Bajaj Pulsar 220F 8500 Kms Review by Manish Singhal

August 2011 was when I first rode this beast. Since then, the feeling to own it has been even more thrilling! 8,500 kms clocked in mere 6 months, but the thirst and the lust still prevails!

With uncountable biking trips that have now become difficult to keep a track of, I am all set to narrate my P220 saga. I was once an owner of the legendary Pulsar 150 in black. Year 2008 was when I had to let go the black beauty as I moved to a different country for a short term project assignment.

To taste the ‘Fast and Furious’, in the days when I was abroad, I drove few of the world’s most killer cars including Mercedes E350, Lincoln MKS, Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger and a few more (all rented). Unfortunately, their cockpit did never quench my thirst and I always had the hollowness of not being able to ride a bike. Someone has rightly said, “For Bikers, cars are like coffin”!

I was dying to be back and August 2011 was when the rider returned! Keeping the traffic, crunched parking spaces & the bad condition (scratches, dents etc.) of vehicles on road, I had not considered the premium segment which included Ninja 250R, CBR 250R. It was also because I had a feeling of insecurity and I did not want to own a bike which would gain attention in public parking lots.

I am not a very big fan of cruiser bikes, mostly because my arms aren’t built enough to match the grandness of the Harleys. But I still wanted a machine that had some raw power. P220, Karizma/ZMR and R15 were the only options!

Hero Honda Karizma | 223cc | 17.6Bhp

I would have preferred the Karizma, may be because this is the bike which is hooked up with Hrithik and MTV Roadies! But the day I visited the showroom, there was no Karizma or ZMR available to test drive or even to see. The not so good experience with the Hero sales representative and their limited stock in display made me hesitant.

Also, they said that there was a waiting period, which at that point in time, I could not afford. I knew that the goods were the Hero Honda engine, known to be smoother but the odds were the embarrassing yellow console, a price tag over 20k more than the P220 and a surprisingly low HP of 17 out of a 223cc machine!

Yamaha R15 | 149cc | 17Bhp

I did love the fact that it had a liquid cooled engine, 6 gears, better handling and in looks resembled the mighty R1! However, the overpriced R15 didn’t prove up to my expectations. The skinny rear tire (in v1.0) and no main stand was a big letdown. How do I park my bike in places like the railway station where the bikes are crunched to every inch of space?

Also the sporty riding position wouldn’t be very comfortable when riding in the city over potholes and commuting almost 50kms daily. If money is not a factor for you and daily commutation is not your need, go ahead and buy R15 blindfolded! BTW, in the new R15 v2.0, the pillion seat is so small and elevated, that its only suitable for your petite girlfriend(s).

Bajaj Pulsar | 220cc | 21 Bhp

The max of HP’s among all, yet the min of spending .. P220 was it ! And the new dual tone (sticker work) was the icing on the cake! I would not comment much on the looks as it’s totally an individual’s choice. I personally believe that P220 has killer looks and yes Pulsars have been known for its styling and looks since the day they were incarnated. I saw the P220 first in the Bajaj Probiking showroom.

I was told that P220 & Avengers would be soon available in all Bajaj showrooms and not just Probiking. Well, it was too early for them to unveil, at that point in time, that Probiking would very soon hive the KTM’s (which we all know now). With almost no waiting period on the P220, I had my hands down for my Bajaj Pulsar 220F.

My P220 Experience

Mileage: City 38-40kmpl, Highway 40-42kmpl

Top Speed: 135 km/hr. Many a times I have throttled at around a speed of 135km/hr, when I often wonder if the beast has taken control over me ! I haven’t been able to go past 135km/hr, though.

Destinations: I live in Pune and my beast has accompanied me to Panchgini, Mahabaleshwar, Srivardhan, Diveyagar, Murud, Lonavala, Purandar, Mumbai and many other places.

