Mahindra is trying to transit smoothly into the two-wheeler market with Pantero. Rishad Cooper has the details

Mahindra 2-wheelers first entered the 100cc commuter motorcycle segment with the 106.7cc Stallio back in 2010. However, the bike had many problems and the company withdrew it within a few months from showrooms. Since then, Mahindra has taken time to look at the product, investing in an in-house R&D facility to perfect the motorcycle. And now, the bike maker is back to compete in what is today one of the most demanding two-wheeler market segments in the world with the Stallion’s sequel, the Pantero.

Mahindra is confident the Pantero is a winner. We’ve strapped on our helmets and test equipment, to bring you this exhaustive road test of its important new motorcycle.

There’s not much to tell you the difference between the Pantero and Stallio. Mahindra’s latest bike runs astride a set of five-spoke alloy wheels, which along with several other parts on the bike, are finished in a contrasting black shade.

There’s a tinted visor above the raked bikini fairing, within which sits the bike’s adequately powerful, halogen powered headlamp, and LED pilot lamps. The Pantero comes with digital instruments set on a saffron backlit fascia. Its tachometer is problematic to read on the move, and could have been better designed.

The Pantero does, however, give you comfortable palm grips, nice levers and good size mirrors. Its switches work well, and even include a pass-light flasher. A handlebar-mounted choke lever adds convenience, along with which the Pantero is equipped with a lockable tool-bay under the fuel bay. The fuel tank looks smart, and recesses within its sides offer good inner thigh support. This leads into a flowing seat, and sleekly designed tail-fairing. An integrated LED tail-lamp brings up the rear, along with an alloy grab handle. Red rear suspension springs add colour to the Pantero.

A change from the Stallio is the company doing away with alloy rear footrest mounts, replacing these for more conventional, tubular sub-frame sections on the Pantero.

MCI-5 engine

While paint quality is good, below par build quality as well as only average fit-and-finish leaves considerable room for improvement.

The Pantero uses a four-stroke, 106.7cc, horizontal set single-cylinder and air-cooled engine, named the MCI-5 (Micro Chip Ignited, 5-curves) by Mahindra. Its bore and stroke measure 52.4mm x 49.5mm, and Mahindra 2-wheelers R&D wing has modified several components, including the induction and oil lubrication systems as well as piston assembly. The rocker-arms have added roller-bearings for lower friction, and there’s a totally revised gearbox, which was a major problem area on the Stallio.

The Pantero generates 8.4bhp at 7500rpm, while peak torque is 0.87kgm at 5500rpm. Unlike the Stallio, the Pantero clutch offers adequately light feel at its control lever, and gearshifts are smooth in the four-up pattern, with each ratio adequately spaced.

The Pantero’s carburetted, sohc engine has made giant progress since its first generation days on the Stallio. It’s far smoother than the Stallio, but this is still not the most refined of 100cc motorcycles.

Performance has improved, the Pantero completing the 0-60kph dash in 8.64 seconds, where the Stallio took 9.58sec, and the new bike goes on to nudge a true top speed of 91kph on a flat test surface. Its riding position is upright, good for a commuter bike, only let down by the bike’s riding saddle, the padding for which turns painful to sit on when covering longer distances. The Pantero suspension works to keep ride quality adequate at low speeds. The Pantero is a light motorcycle to steer in the city, but its iffy handling and cornering manners leave scope for improvement, mainly due to Mahindra having stopped short of upgrading to a box section swingarm, instead sticking with a tubular steel unit as is now seldom seen on any Indian bike.

The Pantero also suffers because of inadequate brakes, its front and rear 130mm drums failing to provide good feel, and calling for a lengthy 26.18 metres to stop the bike from 60kph under testing.

Another oversight is the Pantero’s front drum continuing to be locked in place via an old-school fastener stop, this prompting a disconcerting clacking sound and feel when braking, or negotiating harsh potholes. MRF tyres are the norm, these allowing the Pantero good traction.

The Pantero isn’t the most fuel efficient motorcycle in its class. It delivered us an only reasonable figure of 52.6kpl when tested in crowded city riding conditions, this improving marginally to 55kpl when riding on open highways at higher and more constant speeds.

The Pantero does mark a step in the right direction, improving on the Stallio, but retains some rough edges.

Price Rs 45,000 (estimated)

L/W/H 2000/735/1050mm

Wheelbase 1265mm

Ground clearance 165mm

Fuel tank capacity 13.7 litres

Kerb weight 120kg

Engine layout

Single-cylinder,

air-cooled, four-stroke

Displacement 106.7cc

Power 8.4bhp at 7500rpm

Torque 0.87kgm at 5500rpm

Specific output 78.7bhp per litre

Power to weight 70bhp per tonne

Gearbox 4-speed, 4-up

Front suspension Telescopic forks

Rear suspension Twin adjustable

shocks, tubular swingarm

Front brake 130mm drum

Rear brake 130mm drum

Wheels 5-spoke alloy

Rim size (f-r) 18 inches

Tyre size (f-r) 2.75 x 18-3.00 x

18 inches