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On a second drive

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Stallio, Mahindra’s first motorcycle that missed the bull’s eye makes a comeback as Pantero

Mahindra 2-wheelers rank among the newest entrants in a rapidly evolving and keenly contested Indian two-wheeler space. Its first motorcycle, the 106.7cc Stallio launched late in 2010, was a commuter bike that missed the bull’s eye in our demanding market, and was shortly pulled off dealer shelves. Not one to shy away or easily be discouraged though, this gritty company has shown it is made of stern stuff, placing the bit firmly between its teeth to do things correctly, taking its time to make a good comeback. Mahindra 2-wheelers has wisely invested in beefing up its in-house R&D capability, simultaneously drawing in additional manpower to fuel its spanking new, well-equipped Pune facility.

It’s here that the Stallio has been reborn as the Pantero, Mahindra pushing all available resources into improving and perfecting its bike, before diving back in for a determined second coming. Mahindra 2-wheelers claims the Pantero is an all-new motorcycle, designed and developed from scratch, apart from which it has also introduced the Centuro, a relatively feature-rich bike built upon the same platform. For enthusiasts, there’s news that the 292cc, single-cylinder Mojo remains under development, but is still an unspecified duration away from production ready.

The Pantero’s styling remains identical to the Stallio’s. It is equipped with smart, five-spoke and 18-inch alloy wheels, and its engine bay and other lower parts including the exhaust and chain shroud are finished in black. A now dated looking bikini fairing houses a halogen-equipped headlamp with LED pilot lamps. The Pantero uses saffron-backlit digital instruments with a cumbersome-to-read digital tachometer tucked under a tinted visor. To its credit, Mahindra’s new bike comes with alloy steering clamps. The Pantero likewise does well to provide decent quality palm grips, levers and mirrors, plus smooth working, comprehensive switches that include a pass-light flasher. There’s even the convenience of a handlebar-mounted choke lever. Plus, the Pantero shows off a lockable tool bay beneath its fuel tank. The tank itself is smart, offering good inner thigh support thanks to well-sculpted recesses. Coloured rear suspension springs add a dollop of style, as do a flowing saddle and sleek tail fairing with integrated LED brake lamps and an alloy grab bar.

Four-stroke engine

Mahindra 2-wheelers has done away with the upmarket, alloy rear footrest mounts provided on the Stallio, replacing them with conventional, tubular sub-frame sections on the Pantero.

Good paint lustre and acceptable overall quality are the norm, but there’s still room for improvement.

The Pantero houses the Stallio’s familiar, but now extensively modified and in-house improved, four-stroke, 106.7cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine. This new-generation powerplant has been christened the MCI-5 (Micro Chip Ignited, 5-curves) and retains little other than bore and stroke dimensions from the Stallio. Mahindra 2-wheelers R&D chief,

The Pantero has been given a redesigned piston assembly and friction-reducing roller bearings for its rocker arms. There’s also optimised induction and lubrication systems, plus completely new gearbox internals. The Pantero generates 8.4bhp at 7500rpm, with peak torque of 0.87kgm made at 5500rpm. Low engine speed throttle response feels adequate, an important asset on a commuter bike, but our initial ride was short, so we must reserve our final verdict on performance till after we strap on data logging equipment.

You get decent clutch feel on the Pantero, and a four-speed gearbox that shifts smoothly, via its heel-and-toe lever, in a four-up shift pattern. Gear ratios are properly spaced too.

Mahindra 2-wheelers has undoubtedly improved upon its first-generation engine, the Pantero powerplant clearly feeling smoother and all-round better to live with. We will verify the Pantero’s fuel efficiency after more extensive testing, although there’s no reason to believe this won’t be right up to the mark. The Pantero’s upright riding position is comfortable, just fine for a commuter bike, further complemented by its long, well-padded riding saddle. Its steel-fabricated twin downtube frame is 1.87kg lighter than the Stallio’s, and twin telescopic front suspension is allied to a set of adjustable, hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. The Pantero’s ride quality felt decent during our brief initial ride.

Light handling

MRF tyres are standard, providing ample grip that aids handling. The Pantero steers with a neutral feel, and handling is light, and on par for this segment. Its cornering manners leave scope for improvement, in part due to the motorcycle using an obsolete, tubular steel swingarm, in an age where Indian bikes have all upgraded to box-section swingarms.

Stopping power is via 130mm drum brakes front and rear, with feel at the front brake lever not as confident as required. It’s likewise disappointing to see that the Pantero’s front drum continues to lock in place via an old-school fastener, often prompting a clacking sound and disconcerting front-end feel under hard braking.

The Pantero does well to mark a giant step forward from the Stallio. Major shortfalls including the original motorcycle’s troublesome gearbox are now thoroughly ironed out, but considering how competitive this market is, Mahindra 2-wheelers really should have reached here a while back, apart from which some blemishes remain.

Price Rs 45,000 (estimated)

On Sale 2013

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 weight70bhp per tonne

Gearbox 4-speed, 4-up

Front suspensionTelescopic 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

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