Bajaj Pulsar 180cc Ownership Review by Bishakh Flynn

Hey Baians out there, let me share with you my experience with my seven month old P-180. I have named her “Pulsie”, with love of course. Sometimes I call her “Lupo”, which in Italian means “Wolf”.

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Why only Pulsar?

Well, it’s a long story. My desire for a bike started when I was in 10th Standard. At that time I had very little know-how about bikes, but deep in my heart I wanted either the Karizma, R15 or the P220 for I felt their fairings made them look bigger. My mom had told that I would get a bike of my choice if I scored well in the 10th boards. Unfortunately, I failed to secure the set percentage and my mom refused to buy me a bike. Instead, I got to ride a TVS Scooty. Needless to say, I was very sad.

Slowly, I learnt to move on. One day, my mom talked to me and guaranteed a bike if I scored well in my 12th boards. While she did that, I was sitting in front of my PC and glancing at the image of a P220 which had been set as the wallpaper. When I look back, I realize that it was the moment which had an instant effect on me. I decided to forget the past, and P220 became my inspiration to secure high enough marks. From that day, I started studying with utmost dedication.

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Time went by, and I continued my hard work. The P220 was on my mind the horn, the wolf-lights, the waspish engine note at low rpms that grew to a superbike kind of rev as it touched the redline, these were my “Nashaa”. Addictions at times I grew sad when I saw other guys on Pulsars because I didn’t have one. But I consoled myself, muttering that I will be successful.

May 30, 2011 will be a red-letter day in my life. On that day, the Odisha CHSE 12th board results were declared and I was pleasantly surprised to know that I had clinched the 5th position in the state. Tears welled up in my eyes when I heard my name being read out on the TV after all it was after 2 years that I was going to get my hands on my Beast.

But fate had other plans. There was going to be a little delay as I had to come to Cuttack for enrollment in my graduate programme. I returned to Bhubaneswar after about a month. Still, there was no respite. My parents refused to buy the P220 as they considered it to be too big, way too powerful for a ” First Bike “. They asked me to consider the smaller siblings of P220.

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I was not happy, for I felt the smaller versions would not get as many eyeballs as the ” Big Daddy ” used to get. There ensued a kind of a stalemate in our family regarding the choice. One fine day, my father’s friend came to the rescue. He brought over his P180 UG3 and offered it to me for a test- ride. Lo and behold. I realized the mistake which I had been making. In my madness for P220, I had forgotten that even it’s smaller siblings were no less.

Perhaps it happened because the P220 had been my inspiration for a task so daunting and a time so long. I agreed to buy the P180. At 17.02 bhp, it was second only to the P220 (at that time). UG 4.5 had been launched at that time, dual tone decals being the facelift. P180 looked beefy with the O-ring chain and the 120/80 section rear tyre. No words can be enough to describe my joy on the day I got my other self.

Yes, I proudly call it my other self because I had worked very hard and made a lot of sacrifices to acquire my “Wolf”. My claims about the rank in the 12th boards can be verified by Googling “Bishakh Rout” and then clicking on the 9th hit.

The D-Day

It was a warm, fine Sunday afternoon when I got her. She set my father’s wallet back by nearly 81k INR. The personnel at Navdurga Bajaj, Bhubaneswar were quick in handing over my Beast. They were responsive and keen to listen, unlike the usual “robotic” and uncaring mannerisms put forward by ASC guys. But then, it was just because the manager was my father’s friend.

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The moment I got my hands on my beast, there was only one feeling that I experienced, the feeling of joy and relief. My joy knew no bounds, and I was relieved to get her finally after so many trials and tribulations. It may sound childish but I found it hard to get up from her on that day. I spent the whole evening spinning around the city. I came back home at night and my mom called me for dinner, but I found it hard to get away from my Pulsie. Really, such was the joy when I got her.

The Run-In Period : You Can Call It Courtship

I found her a little heavy. Infact, I floored her a few days after purchasing. Fortunately, the left leg-guard bore the brunt of the fall, and she managed to stay in mint condition. In my opinion, the handling is a bit on the stiffer side. She is little sluggish and difficult to flick around the city.

Well, “confession” is the word of the moment, as many of you might have found out from your Facebook news feeds. Frankly, I wanna confess now. The fact is that I failed to take proper care of my Pulsie during the running-in.

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Yes, it is true. I could not resist the urge to rip the streets, and I really did burn some rubber on the streets of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Though I didn’t redline in each gear, I did hurtle down the street at three-digit speeds. Oh man, I really don’t know what damage I have caused to her in my madness. But can’t blame myself completely though. Pulsie’s rev-loving mill is to shoulder some portion of it! I urge all bikers to be careful and not commit the same mistake as mine.

Ah… The Gorgeous Looks

She is nearly seven months old, but I don’t seem to get tired of her. There’s always that reluctance to take my eyes off her, Oh yes I do stare unabashedly at her. I leave her at the Parking Lot in our college, and as I move away, I keep shooting backward glances at her till the moment she is out of my sight. Sometimes, I have even backtracked to get a quick glimpse of her, only to rush forward again and enter my scheduled class a few minutes late. Crazy, isn’t it?

