Sanjoy 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…Here are all the details.
My love for 2 wheelers started since I was in my primary school. It was my dad’s Bajaj Super 1986, which I grew up with. Back then we didn’t have a proper garage and vehicle theft was very common in my area.
So, to keep it safe all the time my father used to park the scooter in a corner of the drawing room. So, the best thing was I could see it all day long whenever I wished to. I use to play on and around it all the time. By the time I was in fifth standard, I was tall enough to reach the ground with both my feet, sitting on the saddle.
I remember I used to notice how my dad used to ride the scooter. Releasing the clutch, shifting the gear by twisting the wrist, how to use brake etc. I used to practice those things whenever it was parked and started gathering courage to ride it on the village road. I asked my father to accompany me being the pillion, so that I can practically ride it.
But all in vein. My dad was very conscious about my safety and unlike me very well understood that I was underaged to ride a motorized two wheel on the road. But I was determined and stubborn. One fine Sunday, my father parked the scooter outside & was getting ready to go somewhere. What I did – taken out the key, unlocked it, and kicked the kick lever hard. And to my utter surprise, the scooter engine started & was ready to move.
I gathered all my courage and put it in 1st gear and started rolling. And that’s how I learned. I should also mention here that it was not a cakewalk. I fell a few times, got scratches both on my body and the scooter. But by god’s grace it was never been big enough to break my bones and my confidence. After these I started riding it in the morning & evening at first to practice, and then to commute in short distance. Don’t forget I was in standard 5 i.e. only at the age of 11, far from getting a driving license.
Slowly riding the scooter became my biggest passion. And as I grew up my father stopped riding it and preferred to be a pillion almost every time. I rode it till the 2nd year of my graduation i.e. for around 10 years. Later my brother took over and riding it till date. My father passed away in June, 2010. But to keep his memory alive I and my brother restored the scooter to its original look. It still gets started in a single kick.
I can speak about those ten years memory with the scooter on and on. But let’s stop here and get to the ownership story of my own bike.
I was in 2nd year of my graduation in St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, when I almost became a bike fanatic. The biking brotherhood culture, those cool modifications, the roaring sounds echoing in the hills of Shillong was fuelling the need of buying a bike everyday as it was passing by.
In the next Christmas holidays i.e. in December 2007, when I went back to home, I slowly put the proposal of buying a two wheeler in front of my parents. But they rejected the idea rite away. I was disappointed, but didn’t lose hope. I kept on researching about bikes along with putting pressure on my parents. To convince them, I had too many excuses. I applied all of them. They were slowly showing interest. They were not worried about my riding skills, but were worrying about the cost of ownership including fuel and maintenance.
By this time I shortlisted around 5 bikes. Lesser CC with Higher fuel efficiency was never been my cup of tea. I was dreaming about long rides. Real long rides. I pretty well understood that a smaller capacity bike would not serve the purpose. So, my list included…
- Hero Honda Karizma R
- Bajaj Avenger 180
- Bajaj Pulsar 180
- Bajaj Pulsar 200
- Bajaj Pulsar 220
Karizma was always been known for its reliable engine and smooth power delivery. But two things kept me away from this bike were its high price and high spare parts price, which would mean higher maintenance cost. Moreover Bajaj became lucrative because of more up to date features in its bikes.
My next best choice was Bajaj Avenger 180, which was fulfilling all my needs. I should also mention here that I am more of a cruiser fan. But we had very limited choice in that category at that time. I almost made my mind to buy an avenger. But a big problem arouse. My long time girlfriend didn’t like the look of the bike. She didn’t even see my personality matching with that bike. Tried a lot of convincing but it didn’t work. I was sad. I had to compromise on the account of love.
So, I moved to the next choice, the pulsar trio, with 20 CC and little bit of feature difference, Pulsar 180/200/220. Bajaj really confused me this time. No need to mention that after riding a Hamara Bajaj scooter for around 10 years, I never doubted the quality of Bajaj. And the brand Pulsar was already in the top of youth’s choice. Pulsar 180 was fitting in my requirement and budget.
