Though we have big guys playing with 200+cc engines in India, Still bikers mass could be reached only through 100-125cc bikes. So I have checked for the best selling 125cc bikes to have a comparison in order to give a clear picture about the Product Offering. Moving in Depth, When answering the question is the Ideal Purpose of a 125cc Bike?, I doubt myself whether its Performance, Comfort or Mileage. The reason is, if your answer is performance or comfort then are these upto the current 150ccs, or do they provide better mileage than the 100ccs.

After visiting showrooms for test rides and having detailed discussions with the Owners of these bikes, I came to a conclusion that 125cc bikes are basically for commuters who require a small upgrade over their existing Splendors and other 100ccs. But my conclusion applies only for bikes like Shine, Discover, Platina…etc.

On the other hand Bajaj Pulsar 135, Honda Stunner (Non FI) and Yamaha Gladiator (SS form now) are the three bikes which top the sales chart and are targeted on Youngsters. They move a step ahead from everyday commuting and become a status symbol at a niche price point. The Bajaj Pulsar 135 LS, Stunner 125 and Yamaha SS 125 within city conditions, all three are capable giving a hard time to 150+cc bikes.

A Brief Intro:

The all new Bajaj Pulsar 135 is the youngest sibling in Pulsar’s empire. It churns out 13.5ps@9000 rpm which almost outperforms most of the 150cc bikes in market and lets see how. Honda Stunner with the same 125cc engine engine from Honda Shine capable of 11ps@8000rpm,but rocks with the stunning Design which competes with 200+cc bikes in terms of 125 dimensions. Yamaha with its new cosmetic launch SS 125 over the existing Gladiator can do the same 11ps@7500rpm like Stunner, But Yamaha scores out all others in terms of nimble smooth handling even at higher rpms which is a dream in City Traffic.

As said above, The latest sibling in Pulsar Family launched by December 2009, Pulsar 135 boasts an amazing 135cc 4 Valve engine made of Light weight Aluminum similar to Yamaha R15. The amazing part is this engine is capable to throwing 13.5Bhp @ 9000rpm and becomes the only bike under 250cc to churn out its max capability at a Massive 9000rpm. Our next contestant Honda Stunner creates a First impression which is the Best Impression.

When I saw the Stunner for the first time, I assumed it to be a 200cc bike or atleast a 180cc. But when I heard it was 125cc I wasnt able to digest it. But Honda has given a good price justification in terms of Quality. Nothing much to say about the Yamaha SS 125 as the Yamaha Tunning Fork Logo speaks everything.

Looks:

When I talk about looks, I may not be always correct as everyone has a Pair of eyes and look at things differently. Comparing these three bikes, let me solicit my perception on looks and leave the decision to audience.

It all started with the XCD 125 being the most ugliest or rather visually awkward bike of the decade, did not show much interest on sales chart for Bajaj. Then came the XCD 135 which had better aesthetics, But still competitors were miles ahead. So finally Bajaj has done some quality R&D and came up with the Pulsar 135 LS which is fresh and strikingly better styling than its next sibling Pulsar 150.

I have to say Bajaj being a master mind has made this beauty by inspiring the best looking qualities of most Indian Bikes. Like the beautifully carved petrol tank which makes us confuse with Hero Honda Hunk and the Head light may remind Yamaha FZ.

As you see below overall the bike looks awesome in every detail, the Clip-on handles and split Grab-rails go hand in hand to create a freaky impression. Adding to this, the trademark dual seats and R6 like tail finishing makes you fall in love the moment you see it. In contrast to all the above sentences the rear Mudguard certainly looks absurd and possibly creates a funny impression on the bike.

May be the Indonesian version of Pulsar 135 bears a two piece Mudguard which atleast looks better. In my opinion this mudguard is added to avoid problem registering the Bike and could be removed to get the complete freaky look to which the design is intended to.

Pulsar 135 is the only bike to have a Digital speedo amongst the others, also the speedo looks well defined and clear. Overall the bike looks the best in Pictures, But in reality Pulsar 135 looks much smaller than the Stunner and SS 125. Even with a rider in good shape and suitable costumes riding the bike still leaves an incomplete feeling. The main reason is its dimensions which may be a justification for its siblings. May be the Pulsar 135 be the bike receiving the most touches in a Parking lot, but End of the day. on road with its owner riding the Pulsar 135 doesn’t create a huge impression.

Next comes the most recent launch Yamaha SS 125 which is nothing but the same Gladiator with much attractive graphics. Personally I feel Gladiator was a better name though. SS 125 carries the same plain looks, nothing much interesting to talk about. The most notable point is the paint quality which is really awesome, which really shines atleast for an year.

With black alloys and a sporty engine cowl makes the SS 125 stand apart from the traditional looks. The black matte finished engine and decent looking Head lamps clearly identify it as an everyday commuter and also the SS 125 fits its master much better than the Pulsar 135. Nothing much to say the SS 125 is the same old wine in a new bottle.

