Hero Impulse vs Yamaha FZ-S


The Impulse and the FZ-S are more than just daily commute machines; these also double up as fun toys. But which is the better commuter?

It is without doubt one of the boldest moves by an Indian bike maker in the recent past; a move that many motorcycling enthusiasts had been praying for. We are talking about the Impulse from Hero MotoCorp. It is a bike that one can use for the daily commute and then on a casual Sunday - without having to pay fees, or truck bikes or even apply for a leave - head to the closest construction site and have a rollicking time in the dirt with fellow riders.

There is another equally fun to ride 150cc commuter motorcycle in the market, which, incidentally, has won all our 150cc tests so far. It is the Yamaha FZ-S and though it’s not at home on dirt, it is an absolute joy around the well paved twisties. In fact, it can also work quite well on the track.

So, while one is fantastic for dirt riding, the other is brilliant on tarmac. But, which of the two is the better everyday commuting tool; which is easier to ride, is more fun, faster and also more fuel efficient? We decided someone needed to answer these questions. So, here goes...

The tall and lean stance of the Impulse does tell you a story. With its high ground clearance, a large front wheel (spoked by the way), the long seat and small looking tank, and not to forget the high set and long front mudguard, it screams ‘dirt bike’ all the way. To complete the look, the Hero also gets a set of knobby tyres. Actually these aren’t completely meant for off-road use. Yes, they do come with a block tread pattern but the tyres are also designed to handle some tarmac related duties. And of whatever experience we have had with them we can tell you that the Ceats work decently well on the road; they aren’t the grippiest, but they won’t catch you unaware either.


Impulse Exterior

The seating too is very upright, just like the dirt bike text book says it should be. So, the handlebar is set high, the seat-handlebar distance is less and the footpegs are anything but rearset. It also has very usable knee recesses (these are great even if you want to ride standing up). What this setup does for the daily commute, is make it supremely comfortThe able. Of course, the long travel suspension and the soft ride help immensely as well along with the light controls (read clutch and throttle). Impulse also feels light which makes it less tedious to ride. Filtering through traffic comes easy on the Hero too; slight nudges to the handlebar and the Impulse changes directions quite rapidly.

The FZ-S though does it even better; making quick direction changes at slower city speeds that is. It’s like that expert street brawler who not only uses force, but agility and speed to his advantage as well. It also looks every bit a street fighter with its butch and athletic looks and its stout stance. Its party piece on the design front is its tank. It’s not the most ergonomically sound design, but it gets the bike the eyeballs. As do the meaty tyres and the bold rear end.

As far as seating ergonomics go, the FZ-S does have a more aggressive layout and in all honesty, it feels awesome for the first few kilometres of riding, but then one begins to tire out sooner than one would on the Impulse. It’s also less practical for riding two up. Firstly, the seat isn’t large enough for both rider and pillion to sit comfortably and then its mid-ship exhaust design ends up scrapping almost everywhere. There’s the less pliant ride quality and higher vibration levels to deal with as well compared to the Hero.

If there’s one similarity between the Hero and the Yamaha, it is the ability of both bikes to turn riders into hooligans. Wheelies, stoppies or even rolling burnouts among other stuff comes easy on both. These aren’t very fast however, with the 0-60kmph time for both being over 5.5 seconds. Top speed isn’t overwhelming either with the former topping out at 111kmph and the Impulse lagging behind at 108kmph.

But, between the two, as is clear from the figures above, the FZ-S is quicker. Moreover, it is more ride-able as well, even though the difference isn’t too big. Its 150cc engine might not be the most refined, particularly at the top and you will feel the vibes in the handlebar and seat and the footrests, but for a 150cc, it is full of vigour. So much so, you never get bored or tired of extracting the max out of it in every gear.

What’s more, the FZ-S encourages you to use the brakes and gearbox more aggressively too, and with the talkative chassis and grippy tyres, you also end up leaning it harder into bends carrying much higher speeds than you would attempt on the taller Impulse. Over speed breakers and broken surfaces though, the slower you ride on the Yamaha, the better because soon enough the stiff ride and the constant tram-lining does get the better of you.

The Impulse though cherishes such poor conditions. It loves tall speed breakers, undulating roads, road joints and even pot holes and you rarely have to slow down for any of it. It’s fantastic. You can literally make your own road with this Hero without having to think twice.

But, when it comes to stopping, the Impulse’s soft front and the less sticky tyres do rob it of brake feel making you brake earlier and less aggressively. The bite though is pretty good which can at times result in a locked front wheel, unintentionally, of course. Around corners, unless you aren’t on tarmac or making U-turns, the Impulse can’t match the FZ-S’ dynamic prowess.


Impulse Engine

Impulse -The engine (above) similar to the one on the CBZ X-treme but is more refined. Switchgear works well but there's no engine kill switch (below).

As far as ‘maxing’ out the Impulse in each gear, it mostly happens accidentally. The Hero’s 150cc engine is so smooth and vibe-free that you rarely notice that you are about to hit the redline.

Yamaha FZ-S Engine

Yamaha FZ-S -Engine feels gutsier and it makes for better real world performance too be it a quicker 0-60kmph time or a higher top speed. It is less economical though.

The FZ-S, it doesn’t lack in go for its segment either and riding with the throttle pinned is a whole lot of fun too.


Impulse (mm)

Impulse Overall Dimension

Yamaha FZ-S (mm)

Yamaha FZ-S Overall Dimension

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