765, the new 321 & Go!: Triumph Street Triple 765 Ridden!
Look at these men. What do they have in common? They have a common posture, their eyes are more or less affixed to an inanimate object at more or less the same distance.
And in a few hours they will be again affixed to an inanimate object. Same positions, eyes glued ahead. The only difference will be that this time this inanimate object will be brought to life courtesy one of the most refined in-line three cylinder internal combustion engines made by man; to practice the last real urban sport left to mankind – motorcycling.
And when you have a motorcycle which makes every tunnel sound like a darn opera house, you know you have to rev it harder and push it further to enjoy the music.
I am talking about the new Street Triple 765 RS, the latest offering from a rejuvenated young man, all of 115 years, from Great Britain – his name is Triumph Motorcycles. The company got its first motorcycle on road in 1902, but it was in 1984 that John Bloor breathed a new lease of life into it. And he has turned out to be a fine Godfather, I say!
MT Helmets by Spartan ProGear
Dispensing with the rhetoric, let’s talk about the real deal. Let’s talk business. My job is to tell you how a motorcycle is so you can put in your hard earned money on the motorcycle which will bring the widest grin on your face. It’s a big ask you know. Big responsibility when I can influence your decisions and ask you to put your faith and earnings in a product.
But there are so many factors which make it difficult. To start with each one of you is different. Each one of you probably has a different riding style, different magnitude of income and so on. Also what will be your primary application?
Use your common sense to answer the above questions before you decide to buy any motorcycle. There are plenty of motorcycles now available in India which specialise in a specific application – long distance touring, track, adventure touring, cruising or hyperbikes which maximise narcissism.
To be very frank any modern motorcycle made by any manufacturer of repute has been well researched with inputs from many people who have many years of combined experience in many fields. Besides the odd mechanical issue, they are perfect for their intended application.
What we ‘reviewers’ can do is share our experiences with you, which can be subjective. The specifications and figures are as objective as they can get. I strongly believe in WYFIWYR (What you Feel is What You Ride).
But I’ll base this ‘review’ on the premise that you have something in common with me – I earn my money the hard way through blood and sweat and I like my bikes to be fast and precise when I want them to be and sound like a million bucks. I also like to take my bikes on long hauls and on the track.
So let’s do this.
It’s been a decade since Triumph launched the original Street Triple and since then this has become one of the most popular models of the British marque.
From the time it was launched, the ST set a new benchmark in its segment. Not surprisingly, since it was derived from the fantastic Daytona 675. A year after the Supersport motorcycle was launched, in 2007; Triumph brought out the ST producing 105 bhp and weighed in at 189kg. In 2008, the bike got the ‘R’ tag with better brakes, suspension and a sportier setup. The bike had the classic twin-round headlamp till 2011. From 2012, the bike got a drastic makeover and the most prominent of which was the bug eyes! Fans and critics were divided on opinion, but sales numbers of the bike went only upward. To sweeten the deal, in 2013 the bike shed a whopping 6kg, making the already sweet handling bike even more flickable. Also a new chassis, ABS and low slung exhaust were added. The R version the same year got an improved suspension, brakes and sportier geometry. A couple of years back in 2015, the RX version was launched which got a quickshifter and the Daytona’s subframe and seat unit.
I would like to delve into an interesting product placement by Triumph in the year 2000 with the Mission Impossible: 2 Hollywood blockbuster.
Tom Cruise, arguably, one of the biggest superstars of Hollywood, rode the Speed Triple (same as the smaller Street Triple that we are talking about here for all practical purposes), for a substantial period of time in the movie doing things with it that are not entirely, well, impossible (excuse the pun).
I started motorcycling around the very same year with the humble Bajaj Pulsar 180 when I hit the age of 21. I had modified my bike to look like this:
See any similarities?
It was the most successful motorcycle product placements in a movie ever, affecting, even yours truly sitting in a room thousands of miles away in India. So that’s the legacy of the iconic Speed and Street Triples.
