Avenger Street 220 review after 600kms ride to Wayanad

When the WayanadOnWheels trip was being planned, I had an option to choose a bike. I could have opted for Royal Enfields- classic 350, Thunderbird 350, TB 500, Classic 500. But I was drawn towards the Avenger 220 Cruiser. I had never ridden it, so I was inclined to try it. Bajaj Avenger 220 is slightly less powered compared to any Royal Enfield, but then Avenger is lot lighter (around 37kg lighter compared to Classic 350). Because of this I was hopeful it can perform better than its big brother bullets, both in terms of agility, top speed and riding comfort. Was it a good choice to opt for Avenger instead of Royal Enfield? Read this post to find out.
On the day of the ride, I was assigned an Avenger 220 Street, not the Cruiser version. I had liked the big glass shield available in cruiser and also the backrest for pillion- both are optional extras for Cruise though but missing in Street version. Avenger is custom built for long distance riding. Sitting posture in this bike is lot different from any other bike. At first it feels awkward to sit in a strange position but over a kew kms, rider gets used to it.

Over next 3 days, I rode the Street 220 for about 600+ kms. On Day 1, we left from Electronic city and hit NICE Road. While bullet riders zoomed ahead fast, I figured out that Avenger’s comfort zone is at around 80-90 kmph. Though it has a top speed of 120 kmph on paper, the one I was riding was struggling beyond 100kmph. If pushed really really hard it would touch 110kmph, but otherwise Avenger is more suitable for leisure ride at slower speed, than in company of fast riding bullets or pulsars. My Apache 160 is capable of reaching 115 kmph at ease if given some straight road. Point to be noted that even bullets have their top speed at around 110 kmph. Classic 350, Thunderbird 350 etc max out at around 110 kmph and start to vibrate heavily. May be 500cc versions can do a bit better, but not much. Despite having similar top speed, bullets have higher torque, can pull out/accelerate much faster compared to Avenger, putting avenger at a slight disadvantage. I would need some straight road to catch up with the group or more frequent downshifting was needed.

Avenger's instrument cluster is in two sets. First one is the speedo, odo and trip meter, in its normal position, whereas second set of displays fuel gauge, turn indicator, high beam and neutral indicator are on fuel tank. This needs some tilting of head to view these, which means taking eyes totally off the road for a second or two. All other bikes show all display elements together right above the headlamp between handlebars, which is easier to view while riding, in my opinion.

On a good note, changing to neutral or viewing neutral is lot easier in Avenger. In thunderbird, neutral display is hidden behind a dark glass, making it hard to spot. In bullet it is slightly better, but most bullet models do not have a fuel gauge display.

Ignition key is on the side,had to be extra mindful to take it out. There's no central locking in Avenger. Handlebar needs to locked manually. Avenger gets an oil cooled engine, but the oil cooler unit felt so small and namesake, most of the cooling I guess was happening via air only.

Saakshi was riding pillion with me during the onward journey. After about 250kms, she preferred to get into a car. During return journey she rode with Sameera on classic 500. I asked which one of the two was more comfortable for pillion rider- she didn't feel any noticeable difference between the two bikes, as a pillion rider. Both models have step up pillion seats, good in height but not as wide a rider seats. RE bikes are a bit taller.
Should have taken more photos of the bike. Realized I haven't taken any decent photo of Street 220, except a few casual ones.

Riding comfort and handling was fine. I got used to the sitting posture and controls. Avenger is lot lighter, hence easier to lift or handle for average build bikers. I think the exact posture can be adjusted a bit to suit owner's body ergonomics- do check with Bajaj dealer on this. Avenger gets wider rear tyres, tubeless tyres are more easier to patch up in case of puncture. I wonder why RE is not switching to alloy wheels and tubeless tyres yet. We did a fair bit of off-roading between Dare5000 Nare camp's parking lot and blue ginger resort. Avenger was easy to manage on bad roads, but doesn't have the ruggedness of a bullet, hence need to be ridden more slower and carefully.

I asked a friend, named Vinod Kini who owns a Pulsar 220 about the top speed of his bike. He said 140 kmph+. Avenger gets the same engine, but probably tuned for mileage and riding comfort than speed. Better aerodynamics and fairings in Pulsar 220 also contribute to its higher top speed.

