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The newest Pulsar in town proves that Bajaj has its competition by the short hairs. We figure the 200 DTS-i out

A hundred and fifty... 180... 220. We're not talking kilometres per hour, but the Bajaj Pulsar family of sportsbikes. And a new member's just rolled out - the 200 DTS-i - to complete the four-pronged Pulsar attack. Looks-wise, there's hardly any change but it's a macho, big bike with neat shrouds just ahead of its fuel tank. A new, more angular front fairing, and smart black theme that extends to the engine bay, front forks, rear shocks and six-spoke alloy rims too. Large tubeless tyres and a massive front disc rotor along with the shiny chrome and alloy canister-equipped silencer all serve to pep up this Pulsar. The 200 DTS-i uses easily the best instruments on any Indian bike - a large tachometer has an illuminated needle to indicate engine speeds. This console uses only LEDs and intelligently varies its amber backlight intensity for viewing in either day or night. There is no speedometer error and warning icons are abundant with twin trip facility, neutral, high beam, turn signal and a fuel-gauge. The bike also has a redline flasher that warns riders when the engine is being overstressed and also doubles up as a low-fuel warning indicator when fuel level plummets. Broad mirrors, slick-to-the-touch switchgear, self-cancelling indicators and a superbly padded seat make riding this new motorcycle a very pleasurable experience. Overall quality is of the highest order with a top-notch paint job, fit and finish and attention to detail.

On the road

Just like big brother 220, the 200 uses only a self-starter and no kick-lever. It breathes through a CV carburettor and employs Digital Twin Spark Ignition (DTS-i) technology. This air-cooled, single-cylinder and four-stroke cycle 198.8cc engine smoothly shifts five gears in a one-down-and-four-up pattern via its sporty toe-lever. Clutch feel is also as good as you can expect. The bike develops 18bhp at 8000rpm, laying down all that power smoothly. There's no sudden rush of power; instead, a gentle build-up that rises clean and strong from low down just over idle in the rev-band. There's plenty of drive on top of the power band to explore as well, with the 200 dashing into it's redline when called for. Cruising ability on the highway is strong and the 200 feels at ease while racking up high speeds. Riding at a sustained 100-110kph is never a problem and the latest Bajaj goes on to hit a top whack of 121kph in top gear. Rider ergonomics aboard the 200 DTS-i make for a sporty, weight-forward riding position which could be hard work in city traffic but just the right tackle for long highway rides. With its twin-member tubular frame, beefy telescopic forks in front and gas-charged shock absorbers allied with an elliptical swingarm at the rear. These are aided with MRF tubeless tyres that offer excellent traction and a planted feel, the bike riding rock-steady at high speeds with straight-line manners sure to shame most Indian bikes. This one corners well too and feels best when negotiating fast-flowing and twisty sections of road. And the brakes - a large front 260mm disc brake and 130mm rear drum - manage a great job of stopping this 145kg bike.

Economy matters

In the fuel economy stakes, the 200 DTS-i doesn't fare too badly, despite its large-capacity engine, weight and massive tyres - 38.3 kilometres per litre (kpl) in crowded city traffic and 42.4kpl on the highway are wallet-friendly figures to a 200cc bike rider. Overall, the new 200 DTS-i is a smart addition to the Pulsar family - macho looks, a powerful and robust engine, quick performance, and good ride and handling as well. While its heavy feel means this is not the perfect city bike, the same makes it a perfect touring bike. Last but not least, the Pulsar 200 is priced really attractively, at Rs 71,205 (on-road Chennai). RISHAD COOPER

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