Feb 19, 2010

40 Bajaj Pulsar 135LS Review [Part I] Over a week of ownership experience

My first review of a new motorcycle after a long time... this one has been ridden for a week by me

I have been often accused to be a pro Bajaj, or more specifically a pro Pulsar guy. Let me state once more that without any doubt Pulsar is my most favorite brand. And I am proud to be associated with this brand just like the way I am proud to be an Indian.

So how does a Pulsar Maniac like me feel when a new bike on the block is named as Pulsar 135LS? Is it an insult to the legendary Pulsar brand? After spending a week on the Pulsar 135LS (borrowed from an out of town friend of mine), this is what I like about the bike.

Payeng and Pulsar 135LS
Review Summary: Positives

    Looks: Definitely a handsome "young" Male

    Built Quality: As good as the best available in India.

    Engine: Snatch free, built to last feel. Pulls easily from speeds ridiculously as low as 22-25 kmph (in 5’th gear) to a class leading 115-120 kmph in 5’th gear..!!

    Clutch & Gearbox: Ultra light weight clutch and probably the Best Gearbox for any Pulsar variant from Bajaj.

    Handling: Without any doubt the Best handling and the most agile Pulsar variant from Bajaj.

    Price: Wallet friendly Rs. 51,000 (Ex-Showroom Delhi)

    Mileage: Depends on riding style, but I managed to squeeze out 58-60 Kmpl (Thrice)..!!

But isn’t there anything negative about the Pulsar 135LS? And most importantly does it look, feel and ride to be accepted as a Pulsar..?? Read on..




I. Looks:

The first time I saw the Pulsar 135LS, I was really impressed. It definitely is a beautifully styled bike. Like its older brothers (the bigger Pulsars) the proportions are so pleasing that the bike doesn’t need snazzy stickers/decals or special paint job to distract your attention. Historically Pulsars have never resorted to sticker jobs and so it should remain.

I have no qualms in accepting the 135LS into the Pulsar brotherhood. After all, the bike looks like a handsome teenager. A definitely "young" male..!!

The front is dominated by its uniquely styled headlamp which gets floating panels that encase the glass area and gives the bike the look of a breathing animal. But the best angle to view the bike is from the sides. From the sides the bike has the look of a stretched feline. The trademark Pulsar tank has been replaced by a sleek, compact yet muscular looking one with aircraft style fuel filler caps to boot. The flush fitting tank flaps further adds to the sporty character and neatly flows into the tank.

The way the front portion of the seat blends into the fuel tank is a design element which has been there since the days of the classic Pulsars. The Pulsar 135LS also gets sporty split seats and split rear grab rails. With every tom-dick-harry motorcycles been given the "fear the black" look, the Pulsar 135LS gives a silver finish to the engine cylinder and the engine covers instead. This is actually successful in drawing your attention to the engine covers that has also been given the designer touch with some neat detail work.

The rear tail lamp (with LEDs) and the sharply styled turn indicators have been borrowed from the XCD 135 but look more at home on the Pulsar 135LS. The rear number plate holder has a neat trellis like design made out of aluminum which looks like inspired by the Yamaha R6. The silencer is upswept and has been sharply cut and is in line with the current international trend of stubby silencers.

Bajaj Pulsar 135LS Front

Dislikes in Looks: The pulsar 135LS looks great from every possible angle. The only part that I found a bit out of place is the rear mud fender, which in a bid to protect from mud splash covers more than 50% of the 100/90 section MRF Zapper. A rear tyre hugger similar in design to ones found on the Pulsar 150 could have made the rear look better. Also a sporty half chain cover instead of the fully enclosed one could have made the rear portion of the bike look lighter and sportier.


Now coming to the important question, does it look like a Pulsar?

Small design details like the way the front seat flows into the tank, the rear split seats and backlit switches does remind of the Pulsar DNA. But strictly speaking, it does look different from the older Pulsars. But even then, I have no qualms in accepting the 135LS into the Pulsar brotherhood. After all, the bike looks like a handsome teenager. A definitely young male..!!



II. Engine performance: I’ll describe it in two parts..

Act I: The sane and sensible commuter:

Thumb start the bike and it comes into life with a smooth crank, which is quite unlike the older Pulsars which lets others around know that it’s coming back to life. The Pulsar 135LS is so silent at idle that in traffic I had to blip the throttle to know if the engine had gone back to slumber. The bike gently moves forward with the twist of the accelerator, which is again quite unlike the older Pulsars which kind of leaps forward from standstill.

Our Indian bikes normally reach their maximum power at around the 7000 rpm mark... and post that these bikes normally feel stressed and out of breadth

This gentle build up of speed might disappoint who expect this to be a speed manic. But at the same time the engine has a crazy ability to pull from speeds as ridiculously low as 22-25 kmph (from near idle engine speeds of 1800 rpm) in 5’th gear..!!

