The pros: Bold muscular design, refined engine and very smooth gear shifting and handling. Disc brakes on both the tyres (front ABS).
The cons: This bike is not for the amateur racers.
The crux: Overall, the bike isn’t cheap exactly, but it offers a high level of comfort, good quality of materials and has everything and valuable product.
Igniting passions since over a decade, the Pulsar brand has come a long way indeed. In its latest avatar, the Pulsar gets fully faired, fuel injection and most importantly, “the fastest Pulsar” tag as well. We put Bajaj’s claim to the test at their very on track in Chakan!
For most of us in their late twenties (or very early thirties) the Pulsar brand came across as a gift from the motorcycle gods. A decade back, 150 cc motorcycles were fast motorcycles for the enthusiasts and when Bajaj unleashed a 180cc variant, it was nothing short of superbike material for us. I wasn’t one of the fortunate ones to own it back then but I was fortunate to have a friend who had taken delivery of a spanking red 180 DTSI V1 way back in 2004, which simply blew my mind with its raw unadulterated performance. Fast forward to 2015, my friend still has the 180, but the Pulsar brand itself is all set to redefine the entry level performance bike segment yet again.
Bajaj’s last launch, the Pulsar NS 200 was a ground breaking motorcycle which was revered all around for its aggressive looks, technology and performance which came at a not so expensive price tag. Now the company has decided to up the game even further with its latest baby, the Pulsar RS200.
The the 220 was the last semi faired Pulsar that we had seen but Bajaj had shown us some promising fully faired concepts at the Auto Expo which included the RS200 which was then known as the SS200. While the design was impressive for a Pulsar, we found it a tad bit too radical which was expected from a concept. However, seeing the bike now in its production form, Bajaj has managed to stay true to the concept which is both a good and a bad thing. Good things first, the bike commands attention thanks to its muscular style, the Transformer like front and that Bumblebee yellow shade (Red being the other option). There are plenty of cuts, creases, vents and details.
Its the front which garners most controversy with a love it or hate it design. You get a stack of projectors in the front with a strip of LED’s which look like eye brows and serve as pilot lamps. The sides get generous doses of matt black plastic that really hide the mass well with the chunky tank getting a strip of scratch protection as well.
Behind the small see-through visor which i must add works brilliantly to cut the wind, you have the same console that you get in the NS and high-ishly set clip on handle bars, that looks a little weird but feel plenty comfortable. The instrument console gets a large analogue rev counter with a shift light and a digital speedometer. Rest of the layout is similar to the NS and works well without any issues.
The RS200 also gets split seats and thankfully its not on the first floor like on the R15 and the RC series. The side and rear panels are all-new too along with an almost freely suspended tail light cluster that we felt looked a little out of place. The engine is housed nicely under the fairing with the perimeter frame highlighting the design.
Even the stubby exhaust look brilliant and for a change its good to see a nice meaty can jutting out rather than being hidden under the engine. Quality of materials used is quite good too and even after we revved the daylights out of the bike there was no rattle or squeaks. All said and done, the Pulsar RS200 is quite an attention grabber as a whole but we feel Bajaj has gone a bit too bold making the design busier than it needs to be. Will the design grow on us as times pass remains to be seen. But what we appreciate the most is that Bajaj hasn’t just slapped on a fairing on the NS, but has gone the whole giving the bike its very own identity.
Engine and Performance
The RS200 gets the same engine from the NS however its gets plenty of additional stuff. The most important one being the addition of Fuel Injection. The liquid cooled, 199.5 cc motor now pushes out 24.5 PS @ 9750 rpm and a maximum torque 18.6 Nm @ 8000 rpm. Pushing the starter button, the first thing that you notice is the refinement. There is definitely a noticeable step up in refinement which can be felt even on the go.
Whacking the throttle open, the response is much crisper thanks to the fuel injection. Power delivery is also extremely linear and the the bike revs cleanly all the way till 10,000 rpm by the time which the shift light is blinking at an alarming rate. Now the RS200 is about 20 kg heavier than its naked sibling thanks to the fairing, the ABS unit and then some and to compensate for the gain Bajaj has altered the final drive ratio by making shorter.
Going through the 6-speed gearbox, the shift action is slick and going through the gears I saw a 140 km/h before I had to back out. Bajaj claims a true speed of 141 km/h and I guess in ideal conditions the RS200 will hit that mark. In gear acceleration is pretty strong as well which will make overtaking an easy affair on the highways.
Coming to the brakes, the RS is equipped with a single channel ABS that works with the front 300mm disc only. While this was effective, we Indians do have a tendency to hit just the rear at most times and thanks to the 230mm disc at the rear, its easy to lock up the rear. But using the brakes as they should be, that is together, the RS sheds speeds very well and tracks true and straight without any drama. Since we only managed to ride the bike on the track, we don’t have any numbers yet. A proper review will yield the actual performance and fuel efficiency figures. Overall the engine feels great and extra refinement and bump in performance is much appreciated.
Ride and Handling
The RS gets the same perimeter frame chassis, Nitrox monoshox at the rear and the same front telescopic suspension. The riding position is sporty thanks to the clip on bars but not as aggressive as say the RC200 or the R15.
Its a nice sports tourer riding position rather than an all out attack posture. Since we only rode the bike on the butter smooth tarmac at the test track, we can’t really comment on how the RS will take the beatings out on the real roads, but then its shouldn’t be much different than the NS.
Coming to the handling, its like coming to the fun part. To go with the sporty nature of the bike, the RS gets a shorter wheelbase with the rake having become more aggressive in the front as well which helps the bike turn in with the alacrity of a ninja (i meant the warrior here and not the bike). While the alloys remain the same, the RS’ gets improved compound tyres which really worked wonders on the track. Grip levels even with the foot pegs scraping were extremely good with the bike really inspiring confidence on fast corners.
On switchbacks, where you need to change directions quickly is where the RS’ bulk comes into the picture, but then if its a track demon that you want, the RC series is a better bet. But where the RC’s are extremely focused, the RS is happy doing a bit of everything.
At Rs. 1.18 lakh for the standard variant and Rs. 1.30 lakh for the ABS version, the RS isn’t exactly cheap but then Bajaj have it placed spot on right below the RC 200. The RS does almost everything the KTM does but at the same is much more comfortable and not to mention much more affordable. What Bajaj can also take solace in is that there aren’t too many bikes than can do or offer what the RS does in that price bracket. We think Bajaj has another winner on its hands!
Pics by Amit Shelar