If you are looking to buy a cruiser for the daily grind, the Bajaj Avenger is probably the first bike which comes to mind to drive around Kathmandu city. Rightfully so - it has been around since 2005 and is the most affordable small-capacity cruiser you can get in the country. And, in the recent update, Bajaj have given it a few cosmetic changed, while bumping up the entry-level Avenger from 150cc to 180cc. But now, there is something else in the market which is intruding in its space - the Suzuki Intruder. It gets more hardware, costs Rs 40,000 in Nepal more and looks - well, let’s just say it is attention-grabbing. To make things even better, it is based on the underpinnings of the Gixxer, which we absolutely adore. Now, here’s the question - can the Intruder justify its price tag over the Bajaj Avenger Street 180, or is it asking for a bit too much.
Luckily though, the Intruder’s handlebars are higher up and closer to you, which makes for a more comfortable riding position. Dial in the fact that the Intruder has a lighter steering and it becomes the easier bike to manoeuvre in the city and take u-turns on. The Avenger, on the other hand, has the narrower seat and lower seat height. This makes it easier to get your feet firmly on the ground when you need to. And in traffic, the more centrally set footpegs (compared to the Intruder’s forward-set pegs) makes quickly transitioning your feet from peg to ground that much more convenient. So if you are 5’5 or shorter the Avenger would be a better option..
The Avenger wins the capacity battle with a larger 178.6cc motor. It makes 15.5PS of power, which is more than the Intruder’s 14.8PS. But, even with the smaller 154.9cc motor, the Intruder makes slightly more torque (14Nm) than the Bajaj (13.7Nm). And both come with to a 5-speed transmission. What's interesting here is that both these bikes get engines from their sportier siblings, but the Avenger 180’s motor has been detuned to feel more relaxed and deliver a more cruiser-like character in power delivery. Add to this short gearing, and you end up with a very tractable setup. But the gearbox sometimes doesn't slot properly and throws tantrums to get into neutral. That said, you can keep the Avenger in 4th and 5th gear in the city and it will amble along without any fuss. Open the throttle and it accelerates swiftly. Even from a standstill, the Avenger is quicker to both 60kmph and 100kmph than the Intruder. It takes 5.62 seconds for it to reach 60kmph while triple digits come up in 16.39 seconds. It takes the Intruder 5.73 seconds to get to 60kmph and 17.93 seconds to reach 100kmph.
On the other hand, the Intruder’s engine has the same tune as the Gixxer and it retains its sportier characteristics. The refinement levels here are impressive from the word go and there are barely any vibrations throughout the rev range. The gearbox is slick shifting, but thanks to taller gearing, you are left changing gears more often in the city as compared the Avenger. Also, the power is not as effortless and you have to open the throttle more for it to kick in. But once that happens, the bike is quick to respond and feels sporty, and all this without any vibrations! The Intruder’s stronger mid-range shows in the figures as well. While it takes 6.12 seconds to get from 30-70kmph in 3rd gear and 8.52 seconds from 40-80kmph in 4th, the Avenger manages the same in 6.51 seconds and 8.85 seconds, respectively.
Though the Avenger has a higher displacement, the short gearing and the detuned power helps it get better efficiency than the Intruder inside the city. The Intruder returns 47.6kmpl in the city and 54kmpl on the highway, whereas the Avenger does a remarkable 52.18kmpl in the city and 48.02kmpl on open roads. In the 2018 update, Bajaj has increased the Avenger’s rear suspension travel by 10mm to offer a plusher ride. The Intruder uses a monoshock from the Gixxer at the rear, which feels a bit too stiff for a cruiser. While both of these setups are on the stiffer side the Avenger does a better job of filtering out the harshness of bumps and potholes. The only issue is that it tends to become a bit bouncy over broken roads, especially with a pillion. The Intruder translates more of the surface harshness to the rider, especially on sharper undulations, sometimes quite hard too. But, it remains well composed with a pillion onboard.
Again, the Intruder. It comes with a fully digital instrument cluster, borrowed from the Gixxer, which gets a large speedometer display, tachometer, gear indicator, clock and two tripmeters. Additionally, it also gets tinted rear-view mirrors, better switchgear and an LED taillight. The Avenger only gets a basic speedometer with a single tripmeter and odometer packaged in a classic analog pod. The fuel gauge and the tell tale lights are on the tank, which are a little hard to read in the day. Not to forget, the Intruder also gets a front and rear disc brake setup (266mm/220mm) along with single-channel ABS thrown in as standard for good measure. The Avenger, on the other hand, gets just a front disc (260mm) and no ABS at all. But here is the funny part. Though on paper, the Avenger is inferior to the Intruder in the braking department, it ends up feeling more confident in braking, coming to a halt from 80kmph in a shorter distance (32.66 metres). The Intruder brakes well enough, but feels squirrely under very hard braking, doing the 80 to 0 stint in 38.38 metres. That said, ABS does give the Intruder an edge when braking on loose surfaces.
Yet again, the Intruder. But only this time, it might not be a positive. There are no two ways about it - the design of the Intruder is polarizing. You will either love it or hate it, and there is very little chance of it growing on you over time. The chunky front fascia, bulbous fuel tank and the fat tail section are all plastic and make for a rather overgrown motorcycle. And the exhaust, in our opinion, is just a little too much. But hey, it’s subjective and you might love it. But what's not subjective is that some of these plastics, of which there are a lot, had already started to rattle on our test bike. And we fear the same might happen to the other plastic parts as well. That said, the finish and paint levels are top notch. The glitter in the paint is even present in the matte black plastics, which looks all the more impressive. The Bajaj, on the other hand, is neat and simple. It has been carrying over the same design language for quite some time. And even though it has started to show its age, the Avenger still appeals to a much larger audience because of its more cruiser-like appeal.