Ride review of one of the most exciting and important motorcycle to be launched in India.. the Pulsar 200NS..!!
Pulsar to me is the celebration of being an Indian. It has been a symbol of the Indian spirit, determination and ingenuity. The dominance of the 1st gen Pulsars over the last decade is stuff of business school case studies. But since the last couple of years, bikes like the Yamaha R15 with its technical brilliance had made a point that the 1st gen Pulsars were well.. mediocre.
Therefore even a Pulsar fan like me was starting to think that my feet have grown bigger than my biking boots. i.e. now I have reach that stage of my life where I deserved something exotic, something sophisticated and something better. It was probably vanity and also a doubt in the ability of a home grown manufacturer that led me to pre-empt that, the next gen Pulsar would be good but probably not as good.
By now the KTM 200 Duke had blown me away with its unique ride experience. I was therefore trying to persuade myself that since Bajaj owns 47% of stake in KTM and also since the 200 Duke was co-developed by Bajaj (with KTM) and is manufactured in India by Bajaj, the 200 Duke is for all practical purpose “Indian”. So if I decide to go for the 200 Duke I would be still holding on to my patriotic fervor.
I had practically written off the Pulsar 200NS even before I took it for a ride. I take the Pulsar 200NS for a ride.. and boy..!! I am amazed and thrilled at how wrong I was..
Pulsar 200NS in a nutshell:
>>The Pulsar 200NS is a World Class product, in every sense of the word
>>Put a Yamaha or Honda branding on the bike and it will easily pass off as one, anywhere in the world
>>Comparing the Pulsar 200NS with any other current Made in India bikes (apart from the KTM 200 Duke & Honda CBR250R) is like “Child Abuse”
>> Although the engine blocks might look similar, the KTM 200 Duke and the Pulsar 200NS is as different as "Chalk and Cheese"
>>This bike doesn’t have any Pulsar lineage in it.. and I mean it in the best possible way..!!
Styling, Fit & Finish, Build Quality: “Real Style meets Real Substance”
On seeing the Pulsar 200NS, names of two other bikes will come to your mind. "Yamaha FS-16/S" and "Pulsar 135LS". Yamaha FS-16/S because like the FZ, the Pulsar 200NS also has that international naked bike theme. Tight muscular proportions, a mean and agressive stance and painful attention to details. Pulsar 135LS because especially from the rear, the Pulsar 200NS appears like a beefed up Pulsar 135LS.
But then the Pulsar 200NS appears quite fresh and stands out in the crowd with curious and admiring glances coming in from awestruck onlookers. The Pulsar 200NS has got similar street presence as the Yamaha FZ-16/S but with longer legs. i.e a longer wheelbase than the Yamaha FZ-16/S.
The Pulsar 200NS takes the naked streetfigter theme to the next level. Nothing on the bike is there which is unnecessary or ornamental. The perimeter frame on the bike is real and so is the radiator shroud. The body panels along with the massive tank cover has a muscular, sharp and aggressive lines which are a modern interpretation of the classic and current Pulsar styling lines and cues that we are so familiar with.
There are some neat design elements like the beautiful 10-spoke alloy wheel design, a unique two tone front mudguard, a single sided rear tyre hugger which looks inspired by the BMW R1200GS and a "floating" rear number plate holder fabricated out of aluminum with a trellis design. When other manufacturers are trying to make the pilot lamps appear as "eyes", the Pulsar 200NS goes ahead and makes its twin pilot lamps as a cool "goatee". The engine casings get a golden finish which along with the body color and matt black body panels is a treat to behold.
The speedometer display is beautiful unit with an analog tachometer bang in the middle, flanked by symmetrical displays for the speedo, odometer, tripmeter and a digital clock on the right and the tell-tale lights on the left. The handlebar is a triple piece unit which looks and feels solid to hold.