Coming back to 2017, it was now time for the younger sibling to get a major overhaul with the introduction of the 765.
And boy, did it impress.
First Impression: Looks
Let’s be honest. For most of us looks do matter. There is a saying that if you do not look back once, at the motorcycle you parked, then you haven’t got the right one. All the motorcycles that I own pass this test with flying colors.
I want to be able to look at them when parked at a gas station while having a quick snack. I want it to beckon me to click a photo of it in exotic places and make beautiful photos and memories. I want it to look beautiful, yes.
So how does the new Triumph Street Triple 765 RS look to me?
It is a bike which looks like an amalgamation of a bug, a transformer and a motorcycle. It’s unique with its dual headlamps. This evolution has sharper lines doing away with too much of an organic design language. It likes to to show off its mechanicals and the engine, like a lean bodybuilder who knows he has got the right mass and cuts to flaunt in front of a big and discerning crowd.
Some do not like the styling, but I think it is one of the things which you fall in love the more you see it.
This is also the first motorcycle to feature an all color TFT instrument cluster whose angle can be adjusted to cancel direct sun or suit rider preferences. And it looks gorgeous in its 5 inches of glory. But the TFT is only on R and RS models.
All said and done the bike does look good, but if you want a truly unruly burly streetfighter, look elsewhere. But I will be surprised if you’ll find an overall package as good as this in the amount of money that this will probably come in.
One of the first things which many people would do after buying a multi-cylinder bike is get a new louder and sweeter sounding exhaust. This is one of the rare times I actually fell in love with the sound of an in-line 3 over an in-line 4, and that too of a stock exhaust. Fortunately, Triumph has a legit option which would get you more performance and sound right from the word go and won’t (we hope!) void any kind of warranty – the Arrow exhaust. The idling sound is almost like an in-line 4, however it turns into a real howl after 7,000 rpm. I was playing with the throttle just to hear that sound repetitively on country roads.
Additional buttons, especially a five way (Left, Right, Top, Bottom and Push) have found their way on the one piece handlebar of the Street. There are a lot of things going on with the 5 inch TFT screen, however once you get used to it, not only can you choose between different display styles on that beautiful console, but you’ll actually put all that data to good use. On the RS version you can even time your lap pretty easily in the track mode. The transition and animation between the different menu options is also fluidic.
The one piece handlebar mated with the rearset provide a decent sporty posture, however it is not harsh on the rider, unless perhaps if you are over 6’1” (I am 5’10”).
The bar end placements of the mirrors do make lane filtering in traffic a tad more of an issue but help to stay clear of elbow eclipse on the road.
Performance on Road
The entire Street range now features RbW (Ride by Wire ) tech, that means more precise and smoother throttle control. Along with the host of electronics like ABS and Traction Control, making it safer in all kinds of conditions and for all kind of riders.
I usually like to ride hard on the country roads in Europe where there is a certain degree of tarmac and road conditions dependability. The road circuit had around 200 kms of narrow sinuous country roads and some bits of the Autovia (the motorways in Spain). I had a particularly enthusiastic leader up front on a Tiger Explorer which kept me company as we usually stayed way ahead of the rest of the pack.
Conditions were very foggy and the road was more often damp than not. Knowing that some electronics are working to keep you safe is always a welcome psychological boost. If an inept rider has to to kiss the tarmac, he will. No amount of tech can save him.
The bike is very light (166 kgs dry) and hence feels incredibly nimble. With 123 Bhps it actually feels more like a Daytona with raised handle bars than a street naked.
It is only at very high speeds that you start to realise the importance of aerodynamics and full fairings. But then the Daytona is not exactly a intercontinental tourer or your everyday machine!
