I have been reading articles on Bike Advice for quite a while now and I finally feel its time I gave back something to the community. I own a Pulsar 135LS. I know that this might not be the ideal choice for a large section of people, but I am sure this bike will be simply perfect for quite a few of us.
My name is Gautam, I am 23 year old based in Bengaluru. I work as a Systems Engineer for Hewlett Packard. Unlike most other people here, I started biking quite late. Neither my dad, nor any close relatives had a bike and my parents were not so keen on letting their accident prone kid near one.
So it was only in second year of college that I started learning how to ride a two wheeler. I was in final year of engineering, after much deliberation and consideration; that my dad bought me an Activa. The Activa was an easy choice, it was economic, reliable and overall, an easy ride. I rode my Activa all over Bengaluru for over an year before I grew bored of it. I needed a bike.
So Why Did I Choose a Pulsar 135LS?
People ask me this question all the time. When I started looking for a bike, my priorities were,
- Price and Mileage: I had no intentions of making my dad pay for the bike. Beyond this, the petrol expenses would be from my paycheck too. So the bike needed to be economic and give me decent mileage.
- Weight and Handling: As this was going to be my first bike, I needed something that a thin fellow like me could manage on busy roads.
- Looks: Not that this was of least priority, but I wanted something which looked good, for obvious reasons of course!
I went through the technical reviews on various web sites and based on my criteria, I narrowed down my choices to the Yamaha SZR and the Pulsar 135LS. I decided against a Pulsar 150 because it is just too common on Indian roads. From my personal experience, asking people for their opinions is just going to confuse you more.
Of course you should value their opinions but know that different people look for different things in a bike. Different people also have different ideas of what a good bike should look like. So, based on your requirements, short list your options are try them for yourself. When you try the right one, you will know.
It so happened that the day I went to the Yamaha showroom, it was closed and I tried the Pulsar 135 first because the Bajaj showroom was open. The moment I sat on it, something felt right. Before I came back from the test ride, I already knew that this was it. I came back with my cheque book and photo id proof the same evening. In July 2011, the bike cost me 67,000 INR on road. I am not sure of the current prices.
Engine and Gearbox
The Pulsar 135 has Bajaj’s trademark DTS-i engine. What’s new is that Pulsar 135 features the first application of a 4 valve head in an Indian bike. This, combined with the under square design, makes for a powerful engine. So although it is just 135cc, just by power to weight ratio, it is superior to a lot of the 150cc bikes out there.
For a bike in its category, it is indeed fast. I have personally done 0-60kmph in under 6 seconds and clocked a top speed of 102kmph. The downside of such high stressed engine, is the vibrations. This is an established fact and there is nothing much that can be done except get used to it. But this isn’t really as bad a thing as you would think.
Going with the sporty feel, the gear lever is the toe shift type. The gear shift pattern is 1-down-4-up, improving the safety of the bike. The gear shift is smooth and the gear ratio is also perfect for city commute with the top gear pulling as low as 25kmph, relieving you of the gear shift on smaller jams and those lighter bumps.
After the full length rear tyre hugger was replaced, the bike looks absolutely stunning. The sculpted tank with its lean mean front fairings, the clip-on handle bars, split seats and split rear grab rails all come together to give it a truly sporty look. The stylish number plate holder which drops from the rear also appeals to me very much. This bike is easily the best thing that happened to a tall thin rider.
Just the fact that the brand new Pulsar 200NS looks more like the 135LS than the 220 is a testimony to this design. One minor down-side of the split rear grab rails is that you cannot fit your helmet lock here. You will have to attach it to the front crash guard. I find this to be a small problem especially when you are parking in a crowded place.
Most of my commuting happens through the busiest IT corridors of Bengaluru. Weighing in at 122kg, the Pulsar truly lives up to its reputation of “Light and Sporty” as it zips through the chaos of rush hour traffic and bad roads. The slender frame ensures that the bike slips through smallest gaps that bigger bikes with wider fairings simply cannot.
The bike feels easy and responds to the slightest touch, making it a pleasure to zigzag through busy roads. Cornering has also been a breeze on this baby. The bike has disc brakes on the front tyre and drum on the rear. For a bike of this category, these brakes are reliable and give you the confidence to take on the roads.
The dash board is packed with all the digital goodies that we have come to expect from the Pulsar family like the speedometer, odometer, trip meter and the fuel gauge. The 35W head lamps which run on a DC circuit ensure that the beam is the same brightness all the time. This small yet thoughtful feature makes so much sense; especially when you are navigating a bad road at night.
The ergonomically placed Pass switch and the backlit switches make for easier night time commute. The engine mud guard which is an optional feature is great to keep your engine clean on muddy roads but it does hit those really bad road bumps. The seating position is pretty much upright and I find it ideal for city commute.
There are days when I spend hours in traffic and I don’t have any back problems. The pillion rider sits slightly elevated and so far none of the people who have sat behind me have had any complaints. One minor complaint I have is regarding the relatively smaller fuel tank. The 8L tank means more frequent re-fueling but that’s a price I am willing to pay for the small neat dimensions.
Despite the stop-and-go traffic and bad roads I get a mileage of about roughly 57-58 kmpl, just a tad lower than expectation but still decent. I would blame my novice riding skills more than the machine for this.
Eight months and 6000 Km later, I am still completely in love with my bike. The Pulsar 135LS combines the best of the 125cc segment economy and the 150cc segment power. Add to that its stylish sporty look and you have a winner. So if you are a college goer or a young professional or a new biker just learning to ride, looking for an economic yet powerful and stylish ride, the baby Pulsar is the one for you.
Thank you for reading.