During the 3 day #WayanadOnWheels trip, I swapped Avenger Street 220 once with Niranjan, who was riding Thunderbird 500. He wanted his bike back within few minutes as he found Avenger too uncomfortable. Later during return journey I also swapped once with JP’s Thunderbird 350. He was kind enough to let me ride TB for about 50 odd kms, after which he expressed his desire to ditch the Avenger and get back on his Thunderbird. So obviously those who’re used to Royal Enfield will never seriously consider Avenger, even if it has some advantages (listed below) over RE.

From what I have experienced and observed, below is a quick listing of advantages & disadvantages of Bajaj Avenger Street 220 compared to various bullet models
Bike
Advantages
Disadvantages
Avenger Street 220
  1. Fuel Gauge available
  2. Light weight, less noise
  3. Better fuel efficiency
  4. Alloy wheels n tubeless tyres, wider rear tyres.
  5. Trip meter available (2, digital)
  6. Fuel tank lid is easier to manage (doesn't come off)
  7. Less vibrations at top speed compared to RE
  8. Costs half the price of RE
  9. Oil cooled engine
  1. Kick start not available
  2. Less torque, needs effort to sustain 100 kmph+ speed
  3. Dual set of displays not very convenient
  4. No central locking
RE Bullet 350/
TB 350
  1. More torque, pulling power, better acceleration
  2. Kick start available
  3. Central locking available
  4. More rugged, durable body
  5. More fan base, more rider clubs and popularity for RE

  1. Fuel Gauge not available in some models
  2. Heavy n noisy bike
  3. Spotting/changing to Neutral position is not as easy as Avenger
  4. Rim wheel with tube tyres-less reliable
  5. Trip meter not available in some models
  6. Fuel tank lid isn't connected to tank, needs more care.
On the last day, when the Avenger Street 220 didn’t start, Danny from ONN Bikes had to push it down slope and start. Self start needs more care and is not 100% reliable. Not having a kick starter can have its drawbacks. If there was no slope to slide down, you will need few guys to push the bike to start it.

Overall, I did manage to stay with the convoy of bullets while riding the Avenger 220 but had to push the bike bit harder beyond its comfort zone. If I was all alone, probably I would have ridden a bit slower, enjoying the ride, stopping for photos or diverting to nearby attractions etc. 
From price point, Avenger costs just half of what a Classic 350 costs. So while criticizing it I should keep in mind that Avenger is lot cheaper, so from value for money perspective- for those who are not hard core fans of Royal Enfield and need a cheaper cruiser bike, (or a city bike which will be used only occasionally for long rides) may be Avenger is worth consideration. I feel Avenger owners/riders will enjoy their ride if ridden with the company of other avengers, all going lot slower, enjoying the ride and journey. In company of faster bikes or even not so fast Royal Enfields, Avenger is probably not a very good choice. Of course you don’t have to take my word for it. Before making purchase decision, you can rent Avenger from ONNBikes for a day or two, ride it around, may be long distance and check how comfortable you are with the bike. If happy, then buy.

What's your take? Would you prefer Avenger over bullets? Friend Rajesh owns Street 150- read his review here.

The bike I rode for the Wayanad trip was provided by OnnBikes. You can rent Avenger, Royal Enfield and several other commuter bikes and scooters from Onn Bikes, a fast growing Bike rental startup. They have cheaper rates, simpler process and fair range of choices to select from.

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3 comments:

  1. Avenger 150 street is definitely not for long-distance driving. By long-distance I mean more than 50-60 KM at a stretch. But I found it an excellent option for riding within the city, even in thick traffic. Except the long form-factor parking is sometimes a hassle, but that also gives it a great look - so I can live with it.

    Am not sure about 220 street or cruise as I have not driven either. If the primary application is long-distance driving, I feel, RE maybe a better option. But for driving within the city, Avenger 150 street is my recommendation. I love it :)

    Destination Infinity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rajesh. Yes, I am aware of your review n feedback. Thanks

      Delete
  2. I like bullet standard but now a days classic is more popular here in Chandigarh and Punjab. Because of my bike passion we started bike rental company here in Chandigarh. As per my two years experience people like bullet 500 and 350 classic only.
    Regards
    Royal bike rentals.com

    ReplyDelete

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