Mayank 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.
(Long review alert!! If not interested in the whole story please skip ahead a few paragraph directly to the Experience section)
I am Mayank Travadi, residing in Mumbai and a student of final year of Engineering. This is a review of my short but amazing journey with my 1 year, 5k kms old Pulsar 200 NS.
To be very frank 3 years ago I didn’t have any interest in motorcycles. My experience with 2 wheels was just a hero ranger cycle (one with monoshocks) which I used for going to school.
Then came engineering and my college is quite near..hardly 3kms from home. Took the bus daily. Few months down the line it was my 18th birthday and like every student I too wanted a driving (riding) licence.
After getting a licence graduated from a cycle to an ageing 45k kms Activa from my elder brother who graduated to a car. I was never very enthusiastic about riding it, but the freedom you get with having your own vehicle and going anywhere you want (without waiting for buses or begging autorickshaws to take you to your destination) is amazing.
Our Activa had started giving problems long back and now it was my turn to handle those problems. Bikeadvice forums were very very supportive in helping out ironing technical issues otherwise I would have got easily duped by Authorised Service centres.
So all thanks to BikeAdvice for awakening the interest in motorcycles.
Later on the Activa was quite unreliable that I felt a need for a new ride. I asked my parents and they said “OK we’ll see to it later”. It was quite disappointing but nevertheless I started reading motorcycle reviews learning about all the different companies and what do they offer. I self-imposed a limit of a 125cc bike (as i didn’t know how to ride a bike) and Rs 65K budget (I knew my parents were reluctant and in no way would shell out more than this).
My eyes were kind of fixed on the Pulsar135LS as it was one of the most technologically advanced in its category and light weight with good power. I read tons of reviews on BikeAdvice and many other sites. I had made up my mind if I am going to buy a bike, it will be the P135LS.
A few months passed ogling at P135 pics and reading many technical articles to understand what goes inside these bikes. In January 2012 Pulsar 200NS was launched and it was like love at first sight. Everything was perfect be it the design and styling, the tech used or the price. Bajaj did wonders in building this bike (yes it is based on Duke 200 platform, we will come to it later)
But the engine capacity was much more than my requirement and the 1 Lakh price tag was nowhere close to my budget. So I would look at 200NS pics and reviews on the internet and sulk on the fact I can’t get it.
Meanwhile, I started learning how to ride a bike on my friends Discover 150 which was quite a nice bike and I liked it. I tried riding my friends CBR250 R and man that was heavy for a newbie like me!!
Soon enough in a few more months the Discover 125ST was launched and it was quite appealing. It was a good bike with nice design and attractive features for a 125cc bike.
I was quite sure I wanted a Bajaj bike as they were VFM and contrary to the popular belief of poor quality bikes, the recent ones had no or minimum quality issues and if maintained well would last long. So I along with a few friends went to a nearby Bajaj showroom to test ride the 3 bikes:
- Pulsar 135LS (wasn’t available for test ride)
- Discover 125ST (it was a nice light bike but I found gearshifts hard)
- Pulsar 200NS (well I can’t buy it but why not a test ride)
I was quite disappointed with the test ride primarily because D125ST wasn’t as good as expected and the P135LS wasn’t available. To add to it I liked the p200NS a lot and knowing I wouldn’t be able to buy it made it worse.
My Activa started giving more problems and I told my parents I think the Activa needs to retire and I need a new bike 😛
They agreed and dad told me here is the cheque book fill in the amount , ask mom to sign it and get yourself the bike you want.
I was ecstatic on hearing this and in a few days went to the Bajaj showroom and booked myself a Pulsar 200 NS in sapphire blue for Rs. 98,100. Delivery was promised in 5 days which meant i’d get my bike on the auspicious day of Dusshera.
Finally came the day and I was super duper excited. No one in my family knew how to ride a bike and I too wasn’t very confident of riding as I had recently learned so I asked an uncle, a good friend of ours who lived upstairs to accompany me to the showroom as he owned a bullet and knew how to ride properly.
At the showroom I waited anxiously waiting for my name to be called out to hand over the bike keys and papers. Finally I got the bike and did a quick pre delivery checks and counter checked the engine and chassis no on the bike and the papers.
I wasn’t confident but Uncle told me to go ahead and ride, he was sitting pillion and would guide me. The bike handled like a charm and surprisingly it was very very smooth and very light to handle.
Dad was out of town that week and checked the bank statement and was shocked to see almost 1lakh withdrawal. He asked me what was it the bike was supposed to be of 65k . I said you asked me to write the cheque and take mom’s sign and get whichever bike you want, I went ahead with the 200NS 😀
(My review is very limited and cannot compare with others as I have no experience of riding any other bikes extensively except this one and my old Activa so I wouldn’t be able to compare it well vis-a-vis the competition.)
