cowl. The offset DRL placement has divided opinions in the office but I like it. I also like the all-black treatment with minimalistic decals which gives the motorcycle a premium vibe. A major update is the full-digital instrument console which besides the speed and fuel level, has a caller ID display and a real-time fuel consumption indicator.
It also gets segment-first features like Bluetooth connectivity, a USB charger and Hero’s i3s idle stop-start system besides a side-stand cut-off switch. These features do make the Splendor more appealing to commonfolk, as does its powertrain. The ‘sloper’ engine was a legend and a study in how simplicity begets bulletproof reliability. It still runs the same configuration but now packs fuel injection to overcome BS6 norms.
The 97.2cc air-cooled, single overhead cam engine produces 8.02PS and 8.05Nm and still comes mated to a four-speed gearbox. Gear ratios are well-matched for commuting. The first and second gears feel short, while the third gear seems to carry any speeds below 70kmph. The tall 4th gear lets the motorcycle top out at 90kmph. The motor itself impresses with its tractability and peppiness.
In case you are wondering if the Splendor is still relevant, it is Hero MotoCorp’s and India’s best-selling two-wheeler and continues to play a major part in moving the masses. The electric revolution is coming but is still far off in terms of charging infrastructure. And an EV won’t make your heart sing like an ICE motorcycle. The Hero Splendor Plus Xtec may look dated, but its strengths of reliability, a bomb-proof fuel-efficient engine, low running costs and a low price tag of Rs 74,000 ex-showroom, still make it a no-brainer for the masses