Bajaj Pulsar 180 Neon: Road Test Review

Published On Jun 11, 2019 By for Pulsar 180F at Zigwheels.com

The new faired Pulsar 180 sits bang in the middle of the naked Pulsar 180 and the Pulsar 220. Does this new motorcycle offer the best of both worlds then?

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

Introduction:
Bajaj Auto has always had this unique modus operandi of offering features from its higher capacity bikes on its lower capacity models. Its latest and most outrageous example is the Pulsar 180 Neon which gets a quarter fairing from the larger Pulsar 220. This has been done to rejuvenate sales of the Pulsar 180 which has been on the decline since the past few months. However, the new update also brings in a price hike. The faired Pulsar 180 costs Rs 9,267 more than its naked variant. That’s not a small amount by any means. But that also means the new Pulsar 180 Neon is Rs 11,792 more affordable than the larger Pulsar 220. Does the new Pulsar offer the perfect middle ground between the standard 180 and the 220 then? 

Pros:

  • Fantastic headlamp.
  • Looks like a larger bike.
  • Low seat height.
  • Brakes have strong bite.

Cons:

  • Instrument console feels dated.
  • Visibility from mirrors is restricted.

Standout features:

  • New paint job looks premium.
  • New headlamp is the best-in-class for beam intensity, spread and reach.

Design:

The Pulsar 180 Neon looks exactly like the larger Pulsar 220. However, the smaller Pulsar gets a unique matte grey paint job with orange accents on the badge, inside the fairing vents and on the split grab rails. Then you have the exhaust end can from the Pulsar 180 series which is not as beefy as the Pulsar 220’s. Paint quality is quite good as is the switchgear quality that has improved a lot from the first generation Pulsars. The instrument console is the same semi-digital setup but gets a faux carbon fibre surround and a new background for the tachometer. There was a small creaking noise from the fairing on our test bike, but from experience of having owned a Pulsar 220, I can tell you that it is an easy fix. In fact, the panels on this fairing are known for not coming loose easily.

The Pulsar 180 Neon gets a large 15-litre fuel tank and has a ground clearance of 165mm  which should help it clear the largest of speed breakers easily. 

 

Bajaj Pulsar 180 Neon

Hero Xtreme 200R

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V

Suzuki Gixxer SF SP FI (2018 model)

Length

2035mm

2062mm

2050mm

2025mm

Width

765mm

778mm

790mm

715mm

Height

1115mm

1072mm

1050mm

1035mm

Seat height

795mm

795mm

795mm

780mm

Ground clearance

165mm

165mm

180mm

160mm

Fuel tank capacity

15-litres

12.5-litres

12-litres

12-litres

Kerb weight

151kg

148kg

147kg

146kg

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

Ergonomics:

The Pulsar 180 Neon is a compact motorcycle with the clip-on handlebars placed closer to you. Its low seat and mid-set footpegs mean the distance between the two is less. This works fine if you are below 5’8”, beyond which it could get uncomfortable as your knees are bent more than usual while riding the bike. Speaking of riding position, you sit fairly upright. This works well for long distance rides. The split-seat is wide and though the cushioning is a tad on the softer side, it offers enough comfort to travel long distances with less stops. The pillion too has a comfortable perch thanks to the long seat and split grab rails. 

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

The addition of a fairing should help with touring right? In some ways, it does. The bright headlamp will definitely be a boon on the highway. However, the low-set windscreen isn't of much use unless you are tucked in behind it. Also, unlike the larger Pulsar 220 that feels planted at speed, this bike is affected by crosswinds. 

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

Technology and features:

The biggest update the Pulsar 180 Neon receives in terms of features is the new projector headlamp setup. On the Pulsar 220, the headlamp offered the best-in-class lighting in terms of beam intensity and spread. These halogen lamps with the projector setup offer the same value on the smaller Pulsar. Other than that, the Pulsar 180 Neon gets LED tail lamps, clip-on handlebars and a semi-digital instrument console with a fuel gauge and warning for the side stand. It, however, misses out on a gear position indicator. In our opinion, the previous orange-backlit instrument console was easy to read in the dark than the current blue-backlit one. 

For safety, the Pulsar 180 Neon gets a single-channel ABS as standard fitment.

 

Bajaj Pulsar 180 Neon

Hero Xtreme 200R

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V

Suzuki Gixxer SF SP FI (2018 model)

LED headlamp

No

No

No

No

LED tail lamp

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

LED turn indicator

No

No

No

No

Full digital instrument console

No

No

Yes

Yes

Variants:

The Pulsar 180 range comes in two variants: the naked Pulsar 180 and faired Pulsar 180 Neon. Apart from the fairing, the Pulsar 180 Neon also gets a projector headlamp setup instead of the naked 180’s halogen bulb setup. 