Coming to our most fittest contender the Honda Stunner, is certainly Stunning as per its title. It can easily compete with bigger guys over 200cc in terms of dimensions. The bike speaks more with its stunning mass appeal than its performance. The sharp Semi fairing inspired by elder CBRs is a clear advantage over its competitors. Moreover Stunner’s seating Posture is the tallest of all three which creates a confidence when seeing the competitors looking short. The Headlight is somewhere between Hunk and ZMA shines much better during night.

The Split seats looks the best and offers the best in class comfort. The refreshed Stunner version bears a engine cowl matching the body color and styling. Also the chain is exposed rather being covered in the previous model and engine gets a complete black treatment over the silver. In my point of view Stunner misses out in suspension as the proportions exactly fit a Mono Suspension. Overall the entire package is well balanced and outscores the Pulsar 135 and SS 125 in terms of looks.

Pulsar 135  : 4/5
Stunner      : 5/5
SS 125      : 4/5

Performance:

While looking at a bike all three must be looked separately, But when it comes to Performance all three have to combined. I am sure obviously the verdict of this paragraph would be aware to everyone. The Pulsar 135 LS with its screaming 13.5Bhp which is released at a mind blowing 9000rpm makes it to top the performance arena.Apart from the R15 its the only bike to have the highest tachometer red-line at 10000rpm. Pulsar 135 LS is completely different from the traditional bikes.

The engine is made of soft aluminum which anticipates Heat with much efficiency. The bike is capable of pulling with 11.4nm Torque at 7500rpm. These values never disappoint the Yamaha SS 125 as it peaks a 11bhp at 7500rpm and Torque is 1nm less than the Pulsar 135, But SS 125 acheives the 10.4nm at an early 6500rpm itself. Coming to the Stunner its plain an simple its 11bhp at 8500rpm to gain the best power and Torque segment ends at 6500rpm with 11nm Torque.well balanced and outscores the Pulsar 135 and SS 125 in terms of looks.

When all three were run on road with well experienced owners, it was really amazing to see the Pulsar 135 actually blowing off the other two right from 60 to 116 Kmph on speedo, isn’t it an amazing figure for a bike in this category?. Trust me many 150cc bikes which include CBZX, Hunk,Unicorn,FZ and Pulsar 150 fall less than the Top whack of Pulsar 135, May be only the Apache 160 can show an addition 5kmph over Pulsar 135. Since the torque figures are almost the same, all the three were more or less in the same level untill 60 kmph. The next to follow Pulsar 135 was the SS 125 with a much lesser pace.

But one thing which is remarkable about SS125 is its legendary Yamaha Engine. It was ultra refined at high rpms no sign of vibrations or rather the engine note became more pleasant urging us to accelerate more and more which is the opposite with the other two. Though the Pulsar 135 performed well, Engine felt harsh and stressed when climbing over 6000rpm. I was expecting a lot for the Stunner, though the rider was about 65kgs the bike struggles over 80 kmph.

Similar to Pulsar 135, Stunner’s engine is completely silent under 5000rpm, But once crossed the 5000rpm mark the engine note become unplesant, and completely stressed. I have experienced the same with Apaches, you feel like punishing your engine by accelerating over the 5k mark. At last Stunner almost equaled the SS 125 in Top whack at about 103kmph on speedo.

The Pulsar 135 bearing the LS engine is somewhat similar to R15 in terms of engine characteristics. It easily revs up-to 9000rpm in no time, Pulsar 135 deliberately requires the rider to be around 60-65 kgs to show its maximum capability, Honestly it struggles a lot when a Pillion is accompanied. As said earlier both the Stunner and SS 125 are almost equal in terms of performance. Being clear with Pulsar 135’s performance, I have mentioned that Pulsar 135 can outperform 150ccs in terms of Top Speed and not Pickup. Any stable 150cc would kick the butt of Pulsar 135 untill 90kmph. Once you cross 90kmph mark you can take the game in your hand with the Pulsar 135.

Pulsar 135 : 5/5
Stunner     : 3.5/5
SS 125      : 4/5

Comfort and Handling:

This may me the only deciding factor for the majority 125cc segment customers. A performance freak will always opt for a higher displacement engine, while the 125cc is meant purely for comfort similar to 150ccs and Mileage better than 150ccs. Now coming to the Pulsar 135, with the clipons and split seats in place, Provides healthy comfort for a Rider who is anywhere between 5.5ft to 6ft. But not upto the traditional Stunner’s Handle.

Though Stunner lags in intial pickup, the straight seating posture and higher split seats help you and your girlfriend to enjoy biking both in city traffic and a pleasant long ride with ease. SS 125 with traditional single seat and straight posture offers a similar quality ride like the Stunner. But this time may not with your girlfriend but with your Wife in the SS 125. Handling the SS125 in city traffic becomes much easy than many 150ccs as the super wide handle exactly fits the seating posture creating a confidence never before.

But I don’t think Seat and Handles are not the only aspects for comfort and Handling, Engine is the most important ingredient on a touring perception. In this case the clear winner is the SS 125 as the engine feels absolutely undisturbed at around 80-90kph. Anything above is 90kmph is out of question as it takes more than 15secs to reach 100kph from 90 kph This is not the same with the Pulsar 135 or Stunner.

