Can you really beat the 2021 Modenas Dominar D400 priced at RM13,997? Hard, right?
Bikes come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. Based on the budget that you have, there are a lot of options to choose from. As Malaysians (and the rest of the world), we tend to adore the idea of getting the best bang for your buck in terms of performance at the lowest price range.
Things, however, tend to get more difficult as the budget gets lower. We recently posted about the best three bikes that you can get under RM15,000 which consists of the KTM 200 Duke, Yamaha MT-15, and Honda ADV 150 but now, there's a new option, and it's probably one of the most interesting options that you can get within that limited budget.
The latest 2021 Modenas Dominar D400 was recently launched earlier this month and it wasn't too long before we got our hands on one. Priced at RM13,997 (excluding insurance, road tax, and registration), the second-gen Dominar D400 may look like the previous model launched a few years back, but it has gone through quite the evolution (apart from the design DNA which has been kept the same). The new Savanna Green colour option certainly looks nice, but we would most likely prefer the Charcoal Black for the long run.
Going straight to firepower, the new Modenas Dominar D400 now produces a respectable 39hp at 8,000rpm and 35Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. That's an extra 5hp added compared to the previous-gen as the new model is fitted with a 373cc single-cylinder DOHC engine (the previous model only had SOHC).
Upon start-up, we were genuinely surprised at how good the bike sounded. Its bassy notes were further amplified as you rev it up and the exhaust fumes stream out of its new double-barrel silencer. Now, we're always fans on some aftermarket cans, but there's a high chance that you won't have to 'upgrade' the one on the Dominar D400 considering how good it already sounds in its stock state.
There is, however, a downside to this new power unit. After riding for some time, we quickly noticed that the heat coming off from the engine is quite strong. It wasn't unbearable, but it was certainly noticeable. That will most likely get amplified after a long stint on the highway and stopping at the first red light.
It's also quite thirsty as well. Although it comes with a 13-litre fuel tank, we went through it at under the 200km mark before the low fuel level light turned on. In its defense, we did put the bike through its paces. We were also unable to find out its top speed, but we were able to exceed 160km/h with little to no drama from the new Dominar.
Since the bike was new, we weren't really able to wring it out at hit the redline every chance we get, either. Going through its six-speed manual gearbox that's enhanced with an assist/slipper clutch, the Dominar D400 is very forgiving and relatively easy to ride right on the get-go.
Gearshifts are smooth and definitely felt like you're riding a 'big bike' rather than a 'big bike on a budget'. For newer riders, some time might be needed to get used to its somewhat short clutch play.
Another big update is its 43mm upside-down front fork. In theory, a USD front fork is supposed to offer better handling and feedback, which the new Modenas Dominar D400 is able to achieve as compared to the previous gen.
Carving through the corners felt planted and confidence-inspiring. For a bike that's priced at RM14k, it sure handles surprisingly well like some of its competitors that sit at almost double the price tag.
Braking, on the other hand, is a slight 'hit and miss' in our books. It's amazing that you get a dual-channel ABS for a bike at this price, but the feeling you get is quite muted in terms of feedback, especially when applying the rear brake. Quite weird for a set of Bybre (means 'By Brembo') calipers, though.
There's the argument that the bike is still new at the time and the pads are not 'seasoned' yet, but it will most likely improve after putting in a few more KMs on the odometer.
Speaking of the odometer, you can have a look at the LCD console mounted on the fuel tank. There's also the clock and gear indicator placed there as well, but it is quite a distance to look away while you're riding. Luckily, there's another gear indicator on the main LCD console on its front LED headlight.
Why there are two gear indicators on this bike, we're not really sure. But our OCD went a little bit mad when we noticed that the gear indicator showed 'N' for neutral on the dash, but '0' on the tank. Why can't they be the same? And why there's two compared to none on the same previous model? I guess they were holding on to that 'two is better than one' argument.
At the end of the day, we can honestly say that the 2021 Modenas Dominar D40 is indeed a worthy option to consider if you have a budget of below RM15,000. It's quite easy to ride, offers ample power for everyday riding, and comes with loads of features that you would only normally find on bikes that are doubled the price. It's also a very decent upgrade for those who are planning to jump on slightly bigger bikes from the usual mopeds and scooters. Just don't forget to get your B full license first, okay.