I started practising riding on open roads in early mornings. The ride felt so very good. You take her out for a spin and you forget all your worries and tensions. Tata bye bye assignments and exam worries when I am riding.
Every rider finds little niggles in his bikes as he is over cautious about it and so was I. I got worried with every weird sound coming from brakes or a little more heat from the engine or is my oil level ok? Should I top it up? Is the bike swaying when I leave my hands and so on. However the less you worry the more you enjoy the ride.
These early morning riding sessions made me more and more interested in motorcycle riding as a hobby, a passion, a way of life and not just a simple machine to commute.
My riding in this one year was very very limited. My college was quite near to my place so I couldn’t give excuses at home for coming late if I went for a spin. However I always took the longer route back home and enjoyed those extra minutes of the pleasant ride.
I find the bike possessing dual nature. Keep your right hand in limits and this bike is a wonderful commuter. Very comfortable, Very relaxed, Nimble and responsive handling in traffic, sufficient for your regular commute to may be your college or your office or taking a longer route to the shop were you go to pay your phone bill.
However find an empty stretch of road and twist your wrist and the BEAST MODE is ON. Tata bye bye everything in your RVMs in a matter of seconds.
Throwing your bike in a corner is so easy that even a beginner like me can se “WAAH!! MAIN BHI ROSSI”.
The power on demand and the handling are the best parts of this bike. People on roads still stare at your bike with jealous eyes . The funny part of owning a p200NS will definitely be when you go to get your PUC and the guy asks “AILA…ISKA SILENCER KIDHAR HAI??“
I haven’t toured on the bike much but my best ride would be the solo ride to Dahanu from Mumbai (130 kms one way). Me and my family were supposed to attend a wedding and the seats in the car were limited so I decided I would come on my bike. I was nervous as I hadn’t ridden so much in a single day at a stretch. But I thought to myself what the heck….lets go ride. I put on my shoes, a denim jacket, knee and elbow guards and gloves and started the ride.
Touching 100 is a piece of cake. But the way it achieves that speed is something extraordinary. I topped out at 120kph as there were a lot of cross winds and the windblast on this naked bike becomes an issue at higher speeds. Also I find riding at higher speeds than these isn’t safe. You have to constantly be aware about your surroundings. Small hatchback cars aren’t a big issue you can easily tackle them but you need to be careful about those heavy vehicles.
Bikes are the last thing that truck drivers will see on the road. Also you need to watch out for those speeding SUVs. The drive like the own the road and don’t care about anyone else. To top it they get very aggravated when a bike over takes them and they take it as a personal challenge to chase the bike down make his ride miserable till it overtakes you.
The small but very exhausting 260km round trip tour made me realise the bikes potential. You can easily cruise at 80-90s and have a relaxed enjoyable ride. Or you can go nuts and show everyone on the road who is the boss. However I wouldn’t recommend the latter as it isn’t safe. One should always ride within your limits and the surrounding traffic.
• Engine: The engine is a gem of technology. Such a small engine with space for 4 valves, 3 spark plugs and a cooling jacket around the cylinder speaks of the amount of research, investment and brainstorming gone into designing it. The engine is very smooth and never lets you down. Every morning just warm up the engine and the bike can go on and on for the whole day and never disappoints you. Power delivery is quite good and linearly spread across the rev range. The torque is sufficient however it might feel a little low in traffic but everything can be solved by twisting your right wrist a little more.
• Perimeter Frame: This is again a very big highlight of the bike. The frame is pretty strong and paired with a nitrox monoshock, the handling is extremely good and responsive. It inspires confidence even in beginners.
• Underbelly Exhaust: The exhaust is neatly hidden (however Duke 200’s exhaust is styled better). The carb along with a triple spark plug setup helps keeping the emission limits to a lower level. So the exhaust is with a very small catcon and hence priced low. You cannot hear the tik tik sound of cooling catcon like in other bikes when you turn off the bike and park it.
• Braking: The 280mm front and 230mm rear petal disk brakes are very responsive and the best in class. However the rear brakes are a bit poor and most of the braking need is satisfied by the front brakes. One must take care about using the front brakes, if you grab a handful you can easily lock the front wheels and crash the bike.
• Tiny Crash Guards: They might look small tiny and useless but they perform exceptionally well to save the riders leg and the bike. On a crash the crash guards, the bar ends, and gear lever or brake lever are the first to take the damage and save the bike completely. Crash guards are dirt cheap and can be replaced easily. However sometimes the bolt holding the crash guards breaks and you need to go to a drill machine guy to help you remove it.
I’ve had 3 crashes in 1 year ownership of the bike and the bike is very strong to handle crashes however the only downside is under a pretty hard crash the handle bars and handle stopper get damaged pretty easily.