The underbelly silencer, the chunky monoshock suspension with "Nitrox" and a healthy 130 section rear tyre completes the package. The Pulsar 200NS is without doubt the most beautiful/handsome naked bike in the country.
Fit and finish is of very high order and the bike feels solid and built like a tank..!!
Ergonomics, Riding Stance: “Monarch of All I Survey”
The riding stance of the Pulsar 200NS perfectly compliments its aggressive street bike styling. The Pulsar 200NS has the tallest seat among Indian bikes (discounting the Hero Impulse). At 805 mm the seat height might be 5 mm lower than the KTM 200 Duke on paper, but on straddling the bike, the wider seat of the Pulsar 200NS makes it difficult for guys with shorter legs to put both feet comfortably on the ground without tip-toeing.
But this tall seat also translates into a commanding riding position which coupled with the easy to reach handlebars makes the rider sit higher than guys on other bikes on the road. The upright riding posture means that one can make very long trips on the Pulsar 200NS without tiring oneself. Upright posture doesn't always mean a commuter stance as the footpegs are quite rearset and that means that the riding stance is comfortable yet aggressive and sporty.
The seat of the Pulsar 200NS deserves special mention. Both the rider and pillion seats are generous in size making room for the biggest of bums plus the seat form is very comfortable both for short distance riding and also for long hours on the saddle.
The high seat makes the Pulsar 200NS a bit intimidating to the average joe with an average height. One would need to be at least around 5'8" or taller to feel confident with its seat height. To me that's a good thing as it makes the Pulsar 200NS something which not any tom-dick-harry can ride. On the flipside, the Pulsar 200NS is a big guys delight. I have seen my 6'3" friend who weighs 120 kgs fit comfortably on the Pulsar 200NS.
But then a determined 5'5" guy like me can also manage the Pulsar 200NS with a slight adjustment in the manner with which I need to put my feet down. All a short guy needs to do is when the bike is stationary is instead of trying to balance with both feet, one just needs to slide one's bum to one side over the seat and put one foot flat on the ground. As shown in the photo posted below.
Engine Performance: “Greased Lightning”
So much for the looks but it is the performance dished out by that short stroke, liquid cooled, 4 valve, DTS-i Triple Spark engine which is making me rave. The engine comes to life with the electric start and settles into a smooth idle. The engine note is soft and muted and very uncharacteristic for a Pulsar. The exhaust note sounded more like that of a Honda bike.
Slotting into first gear and twisting the throttle doesn't disturb the peace and smoothness. Meanwhile while working through the gears I was surprised that there is no pronounced "neck jerking" pick up feel. Very soon I was on 6'th gear and it was a bit perturbing why the engine was still so smooth. I was also surprised why the world around me was starting to move at a very fast pace.
I then decided to look at the tachometer and it showed around 7,500 rpm.. "well that's nice" I thought to myself and then I happened to look at the speedometer.. and SWEET MOTHER OF GOD..!! The digital speedo was indicating a speed of around 115 kmph..!! Now that's why the world was moving at such a fast rate. Mystery solved.
The Pulsar 200NS might share the bottom half of its engine with the KTM 200 Duke but after the test ride the verdict is very clear that there is absolutely no similarity in the way both the bikes deliver its power and torque. The KTM 200 Duke with its short gearing has a maniac of an engine with pronounced "neck jerking" take off every time you twist the throttle. On the other hand, the power and torque on the Pulsar 200NS is spread over its entire rpm range like a modern day sports bike, more like in the Yamaha R15 and Ninja 250R mould.
The Pulsar 200NS can do 115 kmph effortlessly the whole day without breaking a sweat. Twist the throttle a bit more and even a speedo indicated 120-125 kmph comes easily but just that due to the upright posture its the rider's chest which takes the wind blast head on. Get into a crouch to aid aerodynamics and a speedo indicated 130-135 kmph comes on the digital display. On an long empty stretch and some guts I managed to see a top speed of 149 kmph..!! But reaching a speedo indicated 149 kmph would require a smooth, long stretch of road and a crazy rider and is honestly not recommended from a safety point of view. By the way did I tell you that the engine still feels smooth even as the bike enters into its 10,000 rpm redline.
