There are certain products that just do not catch on despite having all the right ingredients. Take the Hero Xpulse 200T, for instance. It featured similar looks as its far more successful sibling, the Xpulse 200, in a more accessible package. Yet it never really hit its stride. In a bid to combat this, Hero has updated its road-focused Xpulse with the new 4-valve engine and added a bit of visual flair to boost its appeal. Armed with these updates, will the Xpulse 200T 4V finally outgrow its elder brother’s shadow?
To give you an idea of just how much the Xpulse 200T has slipped under the radar, most people who asked me about it wanted to know whether this is a brand-new bike! They are then quite taken aback when I say that this model has been on sale since 2019. The new colours, particularly the striking Lime Funk Yellow paint option (one of three new colours for this year), really endow the bike with some much-needed pizzazz.
Fit and finish levels are decent, except for a few unsightly wires at the back of the LED headlight and a mirror that has come loose in just 500-odd kilometres of riding. Like the Xpulse, the gear position indicator is quite laggy and the moment you pull in the clutch, it goes blank, causing a little unwanted confusion.
For 2023, it gets a few visual tweaks, such as the new colour-matched front visor, which does a good job of shielding the dash from the elements as well as streamlining the bike’s look. The fork gaiters lend the front end some visual mass and it no longer appears skinny. All in all, these changes make the Xpulse 200T 4V stand out, and it is no longer the anonymous commuter that flies under the radar.
Having used it in and around Mumbai, where good roads are a rarer sight than a Rolls-Royce, the suspension was put through its paces and your’s sincerely is pleased to report that save for the nastiest craters, the 200T shrugged off just about everything else that came its way. The suspension (based on the erstwhile Xtreme 200R) is the same as before and it does not have the long-travel figures of the regular Xpulse. Its rider triangle is nicely balanced and even after riding all day, I had no discomfort in any of my joints. However, what dissuades you from spending more than an hour on the bike is the seat, which gets uncomfortable quickly and has also proven too narrow for my XL-sized keister.
Having ridden our long-term Xpulse 200 and the 200T back-to-back enlightened me on just how much of a difference to lightness and agility a 17-inch wheel set-up can make. The 200T feels sublime in nearly every situation you put it in. Tackling the crowded “roads” of Mumbai or making its way down a twisty section of the street, this bike is, very simply put, effortless to ride.
Brakes are sharp although on Mumbai’s slippery roads, it is easy to lock up the rear wheel (compounded by the lack of a slipper clutch). The addition of dual-channel ABS would have been a welcome addition as well. But, the attractive price tag is one of many USPs here, which is why Hero has stuck to a simpler single-channel system.
The new 4-valve engine has been carried over unchanged from the Xpulse, save for taller final drive gearing (courtesy a 3-tooth smaller rear sprocket), and its sheer tractability has made it a breeze to ride in the city. Its strong mid-range performance is also impressive and making quick overtakes does not necessitate a downshift. The 200T also has an Eco mode on the dash although, in our time with it, we could not feel any difference in the bike’s performance.
The gearbox is precise for the most part, but there were a couple of times when I struggled to find neutral. Another oddity that came to my attention was that the engine threw off a noticeable amount of heat on my right leg. This might be down to the fact that we were testing a brand-new bike that was still being run-in, and the unusually hot weather we have had in Mumbai.
While the engine is quite refined up to 85/90kph (about 6,500rpm in top gear), beyond that it sounds quite strained and vibrations start creeping in through the foot pegs, tank and handlebar. This engine is geared quite short and you won’t see much above 120kph on the speedo. Despite its short gearing, the 200T 4V returned a respectable 44.9kpl (city and highway combined).
So who exactly is the Xpulse 200T 4V for? If you plan on venturing out on the highway a lot or want to go bombing trails on the weekend, then this is not the bike for you. However, if you are looking for a comfortable commuter to handle your daily grind and one that does not meld into the ocean of two-wheelers out there, this is a strong contender.
The engine is reasonably refined and returns exceptional fuel efficiency considering its displacement. And while it is not the most accomplished offering around, it is tempting at ₹1.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The price tag does help make up for it. The 200T 4V does not have any natural rivals, but it slots in between the TVS Apache RTR 160 and 200 4V, in terms of price and performance. The TVS duo is better finished, but they are not really comfortable for larger riders, which is why the 200T 4V makes a strong case for itself as your stylish city bike.