Problems I had with my P220 so far

  • Engine oil leak in the inlet to the oil cooler. This was fixed during my 3rd servicing where they replaced a rubber washer and applied a sealant (which I wasn’t very happy about).
  • I was extremely disappointed with my 1st servicing. Washing was done just for the sake of doing it, delivery was 2 hours delayed wherein I kept waiting, and there was also a scratch to the engine coating on one side. Pune people, I would suggest not to give your bike for servicing to the Bajaj Dealer cross the JM Road. For the 2nd and the 3rd servicing, I switched over to the dealer from where I had bought my bike and I have no complains on the service quality or delivery since then.
  • Getting a punctured tubeless tire repaired is expensive. A workshop charges Rs 80-100 for every puncture. It’s better to buy a repairing kit which costs around Rs 250-350.

Maintaining My P220

  • I get my bike a timely service as mentioned in the instruction manual.
  • I always try to maintain the correct tire pressure.
  • I keep a tire repair kit as P220 has tubeless tires.
  • I also keep greasing oil at home for lubricating the chain periodically.
  • Every time I start the bike, I wait for 2-3 minutes before I throttle.
  • I turn the headlights off before turning off the engine to make sure that I do not accidently leave them on. Starting the bike with the headlights on may cause the lamp to fuse.
  • I switch gears very frequently, as and when needed.
  • I use engine braking over pressing the brake pedal, wherever appropriate.
  • I keep a watch on the engine oil level and the brake oil. I started doing this only because I had oil leak once.
  • Every time I take the delivery after a service, I make sure they have filled up oil in the engine as per the calibrated marks.
  • I get a wash for my bike regularly, especially when there is mud on it. Leaving the mud sticking will cause the body to rust sooner.
  • I prevent laying objects on the tank and elsewhere to avoid scratches to the paint job.
  • I am choosy for the place I park my bike. I prevent parking at places where my bike would get sandwiched.
  • I avoid parking the bike in the side stand, especially when the engine is hot after a long run. Just my perception, which could be wrong, that it would move the engine oil to one side and the other part of the engine would be burning because of this.

The Good About P220

  • Value for money. Just around 85k on-road for a 220cc machine!
  • 21PS of raw power for an enthralling pick up.
  • Projector Head Lamps. Trust me, they are like search lights and you can find even ‘a needle in the haystack’ ?
  • Split seats with good amount of seating space for the driver and the pillion.
  • Tubeless tires for an uninterrupted journey.

Add on features in P220. Many people fail to realize that these are actually missing in other bikes in the same segment.

  • Self-Cancelling Indicators
  • Rear Disc Brakes
  • Clip-on Handle Bars
  • Projector Headlamp
  • Dual Horn
  • Backlit Switch
  • Glass window to check oil level.

The Bad about P220

  • Engine is not very smooth. You can feel it grinding.
  • Gear Box needs to be smoother. The gear shifts aren’t that pleasing.
  • ‘Oil Cooled’ is a gimmick. It’s merely just the engine oil flowing through an added extension to give it more surface for cooling.
  • Rear view mirror isn’t at the right place and flutters at times.
  • The new sticker work for the dual tone uses a large sticker on the flaring. If it ever peels off, it would have disastrous effect to the looks of the bike.
  • Lack of the 6th gear.

There are many who keep cribbing about the quality and lifespan of Bajaj bikes.

Despite that they point this out in almost every blog they tweet, ever wondered why we still see so many Pulsars on the road and why most of the college and IT youths still prefer a Pulsar? Despite of complaining, I am sure that even they (few of them) must be wishing for a Pulsar, but they do not go for it only because they feel it’s too ‘common’. Ever wondered why Pulsars are so common? I know the answer and so do most of you!

Pulsars have ruled the biking era in India for the past one decade and will continue to do so. If the Pulsar (as-is today) ain’t enough to charm you, hold your breath to see the next generation Pulsars heating up the roads very soon! Showcase of Pulsar 200NS was just the beginning of a new era !

Manish Singhal