The engine also is snatch free and has got a built to last feel. There is a slight sporty buzz to the engine which feels quite.. well sporty. If not in a hurry, one can virtually ride on 5’th gear the whole day. And in case one needs a quick getaway, a quick downshift and a twist of the accelerator will make you zip forward. The bike might not exactly act like a pocket rocket at low engine revs but as the engine spins above 4000-5000 rpm, one can sense the build up of speed. The bike crosses 60 kmph and everything remains civil and composed, like a well mannered commuter. But then, a Pulsar.. a commuter? Where is the Pulsar grunt gone on this bike?


Intermission:

Just then the cruise party is interrupted by tingling sensations, especially on the right foot. You look down the speedometer and realize that the bike has just crossed 70 Kmph and 6000 rpm. From previous experience on other bikes, you actually expect this as our Indian bikes normally reach maximum power at around 7000 rpm and post this figure, these bikes normally feel stressed and out of breadth.

Bajaj Pulsar 135LS

Act II: Crazy, Insane.. this cannot be a 135 cc engine..!!

As you further twist the accelerator, the tingling intermission ends and the second act starts! Puzzled by the regain in composure of the engine you look at the speedometer which surprising reads 78 kmph. The speed keeps on climbing with the engine remaining eager and cheerful. 80 kmph.. 85 kmph.. Holy $%!T this can’t be a 135 cc engine!!

The speeds reach 90 kmph.. 95 kmph and breaks the 100 kmph as if it does it everyday..!! The tingling sensation now makes a comeback but by now you just don’t care. The engine still feels eager and kind of taunts/dares you. Get into a crouch on an open stretch of empty road and in about 2 kms, you should get to see indicated speeds of upto 115-120 kmph..!!

So does the engine perform like older Pulsars?

Actually no.. it has a character of its own and performs better at higher speeds. It's is a gem of an engine. The shape of things to come for bigger Pulsars..?


III. Clutch and Gearbox:

The very light clutch literally makes light work out of heavy traffic. The only other bike with a similar light clutch is the Yamaha Gladiator. The one-down, four-up gearbox is probably the best Bajaj has so far made. The gearshifts are light and accurate and provide a good feel while shifting through the gears. It is not perfect but at the same time not too far away from perfection either.


Does the clutch and gearbox feel like one from a Pulsar?

No, its actually better.



IV. Handling:

The best part of the Pulsar 135LS is in fact is in its handling. Without an ounce of doubt, this is the sportiest handling bike from Bajaj. The Pulsar 135LS loves corners as a duck loves water. Just think Corner, and the Pulsar 135LS instinctively attacks corners with the agility and stability of a cat.

Even at slow speeds the Pulsar 135LS feels light and can successfully squeeze into tight spaces in our desi traffic. Unlike the bulky older Pulsars, the turning radius is small and the light weight bike (122 kerb kgs) makes things delightful for a city slicker.

So does the Pulsar 135LS handle like older pulsars?

Nope. But do you really need the answer?



V. Ride quality:

Traditionally Pulsars have always enjoyed a plush and back pampering ride quality. But this new Pulsar 135LS in a bid to provide for sharp handling loses that plush ride quality and becomes a bit firm. But then I have enjoyed the handling so much that I am ready to forgive the slightly ride of the Pulsar 135LS.



VI. Mileage/Fuel Efficiency:

I calculated three reserve-to-reserve sessions and every time the calculation came out to around 58-60 Kmpl. During this time I was riding quite normally within the city in medium traffic. Impressive I would say (By the way, my riding style gets me 37-38 kmpl from my Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi).



So is all well with the Pulsar 135LS?

I’ll call a spade and spade and say that the Pulsar 135LS is not free from minor flaws or trade offs.

[1] Looks are subjective but I would have preferred a half chain cover and a Pulsar 150 like tyre hugger instead of the current one.

[2] The engine is a gem but I wish that the slight vibrations at around 6000 rpm (70-78 kmph in top gear) been not there.

[3] The handling is stable and sharp but in the process the ride quality becomes a little bit firm.

[4] The city is the natural habitat of the Pulsar 135LS, and this light weight and sporty bike might not be an ideal choice as long distance tourer.


Verdict:

After spending week on the Pulsar 135LS, I am sure that this pocket rocket can outrun any current 150 cc (maybe except the Liquid cooled and twice as costly Yamaha R15) and deflate the puffed up chests of 150 cc owners. Throw in some corners and the gap and the embarrassment for the 150cc owners will only increase.

