If you are scratching your head at the name, don't worry, you are one among many. GPX is a new player in the Motorcycle market, hailing from Thailand. Founded around 2007 by then a 21 year old Chaiyos Ruamjaipattanakul, the brand rolled out its first bike in 2008. Since then, the company has seen steady growth, introducing multiple new models and opening a new production plant in 2018.
The GPX Demon is one of their new offerings, a full faired sportsbike with a liquid-cooled engine. In the rest of the world, it is offered as the GR2000R, powered by a 198cc engine making 19hp and 17.2Nm of torque. Because of our draconian displacement law, GPX had to swap the 198cc for a much more law-friendly 164.6cc engine. Which still makes a respetable 17.8hp and 16Nm of torque.
Speedoz Ltd, the distributor of GPX motorcycle Bangladesh, handed us the keys to one such bike for 24 hours, to experience what it's like to live with such a focused machine. Here's a brief summary of what happened from the moment we got the bike to the time we handed back the keys.
Day 1: Pickup day
2:40 PM: GPX Showroom
After depositing my daily —for convenience— to the nice folks at GPX Bangladesh, I was handed over the keys to a GPX Demon GR165R. Finished in what the company describes as the "Red Fire" paint scheme, the bike was freshly serviced and came with a full tank of gas.
Looking at it, I had to admit the folks at GPX nailed the looks. From the front, it looks like a robotic wasp, with the narrow DRLs forming its eyes and the faux intake its mouth. The recessed headlight/high beam looks like a set of hidden claws, ready to strike out from its sharp-edged fairing. The large exhaust looks imposing, while the integrated dual acicular taillamps let everyone behind you know that what is in front of them is not an average commuter.
Turning the keys. I was greeted with the bike's fully digital colour instrument display. The screen had a clock, odometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, a bunch of warning lights and a rev counter with a redline of 9,000 RPM. The odometer was close to 10,000 km, telling me this press unit had its fair share of uses and was free of all the issues a new bike usually comes with.
Another element that immediately caught my attention is the headlight housing. The headlight on the Demon is recessed into the bike's fairing, and their protrusion is one of the first things one notices after getting onto the bike. These can be quite an eyesore, but it is expected that a company as new as GPX will have some attention to detail quirks on their bikes.
Settling myself onto the aggressing seat, I pressed the starter button. The Demon immediately roared into life, with its powerful exhaust note dwarfing the loud noise of busy afternoon traffic.
With a twist of the throttle, I got onto the main road and headed for the office.
2:50 PM: Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Ave
Turning the Banani U loop, I immediately got stuck in traffic. The gridlock painfully reminded me why most full faired bikes are ill-suited for commuting.
Much like other bikes in its segment, the fuel tank cover of the GR165R is raised and is designed to keep the biker upright on a high-speed turn. In Dhaka's stop-and-go traffic, it means the raised section digs onto the rider's crotch, making the riding experience particularly unpleasant. You get used to it after a while, but it's something one always has to be mentally aware of. Personally, I think some padding at the back of the tank cover would have been really appreciated, especially in markets such as ours.
Another problem specific to the Demon is heat. The radiator is passively cooled, which while fine if the bike is on the move, struggles to bleed off heat in standstill traffic. The built-in Celsius temperature gauge reached the high 90s at one point, with the engine heating up everything up to the fuel tank cap. Once again, it's a Dhaka specific issue that the designer probably did not have in mind while making this machine, and can be rather easily fixed by sticking a fan or two in front of the radiator.
Being a product of Thailand, the horn is unequivocally Thai. It may actually be too quiet for Dhaka roads since unlike them, we use our horns all the time.
3:45 PM: TBS Office
By the time I reached the office, my body had adapted quite well to the contraceptive ride. But here I face another issue, parking the bike.
At 155 kg, the GR165R is 13Kg heavier than Yamaha YZF R15 V 3.0 and 18kg heavier than the Honda CBR 150R. Because of the large size and weight, it's difficult to manoeuvre in a tight spot and is a bit of a challenge to slot in between two other parked bikes. Being someone who strongly prefers to double stand his bike, the lack of one in the Demon felt a little disconcerting. But wishing for a double stand on a sportsbike is a pretty boneheaded thought from my end so no real complaints there.
Walking into the office, I learned my team has already left for a scheduled meeting at Tejgon. So I once again wrestled the bike out of the parking slot—moving two other bikes beforehand to make sure I don't scratch the fairing— and headed for the meeting location.
