The Pulsar NS160 runs on a 160.3cc, single-cylinder oil-cooled engine with a four-valve head. It churns out 17.03bhp of power and 14.6Nm of peak torque. Although this engine feels refined, there's a hint of gruffness at higher revs, which's typical of a Pulsar. And it also likes to be revved. These aspects make riding the NS160 pretty engaging.
It picks up from a standstill with fair urgency and keeps pulling linearly until redline. Although there aren't any surprises across the rev band, you can feel it speeding ahead with a bit more eagerness post 5,000rpm. The first and second gear ratios are short and the engine is relaxed at slow speeds which means riding in the city is a breeze.
Out on the highway, it can stay at around 100kmph all day long without much stress on the engine. But overtaking requires a bit of planning, downshifting, and wringing the throttle hard. And it's not free of vibrations either. As you approach 6,000rpm, a minor buzz starts emanating on the handlebar but not to the extent of being annoying.
The five-speed gearbox is effortless to operate as it shifts with a short throw and assurance. But it often gets stuck at neutral easily while transitioning from first to second. Fortunately, shifting gears never gets tiring because of the lightness of the clutch.
The NS 160 is also feisty in the way it handles. Despite being the heaviest in its class at 151kg, it feels very quick, well-mannered, and composed while changing directions. The steering response is also sharp and quick. So, the NS160 inspires a lot of confidence while switching lanes or going fast around twisties, all thanks to the well-engineered perimeter frame and suspension setup.
That brings us to its ride quality. Damping duties are handled by telescopic forks at the front and a monoshock at the rear. This setup makes sure that minor road undulations are ironed out cleanly and don’t send a nasty jerk to the rider. There’s a bit of stiffness to the ride while going over taller bumps, stones or sharp-edged elements, but it never bounces harshly or loses composure.
The NS160 also stops quickly and confidently. It gets a 260mm disc up front and a 230mm disc at the rear, and both of them do a good job of shedding speed. The front brake has a strong bite and a decent amount of feel at the lever. Although the rear feels too soft, ample progression means the wheel doesn’t lock up easily.