Without any doubt the Pulsar 135LS is the sportiest bike in the below 150 cc category with serious ability to taunt the current crop of 150 cc bikes.




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Disclaimer:

This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.







40 Comments:

Sajal said...

It's the 4-valve engine that rules the entire package!! As I always say... reaching 0-60kmph is not the actual deal... the actual deal is.. how you reach there, and as you have said, the Pulsar 135 can easily give the current crop of the 150s (and that includes Pulsar 150 too) and run for their money.

I'm seeing the Pulsar 135 as a platform for the future stable of big bikes from Bajaj.

Sajal said...

and by the way I forgot to mention... nice and thoughtfull pic there bro!! :)

Payeng said...

Thanks Sajal dude.. wish the light was better at the time the photo was taken.

Yes, its the 4 Valve head which is responsible for the Speed Rush at the high engine revs.. will post about that in "Part II" of the review.

santhosh said...

Could you please compare with Y.Gladiator in terms of initial pick-up, quality of materials used and smoothness of engine at higher RPM.

Regards
Santhosh, Bangalore

Payeng said...

@Santhosh,

Its been sometime I had last ridden the Gladiator.. but from whatever I can recollect from the previous test ride of it and compare it with the Pulsar 135LS, probably both would fare equally in terms of Initial Pickup.

Both bikes have excellent built quality and quality of materials used is good too. The left side switchgear on the Gladiator looks a bit budget though.

The Pulsar 135LS loses smoothness momentarily at around 6000 rpm (70-78 kmph).. but post that the engine regains composure. The Pulsar 135LS can rev higher (and go faster) than the Gladiator and even if vibrations do appear again at high revs, the engine of the Pulsar 135LS feels strong healthy.

bike said...

can u please compare karizma and pulsar 220

Anil Kumar said...

Thanks for the review Payneg,have been waiting for it.Thanks for squeezing in the Gladiator in there as well.I feel proud to own the yamaha.Now i agree with you on the engine front of the p135 and everything as well.It just outperforms most of the 150s in the market today but i feel that most indian consumers that fall in the category dont even realise the importance of the engine and consider it a styling upgrade of the xcd135.That is the exact reason why some people would still buy the extremely overpriced Stunner.They would just overlook the Pulsar,not realising what it is over the stunner.

Vipin said...

AWESOME bike. it makes the CB Twister and CBF Stunner look like POSER'S bike

santhosh said...

Thanks for comparison and comments

Shaiju B said...

Hi Sata,

Its a great article from u after a long time, great narration. Just cant help reading it, nice work. Keep going!

Pulsar 135LS seems to be good bike in the below 150cc category, still I am concerned about the Bajaj reliability issues.

Shaiju B

Payeng said...

Thanks Shaiju,

If Bajaj has ambitions of becoming a world leader in manufacturing, the reliability definitely has to match with the best.. The first impression of the Pulsar 135LS on me is that the quality of Bajaj products has improved many folds since the last decade.

santhosh said...

Dear friend Payeng

Could you please help me in choosing a bike, b/w Y.Gladiator and P135. I have taken test drive of both bikes (3-4 times).

I need bike for daily commuting (30-40 kms per day). I like the revving nature of sports bike, at the same time i feel the acceleration (the throttle response) in Y.Gladiator is smoother than P135. I know technically P135 is better than Y.Gladi. Both bikes are comfortable in terms of height, weight and riding. Till know i have maintained my two wheelers upto atleat 5 yrs. P135 is still in its initial stages. Do you feel there is still scope for improvement in the P135 in terms of gear box smoothness, i feel Y.Gladi is better. if i take test drive of both bikes on same day, i am inclined to Y.Gladi. but if it is on diff days, i am inclined to P135.

If you require any other info, let me know.

Payeng said...

@Santhosh,

You won't go wrong in chosing either of the bikes.

Note: Please use the "Ask a Question" tab on top of the page to ask a question.

True Biker said...

Santhosh,

the Gladiator is a 10 year old bike and has sold very poorly in India. Yamaha would most probably replace it soon. the Pulsar 135 is one of the best bike in India. If you want smoothness and only smoothness go for an electric scooter instead.

Anonymous said...

hi Payeng....

I am goin to buy my first bike....but i am so
confused between Honda CB Twister and Pulsar 135
which bike should i buy.....And yes Is pulsar 135 is good choice from long term perspective and durability issues ......

Anonymous said...

hi friends,

i am planning to buy a bike, should be light weight and should also have a self start feature. can you pl suggest some options.

thanks
Suzi

Akash said...

Go for Pulsar 135, the BEST LIGHT SPORTS bike in India

svinit_life said...

Thank you

Akash said...

Go for Pulsar 135, the BEST LIGHT SPORTS bike in India

True Biker said...

