It's been awhile since there has been a motorcycle out of the Bajaj stable that has dragged me by the collar into a showroom. The first Pulsar did that, and I also remember very vividly how I stared with my face touching the glass, at the first Eliminator at the Planet Bajaj showroom. I didn't land up owning either, but every time I saw one go by, I wished the small change in my pocket had somehow multiplied a thousand-fold. Predictably it didn't, but then, Bajaj hadn't come up with anything that truly made me get up and take notice after that.
But here is a bike that looks like the Discover, shares the name of the Discover but is nothing like the Discovers of yore. There I am, my boots soaked with drool as I stare with a stupid grin at the matte grey engine - it's the start of yet another blooming love story with a Bajaj.
The specs don't seem to be out of the world - a 94.4cc, two-valved single that makes 7.5 bhp at 7500 rpm with 0.8 kgm of torque at 5000 rpm. So what exactly makes me love this motor so much? For that, you need to thumb the engine to life. The little DTS-Si engine is punchy at low rpm, pulls away cleanly through each of the five gears and the best part is that it's creamy smooth all through. No, it's not lifeless like a bowl of chopped cabbage; it grunts and sends sweet tingles through the foot pegs, but in just the right quantities - so much so that it feels almost like a premium 150cc till you look down at the speedo. This is the sort of engine that you love climbing up steep sweeping twisties with, and as you ascend at an increasing pace, each and every click upward through the gearbox brings with it a feeling of pure exhilarating joy.
Performance isn't the best there is, but it's healthy enough to keep up with city traffic, and some more. Standstill to 60 kph takes about 13 secs (it was a rainy and miserable day, so it could better when the sun's out) and I managed to push the little Bajaj to about 79 kph with a tad more to go. These aren't exactly world beating figures, but Bajaj claims that the Discover is probably the most fuel efficient motorcycle there is today, with 89 kpl in real world riding conditions. I think the thing burns less fuel than me walking!
The gearbox, however is a bit of a letdown. Although it's a fine shifter, with every cog slipping in true every time, the all-down shift pattern is where my grouse lies. Call it dangerous or just plain inconvenient, whichever way you look at it, it's got to get the boot. The one-down-and-rest up pattern is where things are at, and I sincerely hope Bajaj is listening. I'm glad the Discovery got the number of gears it does, the five toothed wheels do wonders to bring out the best from that very delightful engine, endowing it with its brilliant long-legged feel.