Bajaj raises the massively in the cut-throat 100cc motorcycle segment with the new Platina. How well will it be accepted? RISHAD COOPER swings a leg over its seat and finds the answer
The Platina is the machine for which the expression 'more for less' was invented Most bike makers attempt to make newer bikes based on their earlier models, but there is one bike maker who stands out. While Hero Honda whipped out the Splendor Plus and Passion Plus, followed by the Super Splendor, TVS too came up with its Victor Edge. Kinetic's 4S, Yamaha's Libero G5 and LML's Freedom Topper were other motorcycles built along similar lines. However, it was Bajaj that chose to tread on the less travelled path, going on to introduce completely fresh motorcycles such as the Pulsar and Discover - until the recent Platina. This newcomer borrows extensively from the erctwhile 125cc offering, the Wind.
More for less
The Platina slots into a segment few rungs lower than the Wind and thereby offers an enticing and large profile for a 100cc bike, and figures at the lower end of the bike pyramid price-wise. The Platina is the machine for which the expression "more for less" was invented. Bajaj has superbly executed several minute detail changes, and nattily mated the complete package to fresh graphics. The Platina even offers the option of smart six-spoke alloys - a touch not offered by several factories on even their larger capacity bikes. The Platina fuel tank behind the familiar bikini fairing and smart instruments is lean and lithe, with a stunning alloy filler lid. A bold decal announcing 'Platina' adorns the bike's flanks and leads into the tail section, where an alloy grab-handle does guard duty. Indicators are clear lens all around and the side panels have received a tasteful chrome highlight that lends dignity to the bike.Levers, grips, mirrors and switchgear of the finest quality have made their way on to the Platina and everything is within reach. However, the poor headlight beam was the chink in the armour. One obvious change that adds heaps of flair to the bike is the dark grey finish given to the Platina's engine, chain shroud and silencer. The bike's seats open to access its tool kit via a pull-lever, found under the lockable side panel.
Small engine, big heart
Bajaj's proven four-stroke, single-cylinder and air-cooled CT 100 engine powers the new Platina. The factory's in-house R&D squad has suitably tweaked and refined the 99.27cc twin-valve platform to perceptibly improve smoothness and lower noise levels. Power and torque numbers are comparable to the CT 100, with 8.2bhp peak pony-power achieved at 7500rpm and 0.82kgm of torque twisted out at 4500rpm. Needle rollers are used to kill friction at the rocker arm mounts, while more bearings work at the point where the rocker fingers actuate the intake and exhaust valves. The externally routed oil lines, seemed like an eyesore while the only other minor grouse we could pick out was the kick lever - this could use an improved pivot. Bajaj's now familiar 'exhausTEC' system finds place on the Platina - this a resonance chamber fitted on the tuned exhaust to enhance power delivery in the lower reaches of the power band. An additional feature is the 'ride control' switch, also found on several other Bajaj bikes. Ride control, when switched on, increases frictional resistance at a fixed point in the arc of the throttle twist-grip. If a rider limits his throttle application to stay under this notch, the Platina performs for the best possible fuel economy. The gears shift in an all-four down pattern via a heel-and-toe shifter, and the Platina's 'box is positive and smooth. In tandem, clutch feel is spot-on as well.The exhaust note is a tad on the rorty side is pleasing to the ear. Vibrations are effectively smothered, while its rider friendly engine tugs away from low speeds without so much as a murmur of protest. Acceleration and performance are at par for its segment - 0-60kph in 8.49 seconds, and a creditable top speed of 93kph.The Platina bolts its engine into a single downtube frame. Up front, the bike uses industry standard telescopic forks, while behind, Bajaj's innovative Spring'n'Spring or SNS suspension dutifully provides superior damping without an increase in suspension travel. These units are hydraulic, of course. Wire wheels or alloys, both in 17-inch size and shod with the same size tyres - a broad 3.00x17inch at the rear are offered as options.
Corners and bumps
Besides demonstrating nimble handling, adequate cornering manners and quick turn-in, the ride quality of the Platina is plush. Riding posture is upright and relaxed, and makes an intra-city commute a comfortable affair. Straight-line stability is decent as well. Bajaj can go one step ahead to improve the Platina's manners by gifting this bike a box section swingarm. Reassured braking on the test Platina, with the 130mm drumbrakes front and rear ensured bike stopping from 60kph in 20.57metres. However, if you buy a Platina with wire wheels, the brake size offered is a smaller 110mm.The Platina delivers excellent real-world fuel economy as we discovered. Riding it through heavy city traffic, it returned 62.3kpl and a commendable 67kpl on more open highway stretches.
While the Platina apes the Wind in some aspects, the two belong to different segments. The Wind was a 125cc bike and the Platina is crucially a lower cost 100cc machine. This bike, unlike other cloned bikes in the market today, comes with the advantage of originally belonging to a bigger segment and that's why it offers more than any other bike in the 100cc class. Add to that smartly executed detail changes, a reliable and time-tested powerplant and many win-win features such as frugal mileage, aluminium-alloy rims and the SNS rear suspension which tilt the balance in its favour making it a sureshot winner and crowd puller. TECHNICAL DATABAJAJ PLATINAHow much?
Rs 34,000-36,000 (ex showroom, Pune)
Height: 1,086 mm
Wheelbase: 1,305 mm
Ground Clearance: 165 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.5 litres
Kerb Weight: 112 kgEngineLayout:Single cylinder, air-cooled, four stroke
Max power: 8.2bhp at 7500 rpm
Max torque: 0.82 kgm at 4500 rpmGearbox4-speed, 4 down TyresFront and rear: 2.75x17/3.00x17