Santhosh,

the Gladiator is a 10 year old bike and has sold very poorly in India. Yamaha would most probably replace it soon. the Pulsar 135 is one of the best bike in India. If you want smoothness and only smoothness go for an electric scooter instead.

Anil Kumar said...

Thanks for the review Payneg,have been waiting for it.Thanks for squeezing in the Gladiator in there as well.I feel proud to own the yamaha.Now i agree with you on the engine front of the p135 and everything as well.It just outperforms most of the 150s in the market today but i feel that most indian consumers that fall in the category dont even realise the importance of the engine and consider it a styling upgrade of the xcd135.That is the exact reason why some people would still buy the extremely overpriced Stunner.They would just overlook the Pulsar,not realising what it is over the stunner.

Sajal said...

and by the way I forgot to mention... nice and thoughtfull pic there bro!! :)

Yash said...

i'm planning to buy my first bike around april, and i was confused between pulsar 150 (2010 edition) and honda cb unicorn dazzler, but after reading your review on pulsar 135ls i've added it to my list and i'm even more confused now. Can u plz advice me which one should i buy among these three. It would b better if along with the best among these three, u can advise me a bike which would b even better.
p.s: my budget is around Rs.80,000
Thanx

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Yash,


If you have a budget of Rs. 80,000 then you have far great choices till the Pulsar 220 and the Karizma.

Bhavesh said...

Thanx for the advise, but i'l have to consider milage also, thats y i've kept these three bikes as an option. So it would be very great if u advise me a bike among these three (pulsar 135ls. 150 & dazzler)

Bhavesh said...

Thanx for your advise, but i'm looking for a bike which also has good mileage,thats why i've kept these three bikes (pulsar 135ls/150 & dazzler) as an option. It would be very great full of you if you advise me a bike amoung these three. Btw, thanx a lot

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Bhavesh,

If mileage/fuel efficiency is the utmost importance, then the Pulsar 135LS would return better fuel efficiency numbers than the Pulsar 150/Dazzler

Anonymous said...

Thnx for the post.
I'm going to buy my first bike and that would be pulsar 135LS....

shazz said...

Hi
I need to choose b/w honda cb twister and p135.
I'm 6'1 so riding position counts for me as i don''t want any backache problems.Mileage doesn't count but i want reliabilty and durability...

Pls help i need to finalise the bike in a week's time

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Shazz

at 6 ft plus better opt for the CBF Stunner

Anonymous said...

This bike is good for city, but no matter how powerful it is, cannot run on highways. The small CC is the culprit and can't run this bike on 100 kmph for hours. This is the area where 150 cc excels. I have RTR 160 and it is king in both cities and highways. In highways, the speeds are 80 to 110 kmph and the rtr never feels out of breath. In cities it can beat any bike up to 150 cc category, except r15 and also competes with p 180 up to 70 kmph. After that p 180 waves good bye to RTR 160.

Anonymous said...

hay biker!!
Such a good review.. I am looking to buy ths 2011nd verson.. But waitng for the review from our BIKER NEXT DOOR on it.. Plz post it soon.hay biker!!
Such a good review.. I am looking to buy ths 2011nd verson.. But waitng for the review from our BIKER NEXT DOOR on it.. Plz post it soon.

Renjith said...

Hai pulsar gays.....a pulsar with new style engine same as engine of pulsar 135ls dts-i in size shape and dising.....and at the reare side only quote 150 not 150 dtsi...is it new pulsar150 with 4 valve engine....?

Anonymous said...

Renjith, Why don't you check the Pulsar site..Or go to the "Ask me anything" and ask the same question.

Anupam said...

Any want to choice Y.gladiator and B.P135, and preference for quality of riding then go for Y.Gladiator.

It is good in smoothness and also millage ave 60.0km/l and also durability and looks( new version). I use Motul in Gladiator which gives 65km/l for me and extreme smoothness.

Fas said...

You really are a Pro Bajaj..i meant Pro Pulsar.. :-)

Pulsar is face of indian biking...i am just annoyed by the trip s to the service center after 2-3 years.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends and Brothers.

I want 2 buy a bike. confession what is better to me. price not matter. please advice and help me truly...

thanks all

polash
Bangladesh

Anonymous said...

My height is just 152 mm (almost 5 ft) and I am going to buy my first bike....but i am so
confused between Yamaha FZ16 and Pulsar 135
which bike should i buy.....
what should i do?

jitendrapastaria said...

after 5 years will this bike will remain same, i own splendor 1999 model. today the bike pickup is superb. it date i had never touch engine, un opened
Most of the time saw comment as pulsa takes more maitainence

akshay said...

you better go for yamaha avenger220 or pulsar135 FZs will be quite difficult for u

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