Dinesh has submitted this review in our Ownership Review Contest No 13, ensuring himself an assured prize. The contest also offers a chance to win Riding Jacket, Helmet and more.. You can submit your review to us as well. Here are all the details.
Ever since its conception in the year 2001, the Pulsar brand has been magical for Bajaj and now after more than a decade of leadership in the premium bike segment, the Pulsar still stands tall – reason superb value for money proposition and its capability to deliver almost everything an Indian biker demands; be it sporty yet vibration free ride quality, smooth suspension setup, good handling, reasonably good build quality, and to top it all off – unbelievable mileage.
All of this and the mania that continues among youth is what makes this near perfect marvel on wheels such a thumping success. Now, wait a minute, don’t start cursing me so soon; this ain’t no promotional campaign for the Pulsar brand, nor do I work with Bajaj, but as an enthusiast and as an Indian, I am proud that an Indian manufacturer has managed to build a product that not only dominates the local territory, but now has even started winning hearts away from home – Indonesia, Brazil, etc.
To challenge the Japanese giants in the motorcycling industry is not an easy task, and if an Indian manufacturer has dared and almost managed to unsettle them enough to think again, it certainly should be something that would make us Indian bike enthusiasts proud. Now, coming to me as a person, I am a thorough bred auto enthusiast who loves biking while carrying an equal amount of fascination for cars. I have been riding bikes for nearly 13 years now and have managed to get my hands on almost every kind of bike – be it a plain Jane commuter, a muscular naked street bike, or even a sheer speed machine that is instilled with more than adequate portion of racing DNA.
I have also owned a Pulsar 180 and an RTR 160 earlier and you can find my RTR 160 review right here at BikeAdvice. The 180 I owned was a similar design that has made its way on to the 150 currently. I was thoroughly satisfied with the vehicle’s performance, but a little let down by its resale value and also absolutely no response from Bajaj despite shooting a couple of mails stating my grievance regarding the same.
The RTR 160 was an enthusiast’s delight, however, the vibrations issue was a major downer and I had to do away with it because I had developed bilateral kidney stones and post its treatment couldn’t tolerate the vibes. For the past year I had been using TVS Phoenix, which again is excellent as far as ride quality or refinement is concerned, but we had relocated to a highway setting in the city outskirts, and I had to buy a heavier bike that would be stable to withstand the wind blast and stay planted at higher speeds.
With the budget I had on mind, I was left with only two options – the Yamaha FZ16 and the Pulsar 150. Since I had already owned the 180, I opted to go with FZ16 first. I was seriously impressed with the build quality, the engine refinement, super smooth gear shifts, wider rear tyre, perfect ergonomics as far as sitting posture was concerned, and muscular looks. The price was a point of concern as it was considerably higher than its peers.
Also since I am married, I needed a hook in place to carry grocery bags, etc., which I was told couldn’t be mounted on an FZ. So I went ahead with the Pulsar 150. I swung my leg over and went for a test run and what did I “discover,” let’s do a section wise review as to find out what convinced me, a typical Indian middle class common man, to go for the P-150 and what makes the Pulsar tick even to this day, nearly a decade and-a-half after its launch.
Looks are crucial for every bike. A bike has to look inviting and appealing not only to the rider, but also the onlookers so that the one who rides the bike manages to draw some attention, which all of us crave for. Well, since my old 180 looked almost identical barring the dual paint job and the tank scoops, I felt that the design still didn’t feel old enough.
One can say that when the reworked 180 was first launched in 2006 through Probiking outlets, the design concept was ahead of its time. However, I feel that with the current Apache twins getting a refresh and the FZ still looking meaner, the headlamp can make way to get the 200 NS treatment, which my gut feeling tells me is bound to happen sooner or later because that has been the company’s approach from the beginning.
First the bigger Pulsars get the refresh and the same is passed on to the younger siblings. The headlight focus would not have been all that great if that were the case; however, the current headlamp focus is strong and bright. All in all, the black clip-on handlebars and the grab rail look much more upmarket and add to its visual appeal. The dual paint job again is a point to be argued upon, but I don’t feel it is all that ugly looking. Mind you, the design and visual appeal are purely subjective and we all know this fact pretty well. The engine does not get the black treatment and I hope it did. If you are on the road, I would say this design still would make a head or two turn your way.
My P-180 was very comfortable barring the hard seat, which would result in your posterior aching badly after long rides. Sadly, this hasn’t changed even with the 150, the seat is hard and so is the suspension to my surprise. The sitting posture is intermediate between sporty and upright. One still can relax a bit because the foot pegs are not rear set as in the current 180 model. The 180 had softer suspension up until it got a refresh in 2009 I believe.
