‘Feel Like God’ was the tagline used by Bajaj when they first introduced the Eliminator back in 2005. I have got to admit that back in those days, the Avenger (called the Eliminator back then) did stand out amongst the sea of commuter bikes. It was the first budget cruiser that India had witnessed, but 16 years later, things have changed. The Indian two-wheeler market has seen a drastic change, and among the wave of new motorcycles, does the Avenger still offer what it did back in 2005?

Bajaj Avenger 2

The Bajaj Avenger is available in two variants – the Street 160, which debuted in 2019 and the Cruise 220, which has been around for a while. A rider who wishes buy a sporty cruiser would be interested in the Street 160, whereas a rider who wants to experience the cruiser life without burning a hole in their pocket would prefer the Cruise 220.

Engine

Street 160 uses a 160cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine that shares the same underpinnings from the unit we find on the NS160. Post its BS6 update, the engine produces 14.7 bhp and 13.7 Nm of torque which seems just adequate for the commute within the city. However, crack open the throttle, and you start to feel the engine huffing and puffing as you cross the 60 to 70km/h mark, which certainly wouldn’t appeal to users looking to head out on the open road often.

Bajaj Avenger 3
On the right is the 220cc engine while on the left is the 160cc engine.

If the open road is what you are chasing, the Cruise 220 is definitely a better choice for you. The 220cc, single-cylinder, oil-cooled engine produces 19 bhp and 17.55 Nm, which accounts for a smoother acceleration than the Street 160 and seems noticeably happier at cruising along at highway speeds. For someone who is looking to spend most of their time on the highways, this is without a doubt the better amongst the two.

Looks of the Bajaj Avenger

The Avenger has always been an eye-catching motorcycle, and the 3rd generation of these bikes are just the same. However, on the Street 160, the bike is offered with a simple analogue speedometer that misses out on a tachometer. In addition, the tank-mounted fuel gauge and tell-tale lights for neutral indicators and the high beam can be a bit of an inconvenience while riding.

Bajaj Avenger 4
Definitely, the more cruiser looking out of the duo.

If it’s aesthetics, you are looking for. Compared to the Bajaj Avenger Street 160, the Cruise 220 outshines (pun intended) over its sibling. The Cruise 220 certainly looks the part with its wire-spoke wheels, generous amounts of chrome and handlebar-mounted fully digital unit. Just like in the Street, a tank mounted secondary console with your basic information is also provided. Additionally, the Cruise 220 also comes with a tall non-adjustable windscreen, although it is suitable for short riders, but someone over 6ft can face a lot more wind buffeting over their chest.

Ergonomics of the Bajaj Avenger

Since it was introduced, the Avenger has always been a motorcycle with that offered an upright posture with a low slung seat and extended footrest position aimed towards the rider’s comfort. But on the Street 160, although the footrests are extended towards the front, the height of the handlebar is reduced to those of a regular street motorcycle, which does cause discomfort while riding.

Cruise 220 ergonomics
The handlebars are placed just perfectly on the Cruise 220.

On the other hand, the Cruise 220 still retains the classic formula that the Eliminator first introduced. The motorcycle’s ergonomics are in tune with a cruiser with its wide handlebars and forward-mounted footrests. The perfect posture for long-distance cruising. But that becomes a hindrance for when you need to manoeuver the bike in city traffic or have to take a U-turn as the ends of the handlebars hit your knees which can be annoying to some riders.

Verdict

And now we go back to the question I raised before we started this review, in the present times where the Indian market is flooded with motorcycles spread across the whole spectrum, does the Bajaj Avenger Cruise 220 and Street 160 offer something exclusive? Surprisingly, my answer to that would be – Yes. While the Street 160 is not something I grew fond of over the duration of my review, the Cruise 220 did manage to surpass my expectations from it and prove to be a capable and pocket-friendly cruiser.

Cruise 220 and Street 160
Right: The Cruise 220 looks the part of being a cruiser. Left: The Street 160 feels like it’s trying too hard.

In terms of the price, the Cruise 220 costs Rs 23,000 more than the Street 160. But, for that extra cash, the Cruise looks the part, offers decent performance and is an adequate companion for your highway escapades.

Specifications:

Bajaj Avenger Street 160

Engine – 160cc, single-cylinder
Power – 14.7bhp@8500rpm
Torque – 13.7Nm@7000rpm
Transmission – Five-speed manual
Weight – 156 kilograms
Price: Rs 1.08 (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Bajaj Avenger Cruise 220

Engine – 220cc, single-cylinder
Power – 19bhp@8500rpm
Torque – 17.55Nm@7000rpm
Transmission – Five-speed automatic
Weight – 163 kilograms
Price: Rs 1.32 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

For – Distinctive looks, ergonomics
Against – Needs a 6-speed gearbox, low-speed manoeuvrability.

To read how does the Bajaj Dominar 250 fair, click here.