2012 Bajaj Pulsar 200NS Review
KTM partners with India’s Bajaj
Bajaj’s Pulsar bikes are a rage in India. Now, a triple-plug Pulsar 200NS, with an engine based off of the KTM Duke 200, aims to spark off a new chapter.
Bajaj Auto Ltd. is India's second-largest two-wheeler manufacturer, consistently selling over 200,000 motorcycles per month. A household name in India, Bajaj operates from three sprawling manufacturing facilities, with an in-house R&D center. At the helm of the company sits a hands-on managing director, Rajiv Bajaj. The company recently increased its stake in KTM to 47% after starting out with a 14.5% share in 2007.
The Pulsar is Rajiv's brainchild, and his efforts have nursed this brand into the popular giant it today is, with more than 150,000 Pulsars taking to the roads in 2010-2011. The first Pulsar was introduced back in 2001, and the secret behind the success of these iconic all-Indian motorcycles can be pinned to their excellent value; striking the right balance between performance and fuel efficiency.
The first Pulsars, however, came with more than their fair shares of rough edges. The basics were always in place, though, and Bajaj R&D quickly worked a major turnaround to introduce the digital twin-spark ignition (DTS-i) Pulsars. It’s been no looking back since, the Pulsars evolving on all fronts, Bajaj constantly making minor improvements to the bikes, stealing a sales march that has sent the competition scurrying. Bajaj has fought and crushed the best in the business sailing the Pulsar voyage, including all that the Japanese giants Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki have thrown their way.
The 200NS (Naked Sport) is a butch, naked streetbike. You could spot styling cues from Honda’s CB1000R when viewing the bike from ahead. Its trendy front mudguard is bisected by a broad black stripe above slim-spoke alloy rims. It comes with a broad, futuristic front headlight, with dinky chin-set city lights.
Bajaj has clearly burnt the midnight-oil while detailing its bike. The digital-analog instruments offer a shift warning flasher, with the tachometer boldly filling its center. Everything is clearly deciphered, and a fuel gauge is standard. The 200NS comes with decent quality palm grips, functional mirrors, a nice set of levers and top quality switchgear that only lack self-cancelling indicators, as offered on earlier Pulsars.
Deep tank recesses offer abundant thigh support for even a tall rider, scoops extending forward to shroud this liquid-cooled motorcycle’s radiator. You can’t miss the broad, twin-spar frame exposed above the 200NS’s engine bay, and there’s a generous sprinkling of alloy parts. A neat touch is the stubby, under-slung single silencer. Good overall build quality and fit-finish are standard.
The electric-start Pulsar 200NS offers a triple-spark-plug powerplant based on the architecture of the engine in the KTM Duke 200. It’s a 199.5cc, short-stroke (72mm x 49mm), single-cylinder engine with liquid-cooling, substituting the Duke’s double-overhead cams for a single overhead camshaft. The KTM mill is fuel injected, while the Pulsar uses a carburetor.
Claimed peak power output is a healthy 23.2 hp at 9500 rpm, while the NS makes 13.5 ft-lb of torque at 8000 rpm. Twin plugs fire as slave units following a primary plug. Bajaj has sweated to cram so much into this complex head; the three spark plugs sharing limited combustion chamber real estate with a quartet of valves and liquid-cooling channels.
While we’d have preferred to see the 200NS offering fuel injection, the carbureted 200NS engine does offers adequate throttle response and a smooth, vibe-free nature. The powerband is wide, with Bajaj’s ExhaustTEC (an exhaust resonance chamber) assisting snappy low-end performance. The gear ratios feel perfectly matched to the engine, and we recorded an indicated top speed of 87 mph flat out in top gear hammering down the long back straight at Bajaj’s Chakan test track.
The Pulsar 200NS accelerates with gusto for a bike of its displacement. Bajaj claims 3.6 seconds for a 0-36-mph dash and 9.8 secs from 0-62 mph. Overall, this new triple-plug engine is a step up for the Pulsars. The six-speed gearbox feels light and positive, and clutch feel is well-weighted and progressive.
A highlight to the Pulsar 200NS is its bold frame, a steel, twin-spar type (as also provided by Yamaha on the YZF-R15) that neatly encases the engine and leads to the rectangular steel swingarm. Suspension consists of a 37mm fork and gas-charged shock.
The riding position is not as radical as on close cousin, the KTM 200 Duke, but is instead more upright, making the 200NS more comfortable for daily urban commuting. The saddle is well padded and proved roomy enough for my 6-foot-plus frame. Ride quality is reasonably good, if firmer than any previous Pulsar.
Brakes are ByBre – by Brembo, the Indian arm of the famous brake specialists – hydraulic discs front and rear providing good feel, powerful stops and the right progression at both levers.
Cornering manners felt consistently fine throughout our track day, with a taut, predictable feel at the handlebar. Steering effort required is light unlike older Pulsars which often suffered an unwanted heaviness, and turn-in on the new P200 is quick and encouraging as a direct consequence. The only impediment to good handling is the low-traction Eurogrip tires that limited pushing the bike to explore its full capabilities.
The Pulsar 200NS offers a lot for a 200cc streetbike, taking the Pulsar story a giant leap forward. You get great style, an engine that packs a solid punch and a new perimeter frame that promotes able handling. All this plus the comfortable riding position to ensure you can live with this motorcycle on a daily basis.
The Pulsars are renowned for their excellent value for money, and the 200NS will be no different. While its official price will only be revealed when the bike launches in some months, we guess this will be in the region of INR Rs 90,000, well inside the higher-spec, relatively sporty KTM 200 Duke's Rs 117,000.
The Bajaj Pulsar 200NS has got it right. It’s a small-capacity streetbike that’s hard to beat for daily commuting.
|Bajaj Pulsar 200NS Specs|
|Price (Ex-showroom, India)||85,000-90,000 Rupees (approx. US$1,650)|
|Wheelbase||1363mm (53.7 in)|
|Curb Weight||145kg (319 lbs)|
|Engine||Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke|
|Power||23.2 bhp (22.9 hp) at 9500rpm|
|Torque||1.86kgm (13.5 ft-lb.) at 8000rpm|
|0-60kph (37 mph)||3.6 seconds (claimed)|
|0-100kph (62 mph)||9.8 seconds (claimed)|
|Maximum speed||140 kph (89 mph)|
|Fuel economy as tested||35.0 kpl (82 mpg)|
|Front suspension||Telescopic fork|
|Rear suspension||Monoshock, rectangular swingarm|
|Front brake||280mm disc|
|Rear brake||230mm drum|
|Tire sizes (front-rear)||100/80x17, 130/70x17|
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