While high technology and gewgaws seem to dominate new bike models in the United States and Europe these days, simple still seems to be better in India, home to the
second-biggest market in the world (behind China.) the biggest motorcycle market in the world.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has released sales figures for November, 2018 and the best-selling machine of all was the Hero MotorCorp Splendor.
The Splendor (which isn’t available in the US or Europe) is a refreshingly simple, old-school ride. It’s powered by a 97.2 cc, carbureted single that makes 6.15kW (8.25 horsepower) at 8000 rpm and 8.05 Newton-meters (5.9 ft-lb) of torque at 5000 rpm. Max speed is 87 kph (54 mph.)
The electric-start version weighs 112 kgs (246 lbs), but you can also buy a kick-start model. It has disc brakes and a seat height of 31 inches.
How many of these sold in November? 225,536. By comparison, in all of 2017 in the US dealers sold about 470,000 new bikes.
Taking second position was a scooter, the HMSI (a wholly-owned Honda subsidiary) Activa, which has roughly the same size engine and makes about the same power as the Splendor.
It was actually #1 for the same month a year before and it’s still within touching distance, with 218,212 sold in November of 2018.
The number takes a relatively big drop for third place, with the Hero (yes, them again!) HF Deluxe moving 168,839 units. Once again, it sports a carb and makes about the same power as the first two.
Not one of these best-selling bikes makes more than nine horsepower. It’s a reminder that in much of the world, small and affordable has a beauty all of its own.