• Kitna Deti Hai (Mileage): The bikes wins on fuel efficiency parameter. In city if ridden normally it will give you above 35kmpl and in most cases between 38-40 kmpl. On highways on sane riding you will get 45+ kmpl. This figure is higher than some of the 150cc bikes.
• Console: The console is very attractive and has comprehensive info including everything between the engine speed to turn indicators, service interval indicators and a reserve light which is also a warning light when redlining the bike.
• Suspension: The monoshock helps in good handling and the front suspension aids braking very well with controlled diving. The rear suspension however is a bit stiff even on stock second softest setting but is necessary for handling.
• Switch gear: The backlit switch gear looks quite cool in night riding. Position of all switches is perfect. Except for the turn indicators which take time to get used to. I liked the push button feature of turn indicators. Normally push the switch for turning on the indicators and push the button on the switch to turn off the indicator rather than pushing the switch back to initial position.
• Reliability and Maintenance: The bike is as reliable as most of its Japanese counterparts. Servicing cost is only marginally higher than regular commuter bikes and you need to spend a little more on oil changes as it takes 1.2litres of oil. Otherwise it is a zero maintenance bike. Lube the chain frequently and clean when dirty. Service on time and replace mandatory parts at specified intervals and the bike will never fail you.
The Misses (Cons):
• Headlights: The DC electrical gives a constant flicker free light. Normal city riding the lights a more than sufficient however could have been better as they feel a bit weak on night riding on highways.
• Horn: The horn is very very feeble for highway use. The bike does need a horn upgrade
• Vibrations: Yes there are vibrations primarily around the tank and console areas however not very bothering. Such a light bike and a powerful engine you cant expect a vibe free bike. Most vibes are resonance vibes which are present in every bike at certain rev range.
• Tuning: This isn’t a major fault of the bike but a fault of service centres mechanics. Those guys mess up the tuning big time. A perfect and slightly richer tune makes the bike butter smooth and problem free. Most vibes, cold start issues and acceleration problems are due to bad tuning. The bike does need an FI but the carb performs decently and has helped keep the costs low.
• Seat: The saddle height for the rider is a bit high for small heighted people. Me being 5’9” I find it very difficult to keep both feet completely on the ground. The rear seat is quite high and its quite difficult when a short heighted person tries to sit.
• Tyres: This is one the the major drawback of the bike. The hard compound tyres aren’t so confidence inspiring especially in corners. However tyres on reaching optimum temperature are sufficient for regular riding.
• Windblasts and Crosswinds: At high speeds, windblasts pose a major problem and it gets very difficult to ride. However this is common to all naked bikes. I faced problems in riding in crosswinds once during a very windy and rainy day on a bridge. Slowing down helped control the bike.
Comparison with the Duke 200
Constant comparisons with the KTM sibling is a part and parcel of owning a 200NS. Yes the bike is built on the same platform and in the same factory where the duke is built.
However the only thing common in the duke and the pulsar is the engine bore stroke and the gearbox (with the exception of primary and secondary drive ratios). Except this these two bikes are completely different. If one is a hooligan, the other is a silent assassin.
My personal preference is the Pulsar because firstly it costs significantly less and offers at par performance. And secondly the acceleration of the bike is more than sufficient for city use in India and never completely utilized. Anything more, on a personal level, I feel is dangerous and hence I prefer the pulsar over the duke, as latter has more power.
However I haven’t ridden the duke so wont be able to compare more or comment and the above views are only personal and can be wrong for other people.
Special Mention : NAKEDWOLVES
My Pulsar 200 NS experience is incomplete without mentioning the NAKEDWOLVES MUMBAI | PUNE.
I am a proud member of this group which is a chapter of the pan indian NAKEDWOLVES group. We have many Divisions region wise. Some of them are
- -Delhi & NCR
The group is spread even on an international level and we have a division in INDONESIA where the Pulsar 200NS has been launched a few months back
We define our group as “A construction company that constructs Safe Educated Pulsar 200NS riders for the society“.
It is because of this very group which has enhanced my experience with this bike. It taught me the meaning of brotherhood and riding safely is of utmost importance. Riding in a group in a disciplined manner is amazing and the attention you get on road cant be explained in words. We hope, through our efforts, we can inspire atleast some people on the road to ride safely and atleast use a helmet. The more riding gears, the better.
My Final Verdict
A very Powerful, torquey and a potent engine mixed with a tried, tested and a very rigid perimeter frame, 49:51 mass distribution with nicely spread gear ratios – not too long and not too short, makes the bike very stable yet flickable with nimble handling. Overall the best VFM package available at 1 lakh (give or take a few thousands depending on the state tax policies).