While cruising at around 90kph in Pulsar 135 it creates vibrations around the Petrol tank and foot pegs which is certainly annoying, either the throttle has to be increased to get onto a furious ride or in order to get the smooth riding pleasure like the SS 125, the roll-a-Costa ride at 8500rpm has to be controlled within 5000rpm. Whereas it becomes almost impossible to imagine touring in a Stunner at 90kmph, All Honda characteristics in the engine vanish once you hit 90kph, the engine gets well stressed and make us stop punishing it further. Regarding brakes all the three boast a powerful Disc brake at the front and a drum at the rear. Which is more than adequate to stop them on tarmac.

In short for city commuting stunner would be the best as under 5000rpm the engine operates so quiet like your home Air Conditioner. SS 125 seems to be a bit harsh until 5000rpm and may be ideal for touring as its becomes ultra refined over the 5k mark. Now coming to Pulsar 135 is ideal for city bikers who are passionate towards performance, the reason is a passionate biker who needs performance will be free from Pillions.

Pulsar 135 : 4/5
Stunner      : 4/5
SS 125      : 4.5/5

Value For Money:

Well if its a lavish Harley or a supreme Ducati, a customer needn’t be much concerned about this topic, But what about 125cc segment customers in India?. We think 1000 times before spending our hard earned money. Reviews can be biased or exaggerated towards a particular brand in order to motivate a customer. But from a 125cc segment customer’s point of view its the total investment he got, to make for the years to come. Around 70% of all 125cc bikes are purchased with a Loan. So one note to readers please make our mind sharp and decide after analyzing this report carefully. These prices include the recently hiked road taxes too.

Pulsar 135 runs about 50kms per Liter if ripped to its max and around 60kms if maintained within 4000rpm. Stunner does around the same 50kms if driven at around 80-90kph range and 55kms if driven efficiently. While Yamaha SS 125 is capable of running 55kms even when maintained at higher rpms, but promises to return above 60kmpl with throttle under control.

Both Honda and Yamaha are well established brands throughout the world. So need’nt say much about their Quality. Stunner with top quality rubbers and tubeless tyres seem to provide more justice to its price tag of 62,244 on road Hyderabad. Its not appropriate to say Stunner is over priced as the bike justifies every penny you have paid for it. Moreover the main reason for not including the FI version is because the on road price shoots upto 75,943 without Accessories, Extended warranty etc, may not be justifiable. SS 125 at 57,750 on road Hyderabad may look quite a drizzle at the first look. Unlike Stunner and Pulsar 135, most of the SS 125 (Gladiator) owners bought their bike only because they used an Yamaha before or with the words of his friend who is a satisfied customer of SS 125. So the quality of spare parts, Ultra Smooth engine for touring and Yamaha Logo are the only justification for the Price tag.

Pulsar 135 is the one bike at 60,583 on road Hyderabad, which seems to offer more value for money than the other. It has almost all the latest goodies like Digi Speedo, Split seats, rear leds, clipons, higher displacement engine etc and regarding the quality we have to wait and see as its only 8 months old. Moreover In my point of view off-course the only way for Bajaj to attract customers will be with new technology, performance and eye catching gadgets as there no history or reputation which can be put forward, So personally I would suggest the Pulsar 135 for youngsters who always like to compete and win.

Stunner fits youngsters again, But not with as much fun as like Pulsar 135‘s. Parents preference towards Honda’s reputation and stunning looks makes one think, its ok to compromise on performance and click a sale towards Honda. This is the only reason we have huge wait period for Stunner. As said before “Investment for years to come” is all about Yamaha SS 125, Personally i can witness many Gladiators which are still running the same even after 6 years of optimal use. Though others offer better gadgets and stunning design the real winner in the Value for Money segment will always be the Turtle and not the Rabbit.

Pulsar 135 : 3.5/5
Stunner     : 4/5
SS 125      : 4.5/5

Bike Advice Verdict:

The entire review may sound like a verdict. But yes lets atleast this one small and sweet. Pulsar 135 may be the best in class in terms of performance, but Quality still remains a Question. Where Stunner heads-up with its rocking design and dimensions, leaving the SS 125 with nothing special. So the ultimate choice in 125cc segment would be the Stunner as it has both Honda’s reputation and stunning design. Where Yamaha SS 125 would follow with its legendary quality and super smooth cruising (Which is not present in most 150ccs). Now Pulsar 135 takes the third position as, the gadgets and features put together on road run fast but not as solid as the SS 125.

In short,Youngsters who fall in love at first sight for performance and gadgets, can marry the Pulsar 135 without any question. Style conscious youngsters who’s love is usually arranged by Parents, can go for Stunner. While, SS 125 is for Parents themselves.

In Contrast to the verdict given a chance I would be personally pick the Pulsar 135 for its performance as I would still want to enjoy biking over 100kph, which is still a dream for many.

– Harish