How does the Pulsar 200NS compare with the competition in terms of performance?
It will be easier to tell which "Made in India" bikes will be faster than the Pulsar 200NS. The KTM 200 Duke with its short geared engine, slightly more peak power and peak torque and a lighter kerb weight is definitely faster and quicker than the Pulsar 200NS. Also the Honda CBR250R will have a higher top end thanks to its higher peak power and torque helped by its extra 50 cc. Apart from these two bikes no other made in India bike can match the Pulsar 200NS.
Also once the rpm crosses 7,000 rpm the exhaust note changes from a soft purr to almost like an inline 4 engine's addictive deep growl. There might not be a pronounced "pick up" feel like the KTM 200 Duke or even the Pulsar 220 but make no mistake, the Pulsar 200NS is fast.. "deceptively fast".
Clutch & Gearbox: “Hot Knife through Butter”
The Pulsar 200NS gets 6 gears to play with. But if the shifts are not slick then shifting through the gears becomes more of a chore than a delight. Thankfully the gearbox on the Pulsar 200NS is slick and positive and compliments its smooth engine well. The clutch is also reasonably light in effort. The gear shifts are not perfect like that on the Yamaha FZ-16/S but then there is nothing much to complain about either.
Ride & Handling: “As easy as A-B-C"
Pulsar have never been known for their handling. Apart from the Pulsar 135LS all the other Pulsars were good in straight lines but show some corners and twisties and they obviously are out of their comfort zone. The Pulsar 200NS has a completely new chassis. The perimeter frame and monoshock suspension with "Nitrox" should aid the Pulsar 200NS with good handling. And that becomes very obvious once you get astride on the bike.
Once on the bike the weight of the bike simply melts away. The Pulsar 200NS is extremely flickable, light and stable on its feet. The handling around corners is a revelation. Although the rider is seated high and the upright riding posture is not exactly tailored to attack corners like a race bike, once leaned into a corner the Pulsar 200NS feels neutral and holds its line.
Ride quality is slightly on the firmer side (in the interest of sporty handling) but nevertheless it is comfortable enough for our streets.
The confident and stable handling of the Pulsar 200NS makes the already fast bike feels even faster. If I rate the R15 a 9/10 in handling, the Pulsar 200NS will get a solid 8.5/10 for its handling. The 0.5 difference is there only because of its tall riding posture. The handling of the Pulsar 200NS makes it much more fun to ride than the CBR250R which feels like a heavy ship in comparison.
After riding the Pulsar 200NS I happened to ride a Pulsar 220F and let me tell you, it felt scary riding the Pulsar 220F..!! One thing worth noting is that the turning radius on the Pulsar 200NS is quite big, even bigger than that on the Pulsar 220F. One therefore needs to be careful while maneuvering the bike.
There is quite a lot of apprehension over the tyre brand that the Pulsar 200NS comes shod with i.e Eurogrip Tyres. Honestly during the ride, I did not encounter instances where I felt that the grip was bad. Moreover if one is really serious about putting good rubber on the wheels, then there are many good options in the market to choose from (in the same size & profile), for eg. the rear tyre of the R15 Version 2.0, CBR150R and Ninja 250R is exactly the same as that of the Pulsar 200NS. There is also a very good tyre called "Sport Demon" from Pirelli which has the exact same tyre size/profile for both the front and rear tyres of the Pulsar 200NS.
Brakes: “Hand of God”
One can't ride a bike fast if the brakes are not good enough to cut down speed. The Pulsar 200NS comes with disc brakes on the front as well as at the rear. Both the Bybre branded brakes do a good job at stopping the bike. The rear disc brake on the Pulsar 200NS is especially impressive considering the rear disc on the Pulsar 220F is nearly wooden in its feel. Apart from the Bybre brakes credit for the stable braking also goes to the strong and stable chassis. The solid feel that the chassis provides even during panic/emergency braking is confindence inspiring.
