I still remember getting excited like a little boy when I caught a glimpse of a newly launched Karizma in 2003. It was on a flyover and I was on my CBZ with my brother. The Karizma went past us giving a peek of just the angular tail light. We tried to follow, but it was long gone and disappeared in Delhi’s wonderful traffic.
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Another instance is when I spotted it near the posh PVR Priya complex in Vasant Kunj. A guy rode it and stopped briefly right outside and almost created a riot (well, we understand it is a bit of a stretch, but you are getting the core of it, right!). It was brand new in bright yellow colour. The beautiful half fairing was the highlight of its design which was nicely complemented by the flowing fuel tank and the tail section. The black alloys with a disc brake at the front made it look like nothing else on Indian roads.
I’m recalling these incidents from the first few days after Hero Honda had started the delivery of Karizma. The very few who bought it initially appeared like the privileged ones! It was a time when spending close to Rs 80,000 on a motorcycle was a big deal. Very big deal, indeed. The Karizma was beautiful, extremely sexy and desirable to behold. It made the likes of the CBZ and the classic pulsar looked like commoners. It was the dream bike for many whose popularity had spread like a wildfire.
Many of us have similarly memorable moments to recall about the Karizma. It was something that had exceeded our expectations. We knew that Hero Honda was working on a big motorcycle and even had a fair idea that it would be more than 200cc, but we didn’t really know what exactly to expect. Karizma, by all means, came out better than we thought it would be. It handled unlike any other motorcycle and had the performance to take care of every other production two-wheeler in India at that time. It was, quite literally, no less than a Superbike to us because for the first time we were led to believe that an expensive and a premium sportbike was within our reach.
Hero Honda dropped Karizma like an atom bomb in the domestic market and it blew everything away. It inspired a whole new generation of motorcycles in India. Regarded as the performance king in the country, could Hero Honda have wanted anything else?
While it looked absolutely striking with that purposeful semi-fairing, but the best thing about the Karizma was still the 223cc engine. Like Honda did with the CD 100, the Japanese company picked a gem of their engine from the CRF230 and gave it to their Indian partner Hero. Of course, though, the engine was detuned for slightly less performance and better fuel efficiency to suit our market. Funnily, even that turned out to outperform every other motorcycle engine then.
Karizma came with a 223cc single cylinder air-cooled engine which produced 17 BHP of maximum power at 7000 RPM and 18.4 NM of torque at 6000 RPM. The motorcycle could hit a true top speed of 125 km/h, a figure unmatched by no other two-wheeler at that time. It was the first Indian motorcycle to come standard with alloy wheels. Auto publications went crazy and gave rave reviews to the Karizma. It even made a record for running 24 hours non-stop with only fuel breaks in between.
Karizma after Hero and Honda separation
Over the years, Karizma remained unchanged receiving only minor alterations in graphics and aesthetics. Also, the fuel injected version, ZMR, was introduced in 2009 with a full fairing. However, after Hero and Honda ended their partnership in 2011, Hero finally redesigned Karizma (and ZMR) in 2014 with sleeker bodywork. It continues to feature the same 223cc engine but now tuned for slightly more power and torque.
The classic design of the Karizma is still the most preferred among the fans and the loyalists of this motorcycle. The bike featured in this article belongs to Mohit Pal, from xBhp, who bought it in 2013 from OLX. Unfortunately, this design no longer exists. But of course, like Mohit, you too can get lucky on OLX in case you’re looking for this redefining motorcycle.
Significance for xBhp
For us at xBhp, it is a trip down memory lane. Karizma played a major role in turning what started as bajajpulsar.com into xBhp. This motorcycle has been a part of so many journeys we have undertaken that it’s not very easy to highlight its importance in words. And now that we are feeling nostalgic, here are some of those captured moments.