The Indian commuter motorcycle segment is suddenly abuzz with a whole new series of motorcycles taking to our roads. Models such as the Bajaj Discover 94.3cc DTS-Si, TVS Jive, Honda CB Twister and Yamaha YBR 110 have rolled in recently, leaving city bike buyers spoilt for choice. And now, TVS wants to make a mark in India's hinterland with its rugged and versatile Max4R.

Designed with utility as its USP, the plainly styled Max comprises a large speedometer calibrated upto 140kph flanked by a neutral beacon and turn indicators. But a big omission is a fuel gauge, which is de rigueur on a commuter bike. The switchgear, which includes a pass-light flasheroperates with a hard feel. The Max's palm grips are comfortable and its levers are nicely positioned. The latest TVS bike does well to provide good rear vision from its handlebar-mounted round mirrors.

The Max's voluminous 16-litre fuel tank comes with a hinged chrome fuel filler lid and offers adequate support to a rider's thighs. The graphics on the tank and side panels help liven up the bike's dull side profile. Rubberised brake and gearshift pedals are a nice touch and do provide good grip, even when riding in the wet.

A highlight to the Max is a detachable rear seat. The Max's lockable pillion seat is removable, and makes space for a flat, luggage compartment. The grab handle on this bike comes bolted to the frame, not welded, to facilitate easy removal and further expansion of the loading bay. TVS has also provided metal guards on either side of the seat; these serve as buffers between the rear tyre and shopping bags or farm produce that the company expects typical Max riders will transport. Another user-friendly touch is the bike's main-stand that requires minimal effort to haul even when the Max is fully-loaded.

Build quality feels decidedly tough and rugged, necessary for a bike that is built to spend a large chunk of its life on poor roads.

The Max4R uses a four-stroke, air-cooled 109.7cc engine. However, TVS has improved on this motor with a larger oil-flow pump. In keeping with its load-lugging nature, the Max also gets a heavy duty clutch, while overall gearing is altered to benefit low-end performance. Peak power is 8.4bhp at 7500rpm, while the engine develops max torque of 0.85kgm at 5500rpm. The Max comes with a four-speed gearbox that shifts in an all-down pattern via a conventional heel-and-toe shifter.

Engine refinement is good, with vibrations only perceptible at very high engine speeds, at which the bike is not expected to be ridden. Low-end grunt is admirable, and the Max will happily chug along in top gear from speeds as low as 25kph. While acceleration is decent, the bike runs out of steam at close to 60kph, acceptable considering that owners will seldom exceed this speed. The clutch is light to operate.

The Max deploys a single downtube frame, its engine used as a stressed member. Telescopic front forks work in conjunction with a unique four-shock absorber rear set-up, which bolts on to a rectangular swingarm. The second pair of shocks is here to support additional loads, with TVS informing us the bike is capable of taking on a payload up to 200kg. The bike's rear wheel also comes with fatter 4mm spokes.

The Max's riding saddle is wide, well-padded with the riding posture friendly and upright. Riding over uneven patches revealed decent ride quality, although a slightly twitchy feeling creeps in as speed rises. This TVS uses 130mm drums both front and rear, providing the bike with adequate stopping power. A cause for complaint though is the bike's tyres which lose traction all too easily when we attempted emergency stops.

On the fuel economy front, TVS claims an impressive 60kpl mileage from a fully-loaded Max but we are yet to verify this.

Priced at Rs. 37,590 (ex-showroom, Indore), the Max4R is a well-entrenched model in India. The Max is unlikely to set your pulse racing, but that's something it isn't aiming for. Targeted primarily at farmers, milkmen and the masses of Indian riders who have to use motorcycles as load-luggers, the Max4R with its trick seat, sturdy rear suspension and tough build looks all set to become an increasingly common sight on our roads.