I just had to adjust once in the beginning to figure out the exact declutching and acceleration mix to prevent over revving or bike stalling at ultra low speeds. Beyond that everything was perfect – the power delivery, fuelling and of course the quick shifter – which I thoroughly enjoyed using on the road as well on the track…
Performance on Track
I love riding on racing tracks, but I end up doing only one or two track days in a year. That’s because I am mostly touring in some part of the world. Understandably I was very excited to be able to do a track day at Catalunya, where so many great battles have been fought by the fastest men in the world. I was literally imagining Valentino taking those turns when I first hit this track on the Street Triple 765 immediately after our road ride.
I have also been fortunate enough to have ridden on tracks like Jerez, Valencia and Navarra on a rather inappropriate adventure motorcycle in 2013.
Out of the pits and into the first right – I was getting used to the bike at high speeds and more lean angles. It was confidence inspiring. The sky was clear, the track was a wee bit on the colder side but the tyres shod with amazing rubber (Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP) were preheated for us and the bike was set in the track mode.
Soon enough I was thrashing the bike around the track and enjoying every bit of it. The chassis had very little flex and the ‘gullwing’ swingarm seems to be working for the bike under hard accelerations, especially in reducing the compression of rear suspension out of corners.
I remember seeing a figure around 220 on the speedo. I am sure the bike went faster, but I was too busy prepping for late braking into the right corner after the main straight for obvious reasons.
Riding the 765 on track made the appear to be a bikini clad superbike!
Bang for your Buck and when can I buy it in India?
Triumph says the Street base model will land in July. It is to be seen when the RS model will come. The good news is that it is going to be a CKD, hence the cost should be relatively less, but I do not see it being less than 10 lacs.
So who is this for?
If you want to go to Leh ? Yep. With a bit of mods, maybe an underplate.
If you want to go to office daily? Yep.
If you want to go on the track and be reasonably fast ? Yep.
If you want to ride across country? Yep. Maybe with a better fly screen.
If you want to just ride to your local McDonald’s with your favourite superbiking group each Sunday. That too!
The bikes packed up and ready to say Good Bye!
Mr Vimal Sumbly , Managing Director, Triumph Motorcycles India
The Boring (or from the brochure)
Developed from the celebrated race bred ‘Daytona’ engine, the new 765cc Street Triple engine delivers a major step up in power and torque. With more than 80 new parts including new crank, pistons and Nikasil plated aluminium barrels and an increased bore and stroke. The result is a significant advance in performance, particularly low-down and in the mid-range.
Each of the new models come with their own unique engine set-up, ECU and tune, each tailored to deliver the character, power and performance best suited to the bike’s style of ride and rider.
The ‘S’ tune provides up to 6.6% more peak power than the previous generation with 113PS @ 11,250rpm and delivers a 7.3% increase in peak torque at 73Nm @ 9,100rpm.
The ‘R’ tune, with its own model-specific cam shaft, increases peak power by up to 11.3% over the previous ‘R’ model, delivering 118PS @ 12,000rpm, and delivers a 13% increase in peak torque at 77Nm @ 9,400rpm.
The ‘RS’ tune delivers the highest level of performance ever for a Street Triple, with a power increase of up to 16% over the previous model, delivering 123PS @ 11,700rpm and a peak torque increase of 13%, providing 77Nm @ 10,800rpm.
There are riding modes on all models to help the rider better harness the increased power and torque in every riding condition. A richer sound track, from a lighter, free flowing exhaust and revised airbox delivers an intoxicating and more distinctive induction howl.
Stronger than ever acceleration and slicker gear changes are achieved through a combination of revised gearbox geometry and shorter 1st and 2nd gear ratios. In addition, on the R and RS models, a new slip and assist clutch set up delivers lighter clutch action and reduced lever effort for more control and riding comfort.
Rider focussed technology
The new Street Triple line up represents a major evolution in state of the art rider focussed technology for maximum control and safety.
Ride-by-wire For a crisper, more precise and more accurate throttle response, with improved on/off throttle transition. Enabling different throttle maps, which combined with the ABS and traction control settings give up to 5 riding modes.
Riding modes Linked to the ride-by-wire system all models have new riding modes, which adjust throttle response, ABS and traction control settings
– Street Triple S featuring 2 riding modes: Road and Rain.
