With scooter sales exceeding expectations in India, Bajaj–known for decades as a a world-leading scooter company–doesn’t list a single scooter on their website. For a year, Bajaj has been selling of remaining stock of their unpopular Wave and bragging of their dominance of the second- and third-world motorcycle market. Stuck without a product in a growing (or at least very stable) market, Bajaj seems reluctant to admit their judgement error, even as they scramble to release new scooters. The first new effort, the Kristal DTS-i, debuts in February. At 95cc, it’s targeted towards teenagers and specifically women, which seems sort of old-fashioned even by Indian and Bajaj standards. Dave McCabe of VCOA and American Scooterist just returned from India, and some Bajaj plant tours, and reports:
The Krystal is kind of a disappointment. It’s smaller than the [Indian Honda] Activa. It has all sorts of funky angularity built into the design (crystal-like?) The scooter has lots of gadgets added to it, an underseat storage light, light-sensitive sensor for turning on the headlight at night. Turn the ignition key one way and it pops open a gas fill. The underseat compartment can hold a full-face.
In India, at 16 you can ride an “ungeared” scooter under 100cc. You need to be 18 to ride a geared scooter. The wimpy engine capacity is targetted for this market.
The engineers who gave me the tour assured me that the Krystal’s engine was an entirely new design from the Wave. It keeps the Wave’s dual spark system and the “exhaust tech” (I know, B.S. names.) I understand the point of the dual spark but I had to have an engineer explain the point of the exhaust system. It’s basically a little box off the main line of the exhaust pipe. At low rpms, the little box (ahead of the cat converter) help reduces back pressure on the engine. It’s more” low tech” than “exhaust tech” but apparently it works.
Bajaj was pretty coy about why they stopped production of the Wave. It had something to do with the starter motors, but I also think that it had other design flaws. It was evident that they were being super-careful with the rollout of the Krystal. Dealers were getting limited numbers to test for bugs and there were many stages of quality control in the engine production. All of the engine cases were pressure tested. If the cases didn’t hold pressure they were pulled from the line. The leak was found using the old “soapy water” method, then repaired. All engines were also bench tested before being put in bodies. The bench test was interesting, they had a system set up so they could check that the engine would run on both spark plugs or either plug. At the end of the assembly line, all of the scooters were dyno tested as well. It’s pretty clear they want rock solid scooters going out before they ramp up into full production.