Bajaj is expanding into new territories, wanting to take themselves above the Pulsar legacy. And their next big step is the Bajaj Dominar 400. With the Dominar, Bajaj is entering a new segment that currently has strong players in the form of Royal Enfield and KTM. The Dominar is being termed as a power cruiser and could be your next affordable 400 cc bike. Bajaj wants the Dominar to be a naked performance bike, a commuter and a cruiser all wrapped in an attractive package. Does the latest big bike from Bajaj fulfil its expectations?
Inspired by the CS400 concept, the Dominar 400 looks good and there are no complaints, except for the headlamp unit, which could have been a size smaller. As per the company, the profile of the bike is inspired by the lion and the D400 is as mighty. The bike is big and has a good road presence especially with the all-LED headlamps. Before you start complaining, yes the Dominar has similarly-styled or inspired tank-mounted digital display and tail lamps to that of the Ducati Diavel. It’s up to you to punish or forgive Bajaj for the inspiration and we are on the forgiving side on this one. Overall, the Dominar looks not too aggressive but enough to account admiration.
The all-digital primary instrument cluster looks clear and the information displayed is easy to read. The 13-litre fuel tank is beefy and will allow the rider to snug it nicely with its sculpted knee recesses. Switchgear is illuminated and the quality is good but has room for improvement in some parts. Rear view mirrors look sharp and KTM-ish but they could have been a size bigger. The LED headlamps are powerful and illuminate the dark road nicely. They come with Auto Headlamp On (AHO) technology and you cannot miss them in your rear-view mirrors in daylight.
Powering the Dominar is the same 375 cc engine that sits in the KTM 390 twins, but in the detuned state. The power output is 35 PS at 8,000 rpm (44 for 390) and the peak torque is 35 Nm at 6,500 (37 for 390). The Dominar gets triple spark plug technology and is fuel injected. Being a big capacity engine, highway performance is expected to be good and the bike does so with more than you expect. Triple digit speeds are effortless and the engine feels light, cruising at 120 km/h. But in city driving, Dominar will surprise you with its ease to roll through traffic as the engine has got nice low end response. With over 80 per cent of the torque available at low rev band, steering the D400 away from the rush wouldn’t be a hassle.
Even with the ergonomics, the Dominar proves to be the best Bajaj yet. The wide handlebar and the slightly forward set seating position make a great combination to control and ride the bike. The seats are comfortable with the right amount of cushioning. The 6-speed gearbox has a good combination of gear ratios—first two gears are short, assisting in city traffic, while the next three cover the performance part and the top gear kicks in for cruising the highways.
The slipper clutch does its duty perfectly to control sudden downshifts and engine braking. Despite having the same engine as the KTM 390s, the Dominar isn’t as wild. Bajaj has opted for better rideability over performance. The power delivery is not as rapid as its KTM cousin, but the Dominar lets out the power more linearly and builds up quite nicely till it redlines near 10,000 rpm.
The front 43 mm telescopic suspension and 10-step adjustable rear mono shock setup is tuned for handling. But that doesn’t mean a stiff back. The vibrations are controlled well if you don’t push it to the limits and the rear mono smoothens out the irregularities of the roads. The Dominar also gets twin-channel ABS for both the 320mm front disc and 230 mm rear one. The brakes have a nice bite to them and are progressive for better control.
To conclude, Bajaj Dominar 400 could be the sports bike for all. It has great features, looks good and rides well. And comes with a killer price tag. Priced from Rs 1.38 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, the Dominar does it all and does it better.