– Street Triple R featuring 4 riding modes: Road, Rain, Sport and Rider Programmable.
– Street Triple RS featuring 5 modes: Road, Rain, Sport,
Rider Programmable and Track.
Full colour adjustable The Street Triple R and RS feature all-new, angle adjustable
TFT instruments Colour 5” TFT instruments for riders to access the new on-board computer. There are three different screen display styles to choose from, pre-set to the riding modes and changeable easily on the move. To ensure that the screen is readable in all weather and light conditions, each of the three styles can be selected with ‘High’ or ’Auto’ contrast.
The Street Triple RS comes with an additional set of 3 more screen display styles. The second set presenting a more dynamic display theme and includes a lap timer that is exclusive to the ‘RS’.
On the Street Triple S there is a fully revised LCD instrument pack, as featured on the latest generation Speed Triple. This allows the rider to select the riding modes, on the move or at a standstill, and access key information from the on-board computer, including odometer, fuel gauge, trip meter and journey distance.
New on-board computer For the ‘S’ model this delivers a speedometer, rev counter, riding mode symbol, gear position display, fuel gauge, odometer, trip meter and journey distance.
On the ‘R’ and ‘RS’ models this presents additional features including two trip displays, average and instantaneous fuel consumption, range to empty, riding mode selection, display style and contrast settings, service information, coolant temperature, warning symbol information and also for the ‘RS’ model only a lap timer.
New switch cubes To navigate the new instruments on the Street Triple R and RS there are with 5-way joystick all-new switch cubes with an intuitive 5-way joystick control that have been ergonomically optimised to be easy to use.
The Street Triple S features the revised switch cubes set-up from the latest generation Speed Triple.
ABS Switchable on the Street Triple R and RS through the ‘rider programmable’ riding mode, which can be adjusted to suit (with road and track ABS settings) or can be turned off completely if desired.
Switchable On the Street Triple S traction control settings can be managed via the traction control instrument menu, by selecting ‘road’ or ‘rain’ riding modes, each with a dedicated level of traction control built in.
On the Street Triple R and RS traction control is managed through the ‘rider programmable’ riding mode, by selecting the desired traction control setting either ‘road’, ‘rain’, ‘track’, ‘sport’ or ‘off’.
Quickshifter The new Street Triple RS is fitted with a quickshifter allowing for clutchless upshifts that are up to 2.5 times quicker than a skilled rider using a standard clutch upshift. This can be added as an accessory option on the Street Triple S and R.
DRL Headlight The new Street Triple line up all feature new headlights designed for a more aggressive stance.
The Street Triple R and RS featuring new distinctive LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL*). These bring an eye catching new light profile that makes the bike more easy to see out on the road and a lower energy consumption for greater long term durability. The DRL is an amazing 28x brighter than the previous generation bulb sidelight.
The Street Triple S features new LED position light headlights, with the LED position light 4.6x brighter than the previous generation bulb sidelight.
*Please note that the DRL function is not available in all markets – please check with your local Triumph marketing representative.
Gear position indicator The Street Triple R and RS feature a useful gear position indicator, accessible through the 5” full colour TFT instruments.
The Street Triple S comes with Showa upside-down ø41mm separate function front forks with 110mm travel and a stepped preload-adjustable piggyback reservoir monoshock rear suspension unit.
The Street Triple R comes with ø41mm upside-down fully adjustable Showa separate function big piston front forks with 115mm travel for improved riding comfort without compromise and a Showa piggyback reservoir monoshock rear suspension unit.
And the Street Triple RS comes with the highest-specification Showa big piston ø41mm front forks, adjustable for preload, rebound and compression damping. The rear suspension unit is a premium Öhlins STX40 piggyback reservoir monoshock.
The Street Triple S model is fitted with Nissin 2-piston sliding calipers on the front and a Brembo single piston sliding caliper on the back.
