Buying a 150-160cc commuter friendly motorcycle: What are my options

In a week, it may be used for 25 kms daily and an additional 50 kms on days I go to office

BHPian recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello all,

After more than ten years, I am planning to buy a bike for myself.

Requirements :

  • Something in commuter segment
  • Touch sporty
  • Riding comfort is needed
  • 99% will be city riding only
  • In a week, it may be used for 25 kms daily and an additional 50 kms on days I go to office

I have owned a Pulsar 150 cc(2007-11), Avenger 220(2011-11, got stolen ๐Ÿ™ ), and a Suzuki GS-150R(2012-19).

Options I have seen so far and considering in the crowded segment are as below:

Honda Unicorn 160:

  • Pros : Beautiful no nonsense engine, absolute comforting ride, decent performance and great mileage
  • Cons : No upgrades whatsoever since the shift to alloy wheels, you can see it as the same bike which it was 16-17 years ago when it was launched. Only the engine got upgraded to 160 and addition of ABS due to it becoming a norm.

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V:

  • Pros : Upgraded tech, digital display, connected experience, good performance, feels advanced like a spaceship when compared to the Unicorn
  • Cons : Higher maintenance cost and lower mileage apparently from the reviews, not very sure of the reliability of the parts(would need your help here), Seating is a little on the sporty side with foot pegs right below the seat and as a 6 foot tall guy, it is difficult to bend and put the legs… It is not impossible but a tad difficult than the Unicorn.

Others being considered :

  • Pulsar 150 : Have owned it already, will go for it as a last option
  • Pulsar P150 : Doesn’t look and feel like a Pulsar, will still check it out having heard decent reviews of the same
  • Pulsar N150 : Need to check it out
  • Avenger 160/ 220 : Loved the Avengers, but hate the new Cruise styling and also the fact that they haven’t touched anything on this bike except for mandatory updates in the last so many years… Even the switch gear was old(Pre-2006 upgrade to Pulsar switches) last time I checked…

Confusions I have are:

Should I go for the no nonsense Unicorn and just be content with riding a very comfortable and good motorcycle which looks and feels(features wise) like a bike from 20 years ago or should I go for the modern tech and get the TVS or any other.

Should I go for Apache, is it okay to go for the 160 or should I stretch till the 200 as that gives the addition of Slipper clutch (heard it is a good feature especially for city commute, would be helpful if one of the Knowledgeable folks from here can help explain the feature) and Dual channel ABS considering safety.

What other options could I consider?

I am from Hyderabad btw!

Thank you in advance!



Here’s what BHPian SaurAswale had to say on the matter:


If I was in your position, I would completely ignore the Unicorn, it “feels” heavy for a 160cc bike, doesn’t like to turn. It’s a very old motorcycle and feels like bigger CB Shine, not a bad thing but very boring in my opinion. There are better options available. But do take a test ride.

If you want that Honda reliability, consider the the Hornet instead.

Apache 160 RTR is the best option you have. It has very smooth engine and good suspension. It is simply king of the segment. If you are concern about the mileage, it will not be wise decision to go for RTR200.

One wildcard entry from my side,

Check out MT15. It has that beautiful 155cc VVA engine which punches above its weight. There is light assist and slipper clutch which makes life easy in traffic. Plus, people are claiming great FE numbers, and I can confirm as I have recently bought R15v3 myself.

There should not be any reliability issue either (otherwise I’m doomed ).

Cons- It is very expensive (worth the price IMO), you might need to check used market to keep it in your budget. Spare parts are also expensive than all other 160cc rivals but as I said, don’t compare it with any 160cc bike.

Here’s what BHPian amit_purohit20 had to say on the matter:

Let me clear your doubts first – TVS vehicles are well engineered and I would rate their reliability only a tad below the Honda that too only in terms of engine reliability. I have seen honda unicorns with engine problem too. I would rate TVS higher than honda from my own experience for rest of the cycle and plastic parts in the 150 to 200 cc range.

Ps:- I have owned TVS Victor and Apache RTR 180 (took it to Ladakh) in last 20 years.

For commuter you want:

  • Comfort
  • Light bike
  • Flickability or bike should be easy to change directions

From comfort POV :- Unicorn, Yamaha Fz, Yamaha FzX, Honda CB200x

From light weight POV:- TVS Apache, Yamaha FZ and FZx

From flickability POV:- TVS Apache series.

I would strongly suggest you go for a Dual Channel ABS bike. I would have lost my life in the city when I braked on wet road and realised no compromise on Dual Channel ABS.

I think it makes lot of sense to upgrade to 200 cc Apache RTR 4V.

If you are not comfortable with the driving position of Apache then I suggest to go for Unicorn or Yamaha FZ. Check all bikes which give Dual Channel ABS.



Here’s what BHPian Nikhildrao had to say on the matter:

I would recommend the newly launched Honda SP160 for the option of buying Honda’s new 10 year warranty program if you want a fuss free ownership experience. Highly recommend the Apache rtr 160 and the disc variant of Pulsar p150. Buy the FZ if you want a no nonsense commuter with decent looks(buy the FZ not the FZ-S).

Here’s what BHPian IshaanIan had to say on the matter:

Any chance you could try taking a test ride of the Yamaha MT-15? It is the perfect tool for the city; lightweight, excellent chassis, powerful smooth non-excessive motor with just enough go juice to bring a smile on your face and oh so poised at all times.

Here’s what BHPian shancz had to say on the matter:

My experience with TVS has been good, in reliability, quality and service and across motorcycles and cities.

Service is dependent a lot on the area so hat varies a lot and is true for most manufacturers.

I don’t think in the 100-200cc range there’s any motorcycle you need to worry about in terms of reliability.

Coming to your requirements, I would say for someone 6 feet tall, the RTR 160/200 might not be the best suited in terms of comfort.

I would also suggest to try out some of the newer platforms and bikes like the Unicorn should be allowed to rest and retire.

I would suggest to test ride the following and find what syncs with your riding style:

  • Bajaj : Pulsar P150/N160/N250 : check for comfort and FE.
  • TVS : RTR 160/200 : On the 200, the slipper makes the clutch feel lighter but more importantly TVS’s Glide Through Tech helps in crawling traffic. But if the clutch is light enough then it doesn’t matter. If getting the 200 try the one with adjustable suspension for that added option for comfort or just to play around.
  • Hero : Xtreme 160/Karizma XMR: Do check for ride and seating comfort. Also try the just launched Karizma XMR, it might suit your frame better along with the liquid cooling but its built more like a sports tourer.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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