Motoring

Bajaj Pulsar 250: A new and improved version

The Bajaj Pulsar undoubtedly is one of the most popular motorcycles in India and has a huge fan following. So, one can imagine the challenge that Bajaj faced when it was time to develop and launch the all-new Pulsar 250. The danger of ruining a tried-and-tested formula loomed but coming up with something fresh was equally important.

The previous Pulsars were always regarded as bikes that moved the game forward by offering something unique for the segment. From fuel injection in the 220 DTS-Fi to the liquid-cooled NS200, the Pulsars were trendsetters. The new Pulsar 250s do not continue in the same vein and instead concentrate on offering a nicer ‘Pulsar’ experience. After all, they are meant to take the baton forward from the Pulsar 220 and not replace the NS200.

Beginning with the styling, it is clear that Bajaj wanted to play it safe and not do something radical that would turn off its large Pulsar fan base. The Pulsar N250 and the F250 are identical when it comes to the fuel tank, side panels and tail section. The differences lie in the F250’s semi-fairing, sharper-looking LED running lights, and the tall clip-on handlebars.

The overall design itself seems to take cues from Pulsars of yore. It is evident in the beefy tank, the shape of the semi-fairing, LED projector lights and the signature, twin-strip LED tail-lights as well as the lightning bolt-shaped tail-light and the frosted lens effect on it.

Looking at the bike from the rear angle makes the 130-section tyre appear narrow. Bajaj could have put a wider tyre, but that would have meant compromises in the fuel efficiency as well as changes to the suspension set-up to retain the current handling character.

Another inspiration from the old Pulsars is seen in the new analogue-digital instrument cluster. In a day and age that is dominated by motorcycles with full digital clusters, watching the swoop of a proper tachometer needle comes as a refreshing change. For those wondering why Bajaj did not go the TVS’ route and offer Bluetooth connectivity, costs seem like the only logical reason.

These fresh, youthfully designed Pulsar 250s come in a red or dark grey colour option. Bajaj’s quality levels have also moved a step up from the previous Pulsars, be it in the glittering paint, copper colour of the engine casings, fit and finish of the bodywork as well as the tactility of the new switchgear.

However, the rubber grips on the handlebars were shiny and felt downmarket, while the exhaust cladding could do with better finish. Bajaj says these quality grips are limited to the pre-production bikes and we will have to wait to see how the production bikes fare in this regard.

Bajaj has nailed the ergonomics on the 250 with the rider’s seat set at an accessible 795mm. It is also quite spacious, well contoured and supportive, making it comfortable over the course of a long trip. The handlebars on the F250 and N250 are placed at a similar height and have the same angle. This, with the slightly rear-set foot pegs, results in a sporty yet comfortable riding posture.

One of the biggest highlights about the Pulsar is the brand-new 249.07cc, SOHC, air- and oil-cooled engine. Cubic capacity wise, it is the largest engine that the Pulsar range has ever seen. For a 250cc category motorcycle, it makes a healthy 24.5hp, which is the same as the NS200, but it peaks 1,000rpm lower, at 8,750rpm. The peak torque is 21.5Nm at 6,500rpm, which is higher than both the 220F and the NS200.

Fire it up and the sound from the exhausts has a deeper and more bassy tune, rather than the gruff, thrashy note of the previous Pulsars. What is also immediately felt is that the engine is vastly more refined than the 220’s, albeit with a minor buzz in the pegs and the seat at high revs. You will not, however, be visiting the redline often because in typical Pulsar fashion, the meat of the power lies in the midrange. Keep the revs between 4,000rpm and 7,000rpm and the engine will be its happiest and most responsive.

Though a few online keyboard pundits have criticised Bajaj for offering a 5-speed transmission, after having ridden the bike, we felt absolutely no need for a sixth cog. The gear ratios are perfectly spaced and in tune with the characteristics of the engine. You could pootle around the city at 35kph in fourth without a hint of protest from the engine. The slip and assist clutch also makes light work of shifting through the gears.

On the highway, the fifth gear is tall enough to allow the bike to sit between 100 and120kph without the engine feeling stressed. We managed to hit a top speed of 140kph down the long straight at Bajaj’s test track.

As far as fuel consumption is concerned, Bajaj says the Pulsar 250 returned 39kpl during the ARAI test cycle. In the real world, that should translate to around 35kpl. We will verify this after putting it through a proper road test in the near future.

The experience of riding the Pulsar 220 in the past has found it to be front heavy and not particularly great when it comes to tackling corners. The Pulsar 250s, however, are remarkably better than the predecessor in every way.

Underneath the attractive bodywork lies a brand new tubular steel frame. It is not only lighter by 3 kg than the NS200’s perimeter frame but also stiffer in two of the three axes of measurement. Then, the wheels that are 0.5kg lighter than the NS’ at each end. This and the grippy MRFs come together to offer stable and precise handling.

The communicative front end, near 50:50 weight distribution and narrow rear tyre make it easy to flick the motorcycle through a chicane. We did notice that the N250 felt more agile and flickable than the F250, making it the nicer weapon to tackle city traffic. On the other hand, the F250’s additional weight at the front contributed to the feeling of slightly better stability.

The front fork is super pliant over undulating roads, and it does a splendid job of isolating potholes and craters. The monoshock has a slightly firm edge in comparison but it is also nicely absorptive. This kind of ride quality, with the stable handling and the unstressed performance from the engine, is what we believe will make the Pulsar 250 a capable touring machine.

The Grimeca brakes on the bike are made in India, after the Italian firm was acquired by Endurance last year. These are pretty decent and while they are not sharp, a firm pull at the lever is all it takes to bring the bike down to a halt.

Perhaps the only fault is the absence of dual-channel ABS, especially considering how easy it is to lock the rear wheel under hard braking.

To sum up, Bajaj has done a fantastic job with the new Pulsar 250. They offer a good price-to-performance ratio while improving upon every aspect of the Pulsar 220, which will see the end of the road at some point.

At ₹ ₹1.38 lakh, the Pulsar N250 is priced at par with the Yamaha FZ25/FZ25 S and the feature-loaded TVS Apache RTR 200 4v. However, it makes more power than both of them. The Pulsar F250 costs ₹ 2,000 more than the N250, but significantly less than the Suzuki Gixxer SF250 and Bajaj Pulsar RS200.

The new Bajaj Pulsars have a lot going for them. While they may not bring any groundbreaking features to the table, they more than make up for it with the lovely riding experience — one that the typical Pulsar customer is likely to appreciate after they give these bikes a try.


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 5:15:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/bajaj-pulsar-250-a-new-and-improved-version/article37516774.ece

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