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Bajaj Dominar 400: Factotum

Bajaj Dominar 400: Factotum

Snapshot: Bajaj's latest street offering is a bold looking feature packed do-it-all-machine which is very hard to beat at the price it is being offered. A powerful engine keeps your buzz ringing and a host of segment-firsts keep you entertained.

Creating an all-round machine is a lot complicated than specialized equipment. The basic idea has to be around a single concept, but much more has to be woven around it to tackle everything else thrown at it. Consider Bajaj’s vast motorcycle range, AS is for adventure, SS is for sport riding, NS was for naked street fighter appeal, Avenger separates as a cruiser and many more as you know. The Dominar 400 is not only a motorcycle that is a jack-of-all-trades, but it also the jack that lifts the capacity quotient. Just like V15 upped the capacity game for commuters, the Dominar 400 brings naked motorcycling to the 400cc segment. And with it, it also brings in a lot of segment first electronics and mechanicals that usually wore an expensive dress.

Design

Most of you will agree that Bajaj has really got the design covered in every single aspect with the Dominar 400. Everybody went ogling at the CS400 concept that was showcased at the Auto Expo last year, and the production version Dominar 400 is nearly identical to the concept. It has an imposing attitude and added bulk to highlight its muscular lines. The first-in-segment LED headlamps look and work fantastic with good throw and brightness. Taillights are LEDs too and are bright but the rear design does not really look that impressive. Another cool feature is the telltale lights placed on the tank which makes the Dominar an upmarket product. Paint finish and plastic quality is good as Bajaj engineers made this product to last years. They extensively tested the Dominar through the entire lengths of the country’s roads reigning havoc on the bike on bad patches and cold rainy weather. One bit where we felt the Dominar does lack is its presence on the road; onlookers might just miss it going past them which is not fair for a great looking motorcycle like this. Maybe that understatement is the charm of this otherwise great looking concoction.

Engine and performance

With the powerful design in place, Bajaj had to put a matching engine to go with the character of the Dominar. Hence, it gets a 373cc single cylinder fuel injected engine that produces 34.5bhp of maximum power and 35Nm of peak torque. As you may have guessed it shares some of its traits from its super excited big brother, KTM 390 Duke, but the nature of delivery on both the bikes is miles apart. The Duke feels like it is angry on every conceivable thing on the planet. In fact if you have to compare sheer performance orientation, the Dominar 400 stands next to 200 Duke. All the stats here are uncanny as the Dominar 400 is priced closed to the 200 Duke and is feature laden more than the pricier 390 Duke. That’s engineering folks, the 390 Duke is expensive because it is very fast, the 200 Duke is less priced and fast without breaking bank, but the genius of the Dominar 400 is the best of both worlds. It is fast, has enough torque, comes packed with features and is way more comfortable than either of its siblings. The only irritant is engine vibration, especially when you consider it has 4 valves and 3 spark plugs. This does give it an air of less refinement when your handlebar and foot pegs vibrate.

When you talk numbers, Dominar sprints to 100kmph from a standstill in a little over 8 seconds, and will keep on accelerating past 140kmph. Bajaj claims a top speed of 148kmph and we believe them. Clutch action is light and the 6-speed transmission is fairly smooth. Bajaj has also given it a slipper assist clutch that works well when you downshift getting into a fast corner, but not sure if most people will be able to utilise it on the Dominar 400. You will back off the throttle way before the corner as it weighs 182kg on the porky side of the scale.

Also fuel efficiency will hover around the 32kmpl mark. We cannot verify that as we had a customer bike and he was Jedi-eyeing us from the support car to return his brand new motorcycle. The 13 litre tank will allow you to run almost 400km before filling up again which a boon for long journeys.

Ride and Handling

You will notice that despite being setup on the stiffer side of the graph, the Dominar 400 is a very comfortable machine. It soaks up minor road undulations with ease and substantial seat padding induces very less fatigue. You sit upright with a slight forward lean, and the foot pegs have slightly rear biased too. On the highway D400 absolutely shines as a comfortable and efficient tourer. High speed stability is excellent. The brakes too stop the bike without drama and ABS system provides the safety on our unpredictable road and traffic. We will always recommend you to make that extra effort to purchase the ABS model against the standard version as this is a powerful and heavy big and needs more assist to aid you in confident and safe braking.

Bajaj has designed the D400 to be all things to all men, and in fact it is in the handling department as well. It is predictable and stable through corners and will carry decent speeds through them. Brakes provide ample braking to support the bike’s handling together with the slipper clutch if you feel like downshifting under steam. But do not expect specialised sharp handling from the D400 against its smaller 200 Duke cousin, as it will out corner the Dominar under its very nose. The Dominar performs fairly well everywhere it has to be ridden from weekend highway rides, to corner carving for fun to everyday commuting to office.

Verdict

Bajaj Dominar 400 is a great package mostly due to its pricing. It offers a lot of features which are not available even on bigger more expensive motorcycles. You get a comfortable machine that has a lot of power and torque, is comfortable for both rider and pillion and is efficient too for everyday use. It can take you across the length and breadth of our great country without burning a hole in your pocket. If you want sheer performance then there are alternatives, but if you want one complete package that will comply with everything you throw at it, it does not get any better than the Dominar 400.

Photography: Mohd Nasir

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