The Street Triple R has Brembo M4.32 4-piston radial monobloc calipers that deliver greatly improved stopping power over the previous Street Triple R and a Brembo single piston sliding caliper on the back.
The Street Triple RS has range topping Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc calipers on the front delivering class leading stopping power, with ratio and span adjustable lever and a Brembo single piston sliding caliper on the back.
The Street Triple S and R models are fitted with premium Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres which deliver sharp and precise handling as well as excellent stability and grip on the road.
The Street Triple RS comes with range topping Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres, that deliver advanced sporting performance for road and the occasional track use.
Colour options (we are not sure which ones will make it to India)
Street Triple S – Diablo Red or Phantom Black (Metallic)
Street Triple R – Jet Black (Gloss), Matt Aluminium Silver or Crystal White
Street Triple RS – Matt Silver Ice or Phantom Black (Metallic)
Hero Honda CBZ
A long time ago there was a television commercial of a young man stealing the keys of his elder brother’s bike at night and taking it out for a spin. In the bargain, he also wins the attention of a girl in a sportscar who goes for a pillion ride with him (without a helmet of course, this was a long time ago remember!). The next morning he has a guilty smile of pleasure on his face as his elder brother tells him “haath mat lagana” (don’t touch it!).
This memorable ad was for the Hero Honda CBZ, launched in 1999. The first 4-stroke performance motorcycle available in the Indian market. The motorcycle and the ad boasted 5 gears, a front disc brake, good acceleration and ‘big’ tyres; together these made the bike fully loaded! Add to that its good looks and this was the dream bike for many a teenager. The bike immediately made a name in the fledgling performance segment. It was a precursor to its rival from Bajaj, the Pulsar twins. Unfortunately, being the first is not always good. The pricing was a tad steep for the time and people were more conscious about fuel efficiency.? An area where the CBZ struggled. Fuel efficiency in the 30s for a 150cc bike was just not acceptable for the junta.
But this did get people to start thinking more in terms of performance, rather than simple commuting in the cheapest manner possible. The CBZ paved the way for other manufacturers and models to follow, who exploited the growing segment.
In 1999, Hero Honda launched this bike with a 156.8cc engine from the Japanese manufacturer. The bike claimed a 0-60 sprint in 5 seconds and comfortably crossed the triple digit mark. Fueling was managed by a Keihin slide type carburetor, but in the interest of fuel economy over performance, the carb was switched to a more conventional CV type. Which in fact typifies the Indian motorcycle market, we want the performance, but don’t want the fuel bills that go with it!
Reducing sales, finally spelt the death knell for the CBZ and Hero Honda discontinued the bike in 2005. A couple of years later, the company revived the brand with the introduction of the CBZ Xtreme, but that failed to garner the kind of enthusiasm that the original CBZ had. The game had moved on with the introduction of the Pulsars and the Karizma. A 150cc could no longer rule the streets!
We thank Rohit Chopra aka ‘Stoppieking’ for letting us revisit our youth with the Hero Honda CBZ!
Aprilia SR150 RACE: MotoGP Inspired!
A few years ago inspired by MotoGP riders, I took up cycling as a means to stay fighting fit for motorcycles. The Aprilia SR 150 was already fighting fit, and so it undertook the simpler task of wrapping itself in the same colours as its very distant cousin the Aprilia RS-GP, a motorcycle raced in the upper echelons of the biking galaxy. Last year with Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl and in 2017 with Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes. What could a little scoot (even with the word ‘power’ suffixed to it) have in common with those technological marvels?
We have seen the Honda CBR 250 get ‘Repsol’ colours as well as the Suzuki Gixxer SF. None of these machines might have anything in common with the factory MotoGP bikes, but it is still happily splashed on to your commuter, so that you remember the racing heritage which each of these companies boast. So while you potter along to the market to buy milk and bread, you can still feel like Marc Marquez and his ilk! And here the Aprilia SR150 Race looks the part.
