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xBhp was born more than 16 years ago and since then we've had a chance to ride or drive hundreds of machines running on two wheels or four wheels, and sometimes even three wheels. We are not done yet, and this list is still growing. In these pages, we take a deep dive in the treasure trove of our ride experiences and bring you all that we have ridden or driven.

Bajaj Pulsar F250 and N250 Review: Staying true to the legend!

249.07CC 24.1BHP 21.5NM

In the context of the Indian motorcycling scene, the name Pulsar holds a lot of weight. A lot of it is because of its storied history and the rest is because ever since its inception, it has been that darn good at what it set out to do. From the original Pulsar from 2002 to the ‘then Fastest Indian’ 220, and the ballistic 200s; it has become a name synonymous with performance, ‘affordable’ performance. Come 2021, we have with us the biggest, fastest  Pulsars yet- the Pulsar 250. More specifically, Bajaj Pulsar F250 and Pulsar N250. 

Before we talk more about the bikes, let us talk about why ‘Pulsar’ is such a significant motorcycle. Around two decades ago, we did not have the motorcycles we have today. The focus was on small, fuel-efficient motorcycles that were more tools than an object of passion. The Pulsar changed all that. It started a revolution that has led the Indian motorcycling scene to where it is today. 

Not just that, even xBhp’s story began with a Pulsar as it was known as before being christened xBhp. Legend has it that Rajiv Bajaj went to the Japs to help him build a fast and sporty motorcycle. Upon being denied any help, he took it upon himself to see his vision through. That is what resulted in the birth of the Pulsar and, in turn, xBhp. His perseverance and determination led to the creation of one of the most important motorcycles in the history of Indian motorcycling. A bit of that of our own has made xBhp what it is today. 

Maybe xBhp’s history intertwining with the Pulsar’s has something to do with our love for the motorcycle. But it is not blind love or love without substance. Ask any motorcyclist worth his salt about their first performance motorcycle of a certain generation and the answer may very well be Pulsar. And trust us, it won’t only be because of it being one of the firsts or few. It was simply because it was that darn good. 

The NS200, which along with the RS 200 steered the Pulsar in a different direction that led to them being more like KTMs and slightly less like Pulsars. Not that it was a bad thing. We can understand how tempting an engine was that to Bajaj too.

For the most part, the Pulsars followed a formula, stuck to it and it worked. 150, 180, DTSi, LS 135 and the sorts. The 220 was the first big departure followed by the NS200 and RS 200, both of them being a complete overhaul. They were closer to the Dukes than Pulsars which is not a bad thing by a long shot. But for a long time, we have needed a Pulsar- one that could harken back to its legendary predecessors. The Pulsar 250 is just that- a Pulsar for 2021. 

The Fastest Indian at one point- the Pulsar 220F was recently added to the xBhp Garage celebrating #18YearsOfxBhp

Now, there has been a lot of noise, for the lack of a better word, regarding the new Pulsars; the F250 and N250. That is all based on a bunch of pictures and a bunch of numbers. More often than not, we have seen that those numbers or those pictures are in stark contrast to the real-world application. It has happened before and in the case of the new Pulsar 250s, well, it is happening again. Nevertheless, we got to spend quite a while with both the Pulsar 250s and let us try to explain why most of the ‘noise’ is unfounded. 

First of all, the looks. A subjective matter and yet, it is the most discussed aspect of the new Pulsar 250s on the internet. In our books, the new Pulsar 250s look pretty good and boast of a captivating presence. With the design, Bajaj has integrated a lot of new-age features and thus, form in function go hand-in-hand when it comes to the new Pulsar 250s. 

The F250 is the semi-faired street racer and it carries that concept in its looks. The fairing looks nice, the DRLs drip with aggression, the bi-functional LED is a functional thing of beauty and the overall dimensions and proportions of the motorcycle suit its purpose. The N250 is even more aggressive as it has shed the fairing and yet, does not lose out on any of the features. The headlight design is slightly different but overall, it looks mean and aggressive. So as far as the looks go, the new Pulsar 250s follow the Pulsar philosophy religiously. 

For the most part, we like the clean lines, the sculpted tank, the headlight design, and the overall stance of both motorcycles. The design of the new exhaust is exemplary. It looks stubby and goes well with the design of both motorcycles. The bezel-less console also deserves a special mention. Both the motorcycles can be hand in either Racing Red or Silver Grey, colours that accentuated the design. 

Overall, both the F250 and N250 look futuristic but have enough to assimilate themselves in the ‘Legend of Pulsar’. Again, it is a subjective matter and most of you already have your own opinions. A word of advice though, look at them in flesh before letting your opinions shape you for good. In our opinion they look better in flesh than in some photos.

That was about the pictures. Now, to the numbers that are behind the ‘noise’ on the internet. Both the Pulsar F250 and N250 are powered by a single-cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC, 2-valve, oil-cooled, fuel-injected engine that displaces 249.07cc. The mill is good for 24.5 PS of power and 21.5 Nm of torque, sent to the rear wheel via a 5-speed gearbox. 

Now, the main accused here are; the oil-cooling and the 5-speed gearbox. Why? Simple, because they do not impact the real-world performance negatively but do impact the price positively. We can say that we spend a considerable amount of time with the bikes and we all know the price. 