But 200/220 came with a lot of new and promising features. Oil cooled engine, 120 section rear tubeless tyre, split seat, higher pillion seat, tank flaps, bigger aluminium finish exhaust, Split grab rail, auto cancelling indicators, sporty look, sportier seating postures differentiated these two bikes a lot from the 180.
None of these features were present in my first choice HH Karizma R as well. After all these evaluation & calculation, I shortlisted Pulsar 200 and 220. These two bikes had lots of common things except pulsar 220 was a semi faired bigger brother with 20 CC and about 3 bhp more power along with projector headlamp which was first of its kind in India. But all these were coming with an about Rs 15000/- extra on road i.e. around Rs 96000/- on road in Guwahati.
So I zeroed down my final choice. Yes, it was the naked street racer, Bajaj Pulsar 200. Now it was about which color it would be. After thinking a lot between blue and black, my choice was the ebony black; Subtle, premium and stylish.
My parents agreed to fulfil my demand during August 2008 after a lot of convincing. Now I had three places of choice to buy the bike from. Jorhat, Assam, my hometown, Guwahati, for the reason it was around Rs 3000/- cheaper and the last was Shillong, Meghalaya, where I was doing my graduation. I rejected Jorhat, because I did not want to ride a brand new bike for around 400 km to Shillong. It would have harmed the engine. If I buy in Shillong, It would have been registered as ML 05. I did not want that because I would not haveto stay in Shillong for a long and I did not want to own a bike registered out of my own state. So the last and obvious choice was Guwahati.
The bike was available in the showroom on cash payment. I was anyways not favouring instalment, to cut down the extra cost. So, with cash ready I along with my girlfriend reached Shreeauto Bajaj in Paltan Bazar, Guwahati on September 9, 2008. I checked the bike thoroughly for the last time before taking delivery. The showroom guys were pretty hospitable. It took around one hour to finish all the formalities. After which I received my brand new black beauty and headed towards the Basistha mandir for doing the puja rituals.
After finishing the customs, I dropped my girlfriend in her hostel, and met my friend who was supposed to accompany me to Shillong which is 100 km away from Guwahati. We left around 8 pm. After around three hours, we reached the destination.
The bike stood up to my expectations on almost every aspect. With 18 bhp of power, it was very fast in quick moving in and around the city. But once I reach high speed above 80 kmph, the engine becomes harsh, which feels like I am pushing it beyond limits.
Although the manufacturer claims it to have a 130 kmph of top speed, on a free straight highway I pushed it beyond limits and could reach a top speed of 121 kmph max. There are few more shortcomings of this bike as well.
The handling of the bike was a thing I used to be very concerned about. On a straight highway, it was stable but in twists and turns I felt it very heavy to manoeuvre. For this I used to have wrist pain often. I also feel that any Pulsar is more prone to skid than other bikes. In two to three occasions, it skidded resulting in a fall. All of them were unexpected. But the reason behind those skids could also be a wrong riding style or hard braking for that matter. But that was it. Gradually I adopted a more matured and subtle style of riding, keeping the safety on mind all the time.
The rider’s seat in Pulsar 200 is very high. With 5.8” feet, I do not reach the ground with both my feet fully stretched. The seats are also very hard, making it really painful for long rides. Till now I did not alter the original seats for the sake of looks.
When talking about the suspension, I am pretty happy with the rear endurance Nitrox gas filled set up. But when it comes to the front set, I feel it is too soft to handle Indian potholes. If at high speed it falls on any one of those big potholes by mistake, it makes a thud like sound, which is basically my front number plate hitting the mud guard down there. It’s irritating and scary.
The headlamp in Pulsar 200, is that one element, I hate most about this bike. I do not understand, what came to the manufacturers mind when they equipped the bike with merely 35w/35w halogen bulb. I almost go blind on the open highways and hills during night rides, although in city it is somehow manageable. This necessary upgrade is still on my mind.
I also suffered the most common problem of the pulsar owners; head gasket leak which was later sorted out by a good mechanic.
With all the above mentioned shortcomings, the bike was still a good buy at Rs 81,000/- on road in Guwahati. To be really honest, I never regretted buying this particular model. Rather I respect its power and capability and always maintained like my baby.