Piaggio targeted that untapped segment of the market who wanted a the convenience of an automatic scooter along, but were not willing to compromise too much on performance. First unveiled at the Auto Expo 2016, it grabbed the attention of motorcycle enthusiasts. What with its quirky looks! It looked unlike any other scooter that was being sold here. Long before it set foot (or tyres if you please!) on Indian roads, there was tremendous interest and once the scoot was launched, it got a fair share of bookings, with most prospective buyers not having even seen it in the flesh. Later in 2016 Aprilia launched the SR150 at 65,000 ex-showroom Delhi and at that price point it was one of best things to happen to the Indian two wheeler industry.
Photo Courtesy: Vikrant Date
Photo Courtesy: Vikrant Date
Styling wise, the SR150 looks unlike any other scooter that you can buy in India. It has got razor sharp styling and oozes aggression and sportiness from every angle you look at it – be it the beaky front end or the upward pointing shortish tail with a split grab rail. The front is further enhanced by twin headlamps incorporated into the apron. Now the RACE version gets a MotoGP inspired colour scheme which looks plenty good when you get up close and personal with it. The graphics have #beAracer written on it, probably not the best quote to an 18 year old weaving through traffic! Red wheels and a red rear suspension are the new additions to the RACE edition. The most striking thing about the SR150 is its meaty 120 section 14-inch tyres at the front and back, which gives it a very muscular look. The white background all analogue instrument console compliments the overall sport styling. The pillion footrests tuck neatly into the side panels and looks classy. Boot space is okay but not large enough to hold a full face helmet.
Photo Courtesy: Simran Rastogi
The Aprilia SR150 RACE uses the same 150 cc single cylinder, air-cooled engine that powers the regular SR150 and the Vespa 150 scooters in India. The difference between the two bikes lies in its suspension tuning we are given to believe. With the RACE getting a sportier setup! That probably should be interpreted as a tad firmer than the already firm suspension that the SR150 had. Since we didn’t have the older scoot to ride back to back, it was near impossible to notice any difference. But I would be willing to wager, even if you do ride the two bikes one after another, chances are slim that you will notice much. Which isn’t really a bad thing, the bike was good in the first place! It touches the 100 kmph mark without any hiccups and can be ridden at 70-80 kmph with enough juice left in hand to overtake large vehicles. This engine feels smooth across the rev range; however, it isn’t among the most refined engines out there. It does do justice to the Aprilia SR150’s sporty looks and makes it a fun machine to ride. It accelerates quickly right from the word go and manages to pull strongly even in the higher rev range. The mid-range is meaty as well. Though while climbing the ghat sections we would notice at the first touch of the throttle, the bike would rev but not move ahead. A delayed telecast so to speak between throttle hand and rear wheel!
On the handling front, the SR150 RACE impressed with its performance. It is quick and easy to manoeuvre and holds its lines well while cornering. Providing far more entertainment than should be legal on a scoot! The 120 section rubber does come into play here and makes things easier. The job of braking is well taken care of by the 220 mm disc up front and the 140 mm drum brakes at the rear. The scooter comes to a halt from double digit speeds without any fuss even when the brakes are applied with a sense of urgency.
The seat felt plush and wide enough even for bigger riders and despite its compact size, it didn’t feel cramped. Though at 5’11”, there is no space left for a pillion, once the rider has made himself/ herself comfortable. The flat footboard offers just enough space for me to place my size 11 sneakers, I doubt if my motorcycle boots would fit in that space. Of course, you also don’t have any footboard left to carry any larger bag. A backpack is the way to go with the SR150.
Aprilia has billed this RACE version as their ‘second’ crossover offering for India. We humbly disagree, there isn’t much different from the regular SR150 to consider this a separate bike. It is at best the SR150 with a racier paint scheme, and at a price difference of roughly 3k, it is worth it. At least for those MotoGP fans and everyone else who prefers this colour.
The 2016 Aprilia RS-GP raced by Alvaro Bautista Photo Courtesy: Aprilia
The 2017 Bajaj Pulsars! Going Green…
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!