Hero Moto's tough and refined Impulse is an ideal motorcycle for everyday use
Hero Motocorp's newest bike is finally out. Impulse is the industry leading company's first motorcycle since it bought out Honda's stake in its mega successful 25-year-old venture.
The Indian manufacturer couldn't have chosen a better type of bike to showcase its prowess than the Impulse.
Shorter riders could find themselves intimidated by the Impulse, for its long-stroke suspension makes this a pretty tall motorcycle, what with a liberal 245mm ground clearance. Both wheel rims undergo special paint processes, which prevent their black coating being damaged or chipped when stones make contact with them on the road. While special, toughened spokes are deployed at the front as well as the rear, the rear wheel locks in ‘straight-pull' fastened spokes on a compatible hub. The Impulse comes with custom-made Ceat tyres, their unique tread pattern in keeping with the bike's on-off road identity.
Likewise, the Impulse's high, arrow-shaped, floating front mudguard is specially treated for extended paint durability. The new Hero Moto's body panels are detailed with a fair helping of stylish decals, while the headlight is easily recognisable for its Honda lineage.
The Impulse gets adequate quality grips, levers, switches and mirrors while its sleek black instruments offer easily legible digital and analogue readouts. A white-on-black tachometer sits at left, redline set at 8000rpm while reading to 11000rpm. The speedometer, odometer, trip-gauge and fuel-level indicators are all read off an LCD console, and a service-due reminder light is thoughtfully provided. A wide, alloy triple clamp mounts a silver handlebar, and the Impulse shows serious off-road intent with a set of knuckle guards.
Boomerang-shaped panels stretch outwards from the Impulse's 11.1-litre fuel tank. Both side panels are dual-tone, and this is one of few Indian motorcycles to still provide a helmet lock.
The riding saddle is flat, comfortable and claws its way high up onto the fuel tank in true-blue off-road motorcycle fashion. Located below the seat to one side is a handy, lockable utility box that can hold a few papers and extra tools. On the other side lies the long, often hot silencer unit that could often have the pillion rider break out in a sweat.
The Impulse's broad, alloy grab bar has the provision to bolt on panniers without modifications.
And a smart LED-powered tail-lamp adds much panache.
Attention to detail, paint quality, fit and finish and all the plastic and rubber are laudable, with Hero Moto's first bike seeming really durable. There's a built-like-a-tank air surrounding the bike that makes it ready to ride straight up to frontline duties, which is fitting when you consider Indian roads famously make unfair demands on vehicles.
The kick, or electric-started Impulse deploys a 149.2cc, four-stroke and air-cooled powerplant.
Its crankshaft is counter-balanced for enhanced smoothness, and the head packs in a pair of valves. There's a CV-type carburettor, breathing via a viscous, paper-type air filter element. Peak power output is close to that produced by most 150cc motorcycles in India – 13.2bhp at 7500rpm – while maximum torque of 1.36kgm kicks in at 5000rpm. Final drive is provided by an exposed, O'ring sealed chain that comes with a tensioner.
The Impulse engine is punchy enough, displaying good flexibility and strong low and mid-range power. The bike shoots off the blocks with a strong urgency, making it fairly simple to launch the front wheel into a skywalk. Thereafter, you might notice a perceptible chasm between the first and second gear ratios which are fairly widely spaced, after which the remaining gear ratios are more evenly spaced. The powerband is wide, vibe-free and throttle response is smooth.
Clutch feel is perfectly weighted, progressive and light, just right for city use, and the five-speed gearbox shifts smoothly and precisely via a toe-only lever in the one-down, four-up pattern.
Performance is sprightly for this class of Indian motorcycle, about at par with the Hero Honda Hunk. While 60kph goes by in 5.59 seconds after a standing start, the 100kph mark arrives in 21.07sec and the Impulse feels like it can muster a true top speed of around 107kph.
Hero Moto has ensured little has been left to chance on this hardy motorcycle. The Impulse chassis incorporates quite a few unseen measures that will promote excellent reliability in the long run. Its long-travel front telescopic forks have an offset axle to reduce trail while maintaining castor, providing better handling when riding over the rough stuff. The steering column uses taper roller bearings within its lower clamp. From here, a single downtube frame runs down to link with twin-tubes that cradle the engine.
Ride quality is terrific and hovercraft-like, the motorcycle seamlessly soaking up rough-road sections. On the braking front, the Impulse employs a 240mm disc in front and a serrated, metal pedal- operated 110mm rear drum unit at the rear. Brake feel is good, the bike holding its line and tracking true even when really piling on the pressure at both levers. Our comment on the Impulse's fuel economy will have to wait until we road test the bike. The well-priced Impulse gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from us. It is a top quality, tough, refined and practical bike that makes good sense for daily commute. This is a superbly done motorcycle that could usher in a whole new segment in the Indian market.
Keywords: Hero Moto motorcycle