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Well, she has got the looks that I die for. I got her in the black and red livery, and that seems a fiery combination. She is not much different from her predecessors, infact you can say that they have been becoming sharper and sleeker ever since they were launched a decade ago. Some Glynn Kerr punk gave life to a classic design that has had the Indian youth mesmerized for over a decade.

My Pulsie belongs to the latest crop of Wolves, and her generation is arguably the snazziest of them all. Take a look at her, and she screams “You can’t take your eyes off me. I cut through the air really fast!”. The current generation retains the traditional menacing look of the Pulsar, yet is pleasing to look at.

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The speedline decals are the necessary facelift to a “Classic-yet-still popular” design. The muscular fuel tank adds to that beastly appeal along with the meaty 120/80 rear radial and the O-ring chain. The tank pad appears like a stack of rippled abdomen muscles. This is traditional Pulsarism, synonymous with raw power.

The split seats and the “sharp-&-tapering towards-rear” tail cowl with two futuristic looking LED Stripes (in inverted-staircase formation, a bit odd comparison I agree) provide the Oomph factor. And last but not the least comes the icing on the visual treat, oh yes you guessed it right the Wolf Lights!

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Adding character to the bike, these two Pilot Lamps along with the horn can be called the USP of the Pulsar. My Pulsar carries the DNA of the Superbike, the KTM RC8 1190. Just have a look at the RC8’s sharp edges and the tapering tail, you will get to know the reason behind my comparison. You just can’t refuse the fact that she’s beautiful!

But, I would like to see a few changes though. Everything about the Pulsar is edgy and sharp. The tapering tail cowl and it’s sharp edge, the split grab rails, the tank flaps that culminate at a sharp tip, two flowing, speed-emphasising lines that run parallel to each other. One along the tank to the tip of each tank flap, another from the tail to the mid-section of the bike, but there lies a misfit!

Park the bike on the main stand, put the handlebars upright and have a keen sideways glance at the bike. You will notice a slight curve that runs from the top-edge of the visor to the chin of the headlamp assembly. In my opinion, the front section along with the turn indicators should be changed to something sharper in keeping with the overall aggressive look. I just feel that the present setup brings a shade of timidity to the bike’s character.

Pulsie’s 178.6 cc Mill And Here Appetite

Well, she’s not exactly “Size-Zero” and needs to shed some flab at a whopping 147 kgs she’s a bit slow to start from standstill, But then who is Perfect? My Pulsie has some flaws, but I do take those well in my stride.

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She has done her best 0-60 kph sprint in 4.2 seconds. It’s a bit on the slower side as compared to Steeds from other Stables, but she does make up for this. Once she crosses 60 kph, I feel she gets faster and stays as smooth as possible at the higher revs. I have done a top whack of 124 kph on her. It was my moment of glory.

The mill purrs contentedly from tickover to 4000-4500 revs per minute. Frankly, I can’t stop caressing her (Pun intended the throttle bar), and my Pulsie is not coy at all, she responds with glee err, “with a growl” would rather be the better description! From over 4k revs, the exhaust note is like a “Song of Glory” It attains a new character thereafter and is so much “Music to the Ears”.

Pulsie stays firmly planted on the tarmac even at three digit speeds, thanks to her heavy build as well as the 120/80 rear Nylogrip Zapper. The engine is pretty much vibe-free and a it’s a pleasure to churn out power from it. But it starts cribbing if you keep it operating near the redline for a long time. I get that buzzing feeling from my foot pegs, the situation is even worse for the pillion.

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I once went for long cruise with my friend and he complained that the whole rear seat was vibrating a bit too more than when we started the ride. I was reluctant to accept that, as it was akin to finding flaws in my “Beloved Pulsie”! Though now I feel there was a hint of truth in my friend’s statement. I have seen that the rear mudguard shakes a bit, even when the engine is in idle.

My Pulsie is not that much of a gas guzzler, considering the sheer power she generates. I rip the city streets often, in those periods she sips a bit more than usual for every litre she propels me forward for about 37-38 kms. But I have rode her within 4.5k rpm for a couple of weeks at a stretch.

This is the time when she is at her “Efficient Best” within the city, returning fuel economy figures of around 41-42 kmpl. On the highways, she is an even happier cruiser. Whenever we both have made it out to the highways, we have set it on fire. Still, she remained frugal, consuming a litre for nearabout 44-45 kms. I can’t ask for more, can I?

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One thing remains unanswered, though. My Pulsie is heavier as compared to the earlier generation of Wolves, but she has lesser low-end grunt. This is noticeable in the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the unplanned Indian cities. It remains a big mystery as to why there has been a fall in the peak torque figure.

Unique Tidbits In My Pulsie

My bike is loaded with a lot of stuff that can often be labelled “not-so-important” in front of the sheer power delivered and it’s aggressive looks. I feel that they actually “go the extra mile” and make every ride with the bike a thing to look forward to. The clip-ons are the addition to my Pulsie’s generation.