Fuel Efficiency, Price, Features: “That’s a Lot of Bike For That Price”
"Kitna deti hai?" That's the national anthem of desi bikers. The fuel efficiency of the Pulsar 200NS will bring a smile to the enthusiasts lips. I rode the bike with a mixture of city + highway conditions and also with regular speed runs of above 90-100 kmph. Despite the heavy right wrist, the Pulsar 200NS returned a very healthy 37-38 kmpl.. twice..!!
The Pulsar 200NS has been priced at around Rs. 85,000 (Ex-showroom Delhi) which means an on road price of less than Rs. 1,00,000 in any part of the country.
The Pulsar 200NS packs in a lot of features like a Perimeter frame, monoshock rear suspension with Nitrox, a liquid cooled - 4 valve engine, an exotic underbelly exhaust, truly international design and smooth and fast performance.
That's seriously quite a lot of bike for that kind of price..!!
If I have to pick something negative about the bike then it would be the horn, it's puny sounding. The turn indicator switch design does not provide a positive feel while operating with riding gloves on. One also has to make an extra effort to reach the turn indicator switch to operate it. Also at high speeds (130+ kmph) the Pulsar 220F is more stable in a straight line than the Pulsar 200NS.
Conclusion: “Still proud to be a Pulsar Maniac..!!”
The Pulsar 200NS is a very "versatile" bike. Due to its nimble character the bike is very good as a city commuter. Due to its relaxed and smooth engine, power delivery and comfortable ergonomics it is a good highway cruiser and due to its sharp and stable handling, awesome throttle response and intoxicating top end, it will be a good bike on the race track as well.
I feel humble and slightly embarrassed that I had started to think that I was probably too good for the Next Gen Pulsar. Although dynamically the Pulsar 200NS is totally different from any other Pulsar so far, the fact that it is Indian and the kind of smooth performance and sharp handling that it dishes out means that its still a celebration of being an Indian.
Hail Pulsar, the King is back..!!
Pulsar 200 NS Technical Specifications:
Type: 200 cc, Single Cylinder, 4 valve, SOHC, 3 Spark plug per cylinder
Max. Power: 23.5 Ps @ 9500
Max. Torque: 18.3 @ 8000
Cooling: Liquid cooling
Bore x Stroke: 72mm x 49mm
Fuel System: Carburetor 33mm (Ucal carburetor)
Air filter: Paper element
Gears: 6 speed
Frame: Pressed steel Perimeter
Front Tyre: 100/80 - 17, 52 P, Tubeless
Rear Tyre: 130/70 - 17, 61 P, Tubeless
Front Brake: 280 mm Disc
Rear Brake: 230 mm Disc
Length x Width x Height: 2017 mm x 804 mm x 1195 mm
Kerb Weight: 145 kgs
Ground Clearance: 167 mm
Seat height: 805 mm
Wheelbase: 1363 mm
Fuel Tank capacity: 12 Ltrs
Ignition system: DC Ignition
Battery: 12V 8AH VRLA
Head Lamp: 55/60W
Tail/Stop Lamp: 0.3/3 W, LED
Pulsar 200NS Colors :
Pulsar 200NS: Photos [Size: 1280 x 800]
- Pulsar (1st Gen): A Decade (2001-11) of Dominance [Nov 2011]
- The inspiring story behind the Birth of the "Pulsar"..!! [Aug 2007]
- CBZ Classic Vs Fiero Vs Pulsar 150 Classic: Blast from the past (early 2000’s) [Sep 2010]
- Pulsar 200NS: Story of it's evolution in sketches [Feb 2012]
- Next Gen Pulsar (200NS) Unveiled (Photos/Specs) [Jan 2012]
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.