What is it?
The comeback of the Bajaj Pulsar ‘200NS’, which was discontinued in India in 2015 to make way for the AS200. But the Indian market is full of turns and twists and things have turned full circle. The lack of demand of the AS200 and AS150, and more of the consistent demand of the naked 200cc sibling made the manufacturer re-launch this motorcycle. It is now available as the ‘NS200’ according to the brand’s new nomenclature.
Also, since all manufacturers needed to have BS-IV ready vehicles from April 1, 2017, Bajaj was prepared at the start of the year itself. They upgraded this 200cc Pulsar with an updated engine to meet the BS-IV emission regulations. They also equipped it with the 'auto headlamp on' feature to conform to new guidelines. Furthermore, the motorcycle also gets a cosmetic makeover with new stickering, three new colours and a belly pan.
How does it ride?
The street-fighter character of this naked Pulsar still has to offer that aggressive riding position. This is thanks to the rear-set foot-pegs and clip-on handlebars. Though the seat height at 805mm is taller than the Apache and the FZ, it is fairly comfortable for individuals with a height of 5ft 7". The clip-on handle-bar is nicely raised not requiring the rider to lean forward and the knee recesses on the muscular tank better the rider’s stance.
The 199.5cc engine's bore (72mm) and stroke (49mm) remain the same as on the previous model. Also the displacement and output of the single-cylinder engine continues to be rated at 23.2bhp at 9,500rpm and 18.3Nm of peak torque at 8,000rpm. There's no fuel injection, but it gets a new CDI injection unit to enhance the spark duration to be more precise and provide better combustion. There's also an evap system (fuel vapour circulation unit) and a new catalytic converter. All of these components are for BS-IV compliance, which means cleaner emissions and should lead to better fuel economy. Meanwhile, the mill continues to come mated to a six-speed gearbox.
The engine does feel more refined and vibe free compared to the earlier model. This is a rev happy motor and has enough grunt to pull away cleanly from low revs. The engine didn't feel bogged down even while doing 30kmph in the fifth gear. This clearly speaks for the engine being tuned for the mid-range to provide a relaxed ride in city conditions. Drop a gear and open the throttle, you will realise the NS200 can manage getting away from traffic in a jiffy. The gearbox doesn't feel as notchy as the earlier one and the number of false neutrals has certainly gone down. The power delivery is smooth and the throttle response is sharp. Thanks to this and the sixth gear, highway hauling too is a relaxed affair. You can easily do 80kmph at 5,500rpm and 100kmph at 7,000rpm in top gear. While the console shows the rev counter till 12,000rpm, the shift light starts blinking at 9,500rpm, which is the redline. Achieving the claimed top whack of 135kmph isn't difficult.
The NS200 sports telescopic front forks and a monoshock at the rear, whose preload on our test vehicle was set at one below the stiffest setting. Apart from a few vibrations on the handlebars and footpegs, even broken roads didn't make for an uncomfortable ride. The NS200 takes the broken tarmac and rough sections of the road into its stride with poise. This is further assisted by the tubeless MRF Zapper tyres combination (front 100/80 R17 and rear 130/70 R17), which grip nicely and work well on nicely paved roads and beaten tracks as well. We also tested the bike in muck, slush, and gravel and it held up well. For that matter, even at high speeds stability didn't feel compromised. This well-mannered and forgiving motorcycle will let you carve corners with ease. It is a nimble handler and turns in nicely making going in and out of corners a surprisingly easy task. My only dissatisfaction is with the rear brake – it doesn’t offer the feel and power of a disc brake, but the front provides excellent stopping power and feel
Anything else I should know?
The 2017 NS200 is a good leap forward compared to its predecessor. It looks premium and up-to-date too, but still doesn't leave you in wow of the fit, finish and quality. The feel of buttons on the switchgear is mediocre. Also, there seems to be no getting away from the feeling of 'are these panels strong enough?' or 'will they last?' The instrument cluster on our test bike had already begun to develop a rattling noise with just 1,000km on the odo. So, attractive pricing can be understood, but the bike still costs Rs one lakh on-road and doesn't feel that premium. Then, like most of its rivals, the NS200 misses out features like fuel injection or ABS. However, Bajaj had the opportunity to introduce these features with the NS200 being reintroduced now and offer something unique to the buyer. It could have then built a strong case for itself in this fast-growing entry-level performance motorcycle segment.
Should I buy one?
The Pulsar NS200 looks good, offers a comfortable ride in the city and has enough grunt for the highway. Sure, the rear brake should have been more than adequate for its overall performance but thanks to the front, overall braking isn’t bad either. This NS200 isn't a rapid raccoon like the KTM 200 Duke. Nevertheless, it’s the perfect naked bike for someone looking for daily commutes or occasional weekend trips ensuring an engaging ride. With a smoother power and good handling prowess, the NS200 does a fine job. And moreover, it’s a well-engineered product with good styling, comfort and performance. Besides, at Rs 97,452 (ex-showroom Delhi) it becomes a great deal.
Where does it fit in?
The TVS Apache RTR 200 4V is also a naked 200cc carburetted motorcycle, but has slightly lower power output figures. However with an ex-Delhi price of Rs 92,615, it is the only real contender for the Bajaj Pulsar NS200 in the Indian market.
1. Bell Qualifier Helmet -
A visually appealing helmet with an aerodynamic profile. It is lightweight, warm-weather centric and gets a very well ventilated polycarbonate shell. Cheek pads are a snug fit with washable comfort liners. Bang for the buck. Price - ₹ 10,000 (before shipping and duties)
2. Icon Hooligan Street Jersey Jacket -
This jacket is great for our hot weathers and comes with a relaxed fit. The small mesh and big mesh pattern at the back provide increased air flow, so that you can get the air all the way through. But it has no 360 zipper, so isn't great with pants. Price - ₹ 10,000 (before shipping and duties)
3. Alpinestars Basic Leather gloves –
Basic leather gloves suited for city riding. Recommended for short rides. Price - Not available
4. AGV Sport Airtex pants –
These riding pants with mesh in the crotch, calf, back of legs and thigh areas is a real boon in our hot weather. Price -₹ 6,500.
5. Sidi B2 boots –
These are all-round street and sports bike riding shoes, which are also suitable for track days. However, they are not ventilated, which can make them uncomfortable for everyday use. Price - ₹ 17,000
Pictures by Kapil Angane