I started my hunt for a bike with a budget of around Rs. 70,000 – 90,000. I was clear about certain things before I zeroed on a bike: Its normal fuel efficiency, after sales service of the brand (I hated to run around the service station couple of time to explain them what my issues are), ride quality (I expected decent ride quality), balance, and besides all this resale value was also my big criterion. And of course I wanted an electric start option.

I could short list three bikes after ample survey among friends and after talking to bike dealers.

  • TVS Apache RTR Fi
  • Hero Honda Karizma
  • Bajaj pulsar 220 DTS-Fi

I took a test ride of all three models, but I liked TVS Apache RTR Fi for the following reasons:

TVS Apache RTR Fi looked pretty impressive to eyes and has everything I had wanted, and even more including rear disc brakes and a fuel injection. But I had to say one thing here. I was not happy about the gear shift in this bike. Finding neutral is very difficult and a 160cc engine was not that peppy as compared to other 150cc bikes such as Hero Honda Hunk or Honda Unicorn. One more reason honestly I was looking for was 200+ cc bikes, although the rear disk brake comes and it is very good. The exhaust note is not that good and engine is not refined enough and I felt that the bike is a bit smaller and not worth its price.

After dropping TVS Apache RTR Fi from my mind, I had to decide between Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi and Hero Honda Karizma. I took a test ride of both the bikes for 30 min. Here are my thoughts about the two beasts…

Engine: Both bikes have 200+ cc engines. While Pulsar has a 219cc engine, the Karizma has 223cc engine. So in terms of cc there is nothing to separate clearly the two bikes. Pulsar oozes out 20 bhp while Karizma propels 17 bhp. These things also did effect too much on my decision. Karizma uses carburetor while pulsar 220 uses fuel injection system.

When I talked to an auto expert, he tried to explain me about the Pulsar’s fuel injection. He said it’s just a fuel injection, and not electronic fuel injection like it’s in a four wheeler; which means it manually sprays fuel into the cylinder and Karizma uses carburetor which is used in Honda VBR series bikes; still a slightly outdated technology.

Gear box: Both Pulsar and Karizma use lever-type gear changer as in most sports bikes; however, Karizma’s gear shifting is smoother and it’s easy to find neutral while in Pulsar the down shifting isn’t as much smoother.

Suspension: Karizma suspension is 5-step adjustable according to road conditions and it’s the same in Pulsar too, but the Pulsar suspension is quite better than Karizma as it is Nitrox gas charged.

Instruments: Karizma’s instrument panel is 3 dial with one LCD and two analog while Pulsar has one LCD and one analog tachometer. Quality of switches is better in Karizma than in the Pulsar; although Pulsar has additional features such as low battery indicator and so on.

Brakes: Karizma has 276 mm disc brakes in front and drum brakes on rear. While Pulsar has both disc brakes but the rear brakes are poor and you might as well feel that these are like drum brakes as you have seen in erstwhile Bajaj Chetak scooter. Karizma brakes are better with no chance of skidding as I’d experienced from my ride.

Design: Pulsar design and styling is inspired by Hayabusa (as in like the rear view mirror fitted on the fairing directly). While Karizma is design from the inspiration of Honda CBR 3000 series sports bike. Here the decision could simply be personal and vary by what and how one looks at a bike. I personally liked Karizma’s styling and bodywork. Also with addition of engine race cowl I liked it even more.

Maneuverability: Since Karizma’s wheelbase is quite large it is very stable around the corners and in straight roads too. I found Pulsar too bulky when cornering. However both could be fine and at par in this regard.

Engine noise: Pulsar engine note has similar feeling as from its the Pulsar family like the 150cc, 180cc and the 200cc. While Karizma engine is quite refined with very little noise. Even at 90 kmph speed its noise is very low and refined with little to no vibrations.

Mileage: As because I’m buying a 200+cc bike, it simply cannot be a factor to decide bike brand; yes, mileage isn’t a big concern. However, Karizma overall mileage is said to fall between 40 and 45 kmpl and so same with Pulsar too which gives around 42 to 47 kmpl of petrol.

Self starter and battery: Karizma self starter is a bit sluggish in extreme cold conditions; say around 3 to 4 degree temperatures, so it requires a bit choking in severe winters. Else the bike starts within a moment of pressing the starter button unfailingly while pulsar has Fi and so no problem whatsoever to start the engine in a single press. Karizma has 7ah battery while pulsar has 9ah battery.

I had almost made my mind to buy a Bajaj Pulsar 200cc DTS-Fi but the following things put me off after a little thinking.

  • Pulsar doesn’t come with additional kick starter, now that’s a big problem for a bike if it has no kick and the battery fails for whatever reasons say in winter or if its not to be used for long time of 20 to 30 days.
  • Pulsar doesn’t have black engine and alloys also there is no sports cowl to the bike.
  • Rear disc brake has lots of complaints as I’d heard from my friends who have been using Pulsar 220cc. Rear disc brake is just a piece of disc and there is no surprising braking by the Pulsar.

Price: On road of Pulsar 220cc comes to around Rs. 86,000 in Delhi while Karizma comes at Rs. 76,000. So why should I pay extra 10,000 more and for what big deal? Some of you might well say that Pulsar comes with LED tail lamps etc. But honestly speaking I don’t want a showpiece and I want a bike that will never let me down. It is stupid to spend 10,000 more for all that not so-useful gadgetry.

So I went ahead and bought a Hero Honda Karizma from Oswal Honda in Pitampura and I’m glad with my decision.

~ AK Sharma




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