2019 Bajaj Dominar 400 First Ride Review [Video]

First showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo as the CS400 concept, the Dominar 400 was officially launched in 2016. On paper, it seemed to do everything right and offered shattering value for money. However, reality was far different and sales never really took off, averaging under 2000 units on a monthly basis. However, Bajaj refuses to give up and have come up with the much improved 2019 model. How good is it? Lets find out!

The Dominar has always been a ‘big’ looking motorcycle, being longer than the likes of the CBR250 or the Royal Enfield 350. The same muscular design theme too continues forward but for 2019, there are quite a few changes. First on is the new ‘green’ paint scheme that does well to bring out the best in terms of the curves. The green-black combination works well and I am a big fan of those machined (and shining) elements on the alloy wheels. Up front, the 2019 Dominar gets USD or upside down forks that not only look good but also help a lot in terms of dynamics. Next on, if you look closely you will realise the front disc is now positioned on the left side of wheel.

The headlamp is visually smaller and changes are done to make it look futuristic. It continues to light up the road perfectly well and should be helpful for those who indulge in long distance riding. Next on, the tank gets a secondary LCD display for gear indicator, trip meters, odo meter and time. Though it is placed lower than the main LCD, I didn’t have to bend my head too low for a quick glance. The main speedometer console now gets additional information in the form of instantaneous and average fuel economy. Other features include average speeds, fuel level, tachometer etc. The display has improved and inspite of riding the bike under Pune’s hot sun, I could easily see the readings. Bajaj also worked on the crash guard, making it slightly wider than before.

We aren’t done yet with the changes. The tank gets a new tank-pad, the pillion seat has a ‘D embossing and the new dual barrel exhaust looks damn neat. It not only offers bulk at the rear, it sounds better than ever before. The exhaust note is deep, bassy and retains a good growl even when you hit the engine’s roof at just over 9000 rpm. We had a chance to ride though a couple of underpasses and the acoustics are spot on! Another feature, though not visual, is the inclusion of little straps under the seat which helps the rider use the bungee cords for securing luggage on the move.

The Dominar retains the same tyre size (MRF), saddle height and other parameters. However, on the move, the first thing that strikes you are the new and wider rear view mirrors. The bar ends on the handlebars are also new and play a vital role in trimming down vibrations. Talking of which, the 2019 Dominar erases one of the biggest shortcomings of the earlier model –  yes, I am talking about the vibs that creeped in via all body panels at higher engine speeds. Riding the updated version is a big relief and only when I went over 7500-8000rpm did I feel the tingling sensations. And before I get into the figures, lets talk about the heart of the matter. The Dominar continues to use the same motor but with heavy revisions. For example, SOHC set-up has been replaced with DOHC or dual overhead camshafts and the Dominar gets a 3 spark plug layout too. The compression ratio has been bumped up and the ECU mapping is all-new.

What does all this mean? For starters, power goes up from 35 to 40 PS which means the D400 makes 6 PS more than the RR310 / BMW 310s, 9.5 PS more than the CB300R, 15.2 PS more than the Himalayan. The torque, at 35Nm remains unchanged. Bajaj claims the new bike is way quicker and faster and this inspite of the same gearing and rev limiter. In terms of numbers, the bike does 0-60 in less than 3 seconds and completes the 0-100 run in less than 8 seconds. That is very quick for a 184 kg bike! But more than outright acceleration, it is the way you can ride the bike ‘fast’ enough without even trying. Mid range remains punchy and the bike pulls cleanly from 2500-3000 rpm even in the 4th and 5th gears. Bajaj also claims the new model does a true top speed of 156 km/h which is a good 8 km/h increment. However, the actual speed shown is about 8% higher and will be giving owners a good ego massage. For example, at an indicated 100km/h, the actual GPS shown speed was 91-92km/h. And before you ask, the new Dominar offers the same fuel economy as the earlier model. Not bad!

We had a limited time with the bike but the busy NH4 gave me ample empty stretches to put it a little more. The USDs up front definitely play a vital role in aiding confidence. Our shoot location didnt really have smooth access roads and I am glad the rear springs are title softer now. For my weight (100+), the stock factory setting felt perfect and the earlier model’s firmness has definitely been taken care of. That said, the front brakes could have offered a better bite in my opinion. They do the job but do not inspire confidence immediately. Likewise, if you ride the bike with proper riding boots, shifting gears needs getting used to as the space between the left peg and the gear lever isn’t good enough.

The 2019 Dominar will be launched later this month and we expect prices to start at about Rs 1.77 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). This means is about 14k over the earlier model and if Bajaj can pull this figure off, the bike will continue to offer shattering value for money. Add in the 5 year warranty, dual channel ABS, slipper clutch et al and you have a package thats hard to beat. Lastly, Bajaj will also offer touring accessories for the new Dominar via official showrooms. To summarise, the 2019 Dominar is not an update, its an almost new package from Bajaj. They have hit the nail hard, and at the right spot. I hope they polish up the customer experience at the workshop level now. Over to you guys!


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