Apart from looking seductive, they go a long way in making ride quality a lot better. The handlebar positioning is not too upright, as in “Commuter” type of positioning. So it’s not boring to look at. Yet, the positioning is not too low for it to be called a “Supersport Stance”, hence it’s a bit more comfortable to ride. Actually, they are ” The Best of Both Worlds “.

The same applies to the seating position. The foot pegs do not fall directly below the rider’s waist, hence it’s not exactly the “Commuter” type. It depends upon how the rider positions himself. If he goes little forward, the foot pegs fall behind his waist, allowing the rider a “Sporty” type seating, which will ensure fast cornering as well as the glances of the ladies. If he chooses to move backward, he gets a “Cruiser” type seating and a laid-back ride.

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The Split seats are the next visually appealing item. The seat for the pillion is higher than the front one, and this fact combined with the tail cowl that surges upwards makes the bike look sexier. Yamaha does know a thing or two about designing bikes, after all it is the Funda used in all their bikes “Low anterior, High Posterior”.

Pulsie’s front is not so low, but it seems Bajaj is en-route to becoming a world-class bike manufacturer Rahul Bajaj, take a bow! (Though you still need to tell us about that 1 nm). The front suspension forks are meaty at 37 mm. They add to the beastly feel and also provide good damping. Rear suspension could have been better, though.

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I have observed bottoming out on a few occasions, and obviously a Monoshock would have been a lot better. My Pulsie carries an oval section swingarm that adds to the fun during high speed cornering. The trio of front forks, thick 120/80 rear radial and the front disc brake ensure precise braking and rock-solid stability during harsh braking, even in some panicky situations that I have encountered.

The typical Pulsarian instrument console is pretty cool to look at, with the orange backlight hinting of KTM influence. But I would welcome the addition of a few more electronic “bells-and-whistles” like lap timer, acceleration timer and top speed counter to get rid of the “Spartan” tag. The backlit-switches are another unique offering from the Wolves white looks beautiful during night time riding.

Even the blue-backlit switches of the “Alien Robots” pale in comparison. NS users, no hard feelings! Auto-cancel turn indicator feature falls under the instrumentation section, so I have mentioned it here. It’s pretty useful, almost like the “Fire-and-Forget” principle of the United States’ cruise missile Tomahawk. But it’s not able to take into account the minute changes in direction that are made in accordance with the movement of traffic in front, and hence it often “misfires”!

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The Bybre front disk is a powerful tool, mighty enough to stop this heavy beast within a safe and controllable distance. The rear drum lacks teeth though, and a rear disc would be definitely welcome. Let me narrate you an incident. I floored my Pulsie once as her big bro (A P220) suddenly emerged from a corner. I probably pressed the lever a little too hard, leading to lock-up and loss of control, well the truth is that I was lost in the thoughts of a girl at that time.

The other rider helped me up and lent a word of advice before passing by, “Boy, Pulsar’s disc brakes are the most powerful, ride carefully!”. Such is the reputation of the Wolves’ discs. (You can almost see the three scratches on the left side of my headlamp assembly almost as if they were made by Wolverine’s claws, that’s why I have not touched it up!)

Another point worth mentioning is my Pulsie’s ground clearance, or rather the lack of it. Often her underbelly grazes the “Notorious Indian Speedbreakers”. Ouch!

My Wish-List

Okay, I am writing this section reluctantly. I hate finding flaws in my Beloved Pulsie, and I get even angrier when someone points it out to me.

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  • Higher Ground Clearance
  • Cover up, Darling! (No pun intended. I would love a semi-fairing in place of this bikini fairing)
  • Nimbleness and agility in the city by use of aluminium for cylinder, swingarm, muffler (Okay… I know I am pushing the bar too high. But don’t we want our most loved ones to excel?)
  • Goodbye to this Mini-Car tag a smaller turning circle radius!
  • More torque availability at low revs
  • A rear disc (Please, Bajaj please!)

Given A Chance To Change, Then What?

If someone transfers sufficient to my account, I wil go for the KTM RC8 1190. I would love to experience the Monster whose DNA probably is in My Pulsie, no matter how little.

But one thing is for sure! Even if I get the RC8, I won’t dump my Pulsie! No matter whatever bikes I buy in the future, Pulsie will always adorn my garage. You guys must be wondering why. Because it is, and will always remain my First Bike. I Will Never Forget The Time Spent Under The. Sun with My Pulsie.

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More importantly, Pulsie defines me. It defines what I am. The sacrifices I made to acquire her, the labour I put in for two years (Read The Section “Why Only Pulsar?” I know it’s long and boring. But it’s the USP) all will be an experience for life, a moment to cherish later. Ek din kya solid flashback banega yeh. I Love My Pulsie!

P.S: I haven’t written anything about maintenance and it’s costs. This is because till date, I have done a single servicing, and it was free. I just paid for the Castrol Activ 4T oil and the oil filter. Somewhere within 400 INR. The second one will probably be done in the next month, scheduled between 4000-5000 kms.

I could have gone ahead and ranted “Pulsars suffer from image problem they don’t require much maintenance blah blah blah!” I wanted to provide a honest review, so I didn’t. Cheers, And Ride Safe!

Bishakh Flynn

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