Along with good looks and a sporty, comfortable ride, Bajaj Pulsar 200NS brings in new technology

The Pulsars have been the biggest all-Indian two-wheeler success story and one of the biggest challenges for Bajaj was to ensure that the new Pulsar 200NS met the buyers high expectations. Bajaj has started off well by building the 200NS on a brand-new frame, bring in new technologies, but does it do justice to its ancestry which strikes a balance between practicality and sportiness?

The latest Pulsar looks every bit modern and a brand-new motorcycle. Aggressive and muscular, its sharply sculpted, dual-tone front mudguard is distinctive, guarding an elegant, slender-spoke alloy wheel. Black dominates much of the bike’s lower parts, with a pleasant contrast added by its magnesium look crankcases. The NS comes with digital-analogue instruments, with the information neatly laid out.

The bike gets clip-on handlebars, wide mirrors, comfortable control levers and switchgear that works with a crisp feel. The only thing missing is self-cancelling indicators, which were provided on previous Pulsars. The NS’ grips are decent, but not the best.

The new engine powering the Pulsar is proudly exposed, and you can’t miss the bike’s broad frame spars as they reach down to the swingarm. Overall the NS bears a greater resemblance to its ancestors when viewed from the rear, with Bajaj’s trademark side panels and familiar strips of LED brake warning. A drilled alloy number plate mount is standard, as are split alloy grab bars. Even as the monsoon reminds us these are essential kit, we found the rear tyre-huggers on the new Pulsar too prominent.

The 199.5cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine is based on the KTM 200 Duke powerplant, with some notable changes. The NS’ four-valve head is powered by a single overhead camshaft and its combustion chamber is home to a trio of spark plugs (two fire as slave units following the lead plug) all controlled via a central ECU brain. Although it lacks fuel injection, using a CV-type carburettor instead, the NS is the first liquid-cooled Pulsar, its underbelly exhaust deploying Bajaj’s ExhaustTEC system on the bent pipe and drumming out a soft, punchy note.

The 200NS delivers a snappy throttle response and sprints smoothly through a wide powerband without any hesitation or hiccups. Bottom-end power quickly builds into a strong mid-range, with the top end feeling really potent almost all the way till the rev limiter cuts in just before 11,000rpm. The gearing doesn’t feel as short as on the Duke, and the NS feels more relaxed and capable when pushing high speeds on an open road. The NS does the 0-60kph dash in 4.11 seconds, and passes 100kph in 11.28sec.

A twin-spar, steel fabricated frame ranks amongst the biggest upgrades on the Pulsar 200NS. Yamaha’s YZF-R15 was the first Indian built bike to adopt this advanced frame, and the Pulsar does well to embrace such upmarket technology, despite having a relatively affordable price tag. A pair of 37mm hydraulic forks is standard in front, while an adjustable, gas-charged (Nitrox, in Bajaj terms) monoshock holds fort at the rear. The 200NS supports its rear suspension with a rectangular swingarm, and is one of few Indian bikes to offer the benefit of snail-cam adjustment for its exposed, O-ring-sealed drive chain.

The NS provides a well-padded, nice and roomy split saddle, and is a comfortable bike to pilot, thanks to an upright riding position, with just a hint of sportiness dialled in. Straight-line stability is excellent, and the new Pulsar holds its line easily when committed mid-corner, although it falls a wee bit short of the 200 Duke for not being as light and effortless to turn in. The ride quality is good — pliant, yet firm enough for reasonably sporty outings. Although the TVS-made tyres on our test bike performed well when riding the new Pulsar peacefully, with good grip at low speeds, they fell short of expectations when pushing harder, leaving room for improvement.

We faced no such limitations from the 200NS’ brakes, the Brembo petal-type front and rear discs providing excellent feel and stopping power under brake testing, where we stopped the NS from 60kph in a scant 16.4 metres.

Dual plugs and DTS-i are already proven Pulsar assets known to aid efficiency on these famous motorcycles. So it’s no surprise that the Pulsar 200NS returns good fuel economy, despite displaying such a quick turn of performance. The 200NS gave us 35.9kpl when riding in the city, and 41.1kpl when cruising on the highway.

The Pulsar 200NS (Rs. 84,096, ex-showroom, Pune) like the other Pulsars before it ticks all the right boxes with good looks, a sporty and comfortable ride and Bajaj also brings in new technologies like an efficient liquid-cooled, triple-plug engine and all this at a sensible price package.


NexGen Pulsar from BajajJanuary 30, 2012

Pulsar of the timeFebruary 14, 2012