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

Engine and Performance:

 

Bajaj Pulsar 180 Neon

Hero Xtreme 200R

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V

Suzuki Gixxer SF SP FI (2018 model)

Engine capacity

178.6cc, 2-valve SOHC air-cooled

199.6cc,2-valve, SOHC air-cooled

159.7cc, 4-valve, air and oil-cooled

154.9cc, 2-valve SOHC air-cooled

Power

17PS @ 8500rpm

18.4ps @ 8000rpm

16.5PS @ 8000rpm

14.8PS @ 8000rpm

Torque

14.22Nm @ 6500rpm

17.1Nm @ 6500rpm

14.8 Nm @ 6500rpm

14Nm @ 6000rpm

Slipper clutch

No

No

No

No

0-60kmph

5.54 seconds

4.98 seconds

5.04 seconds

5.21 seconds

0-100kmph

15.88 seconds

14.92 seconds

15.36 seconds

17.56 seconds

30-70kmph in 3rd gear

6.87 seconds

6.14 seconds

6.87 seconds

NA

40-80kmph in 4th gear

9.22 seconds

7.56 seconds

9.02 seconds

NA

City FE

 

40.69kmpl

50.94kmpl

51kmpl

Highway FE

47.86kmpl

36.90kmpl

56.1kmpl

62.47kmpl

The Pulsar 180 Neon gets the same 178.6cc air-cooled powerplant as the naked Pulsar 180 that makes the same 17PS @ 8500rpm and 14.22Nm @ 6500rpm here too. It gets a 5-speed gearbox. However, the fairing and headlamp mean the Pulsar 180 Neon weighs 6kg more than the naked Pulsar 180. This added weight does hamper performance somewhat. 

In our Vbox performance tests, the Pulsar 180 Neon did the 0-60kmph run in 5.54 seconds. That makes it slower than most 160cc bikes and even the Gixxer SF. However it is not just the extra weight, but also the relatively taller gearing that makes the Pulsar 180 Neon slower off the line. However, thanks to its extra capacity, the Pulsar 180 posts a respectable 0-100kmph time of 15.88 seconds. 

The motor makes most of its power higher up the rev range, hence its roll-on figures in third gear are way better than the one in fourth, where the motor is spinning most of the time in the lower part of the rev range. 

What the taller gearing does though is that it gives the Pulsar 180 Neon relaxed cruising ability at speeds of 80-100kmph. At 80kmph, the motor is spinning at a relaxed 5800rpm in fifth gear and at 100kmph in top gear, the rev counter points to 7200rpm. This relaxed nature also allows the bike to offer a highway fuel efficiency figure of 47.86kmpl which is similar to the smaller Pulsar NS160. 

This is a refined motor. The only time you feel vibrations in the form of a small buzz on the handlebars is at 80kmph and on the fuel tank at 100kmph. The gearshifts are fairly light and slot in with a positive feel.

Overall, the motor is a relaxed unit and feels more adept at cruising rather than offering much in terms of excitement. 

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

Ride and handling:

The Pulsar 180 Neon carries forward the same double downtube frame as its naked cousin. It has the same architecture as the first Pulsar, but has seen a lot of updates since then. For suspension, you get telescopic forks and twin gas-charged shock absorbers. The suspension setup is on the softer side and offers a pliant ride at both low and high speeds. However, large potholes do upset the bike but it does a fairly good job of filtering out the road harshness and sharp edges.

While the naked Pulsar 180 is an eager handler, the addition of a fairing means you feel the extra weight while turning at low speeds. However, the weight isn't enough to bother you, rather something you get used to. While the steering isn't lazy, it isn't as quick as say a KTM or the R15 V3 either.

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

In wide, sweeping corners, the Pulsar 180 feels composed and takes small undulations in its stride. However, the added weight of the fairing, the soft suspension setup and MRF Zappers do not instil confidence to push the bike to its limits. It's a good thing that the motor’s relaxed power delivery will seldom get you in trouble in the twisties. 

With the new single-channel ABS setup, the Pulsar 180 Neon also sees an upgrade from its previous 240mm front disc to a new 260mm disc. Like most Pulsars, the brakes provide a progressive feel and ample bite. Under hard braking, the soft front end, coupled with the extra weight of the fairing results in considerable dive causing the rear wheel to lighten up and break traction easily. The ABS setup, however, does a commendable job of keeping the front wheel in check and isn't too intrusive. 

Bajaj Pulsar 180F Road Test Review

Overall, the Pulsar’s suspension is tuned for comfort and is more at home in the city and highway rides than on the racetrack.

 

Bajaj Pulsar 180 Neon

Hero Xtreme 200R

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V

Suzuki Gixxer SF SP FI (2018 model)

100-0kmph

59.26m

72.93m

  

80-0kmph

37.42m

42.65m

41.51m

33.64m

 

Verdict:
So what exactly does the Pulsar 180 Neon offer? The addition of a faring and headlamp from the larger Pulsar 220 does give the Pulsar 180 Neon a sense of premiumness. It also enhances the Pulsar’s touring capability, not so much by way of the fairing, but thanks to the brilliant new headlamp setup. Also, the unique colour scheme will help you stand out in a sea of Pulsars, the 220 included. But, for around Rs 3,610 more, you have the fully-faired Hero Xtreme 200S which offers more features and performance. In comparison, the Pulsar 180 Neon feels overpriced.

 

 Bajaj Pulsar 180 NeonHero Xtreme 200STVS Apache RTR 160 4VSuzuki Gixxer SF SP Fi (2018)
Price (Ex-Showroom in Delhi)Rs 94,790Rs 98,400