Hero Karizma XMR First Ride Review: The Legend Returns

Will the new Hero Karizma XMR be as iconic as the original Karizma from 20 years ago? We seek some answers while spending some time with the all-new Karizma XMR.

By Preetam Bora


7 mins read


Published on August 31, 2023

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  • We ride the 2023 Hero Karizma XMR
  • It is a brand new model ground up
  • It is priced at Rs. 1.83 lakh (ex-showroom)

Photography: Arvind Salhan


The new Hero Karizma XMR is the latest-generation Karizma and revives a brand which is nothing short of a legend in Indian motorcycling history. Back in an all-new avatar, the new Karizma XMR is a completely new motorcycle from the ground up, seeking to cater to a new breed of motorcycle fans, while paying homage to its iconic lineage. And it has its task cut out, to reclaim its iconic past with a blend of contemporary technology, refined aesthetics and new features. Naturally, expectations are sky high from the new Karizma XMR.


The 2023 Hero Karizma XMR will aim on cash in on the original Karizma's legacy


The Hero Karizma 

Twenty years ago, when the Karizma was first launched, it captured the hearts and minds of a generation of motorcycle enthusiasts in India. The first-generation Karizma features a 223 cc, two-valve SOHC engine sourced from Honda (from the erstwhile Hero Honda partnership) with a CV carburettor. The first-generation Karizma was followed by the Karizma ZMR in 2009, which came with a full-fairing, fuel-injection and more performance. 

The new Karizma XMR is looks sportier than before and is more compact too


Also Read: Hero Karizma XMR Launched In India 


After Hero and Honda parted ways in 2011, Hero carried out a thorough makeover of the Karizma ZMR in 2014, but it could not win back the brand equity of the original Karizma. Its quirky design, followed by complaints of a few mechanical issues sealed its fate. By 2019, the Karizma stopped selling and Hero MotoCorp quietly took it off its product line-up. And now, with a new engine, new frame, new design and features, the 2023 Hero Karizma XMR will seek to repeat the magic of the original Karizma. 


We like the way the new Karizma looks. It carries that sporty persona


Design & Features

The Karizma XMR looks sporty and aggressive, with sharp lines and creases defining the bodywork. The muscular fuel tank, full fairing and LED headlights give it a striking and sporty personality. The split seat design, sharp upswept tail section underscores that persona, although the clip-on handlebars don’t quite offer a too committed or aggressive riding position. So, ergonomics have been designed for the daily commute and occasional touring duties.

Underneath the fairing is a new steel trellis frame. The overall fit & finish seems satisfactory


The bodywork covers a new steel trellis frame, and although some of the frame welds and panel gaps are inconsistent, overall build quality is satisfactory. It runs on 17-inch alloy wheels shod with tubeless tyres, and suspended from a 37 mm telescopic front fork and rear monoshock. There’s no upside down fork, offered in the smaller Hero Xtreme 160R 4V, but that could be introduced in the next update of the XMR.

The instrument console is digital and easy to read, showing all the necessary information


The instrument console is LCD and gets Bluetooth connectivity with turn-by-turn navigation with all necessary read-outs. Next to the console is a handy USB Type A charging socket, and the windshield gets height adjustability, although its usefulness we couldn’t quite gauge in our brief first ride. Overall, the Karizma XMR has an attractive and sporty design which will certainly appeal to many.


The 210 cc liquid-cooled 4-valve DOHC engine is a first from Hero MotoCorp 


Engine & Performance

The all-new 210 cc, single-cylinder engine is liquid-cooled, a first for Hero MotoCorp. It’s a four-valve unit with a double overhead cam (DOHC), and from the moment you fire it up, the motor’s refinement is apparent. From the get-go, the Karizma XMR makes an immediate impression. Acceleration is brisk, and in traffic, it feels nimble and easy to handle, traits which will be welcomed on the daily commute. The engine is free-revving and is eager to rev to over 9,500 rpm, and while chasing triple digit speeds, it doesn’t feel out of breath. Yes, there’s some buzz you will feel, it’s a small single-cylinder engine after all, but the performance is a pleasant surprise. 

