Bajaj Auto recently added one more motorcycle to their Discover series of bikes - the Discover 100 M. With it, there are now eight bikes in the Discover lineup, including the variants, and this is after the Discover 135 and 150 models have been discontinued.
The letter 'M' in Discover 100 M stands for 'mileage', which is the operative word in this segment and the company's marketing slogan 'naya satya' aims at further hammering the point home. Despite the similarity to the other Discovers, Bajaj Auto say that their latest offering is an-all new bike which is not only extremely fuel efficient at 84 km/l but is more feature-rich and powerful than the competition. Lets find out, shall we?
Design and equipment
Remember the very first Bajaj Discover launched almost a decade ago? If yes, then let us tell you that only the current base model, Discover 100 4G, looks like that one. If no, then don't bother as even though the 100 M is positioned way down in the hierarchy, and just above the 100 4G, it is styled like its more expensive siblings, the 100 T, 125 T, etc. And that's a good thing because the latest Discovers are some of the nicest looking bikes in the segment.
Of course, the price difference means that there are some changes, but only just. So, while the upper-range Discovers get mid-section side panels finished in matt-black or silver (depending on the main colour), the 100 M gets body coloured ones. It also makes do with a conventional petrol tap unlike the others' 'fuel knob' housed in the aforementioned side panel. We'll take the metal petcock over the flimsy plastic knob any day, thank you.
The saddle is also straight-ish, unlike the premium Discovers' mildly stepped units, and yes, it is a well-padded comfortable thing - firm enough to not sag, but not so hard that it causes cramps in your backside. Obviously, the 100 M does not get the fully-loaded 125 ST's monoshock; the Nitrox suspension on the former is from a segment above anyway, but more on that later. The 100 M also gets an enclosed chain cover and our guess is that the target audience will like it that way.
The fuel tank is muscular and Bajaj have also provided a hinged fuel-filler cap in the Discover 100 M, which is a thoughtful touch and a rarity in this class of bikes. The styling of the front indicators complement the angular headlight and bikini fairing, and Bajaj have even got the length of the rear view mirror stalks spot on. The integration of the grab rail is proper and the body decals aren't too loud either. It also gets aluminium side sets which seem to be inspired by those on the Pulsar and therefore appear bigger than the ones on the 100 T. The 100 M gets 10-spoke alloys, the design of which (Y-shaped spokes) appears to be the best in the segment to my eyes. We were given the drum brake version for our road test but the 100 M can be (and should be) had with a front petal disc too; if you are not concerned about the safety angle, then please buy it for the looks at least!
However, the cost cutting is most apparent in the instrument cluster which does not get the 100 T’s chrome bits that surround the meters and the battery warning indicator has been skipped too. There is no trip meter but a simple fuel gauge is present. Of course, the green Neutral light, turn signal indicators, high beam and the Bajaj logo (which always remains illuminated) are retained. There is no tachometer or an engine kill switch either, but thankfully the bike gets a pass light (headlamp flasher) switch.
Engine, gearbox, and performance
The Discover 100 M is powered by the same 102 cc, DTS-i, 4-valve, under-square engine which does duty in the 100 T but has been retuned in the interest of fuel economy. Still, it produces a class leading power output of 9.3 PS at 8000 rpm while the torque of 9.2 Nm is the same as churned out by this motor in the 100 T; the best part is that in the 100 M it peaks at 500 revs less at 6000 rpm. Start the engine and you’ll be startled by the shrill of the engine revs (thanks to the auto-choke) which come down to normal after 15-20 seconds, and then... the engine shuts down. You have to play with the throttle to keep the engine running for the first minute or so and then the bike idles fine. Novice riders might be perplexed. We say, save money on the auto-choke and give us a manual one Bajaj; you should then be able to price the bike even lower (or give us better tyres instead)!
Let the engine warm-up for two minutes, pull the light-action clutch in, engage first (I hate the all-up gearshift pattern) and you are in a for a pleasant surprise - the bike IS QUICK! I can safely say that this one might prove to be the quickest bike in its class. Progress through the gears is brisk and you soon see an indicated 80 km/h on the analogue speedometer without much effort. I saw 105 km/h on the speedo going downhill so the company’s top speed claim of 95 km/h seems legit even after taking speedo-error into account. Plus, the excellent torque spread allows the motor to pull cleanly from as low as 30 km/h in top gear without any hint of snatching.
The engine sounds throaty, especially in the mid-range, but the vibes coming through the seat after 70 km/h compels you to back off the throttle (or you may administer local anesthesia before you start and do let us know if that helps). The engine is not rubber-mounted and the bike would also do better with an additional cog. Heck, it would further add to the fuel efficiency as well. However, the bike that we got had 17 km on the odometer, and the vibes became milder as the bike clocked more miles. Therefore, that should not be a problem post a careful running-in procedure.
Handling, braking, and suspension
The suspension of the Discover 100 M exceeded my expectations. The bike comes with telescopic front forks with 130 mm travel, Nitrox shock absorbers at the rear with 110 mm travel, and a box section swingarm. The bike takes to bad roads with such aplomb that it gives you more confidence to push it further. Moreover, on good roads the bike feels sporty which is quite unlike the squishy set-ups that we generally see in this segment - kudos to Bajaj Auto to get the near-perfect suspension settings on the 100 M!
The design of the 100 M camouflages the fact that its 1255 mm wheelbase is 50 mm short on the 100 T. And that makes the Discover 100 M an extremely agile machine and its shorter swingarm helps matters too. However, that does not mean that the straight-line stability is compromised; the 100 M comes with a semi-dual cradle frame and the bike feels very stable in its intended trajectory.
A combination of 130 mm and 110 mm drum brakes, at the front and rear, respectively, provides stopping power and though the brakes do their job well, the front one feels spongy and the Eurogrip tyres give away under hard braking too. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend buying the bike with the optional 200 mm petal disc brake.
This commuter’s fantastic handling and amazing torque egged me to have fun with it, and have fun I did (read ‘like a well-ridden RX-100’). Despite that the bike gave me a much better fuel average than the two-stroker - 52 km to a litre - and since no prospective customer would ride his 100 M the way I did, a fuel efficiency figure of 70-75 km/l in real-world riding conditions, and even better on highways, is a given. So, a 700 km plus range is very much possible with the bike's 10 litre fuel tank.
So, with better, or matching at least, fuel efficiency and price and with better-everything else, Bajaj Auto has taken the fight straight to the Splendor Pro/Passion Pro territory. The Honda Dream Yuga and Dream Neo will also not make it easy for the Discover. We know that the majority of the mileage-conscious buyers want to remain oblivious to anything and everything that does not have a Hero or Honda prefix, and Bajaj with their Discover 100 M plans to change just that.