Living with Gladiator

About six months have passed since I bought Gladiator. I’ve passed enough time with it to share with you my likes and dislikes about it. Read on…

Looks, fit & finish, switchgear…

Different people have different tastes and I understand most of you wouldn’t read this section, but still I’ll give you a chance.

Aesthetically this is the best bike in the 125cc segment [PS: Please note that I’d started this write-up much before the new Gladiator Type J.A. was launched] , at least for me of course, and this opinion of mine was formed when the Fazer was launched in its latest avatar (not Gladiator). It looked stunning to me, with the best graphic work executed on any bike in India. But it had one sore point, the fairing. Not that I disliked it, but it was just sometimes indigestible! It is all past now. Gladiator gives me a feeling of a bigger and sportier bike. Paint finish, for me, is not up to the mark. On this count only TVS scores, you can see their superior paint quality/finish in every segment of bikes. And now for a wish, I’m just hoping that Yamaha soon launch a new variant with alloys, won’t waste a minute to have them on my bike. It’ll do a lot of good to its image. [As you know my wish has now been fulfilled; though I still have not swapped spoked-rims with alloys] One last thing, when looked from rear, tyre (rear) looks very thin. A newer tyre from MRF, of same spec, look broader owing to unique tread pattern, have found place on my old Victor (now in possession of my younger brother, who wouldn’t allow to swap them).

Quality of switchgear is of higher order. Battery supplied is of 5 AH only (with electric start), hence I’ve to keep indicators etc. off while stopping on traffic lights (if engine is switched of) or the battery would show signs of discharging and it has once been completely drained out. Illumination provided by the headlamp is very good.

Engine, Feel, Transmission, Performance…

From what I’ve experienced, the highlight of the engine is that the power delivery is nearly flat (it can also be termed as a drawback, as you never feel the surge while accelerating). You are doing about 35 in 5th and open the throttle; the bike will quickly attain the desired speed albeit in a very composed manner. Most importantly, for me, the bike does not feel underpowered with a pillion. I’ve also taken the bike to highways and can say with authority that it feels more powerful at the top end. Just for the sake of figures, I’ve taken it to 90 KMPH, resting any thoughts of doing more for another year or so (I just can’t risk my own, new bike so early, no way). Even at 90 KMPH the bike felt pretty relaxed, with minimum of vibration (just a little sensation) only at right-footrest. Speaking in general, cruising speed of 80 KMPH is very easily achievable. I’m using IOC Premium from very start and getting very decent 55-60 KMPL. [As per data collected since last six months, avg. fuel consumption is 56 KMPL.] The way I ride my bike, 56 KMPL is satisfactory.

The five-speed gearbox has nice positive feedback. I had, initially, problem finding neutral as I was not aware that I could go direct from 2nd to 1st and 1st to 2nd. Finding neutral can still be tricky (sometimes); what you will not get from this box is a false neutral. One peculiar (and very strange) problem worth mention here is that when the engine is cold and first gear is engaged, a big thud comes from the transmission, sometime so strong that the bike get forward motion and stalls, while the clutch seems to be adjusted well. This behaviour is not present once the bike is warmed up. I’ve till now unable to show/prove this to Yamaha’s mechanics though.

As you all know, the bike is available in two variants; one with disc brakes & electric start and other without. The performance offered by the bike truly deserves disc brakes. And life without electric start is not imaginable for me; the bike on many occasions refused to start through kick, but self-starter started it instantly.

Handling, ride, braking…

Handling of the bike is very encouraging. You can do almost anything with the bike; just handle it as you like and it will obey your command. I first had some problem doing sharp corners (probably because my previous bike had a relatively smaller wheelbase), but I got the feel of it very soon and now the bike dances at my fingertips. In a city like mine (Chandigarh) where the roads are good, the job done by the shock absorbers is well done, but you will want to avoid roads having a string of potholes. I’ve Disk Brake variant of the bike and the retardation offered by the brakes is more than sufficient. You can get an idea of the abilities the bike from the fact that I locked-up front wheel (was not well acquainted with the disk brakes back then) twice or thrice while doing more than 60 and the bike kept moving in straight line.

Summary…

Summarising the above, I would say that you will love this bike for its looks, performance, transmission, handling and braking. Engine is smooth but not enough, I can imagine some other bike outclass it in engine smoothness. Anyone who is going for a 110cc (executive segment) bike should rather give Gladiator a try. Reason is very simple: i) It is well capable for giving 60 KMPL fuel efficiency ii) You get a very stylish bike iii) Does not feel bogged down with a pillion iv) If the biker in you wants to, it still can do some of the amazing things for you.

Let me add that I had a 110cc (Victor) bike before and I wanted to go for a 150cc bike. But I figured out that no bike in that segment was perfect. So I decided to settle for Gladiator which was having lots of positive reviews and I must stress that I have not even once lamented my decision.

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