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It is not everyday that a manufacturer calls us to ride 6 bikes at the same time! Bajaj was candid enough to admit that the there is no major change in the motorcycles for them to deserve individual attention! The biggest change was found on the bestselling Pulsar, the 150. The 135 saw it repositioned as a commuter rather than the sporty bike it was first targeted as. The 180 got improvements in the braking department, while the 220 didn’t get much. For all the NS lovers, the 200 is back, though without any changes, while the RS 200 just got new colours. The update that the entire range received was in greener technology, with all the Pulsars sporting the new BS IV compliant engines along with the Automatic Headlamp On (AHO) feature which is government mandated. Other changes included ‘bold new graphics’ which makes your bike go faster! Okay, maybe not. These updates have seen an increase of Rs. 1000-2000 across the Pulsar range.
With a global clarion call for reducing the carbon footprint, automobiles were understandably in the line of fire. Government regulations have mandated that all vehicles should comply with BS IV by April 2017. As such we have seen a slew of updates from all the manufacturers as they have gone about refreshing their motorcycle range. Along with going green, as a safety feature, manufacturers have also added AHOs to their vehicles, which will also be compulsory from April this year. As such you will see the headlamp on/off switch missing from all the 2017 Pulsars. What you will see added is the SAI (Secondary Air Injection) pipe on all the bikes. Up until now, Bajaj has relied on their Exhaustec, multiple plugs and catcons for reducing emissions, but for BS IV, SAI had to be added. This isn’t some new tech and has been around for ages, but is a first for Bajaj bikes. Simply put, SAI injects fresh air to the exhaust gases to improve combustion.
Pulsar 135 and 150
Starting with the smallest in the family; the 135 has been toned down radically. From a Light Sport as it was originally positioned, it has now been dumbed down to a full blown commuter, which begs the question, does it still deserve the Pulsar brand, which is synonymous in the Indian market with power and sportiness, unlike the Discover range of bikes. The 135 had been languishing in the sales chart, with little or no push from the company, so much so, that I haven’t seen a new 135 on the road in a very long time! Bajaj has refocused its energies on this model and have tweaked it. The changes include a taller visor, toe-heel shifter unlike the toe only shifter earlier, a single piece seat instead of the split seats, a one piece grab rail instead of the split and a terribly placed side-stand, which won’t allow you to lean more than 90 degrees! That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but Bajaj’s intent to ‘commuterize’ isn’t. Why you ask? Because the game has moved on according to the company. Nowadays, even a 150cc motorcycle is considered a commuter, so it is rather difficult for a 135cc motorcycle to pose as a sporty offering. If you can’t beat them, join ‘em! A few months back, Bajaj had reduced the price of the 135 by a whopping 5000 to help with sales, maybe the commuter additions will help in that regard.
The 150 saw the biggest change. And for this reason we were provided with the outgoing and incoming motorcycles to ride one after another. And the difference between the two is like going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons (if you don’t get the cartoon reference, then you probably grew up watching Pokemon!). The biggest change is in the engine. The stroke has been increased and bore decreased, resulting in a 1 bhp decrease and 1 Nm increase. This makes the bike a better commuter, along with this NVH has been reduced by better damping on the engine-chassis interface and a change in engine internals in the bottom end. Work has also been done on the gearbox to improve shift quality; the exhaust has also been reworked. The new suspension also promises a plusher ride, though we couldn’t tell the difference on the smooth tarmac of the track. Overall the new bike is much smoother than the outgoing model, but still not at par with the Japanese manufacturers.
The 180 gets a rear disc as standard fitment now. A welcome addition, though rather late to the party. The instrument cluster gets new graphics and the surrounding plastics get a carbon fibre finish. A useful change has been the redesigned pillion seat. In the short ride we had, it’s near impossible to gauge comfort levels, but we were assured that the pillion will be a happier bum!
The tweaked saddle finds its way on the 220 as well, along with the end can of the exhaust going for an all-black look. Bajaj seemingly intended to phase out the 220 with the original introduction of the 200 NS, but the aam junta apparently didn’t get the memo, and the 220 still pulls in large numbers. This bike will continue to be built and sold as long as there is a demand for it, but expect little or no improvements in it, since it is cannibalising the 200 NS/AS twins!
Like the Terminator, the Pulsar 200 NS is back! With new colours, a belly pan and a better sounding exhaust note and the same MRF tyres which come with the RS. But overall the bike is unchanged. Bajaj says the improved refinement levels which were found on the AS, have been reproduced on the NS as well. Though we couldn’t really tell the difference. One irritating ownership issue I found on the original NS was the location of the choke; I was hoping to see a change in that. Unfortunately it still took us 5 minutes to find the choke lever.
The RS is pretty much the same bike, with two new paint schemes. The blue-white and the black. Both look better than the older bikes, though the blue will get a larger chunk of the attention when parked together. Riding the NS and the RS together on the track, one thing was evident, how much better the faired bike is as compared to its naked sibling around a corner.
The Pulsar range has always made the competition green with envy with their sales figures, now BS IV, they will be going a bit greener themselves!