Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bajaj Pulsar NS160/NS200: Two good looking bikes that will sweep you off your feet

There are 11 different Pulsars on sale now! That may be because Bajaj finds itself in a tricky situation — loyalists do not want to let go of old motorcycles and the new age models (particularly, the 250s) have had a slower acceptance rate than the company would have liked. The result is a strange mix of machines, some with the latest of Bajaj’s design and technology as well as a number of others that cut shapes that we have grown familiar with over the last decade or more. The two bikes you see here are from the latter group.

Bajaj claims that it sells about 3,500 NS Pulsars in India every month, and that number is doubled when it comes to overseas sales, primarily from Latin American markets. Clearly, discontinuing these motorcycles is out of the question so the company did the next best thing — gave them an update.

Both the Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 now get an upside down front fork and bigger brakes. Style wise, these are two thoroughly good looking motorcycles and the Edgar Heinrich design looks muscular and proportionate 10 years later. If anything, the addition of the USD fork completes the design. 

This 33mm (inner tube diameter) fork is specially made for the India-spec Pulsars and it is a different, slimmer unit compared to the Dominar 250. That helps save weight, as do the new wheels, which come from the Pulsar 250s. This has resulted in the NS 200 being slightly lighter now, although the NS 160’s weight has gone up by 1kg because it now shares the larger tyre sizes with the NS 200. 

Both bikes now get the Grimeca brakes from the Pulsar 250s and they bring larger 300mm front discs on both bikes. Dual channel ABS is also standard and the braking performance on both bikes has improved, with it being quite good in terms of initial bite and overall power.

The final update worthy of note — apart from the new stickers on top of old colours — is that the bikes get a tweaked semi-digital instrument cluster. This is like the old display, except that it now displays the gear position and has a distance to empty readout.

In theory, a USD fork brings in more rigidity and stiffness to the front end, which helps create more feel and feedback for the rider. Whether this new fork is significantly better than the old one, we can not tell as we did not get to ride the old and new bikes back-to-back. However, the few laps we did get showed that the front end was stable, planted and always felt predictable. What is still like the NS of old is that the rear felt soft in comparison to the front, which caused it to feel bouncy on some sections of Bajaj’s Chakan test track. Raising preload helps control this behaviour and there is a good amount of handling ability to exploit before the foot pegs begin to scrape the tarmac. 

After a few fun laps on the NS 200, we rode both bikes on the road with interludes of bumps and potholes, but at no time did we find the ride to be harsh. Most sharp edges were rounded off nicely and while the softer monoshock was not exactly plush, it did not feel harsh or painful on the back. 

As for the engines, there are no changes except that the bikes are now equipped with OBD2 hardware to comply with the BS6 Phase II emission norms. 

Performance-wise the NS 200’s liquid-cooled engine has a peaky nature, which makes it quite an entertainer. It only really comes alive post 6,000-7,000rpm and it is quite fun to rev out till 10,000rpm. The NS160, on the other hand, offers better tractability and the power delivery is quite linear. However, this engine feels its age, and is nowhere near as refined as the silky smooth Pulsar N160.

To conclude, the NS 160’s new and more expensive hardware makes it a slightly better motorcycle to ride, but it still feels like an old bike. Especially when you consider that the new Pulsar N160 is a better motorcycle in most aspects. When you then consider that the NS 160 costs ₹4,000 more than the N160 dual-channel ABS version, it tilts the choice in favour of the N160.

The NS 200, however, continues to make a case for itself, even today. That is because there is no other bike in the segment with this revvy, brash character, apart from the KTMs. While these updates bring appreciable improvements, it is still the engine that holds the appeal.

#Bajaj #Pulsar #NS160NS200 #good #bikes #sweep #feet

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