It would be tough to find a person unaware of the word- “Splendor”. You can find this humble commuter motorcycle in every nook and corner of India and it has a special place in our history, for moulding the Indian motorcycling scene that we know of today. We say this because, the then, Hero Honda Splendor was a cheap and reliable entry point for many in the country to the world of motorcycling.
We will look back and understand how this humble offering managed to break records over the years and it still stands strong with minimal changes to its root formula. It still uses the footprint of its original 100cc engine from the 90s, but over the last two decades have grown marginally in displacement and currently flaunts a 110cc engine.
Hero Honda Splendor was the replacement for CD100 which was in turn inspired by Honda CB250RS of the 1980s. This was the beginning of India’s longest-running two-wheeler nameplate. It was introduced in 1994 and carried on well for the coming years without a hiccup. It initially used a 97.2cc air-cooled OHC 4-stroke engine and was coupled to a 4-Speed gearbox.
Hero Honda Splendor received its next major upgrade only in 2004 and this was when the model was split into two iterations, i.e. Splendor and Splendor+. This version got multi-reflectors in all of the lighting assembly and new decals. Splendor+ was brought in to woo younger buyers with modern body fairings and alloy wheels. It was all an uphill climb from here for “Splendor”.
A key reason for the consistent success of all the iterations that came out for Splendor was its knack for adaptability and most importantly winning over the trust of the masses. When the Splendor was introduced, there weren't any major competitor for it and so it was a monopoly. But it was not the only reason for its success for the past two and half-decade.
Continuous updates over the years helped to keep the “Splendor” fresh and Hero’s strong after-sales support even after its split with Honda made it the first preference for many people in the country, especially the major rural population.
While still together, Hero Honda bought in the last major update for the Splendor in 2011 which included tweaked body panels, self start and redesigned alloy wheels. After this, the split-up happened and it was a shocker for many, as the iconic “Hero Honda” was no more. After the split-up Hero MotoCorp launched a new model called “Splendor iSmart”.
Hero Splendor iSmart still holds the ground firmly and stands tall as the top-selling commuter motorcycle in the 110cc segment. The new Splendor has grown both technically and in terms of features on offer. It now comes with a disc brake and has a new technology called i3S. This is a Star/Stop system developed in house and helps conserve fuel by utilizing the motion of the clutch lever.
When idling and depressing the clutch, this system kills the ignition and when you release the clutch it starts automatically. This mostly helps in dense traffic conditions and is the only bike in this segment with this calibre of technology. It also comes with fuel injection and is a looker with its dual-tone colour scheme.
2020 Hero Splendor iSmart is priced at Rs. 67,100 which is on the higher side but has features to back up its premium tag. The engine has been worked on and provides you with a more modern proposition with a semi-digital instrument cluster and ECU controlled fueling and temperature control which gives a more optimized riding experience. It takes on close-knitted competitors like TVS Radeon and Bajaj Platina 110 H Gear in the most sought after the commuter segment.