CHENNAI: When the prototype of the Bajaj Dominar was unveiled in 2014, motorcycle enthusiasts were awestruck. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on the 400 cc monster. There was much furore on social media and the whispers began. A steep price was expected.
However, when Bajaj launched it in late 2016, they surprised one and all by pricing it at Rs 1.50 lakh. The Dominar costed almost a lakh less than its race-inspired twin, the KTM Duke 390 from which it had borrowed the engine. Motorcycle experts predicted a huge success and the Dominar to sell like hotcakes.
The enthusiasm slumped almost immediately after the launch. Automatic braking system, a slipper clutch, a 320 mm-front disk plate and a decent mileage of 30 km/litre should have a been a steal but the Dominar failed to capture the imagination.
The motorcycle being a jack of all trades has become a master of none. It failed to beat sales figures of dedicated touring motorcycles and racing motorcycles in its segment.
In July, Royal Enfield sold 42,967 units of its Classic 350, (a motorcycle whose market Bajaj wanted to eat into with the Dominar). The Dominar sold only 1,341 units. The KTM Duke and RC 200 which are similarly priced to the Dominar sold 2,786 units while the Pulsar 220, which was launched as early as 2008 sold 6,681 units.
The Dominar was called a ‘power-cruiser’, which basically means it combines off roading capabilities with the raw power of a racing motorcycle. The 373 cc liquid cooled engine produces 35 horsepower at 8000 RPM and the Dominar definitely packs a punch. However, forks of the motorcycle are clearly made to lean into corners rather than braving difficult terrain, which took dedicated off roading out the mix for the Dominar.
“There is a very specific market for the Dominar. The speed-seeking college kids would rather have the Duke. Our customers are usually 30+ years old,” said K Zakir, a sales executive at Jai Bajaj.
In its advertisements Dominar was branded as the motorcycle for the millennials by portraying young riders whizzing past old-school, leather jacket-wearing riders travelling on elephants.
“The cost cutting on the Dominar is such a turn off,” said V Amarnath, a track racer. If the ECU was tuned the same was the KTM Duke 390, certain flaws could have been forgiven but it’s a mediocre machine,” he said. However, the Dominar is the first Indian power cruiser and is a pioneer in making cruising safe. The Dominar outshines the Mahindra Mojo, another cruiser which was debuted a few years ago with its superior refinement and power. Officials at Bajaj told Express that there are plans to tweak the Dominar. Maybe these changes are exactly what the Dominar needs to make power-cruisers trend in India.
Master of none
Bajaj Dominar being a jack of all trade has become a master of none. It failed to beat the sales of dedicated touring motorcyles in its segment. There is a very specific market for the Dominar. The speed-seeking college kids would rather have the Duke. Our customers are usually 30+ years old, said K Zakir, a sales executive at Jai Bajaj