The engine on the motorcycle is tractable and good for riding in the city


Also Read: Hero Karizma XMR: All You Need To Know


In numbers, the 210 cc engine makes 25.15 bhp at 9,250 rpm and 20.4 Nm at 7,250 rpm, but the spread of torque is wide, and you can sit in sixth gear within the city. The engine is tractable and will pull cleanly from sixth from as low as 40 kmph, although for crawling over speed breakers, you will often need to downshift to first. The slip and assist clutch offers a light lever feel, and is a boon in traffic, although for me, the shifts could have been more slick and precise. This is not to say, that we encountered any false neutrals or misses, but to me, the shift experience felt a little spongy, rather than “clicking” into position.   

The Karizma XMR keeps you comfy on long commutes and has the performance to go with


For anyone looking at the Karizma XMR as a first bike, or even for someone looking as an upgrade from a smaller bike, its performance is not intimidating. For experienced riders though, who are looking for performance which will really ‘wow’ them, then they would probably look at something a segment above the Karizma XMR with more punch and entertainment.

The Karizma XMR irons out most undulations on the roads, offering a good balance between comfort and nimbleness. 


Ride & Handling

What really stands out is the ride quality. The suspension has been tuned between soft and stiff, so it’s not very stiff, and too soft either, offering a fine balance between comfort and agility. And when broken patches and bad surfaces over, even when you maintain a decent speed, the Karizma XMR just seems to glide over road imperfections without a care in the world. 

The motorcycle is a decent handling machine and its weight isn't a bother either


During our brief first ride, what we haven’t been able to test out extensively is the handling, although in everyday riding conditions, it proved to be well-balanced and turns in and out of corners without any surprises. The 163.5 kg kerb weight also makes it easy to handle and manoeuvre whether it’s negotiating u-turns or while tackling a corner. The brakes, with standard dual-channel ABS, work well and offer good enough stopping power. 

With an introductory price of Rs. 1.73 lakh (ex-showroom, the Karizma makes for a good proposition in the 200 cc segment


Price & Competition

The Hero Karizma XMR looks good, performs well and has very good road manners. And those are qualities which makes for a good product. Priced at Rs. 1,82,900 (Ex-showroom), the Karizma XMR offers good value indeed, and is certain to make a mark as a successful product for Hero MotoCorp. But it also goes up against tough competition, including the Bajaj Pulsar F250, the Suzuki SF 250, and even the Bajaj Pulsar RS200, all of which offer similar levels of performance and capability. And at that price point and perhaps for slightly more, there are other options as well which offer versatility and all-round capability which the Karizma XMR is gunning for.


Also Read: Hero Karizma XMR vs Rivals: Specifications Comparison

The new Karizma XMR is now back in the fray, 20 years after the original model was launched in 2003



In 2003, the first-generation Karizma wowed the Indian motorcyclist. There was nothing like it available on sale in India, with its performance, comfort and capability. It became an all-rounder, used by many as a versatile touring machine. Twenty years is a long time, and the Indian motorcycling industry has been completely transformed over these two decades. Now, there are many purpose-built bikes for every kind of rider, at every price point and engine displacement.

Our brief time spent with the Karizma left us impressed


As a product the new Karizma XMR is certainly impressive. But the question is, will it be as legendary and iconic as the original Karizma from 2003? That’s something we don’t have an answer to yet. But in its segment and price point, the Karizma XMR is one of the best bikes available right now, if not the best. And that should make it a successful product, even if it doesn’t make the cut as a legendary motorcycle that will be talked about two decades from now.


SpecificationsHero Karizma XMR 
Displacement210 cc 
Engine Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled 4-valve DOHC
Max Power25.15 bhp at 9,250 rpm
Peak Torque20.4 Nm at 7,250 rpm
Gearbox6-speed gearbox with slip & assist clutch
Chassis TypeSteel trellis frame
Front Suspension37 mm telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionMonoshock with 6-step pre-load adjustment
Seat Height 810 mm
Ground Clearance 160 mm
Fuel Capacity11 litres
Kerb Weight163.5 kg
Front Tyre100/80-17 tubeless
Rear Tyre140/70-17 tubeless
Front Brake300 mm petal disc 
Rear Brake230 mm petal disc 

Last Updated on August 31, 2023

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