On my way there, I found a bit of an open road and took that opportunity to open up the throttle. The Demon immediately showed its true colours as it bolted, hitting 60mph at an appreciable rate. The acceleration was so smooth and effortless that I did not realise how fast I was going at first, only after taking a short glimpse at the display the penny dropped. Clearly, I need open roads to experience this bike's true potential, something I hope to do tomorrow. For now, I'm stuck on the busy roads of this metropolis and all the issues that come with it.
While wading through traffic, the engine ended up stalling a few times. This is on me, as the performance turned engine had a hard time accepting my commuter focused gentle throttle inputs. As much as a racehorse makes for a poor pack mule, the built-on-the-track Demon struggles with the dense traffic of our city.
Another traffic-related issue with the GPX is its outside rearview mirrors, which are screwed in place and can't be folded in. This makes trying to lane filter beside a large, slowly moving truck a bit risky as one being off by an inch puts them at the risk of being broken clean off by the sheer mass of the truck.
3:30 PM: Tejgon Link Road
Parking has always been a hassle in Tejgon, be it for cars or motorcycles. Reaching the meeting location, I was escorted by one of the hosts to a secure parking location to safely park my bike. On the way back, he expressed interest in the Demon, asking me various questions. The price particularly caught him off guard, as he expected it to be quite higher.
With the meeting wrapped up, I headed for Square Hospital for a planned doctor's appointment.
By the time I hit the road, the sun was already well on its way down. Fiddling with the light controls, I noticed the daytime running light on this bike was adjustable.
Depending on your preference, it's either a feature or an inconvenience. Personally, I like that the GPX gives its customers options, something that is somehow becoming rare in the consumer sector.
5:40 PM: In front of Pan Pacific Sonargaon
Halfway to the hospital, I began to notice how much attention my new ride was receiving. Every rider beside me, be they on a commuter or sports, was taking their time to look at the Demon. Either because of its vibrant colour, quad headlight or relative obscurity, the GR165R grabs attention whenever it goes. At one point, a curious rider approached me and asked a few questions about the c fully digital display.
About the display. When I took delivery, the clock on it was off by a few hours and the speedo was reading in miles, something that was bugging me ever since I got onto the bike. While stuck in front of Sonargaon, I reached out to the "Mode" and "ADJ" icons at the bottom of the screen but failed to find any kind of button. After rubbing my finger around the entire display surrounding, I had a wild hunch and placed my fingers directly onto the embossed icons. The screen immediately went into adjustment mode, revealing the icons to be touch-sensitive. This was a pleasant surprise for me, as withthe exception of the Duke 125, this is the only other bike in Bangladesh I have seen with such a feature.
While crossing the SAARC fountain, the bike throttle began to leak lubricant, with the throttle developing an odd lag at very low speed. GPX had the bike thoroughly serviced before they gave it, which is likely the cause of the said leak. That said, the lag was easy to adapt to and only caused minor inconvenience.
6:52 PM: Square Hospital
Getting into the hospital garage, I've encountered a few problems. The flash button of the test unit turned out to be a bit temperamental and didn't always work when pulled. Turning a tight corner at very low speed also proved a bit of a challenge, mainly because of the aggressive riding position that forces you to lean forward.
Getting off the bike, I felt stiffness to my back and neck, caused by my body's unfamiliarity with the riding position. After briefly messaging the affected area, I headed for my scheduled appointment eight-floor above my head.
Ramps are hard to negotiate for this bike, something I learned the hard way when trying to exit the underground parking. As I mentioned before, the performance turned engine struggles with low throttle input. The problem amplifies when trying to climb a steep ramp from a standstill and might cause the engine to seize up rather loudly. A quick and simple workaround to this is to simply build up some speed before getting on the ramp, or alternatively get the RPM up before letting off the clutch. After using both to get the bike onto the surface, I headed for home and called it a day.
Day 2: Photoshoot
6:30 AM: Home
Waking up in the morning, I was excited. Yesterday made it very clear that the Demon is not meant for traffic, it's designed for the open roads. Something I was about to experience.
So I got up, got dressed, went to the garage and got onto the bike. Loud noise filled the small area as soon as I pressed the starter, possibly rudely awakening some of my neighbours. Not wanting to get an earful, I darted out onto the road and headed to meet up with the photography team.
