Think of the Hero Honda Karizma as a working mom who is a champion boxer. She will earn money to run the family, cook meals for her husband and children, and beat up the bad guy on the street trying to make fun of him. The loyal hero is an all-rounder in the truest sense of the word. One of the most hard-hitting and dependable bikes in the country, a proven tourer and a sweet handler, the bike has all the bases covered with aplomb.
With the likes of the Yamaha R15 and Pulsar 220 battling it out for the ultimate honor, it has always been difficult for HH to be crowned champions. However, the oldest performance bike on the Indian market refuses to go down without a fight. Having ridden all the bikes extensively on the track, almost all judges felt the Karizma Fi was safer, more stable and cornered with more confidence than the coarser and flashier Pulsar.
The commuter oriented tiding position, low footpegs, conventional handlebars and relatively low power output compared to the Bajaj make this Hero Honda Karizma Fi a bit slower on the MMSC track. However, it’s not as spoiled as the pulsar, which throws a tantrum at any attempt to get it to do anything.
For the amount of power the bike produces, it remains surprisingly composed and extremely obedient. It’s not the fastest bike on every section or corner as our test data suggests. However, it is unbearably close to all of its peers, finishing a respectable third place with a very honorable overall timing.
The brilliance of Karizma Fi lies in its subtlety. It makes no great claims to its on-track capabilities, and yet when you take it out for a timed spin on the course, it delivers in the most unobtrusive manner. There is no drama, noise or scary moments as the bike’s chassis and foundations are built with confidence even under extreme torture conditions. The low footpegs claw at times, raising doubts if you try to dive the bike in too much.
Footpeg scrapers have caused riders to fall before; a grating sound always causes you to slow down. You keep wishing the pegs were a little higher and the handlebars a little lower, but there’s a reason they’re the way they are; The Hero Honda was not designed with the track in mind.
The grip of the MRF Zapper is impressive and at no point did we feel like the grand old lady of Indian performance biking was losing her rear end. While the Karizma Fi was impressive in almost every discernible department, it wasn’t quite as zippy as the TVS Apache RTR Fi, or as powerful as the Pulsar, or even as flawless a handler as the R15. The bike is a phenomenal package. It delivers in every respect, but doesn’t have a clear advantage in any of the performance parameters. Despite all those facial lines, the faithful Hero Honda Karizma Fi remains an impeccable force to be reckoned with, both on the road and on the track.