We’ll talk about the performance in a little bit but about the price, has the Pulsar not always been known for affordable performance? It has been and affordability is an important factor. These so-called misses have allowed Bajaj to price the two Pulsar 250s aggressively and it has been priced aggressively. Moreover, Bajaj has done that without taking anything from the performance people expect from a Pulsar. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the implications of those things. Firstly, oil-cooling is a non-issue. 250cc is not a lot of displacement and despite the power and torque numbers, the engine on the Pulsar 250s is strong yet relaxed. It is not overstressed and therefore, does not heat up as much; neither on the highways nor in the city. 

About the gearbox, you are not going to feel the difference. Again, the engine is relaxed and smooth whether you are wringing the heck out of it or cruising along on the highways. Would a 6th gear help it? Maybe. Is it a necessity? Not really. Does one feel the lack of it? We didn’t. 

Those are the two supposed heels of Achilles for the Pulsar 250s and in the real world, they didn’t matter much. Now, onto the juicier stuff. Out on the roads, both the Pulsars feel amazing and to some extent nostalgic. All the memories of the Pulsars of old come flooding back in. Both the Pulsar F250 and N250 pack a punch and yet, all that performance is so accessible all the time. The rev-band is flush with power and torque throughout the rev range. The Pulsar 250s boast of an intoxicating pull and the acceleration is on-point for a motorcycle that carries a Pulsar badge. 

On the highways, you have enough grunt in the top cog for some feisty overtakes but the city is where these motorcycles thrive. Tractability, gentle clutch-action, and loads of grunt on demand make these motorcycles fun even when the traffic is less than kind. The fueling is spot-on and there are no jerks or blank patches felt. Twist the throttle and they go- old school fun! 

The transmission is slick and the gear changes are confident and pronounced. We also got to ride the F250 on the racetrack and it felt pretty good there too. It was not phenomenal like it was on the road, but it was entertaining nonetheless. To be fair to the motorcycle though, they are not intended to be racetrack beasts. 

On the streets where both the F250 and N250 belong, they are Pulsars and that is about the biggest compliment you can give to a motorcycle in this class. More will be found out when we get these motorcycles for a proper road test but from what we have experienced so far, we are sure that the Pulsar 250s are not going to disappoint. 

Onwards to handling and ergonomics. Since both the Pulsar F250 and N250 are meant for the street, the ergonomics are predictably relaxed. The rider’s triangle is a good balance between being sporty and comfortable but leans towards the latter a bit. The seat is plush too and feels roomy even on the racetrack where you have to move around. 

In terms of handling, the Pulsar 250s are very docile. They are not teetering on the edge all the time. Yet, they are steady as a rock in a straight line and no slouches when the going isn’t confined to straight lines. Years of evolution show their magic in this department as well. While the engine has improved a lot in terms of balancing power and refinement, the handling department has come a long way too and it shows. 

The suspension duties are carried out by 37mm telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the rear. The suspension is more towards the supple side due to the intended application of these motorcycles. But even on the racetrack, the motorcycle feels planted and confident. Under extremely hard braking though, the front dips a bit more than one would want but you do not take a Pulsar to tame racetracks anyway. On regular roads, we have absolutely no qualms with the suspension. Another thing that elevates the handling of the Pulsar 250s is the tyres- 100/80-17 on the front and 130/70-17 on the rear. There was ample talk at the launch about how the 140 would be too much and 120 too little. Moreover, you can always upsize if you really need to!

The whole package made even more sense when we rode it hard for four laps on the Bajaj Chakan R&D test track at the launch. The F250 went upto 138 kmph on the speedo where it maxed out and though we were looking for the 6th gear in most applications it wont be required except probably when you are scaling long highways mostly, but for that the Bajaj Dominar 250 will offer a more complete package.

The braking department is taken care of by a 300mm disc up front with ABS and a 230mm disc at the rear. Single-channel ABS is another thing that people are scoffing at but again, with the price to performance ratio that the Pulsar 250s have achieved, it is hard to hold this against these motorcycles. The brakes are pretty good for street usage and the ABS works just fine. On the track, we felt that they could have done with a bit more bite. But consider the fact that this may be the first performance motorcycle for many in the future and the brakes feel adequate. 

In terms of features, Bajaj has been able to load the Pulsar F250 and N250 with a lot of stuff and yet, kept the price in check. You get bi-functional LED headlamps with position lamps, gear indicator, clock, fuel efficiency indicator, range indicator, slip and assist clutch, a mobile charging unit, and a gear shift indicator. That is an impressive repertoire considering the price of the motorcycles.  There needs to be an understanding that for many people out there even 1000 rupees spell a months budget for fuel, therefore the price difference of even 5000 because of these features would be a deal breaker for them. It is not that Bajaj ‘cannot’, it is because Bajaj ‘chose not to, and that is an intelligent choice considering how many options they have in their own stable and they would not want to cannibalize.

Final verdict? The Pulsar F250 is priced at INR 1,40,000/- (Ex-Showroom, Delhi) and the N250 at INR 1,38,000/- (Ex-Showroom, Delhi). In a market like India, price is something that matters a lot. At the moment people are seemingly unhappy with the lack of a few features. What we see is that for the price, you get a motorcycle that makes a good amount of power and torque, boasts of a smooth and refined engine, makes all that power accessible to newer riders, handles well, looks good, and most importantly, feels like a Pulsar which we feel is a massive plus point. 

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. But don’t let the decision be based on some pictures or a brochure. Make your way to a showroom, look at the bike, sit on it, talk to it, take it for a ride, and see if it talks to you. Because the Pulsar did not shape generations of motorcyclists with nothing. Talking to the rider is what it does best and once it does, you’ll know where we are coming from. 

We use Rynox Gears and Axor Helmets.