The Keeway V302C is the only 300-cc V-twin cruiser in India and we take it for a spin to see just how good it is.
Personally, I believe that to cruise comfortably at good speed, one cylinder is not enough and there used to be no option that would fulfil this requirement unless one ventured into the 650-cc segment; until Keeway entered the scene with the V302C. Keeway India seems to be a little confused about its motorcycle because the bike is described as a bobber on the firm’s website but that’s hardly the case. One look at that profile and it is easy to see that this motorcycle’s styling has been inspired by an American cruiser icon.
The styling of this motorcycle does not raise any eyebrows because Keeway has played this one by the book. A 16-inch wheel at the front and a 15-inch one at the rear give the V302C an ideal low-riding cruiser stance with a reasonable 158 millimetres of ground clearance. The thick USD fork at the front runs up to a small but powerful LED headlamp to form the front end. Meanwhile, a teardrop-shaped fuel-tank holds 15 litres of petrol and sits atop the V of the engine with the air-filter in between them, creating a positive visual. From there, the rest of the motorcycle slopes away to form an equally retro tail.
The instrument cluster of the V302C is a simple, round, digital unit that does a good job of packing a large amount of information into a small space without creating a lot of clutter. There is a small space between the fuel-tank and the rider’s seat where the frame of the motorcycle is exposed and that adds to its cruiser character. The seat itself is a spacious unit that is just 690 mm off the ground, making it accessible to almost anybody. The foot-pegs are placed under the front cylinder of the V and the handlebar is slightly curved and wide, which translates into a seating position that is one of the most comfortable on motorcycles up to 300 cc. Since the rear cylinder is rather close to the rider’s seat, some heat is felt when at standstill on a hot day in traffic. In contrast, the pillion seat appears to be an afterthought. It is barely half the size of the rider seat and it slopes away along the rear bodywork without even a grab-rail to hold on to. Sure enough, no one will willingly ask for a lift the second time.
Now let us move on to the engine because that is what makes this motorcycle special in the Indian market; it being the only one to offer a 298-cc liquid-cooled V-twin. It develops 29.5 hp at 8,500 revolutions per minute (rpm) and a peak torque of 26.5 Nm at 6,500 rpm. As suggested by these numbers, the engine is very sedate in the way it develops power. Past 2,000 rpm is when the torque kicks in noticeably and it stays that way until just after 7,000 rpm where it begins to wear off. The strong mid-range allows this motorcycle to give its rider an experience of riding a sedate naked motorcycle while enjoying the comfort offered by a cruiser. The exhaust note further reflects that attitude of the V302C where it sounds more like a sportster than a cruiser. The six-speed transmission features well-spaced gear ratios which work in tandem with the massive pulley (belt final drive) to enable this motorcycle to pull away cleanly from as low as 35 km/h in sixth gear. Keeway could have improved the tactile feedback from the gearbox because although each gear slots in without any false neutrals, it lacks enough feedback to give one the satisfaction of shifting through the gears. The free play at the gear lever could have been reduced too.
Suspension at the front is managed by an upside-down fork while twin shock-absorbers handle the rear. The compression and rebound are set up rather well for our conditions because they smooth the bumps by a significant margin, returning a plush and relaxing ride. At 167 kilograms (dry), the V302C is not an unreasonably heavy motorcycle but, given its 1,420-mm wheelbase and wide tyres, it was never meant to be a cornering machine. Even so, it does waft through a curve gracefully without undue effort. Braking is managed by single disc brakes at either end along with the safety of dual-channel ABS and they do a decent job of slowing the motorcycle down in a hurry but the feedback at the lever could have been better.
The Keeway V302C commands a lot of attention due to its unique placement in the market; more so because it is a good cruiser that is fun and easy to ride. The only thing that could prevent this motorcycle from realising its potential is going to be the price. At Rs 3.89 lakh (ex-showroom), it finds itself in the unfortunate position of being priced higher than a larger-displacement cruiser and it is most likely that many will favour the larger motorcycle.
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