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If a list is made of motorcycles that ushered the Indian motorcyclist from the commuter era to the performance era, Bajaj Pulsar would surely make the list. It has been around for almost 2 decades now and right from its arrival in 2001, the motorcycle hit all the right notes with the Indian motorcyclist and the numbers are a testament to that. All these years we have seen many different iterations of the Pulsar. From Definitely male to Fear the black, from the round headlamp to the wolf eyes, and from 135cc to 220cc, the Pulsar has seen it all. Fast forward to 2019, Bajaj has launched the Pulsar 125 Neon, the smallest capacity and the most affordable Pulsar ever. Does it have what it takes to live up to the image of the phenom that the Pulsar brand is?
What’s the best strategy to avoid the risk of messing something up? Do not try to fix something that is not broken. Bajaj has been doing that for a long time with the Pulsars. Major overhauls have been rare… at least when it comes to the design.
The same philosophy has been used in the design of the Bajaj Pulsar 125. And by no means is that a bad thing. In fact, it is pretty smart since the design has become something of an object of endearment for motorcyclists.
The bottom line is that it looks just like the Pulsar 150 sans the tank shrouds and the belly-pan, and it gets neon accents on the wheels, side-panel, headlight, grabrail, and the tank. Out of the two colours, we prefer the Black one with the orange-ish accents. Though the matte-grey with blue accents does not look bad either.
The engine of the Pulsar 125 has been derived from the Pulsar 150 mill via the means of shortening the stroke. The bore remains the same. The motorcycle makes 12 PS of power and 11 Nm of torque. It is the most powerful 125cc motorcycle in the market if the 125 Duke is kept out of the equation… which we will because the Duke retails for almost double the price of the Pulsar 125 Neon.
Out on the road, there’s not a lot differentiating the Bajaj Pulsar 125 from the Pulsar 150 unless they were ridden back-to-back or like in our case, side by side. While we were out on the test ride, another dude on a Pulsar 150 was riding right beside us. Don’t get all excited and start playing Teriyaki Boyz. There’s no street racing here, just good old gentleman style side-by-side run and that too for purposes strictly scientific.
What the Bajaj Pulsar 125 lacks in when compared to the Pulsar 150 is the top end, of course, and tractability and roll-on acceleration. But it was nothing we did not expect with the displacement drop. Other than that, the engine is smooth and vibrations only creep in at the very top of the rev-range.
The gearbox is smooth, the clutch pull is effortless (though the friction zone is a bit far off), the fuelling is good, and so, we were a bit hard-pressed to find any particularly bothersome flaws in the bike. Bajaj has emphasized that this is not a commuter… It is not. It is a Pulsar. A Pulsar for commuters who do not like their spirits getting dampened by lack of power or refinement or… panache!
The ergonomics are similar to the Pulsar 150 as well. The rider’s triangle of the Bajaj Pulsar 125 makes for an upright position with just a hint of sportiness. Most of it is derived from the presence of the clip-ons and most of it is visual. Overall, it is a comfortable motorcycle on which you can go on munching miles without wanting to throw it off a cliff after a 100 kms or so.
Handling is pretty neutral. The motorcycle follows the commands imparted to it by the rider religiously like a loyal dog. Try to be too spirited and it reminds you that it is not a Mastiff. The long wheelbase and the weight of the motorcycle provide it with high-speed straight-line stability.
The suspension is supple and soaks up the undulations and even some harmless potholes like a pro. If you brake hard though, the front end dives a bit and god forbid if you do it while a corner approaches. If dealt with calmly, a little corner-carving can be done aboard the baby Pulsar as well… it doesn’t mind.
Brakes do their job well. The variant we rode was the one equipped with a disc-brake at the front and that is the only variant we’d like to ride. Yes, there exists a Pulsar sans the front disc-brake! The world may very well come to an end. Cranky exaggeration aside, the combined-braking system (Bajaj employs a mechanical unit) works well and provides you with the confidence to stomp the rear brake if you feel a little off.
Mileage: According to Bajaj, ARAI figures state 57.5 km/l. According to Bajaj, one can expect around 45-50 km/l in mixed riding conditions. According to us, we need more time with it.
Rear-view mirror visibility: Wide, and placed well. Meaning? Good visibility of what’s going on behind your back.
Headlight performance: We rode it in the day but it should be right up there with the Pulsar 150 since its the same unit.
Build Quality: No niggles here either and the bike is generally very well-built. Touches like a carbon-fibre like texture around the console and the tank pad just add to it.
Switchgear: The same old cluster carried over from the Pulsar 150… which makes it the best switchgear in the class. Smart…
It should be apparent from the review. It is a no-nonsense motorcycle and does everything that it is intended to do and even a bit more. The engine is smooth, power and torque are good when compared to others in the class, the suspension, the brakes, the overall handling and whatnot are all just… good.
The best thing though is that despite being the best-in-class in almost everything, the pricing is fantastic. At INR 64,000 (Ex-Showroom) for the drum brake variant and INR 66,612 (Ex-Showroom) for the disc brake variant, the Bajaj Pulsar 125 is a steal. So, if you are looking for a motorcycle that’ll do more kms to the litre when compared to 150cc players and has more oomph than the 125cc boys, go right ahead!