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2014 Hero Karizma ZMR: Review

The new Hero Karizma ZMR has received both cosmetic and mechanical updates. But have these additions improved the motorcycle? Read on...
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR action shot
At the time of its launch, the Hero or Hero Honda Karizma was a revelation of sorts for the Indian motorcycle enthusiast. Finally, there was a motorcycle with enticing engine capacity, good power figures and Japanese reliability. No wonder it has remained a sought after motorcycle since. But the introduction of the Bajaj Pulsar 220 did dent its sales and as a counter measure Hero introduced the Karizma ZMR. It had a full fairing, fuel injected and oil cooled motor, and fancier clocks. But, it never really sold well. Now after splitting with Honda, Hero has launched a new iteration of the Karizma ZMR. It made its public debut at the 2014 Auto Expo and if nothing else, its styling has certainly caught the public's attention. Some like it, some don't, but everyone seems to have an opinion on it. We spend a day aboard the new Hero Karizma ZMR to find out if there's more to it than just polarising styling.
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR front static
The new Hero Karizma ZMR does look better in the flesh than in pictures. It's true. Its major design highlight is the vertically stacked twin-headlamp which has been clearly inspired from Erick Buell Racing’s 1190RX superbike. The party piece of the bike is the LED daylight running lamp (DRL) running above the indicators and it definitely attracts eyeballs. Another area of focus for the Hero designers was to tone down the proportions compared to the older ZMR. And though they have managed to do it, the front is still bulkier than we would have liked. This with the petite tail section leaves the bike looking disproportionate.
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR instrument console
The rear of the bike tapers down and the split seats does make it look visually pleasing, but, the horizontal LED taillight would have looked more pleasant had it been closer to the tail section. The all-digital instrument cluster has been carried over from the old bike with the addition of a side stand indicator. The console houses a speedometer, tachometer, trip meter, odometer, fuel gauge and real- time fuel efficiency indicator that doesn’t function accurately. Switch gear quality is good but the fit and finish on the rest of the bike could have been better.  We found uneven panel gaps in the fairing while the shade of the mirrors didn’t match the colour of the bike. In terms of overall design, the new Hero Karizma ZMR isn’t the prettiest looking motorcycles but it definitely is visually striking which will appeal to consumers looking for a “big bike” feel.
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR profile
The new Hero Karizma ZMR is powered by a 223cc, air-cooled, fuel injected mill with an oil cooler pushing out 20PS at 8,000rpm and a peak torque of 19.7Nm at 6,500rpm. This is the same engine as on the older ZMR but it now produces 2PS more power. The torque is marginally up too; by 1Nm. Performance of the new Hero Karizma ZMR is good now, no doubt, with the motor revving easily and picking up pace without much strain. It has a respectable top speed of almost 125kmph and it manages the 0-100kmph run in under 14 seconds. Fuel efficiency, meanwhile, remains under 40kmpl in real world riding conditions. With a 15.5-litre fuel tank, the new ZMR should do close to 600km on a tankful, which the touring types will appreciate.
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR in action
But the new bike is plagued with vibration. It creeps in from the footpegs and the handlebars once the bike revs past the 4,000rpm. Out on the highway, this means maintaining 100kmph is easy and comfortable but with minor vibes for company. Power is transmitted via a 5-speed gearbox that offers decent gearshifts. But on our test bike we did face instances of false neutrals particularly between second and third. Also, on few occasions the bike wouldn’t engage first gear from neutral and I had to shift to second before engaging first. Riding ergonomics on the new Hero Karizma ZMR is spot on. The seating posture isn’t too aggressive or upright which means one can ride the ZMR on long journeys  or commute with equal ease. I did have one issue with the ergonomics though - the handlebar fouled with my knees while negotiating U-turns and this could be a problem for other hefty riders too.
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR cornering shot
In terms of cycle parts, the new Karizma ZMR employs the same diamond type frame as the older bike and the same suspension layout as well. But the tyres are fatter on the new bike. As far as handling goes, the new Hero Karizma ZMR feels completely at home taking fast flowing corners but it wasn't as happy changing directions quickly. This is down the bike's 157kg, its long wheelbase and its slightly top heavy weight distribution. Ride however impresses. There's no monoshock here but the current setup still helps return a supple ride over almost all types of roads. Braking duty is taken care of 276mm and 240mm dia disc brakes at front and back respectively. The disc brakes work expertly in shedding speeds while providing great feedback and bite.
2014 Hero Karizma ZMR rear static
Hero MotoCorp has taken effort in updating the new Karizma ZMR with revised styling and changes to the powerplant instead of sticking to just a sticker job. Though the design is better than its predecessor, it still isn’t the most visually pleasing motorcycle in its segment. It’s the same case in terms of performance, because even though the power has gone up, it could have done with better refinement as well.
Despite this fact, Hero scores in terms of pricing. At Rs 1.07 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai, what the consumer gets is the cheapest full faired motorcycle on sale currently and a decent tourer. There's also the huge service network and good resale that comes with being a Hero. Finally then, even though the new Hero Karizma ZMR is a good motorcycle, it just isn't as big a step over the bike it replaces. And with the current crop of competition, it needed to be.

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