People get it hard to believe, when I tell them it’s more than 5 years old. And I really love that expression. Now that Bajaj has discontinued this super model for the pricing factor, I am among those very few people in the country, who own this beauty.
My 200 has clocked 35K+ on the odo. Considering the age it’s still very less, I know. The main reason behind this is when I left for Bangalore in 2009 to do my MBA; I did not carry it there. I was afraid of mishandling during the shipment. I had a hard time there without this. But when in 2010 I had to move to Mumbai, I could not hold my urge any further. I booked it through Safexpress. But despite packing it to the maximum safe possible, to my utmost fear, I received the bike with a dent on the petrol tank. I almost cried. But the service provider did not give a damn.
Short & Long Rides
I and my 200 had quite a few of Short & long rides during this 5 years of togetherness. These includes
- Shillong >Guwahati and vice versa (Distance 100 km one way) – Around 5-6 times.
- Shillong >Cherrapunji>Shillong (Distance 58 km x 2 =116 km) – Around 3-4 times.
- Shillong>Jorhat and vice versa (Distance 400 km one way) – 5 times.
- Jorhat>Sibsagar>Jorhat (Distance 60 km x 2 =120 km) –More than 10 times.
- Jorhat >Guwahati and vice versa (Distance 300 km one way) – 3 times.
- Mumbai> Pune (Distance 154 km one way) – Once.
- Mumbai >Alibaug (Distance 100 km one way) – twice.
- Mumbai>Kashid beach>Mumbai (130 km x 2 = 260 km) – Once.
- Mumbai>Daman (Distance 175 km one way) – Once.
- Guwahati >Cherrapunjee>Guwahati (Distance 150 km x 2 = 300 km) – Once.
All of these rides were fantastic and completely trouble free. The oil cooling mechanism and the set of MRF Zapper tubeless tires were the biggest boon for me. I remember quite a few times I rode more than 3 hours at a stretch during summer, without the fear of engine heat up or break down. That is the kind of confidence, the bike gives me.
The Mileage per kilometer of my 200 is also impressive. It returns 45 kmpl to 50 kmpl on an average in mixed riding conditions. And it’s been throughout all these years. I met quite a few people owning smaller capacity bike like HH passion, HH splendor or Bajaj boxer/caliber. And they complain about the mileage per km. Sometimes it is even below 25 kmpl. I wonder how? But later realize it is all about the maintenance. I always say love your bike and see how it loves you back, just like your pet.
Talking about the maintenance, I would like to let you know that Pulsar 200 is not at all expensive to maintain. A regular servicing at an interval of 2500 – 3000 km is good enough to keep the ride happy. For a very long time I kept servicing only at Bajaj authorized service centre. But the result varied. Sometimes it was outstanding whereas sometimes I felt it was very poor.
Even in case of changing the engine oil, I trusted them blindly for long time. If you can find a good and reliable mechanic in your city, the outcome would be much better at a very nominal charge. I currently switched my engine oil to Motul 5100 semi synthetic 15W50. And I must agree all the reviews/reports I studied online about this oil are true to the point. The bike suddenly became happier, more peppy and quicker. Now the engine does not get harsh on high speed and cold start is not an issue anymore.
In the early days of the bike, I always used premium petrol for a long time but with the rising fuel price, I researched a lot and came to the conclusion that normal petrol is just good enough to switch.
In October 2011, I acquired one more bike out of my pure weakness and interest towards it. It is a Royal Enfield Bullet 350-1975. This bull was lying in the poultry farm of a lawyer and was almost in a scrap condition. The deal was made only at Rs 6000/-. Later one of the best Bullet mechanic in Jorhat restored it to a completely new looking bike. I had the idea, he has his skill. The restoration cost me about Rs 80000/-, which is almost equal to the price of my old Pulsar.
Now this bike is running in 3 years after restoration. No major problem. But I ride it occasionally whenever I visit my hometown. I would not like to compare the Enfield with Pulsar 200. That would be injustice. Both are completely different from one another. One was made almost 12 years earlier than my birth, has its own charm, no fancy technology but a looker. Another in recent times with updated technology and is fast. It has a different type of appeal too.