Hero MotoCorp may be hit most from Karnataka ban on pillion-riding bikes with small engines

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Nearly half a dozen units of Hero Motocorp, India’s largest two-wheeler maker, likely to get impacted the most from the ban on sale of small engine bikes in Karnataka if the state government does not amend rules.

Splendor, Splendor+, Passion, Passion Pro, HF Delux, HF Delux Eco, which are entry level, low-cost bikes from the Delhi-based manufacturer, will likely be hit as all the five models can seat pillions.

According to a notification issued by the Karnataka Transport Department in compliance of the Karnataka Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, ‘No pillion seat shall be attached to a motor-cycle with less than 100 cc engine’. All motorcycles currently produced in India come with a pillion seat.

Karnataka used to issue ‘Type Approval’ to all motorcycles fitted with a seat for a pillion. This applied even for bikes which had engines of 100c or less. However, the High Court of Karnataka sought an explanation from the state government while hearing an accident case involving death of a youngster.

While most two-wheelers sold in India have engines of 110cc and above a handful of models do have an even smaller engine catering to the budget segment buyers. Only Hero MotoCorp and TVS Motors make bikes with engines less than 100cc.

Chennai-based TVS Motors, India’s third largest two-wheeler maker, has three models with engines less than 100cc. The Scooty Pep+ (scooter), Sport (motorcycle) and XL 100 (moped) have engines less than 100cc.

Besides being known for the class-beating mileage (going up to 80 km per litre) such budget bikes are often accused of illegally carrying more pillions than they are meant for.

For instance, due to the long and flat seat such bikes sometimes seat four people though as per law only two people (including the rider) can ride on a motorcycle. Because of their cost-effectiveness budget bikes are a huge hit in rural areas.