Hero Honda Achiever and the Company’s Future

I have recently been riding around on the Hero Honda Achiever, as part of my fun-job of an automotive writer for Hindustan Times. The Achiever is a good bike but is caught in the quicksand of mediocrity. It would have been a great bike about a year back but now with the Pulsar DTSFi just around the corner and the Honda Unicorn firmly established, the Achiever is nothing but a plug, a plug for the premium segment hole left in the Hero Honda boat, rocked by falling sales of the once-wonderful but now Triassic CBZ.

Sure, the styling is good but it looks done half-heartedly. The bike lacks the edginess of the Apache, the harmonic imbalance of the Unicorn and the swoopiness of the Pulsar. The engine is smooth but anything coming from the Unicorn’s womb would be. Sure the Achiever irons out all of CBZ’s deficiencies, but that is too little, a too late.

So will the Achiever sell? Sure! An average Hero Honda showroom gets as many footfalls as my neighbourhood mall and some of these should fall for the Achiever. But is the Achiever going to achieve anything? Nah!

Talking of Achiever using a Unicorn inspired mill, I am a bit confused about Hero Honda’s place in Honda’s plans. Or maybe I am not. Have you noticed that nowadays Hero Honda gets every design after Honda (or HMSI) has already used it beyond its use-by date.

The Achiever uses the Unicorn’s mill and the Pleasure uses more than that from the Activa. And with Honda planning to launch a new 125cc bike, the engine of which may then head to the next generation Speklndor and Passion, the sequence seems to have just started. From what I hear, the update on the CBZ (yes, they will keep it) will also be powered by a mutation of the Unicorn engine. I hope the Munjals have the vision for the day when the penetration levels of HMSI get close to Hero Honda’s.