First, a little history. In 2007-08, Bajaj Auto was riding high on its patented digital twin spark ignition (DTSi) technology that powers, among other models, its best-selling Pulsar and Discover bikes. Around the same time, Hosur-based two-wheeler major TVS Motor Company came out with its own version of a twin spark engined motorcycle called the Flame—a 125cc bike—in an attempt to fill the huge gap in the executive segment where TVS lacked strength. But the Flame couldn’t set TVS’s sales charts on fire. Primarily because Bajaj Auto filed a petition seeking to restrain TVS from manufacturing and selling the Flame, alleging patent infringement, and the court restrained TVS from using the twin spark technology. Although later the court allowed TVS to go ahead with the production and selling of the Flame, the bike had suffered serious burns by then.
Cut to 2012, TVS made another entry into the 125cc segment by launching the Phoenix, which it calls India’s first premium 125cc motorcycle. Dubbed by the company to be one of the most exciting products to roll off its lines, the Phoenix, according to TVS, is targeted at consumers who aspire to upgrade from just commuting to those who crave for a spirited ride experience without compromising on mileage. For a few days we had the bike to ourselves and here we figure out how good TVS’s second serious attempt to crack the 125cc segment is.
Now, why is it called a ‘premium’ bike? The fact remains that there are so many strong players in the 125cc space that, to crack it, TVS had to come up with a bike that offers some first-in-class features—that’s why the ‘premium’ prefix. And the Phoenix doesn’t disappoint. Although you cannot really do much with design in the 125cc space (in order to keep costs down), TVS has incorporated features that make the Phoenix look good. It is shod with six-spoke alloy wheels, blackened engine and exhaust, LED pilot lamps with dawn to dusk visibility, roto-pedal front disc brakes (there is a drum model too), soft touch switchgear, soft-textured handle grips and petal-design tail lamp. So, to an extent, and especially to a keen eye, the bike does stand out from the crowd. Then you also have, what TVS calls, some car-like premium features. For instance, there is a fully digital speedometer and there are hazard lights (first in the segment, and helpful whenever parked on