On the empty morning roads, the bike performed wonderfully. The engine was smooth and provided ample power, and felt it had more to give even at redline. Acceleration was rapid for a bike of its weight, while the suspension kept the bike in control even at high speed. The extra weight actually helps the bike in this case, keeping the machine feel planted even at triple-digit.
Corning in this bike is especially fun, thanks to the wide tires. You can learn quite comfortably in most corners and not get the feeling the bike is about to tip over. This just further goes to show the bike was built for open roads, not the busy streets of Dhaka city.
Despite hitting triple-digit multiple times on my way to the destination, I ended up spending most of the trip in third gear as that's where the bike is most comfortable at reasonable speeds. Turns out, the roads of these conurbations are pretty busy, even so early in the morning.
On the way, I received the "other" kind of attention that comes with riding a bike such as this one. A police officer stopped me during a traffic crossing, asking me for my licence. Random papers check is something all faired bike owners have to learn to live with as their bikes are unfortunately stigmatised as vehicles of reckless and unruly. However, as all of my papers were in order, I was waved off by the officer and I soon found myself on the open road again.
6: 50 AM Airport road
Meeting up with the photography team at the front of the Kebab Ghar, we set out to take some rolling shots of the bike. Turns out, keeping a bike built for speed at a steady 40 Kph is a bit hard, especially when you are trying to coordinate with a camera car. The lean forward position also made it a bit difficult to multitask, though to be fair, I don't think the designers had a rolling photoshoot in mind when they put this machine together.
The busy nature of the road also gave me the option to test the brakes. The disk on both ends setup works well in low to medium speed, slowing down the bike rapidly with little to no issue. The lack of any form of ABS on the brakes might make trying to suddenly slow down from high speed a very different matter however.
With rollers wrapped up, we headed for the Diabari Residential Area in Uttara to wrap up the static shoot.
7:30 AM Diabari Residential Area
While the photographers busied themselves with the static pictures, I had another chance to take a good look at the bike.
Despite all its rough edges, the GR165R was still a gorgeous machine. It is a bit on the chubby side, yes, but it is literally because of her big bones. As we mentioned before, the Demon we got is a cut-down version, re-engined to meet our stringent displacement law. The new engine, while powerful in its own right, is not the one this bike was built for. But even then, the only performance aspect that really affected is its acceleration, which just feels ok. The rest of the bike is still fast, exciting and as fun to ride as a certain green monster I rode a few months ago.
All the problems I have encountered with the bike can be simply written off as the tax of riding a faired bike in a busy city, while the fit and finish issues can simply be attributed to GPX being new to the business. Given that it costs about half as much as its competitors, that latter can be easily overlooked.
With the shoot done, I headed back downtown. My time with the red Demon was almost over, time for me to get back on my dinky old commuter.
I handed back the Demon to GPX at around 4:00 pm in the afternoon. After spending an entire day with what can be best described as a beast on two wheels, getting back on my own bike was a surreal experience.
Compared to the Demon, my bike was feather-light, eerily quiet and practically non-responsive to throttle input. The feeling was somewhat similar to the one I felt after getting onto my old bicycle after a few weeks of riding my first bike, utterly alien and disconnected.
Faired sportbikes are not for everyone. You have to make a lot of compromises, have to endure a lot of discomforts, and have to worry about stuff commuter bikers don't even realise are issues. But, if you are willing to endure all that for the performance and style, the GPX Demon GR165R might as well be the machine to go for.
Zahirul Amin, Deputy Marketing Manager, Speedoz Ltd. has this to say:
"There is a craze for GPX in Bangladesh for its aerodynamic shape & aggressive looks. At the same time, it has created a trust among customers for its Thailand authenticity. We are Speedoz Ltd. working with service and spare parts to take this trust to the supreme level. For providing better service to our customers, we also provide emergency services for emergency purposes within 24 hours. In addition, we have plans to make 8 exclusive 3S (Sales, Service & Spare) center in 8 division and it will be implemented soon."
Sure, it's not the most refined option on the market, nor the quickest. But it will hit triple-digit with ease and will take corners without threatening to throw you over. And with a sticker price of just under Tk 3 lac, you can buy both this and another bike instead of buying one of the competing options. Use the other bike when you have to wade through traffic, get onto the Demon only when you want to go fast. Because believe me, trying to go slow on this bike is not only difficult, but it's also painful for your future generations.
This review was originally published in the March issue of Wheels magazine. Click here to order yours.