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Pulsar is most definitely one of the most famous badges in the Indian motorcycle scene and with good reason too. Over the years, some of the most iconic motorcycles have donned this badge. Pulsar 180, Pulsar 150, Pulsar 200, Pulsar 220 and so on. All of them are superb motorcycles in their own right. According to us though, the Pulsar that actually flipped the script when it came out was the NS series. But that was more than a decade ago. To that end, Bajaj recently launched the 2023 Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160. How do they stack up today? Let us find out.
Historically, most of the Pulsars were somewhat similar, if not in design, then in philosophy. But in 2012, with the launch of the Pulsar NS 200, Bajaj did something radically different. The Pulsar family may have been that of street motorcycles till then but now, they had a proper streetfighter. The looks and design of the Pulsar NS were a hit and as they say, no need to fix what isn’t broken.
To that end, the design of the 2023 Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 remains more or less the same. Not a bad thing necessarily as the design looks far from dated and even after a decade, manages to grab a fair few eyeballs. That said, there are new colourways that should do more than enough to refresh the Pulsar NS twins for the Indian market.
In terms of performance, both the 2023 Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 continue with the same engine and transmission as before. 199.5cc with 24.2 bhp and 18.7 Nm for the Pulsar NS 200 and 160.3cc with 17 bhp and 14.6 Nm for the NS 160. The power and torque figures have always been healthy and the Pulsar NS series has always been punchy.
For the 2023 Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160, that remains the same. Yes, the NS 200 has lost 3 kilos and the NS 160 has lost one kilo, but in terms of engine performance, the difference is barely noticeable. Most of it is because the Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 have always been quick. When compared to each other though, just for fun, there are a few things to talk about.
Our time with the two new Pulsar NS’ started with the NS 200 and a tight go-kart track called, Kartomania Entertain Land, in Gurugram. The NS 200 felt right at home. The engine seemed eager and grunty as always and it was great fun getting to thrash an NS 200 after a while. The NS 160, though, was tested on the roads. It most definitely showed a deficit of 7 horses under the NS 200 but the NS 160 is great fun in its own right.
It is a bit easier to manage and it is apparent that the Pulsar NS 160 is a better fit for newer riders. Not that the NS 200 is a handful, but in a relative light, it is a smidge. Also, we have to point out that the Pulsar NS 200 has a 6-speed transmission while the NS 160 makes do with a 5-speed one. In the city, where the NS 160 thrives and belongs, it is not a deal-breaker. On the highways, you do miss it somewhat.
The handling department was where the new Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 felt the most different. Different in a good way, of course. Starting with the NS 200, the track felt almost too easy for it. With the weight-loss and reinvigorated front end thanks to the USD forks, it felt even more nimble than before and that’s saying something. Also, since some weight has been taken away from the wheels, the directional changes are quicker too. Overall, the Pulsar NS 200 has always been a good handler and the 2023 edition just dials it all to 11.
Talking about the NS 160, the differences are similar but a little less pronounced when compared to the improvements seen on the NS 200. It could also be the fact that we tested the NS 200 on a track and the NS 160 on a road. Regardless, the NS 160 feels the same as before except for a slightly more reassuring front end, thanks to the forks. Riding it just after the NS 200 also meant that it felt lighter as well but on the contrary, it is the NS 200 that lost 3 kilos over its predecessor and the NS 160, just one.
For 2023, both the Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 get dual-channel ABS. Additionally, the braking setup has also changed from ByBre to Grimeca, lifted from the Pulsar 250s. Now, braking was never a complaint and with this new setup too, it is more or less the same. Though the effort required on the lever is a tad bit more than before. Though the NS 160 has the most to gain here as it is lighter and gets a bigger disc because of this arrangement.
Since ergonomics remain the same for both the Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160, not much to talk about there so we’d move on to the instrumentation. Both the 2023 Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160 get an updated console. It is a familiar analog-digital combo but now, both motorcycles get a gear position indicator along with readouts for instantaneous fuel economy, average fuel economy, and distance to empty.
The biggest change though has come in terms of pricing. The Pulsar NS 200 is now priced at INR 1,47,347/- (Ex-Showroom) which is almost INR 9.5k more than the outgoing variant. The price of the Pulsar NS 160 has also crept up by INR 6.5k to INR 1,34,675 (Ex-Showroom). We’d say that with the additions, the price hike has been sort of justified. Though at this price and in this age, we’d have liked to see LED headlamps on both the Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160.
Other than that though, both of these motorcycles offer more than enough to have earned their place in the 10-strong Pulsar family. Though that may seem like a lot of motorcycles between 150cc and 250cc, there is enough differentiating each one that it just works. And the NS 200 and NS 160 have their place secured for a while more.