However, I believe one can adjust the suspension towards a softer setup at the service center. Softer setup has its own demerits as well. If you hit any pothole or find yourself on uneven surfaces, the suspension is bound to bottom out, so a stiffer setup is always better on Indian roads. Another thing I was disappointed with was the clutch. The 180 and almost every Bajaj bike including the Duke 200 came with a really hard clutch (Duke 390 however has a softer clutch), which means your palm starts aching after you spend an hour in the stop-and-go city traffic.
I had sent this as a feedback as well and didn’t receive any response from the company. I was hoping they would have changed it with the 150, but it still is bothersome. Apart from the aforementioned, the bike is a treat to ride. It is smooth and refined, acceleration is great and almost instant, and the gear box is good at least to begin with (my 180’s gear box turned harder after a couple of years). The turning radius is slightly greater, but not something to worry about as much as it is the case with the 200 NS.
Also you won’t find the auto-cancellation indicators on the new 150. They have been replaced with press cancellation setup due to greater failure rate of the former. The quality of the switch gear is also much better and everything is well placed for easier reach. The twin horns are slightly smaller when compared to that of my old 180, but in no way less effective. Tubeless tyres are missed on this model; hope they will upgrade the same with the next one.
The Pulsar 150 comes with 240 mm front disc and 130 mm rear drum brake setup. I am a firm believer of having a rear drum brake as opposed to a disc if there is no ABS on board. I feel it is much safer and the tendency for wheel lock is somewhat less. Braking power is adequate for the class/segment this bike finds itself in.
Let’s talk some specs here to begin with – 4-stroke DTS-i air cooled single cylinder 149 cc engine that puts out 15.06 Ps of peak power @ 9000 rpm and 12.5 Nm of max torque @ 6500 rpm. The reason Pulsar was such an instant hit was because of the pick-up and the ride quality it had on offer at an unmatched price. One thing I like about this new 150 is the ignition. The ignition isn’t turned on with the key, it activates when you turn the engine kill switch on, as is the case with the 200 NS.
Start the engine and you get the same classic engine sound that sets your pulse racing. Power delivery is nice and linear. The ride is almost one among the best in its segment and what else would you expect from the segment leader. The thrust as you let go of the clutch and twist the throttle is instant, the feeling that you are riding a machine that has caused a revolution in the Indian biking history is constant, and the sheer pleasure derived from its riding experience is persistent.
Bajaj have always claimed that they keep working on bettering their products and since I am a former Pulsar owner I can feel the difference in its ride quality right from the word go. Maneuverability is decent. Overtaking is a piece of cake. I am still within the run-in period, so I am not crossing the 45 kmph mark, the owner’s manual however asks you to stay below 44 kmph for the first 1000 km and 55 kmph for the next 1000 km respectively. Stiffer suspension setup enhances the sportiness of the bike; however, MRF Zappers are really missed on the new lot available in the market. They come with Eurogrip rubber and they don’t inspire confidence as much as the Zappers do. Nevertheless, this bike is lively and fun to ride and has what it takes to take the competition head-on, no wonder it still leads the segment.
With the fuel prices running amuck, mileage is crucial and me being a family guy, saving every penny counts. My P-180 used to return as much as 50 kmpl, which was more than enough for the fun it had on offer. My friends who own P-150 have claimed figures of around 60 kmpl, albeit riding sensibly without over-revving, etc. My bike is brand new, and I have noticed that the figures are close to 50 kmpl with not even the first servicing done. One can easily expect figures upwards of 55 kmpl if ridden sanely.
PROBLEMS YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER:
The day I got the delivery of the bike, I could hear some noise coming from the chain while riding back home. I took it back the next day and got the chain lubricated and that solved the problem. As mentioned before I didn’t face much problem with my old 180 either until it turned 5 when I had to replace the wiring kit. Chain sprocket was changed after clocking 10,000 km. Also need to be careful while applying the front disc on a Pulsar especially; if you are not alert, you might end up doing a superman on the tarmac.
Well now after a decade-and-a-half, the Pulsar franchise still continues its leadership in the premium bike segment, thanks to thorough market research, regular upgrades, and constant refreshes while not messing too much with the basic brand image. I am still proud to call myself a Pulsar owner despite it being such a common sight as much as the local city buses – the reason being it is Indian and it is well made – meant to lead, be it comfort or speed, Pulsar it is that will meet all your needs.
That I guess pretty much sums it up guys. Always wear a helmet, never take your eyes off the road, set the headlight on low beam while within city limits, and never use a cell phone while riding. God bless and take care.