Tested: Modenas Dominar 400 UG – The Best Entry Level Sports Tourer?

It took about a year and a half for the Dominar 400 UG to make it to the Malaysian market.

For many months Modenas buyers waited keenly for the introduction of the new sport touring for the entry-level market.

Their anticipation fuelled by all the content on the Dominar UG coming from Indian content makers. And almost all of them had something good to say.

So naturally sales of the previous generation Dominar slowed to a little more than a grind. Modenas had previously committed to ordering a certain amount of Dominars from its business partner – Bajaj Auto Ltd of India.

So this was a lose-all situation – Modenas couldn’t move Dominars fast enough to place an order for the UG model, and the market didn’t want the old Dominar because of all the positive feedback the market was getting from India.

This situation forced Modenas into overdrive, and the much loved Malaysian bike maker introduced offer after offer, even lowering the price to a never before seen price for its segment.

Those that didn’t mind not having the latest toy took the amazing offers, while those that were patient would have their patience rewarded. Something I will get to shortly.

The gamble worked (obviously) and Modenas has introduced the new Dominar 400 UG.

I’m not quite sure if we can still call it new considering that it is in actual fact a 2019 model.

But for the sake of the Malaysian market and this article, let’s just call it new.

And boy have the patient been rewarded, because not only is the Dominar 400 UG more matured compared to the previous model, but at just RM13,997, it is quite easily the deal of the year! If only there was an award for that.

In case you were wondering what could be so different considering both bikes look almost identical. Well, it takes a keen eye and the real difference lays under the skin.

From the outside, the new Dominar offers an updated headlamp.

Doesn’t look like it but the design is actually slightly different and it is brighter too.

Then there is the new radially mounted ByBre callipers grabbing a 320mm disc.

It’s mounted on the left of the bike now, the old had its brake calliper on the right.

The previous callipers were also axial mounted, and because most calliper locks are made for radially mounted callipers, owners of the Dominar were sitting ducks when dealing with calliper thieves. Well, no more.

Rims are of a new design too, and it accentuates the overall sportiness of the Dominar.

The forks are arguably the biggest update to the Dominar 400 UG, replacing the conventional forks in favour of more advanced (and better looking) upside down forks measuring in at an impressive 43mm with 135mm of travel.

The new forks are a good mix of comfort and sportiness, with just the right amount of stiffness in the corners without too much dive under heavy braking.

The front end did feel light at speeds above 160km/h.

The front tyre felt like it was just skimming the road, which is a very unnerving feeling especially in corners.

The old Dominar had an issue with leaking fork seals that made the front feel wobbly if not rectified quickly.

Time will tell how the new forks will fare in the Malaysian climate.

Then there is the new twin meter panel set up, something like that on a Ducati Diavel.

The top meter displays engine related information like rpm, speed and warnings like when the stand is down or when you’re low on fuel.

The bottom meter panel displays a highly anticipated gear position indicator, something that Dominar and Pulsar buyers particularly demand for.

But the real difference in the Dominar 400 UG lay in the way it rides.

Though it is powered by the same 373cc, single-cylinder engine, but it now produces more power, is cleaner and more fuel-efficient.

Unlike before, the engine now features Double Overhead Cams, and this combined with the liquid cooling and fuel injection, helps produce 10PS and 10Nm of torque more than before.

This takes power figures to 40PS @ 8800rpm and torque is rated at 35Nm @ 6500rpm.

This even makes the bike sound angrier during idle, with a heavier bass making the Dominar sound sportier than before despite its single thumper set up.

And it is very willing to rev, more so than before while power delivery is linear with no loss in between.

This gives the Dominar a sportier character than before.

Making it feel more willing to accelerate harder while the ByBre brakes feel more than up to the job of slowing it down.

The new 43mm USD forks too are a good combination of sports and comfort.

During hard braking there is the usual dive, but it feels just right and does not feel like it’s diving more than it should.

On uneven roads the forks take on a different character of absorbing bumps and ruts. Suddenly it is more willing to dive and to soak up unevenness.

Almost feels like they’re electronically adjustable forks, but they’re not.

The rear monoshock is adjustable with a 110mm of travel.

This is probably what made the bike feel like it was floating because I did not adjust it to my weight. But knowing that it is adjustable works for me.

The most amazing thing about the new Dominar is its price – at just RM13,997 without insurance.

At that price, the new Dominar 400 UG is not just a great price, but is a steal.

You will not believe how much sportier it has become until you ride it.

Co-founder of Bikes Republic and a motoring journalist by night. He is a self described enthusiasts with a passion for speed but instead rides a Harley and a J300. A man of contradictions, he is just as passionate about time off in the quiets as he is about trail braking into turn one at Sepang Circuit on two or four wheels.

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