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2023 Bajaj Pulsar NS160: Road Test Review

Authors Image

Pratik Bhanushali

5,852 Views
GalleryIntroductionStyling and QualityErgonomics and ComfortPerformance and HandlingFeatures and TechnologyFuel EfficiencyConclusion

Introduction

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Front Three Quarter

Why buy it?

- Nimble handling

- Good suspension tuning

- Fuel efficient motor

Why avoid it?

- Low value for money

- The engine feels too old

I had just received my driving license when the Bajaj Pulsar NS160 first broke cover in 2017. Since then, the world and I have changed a lot for the better but the Pulsar NS160 seems to have taken it rather slow. The bike recently received USD forks, new and more potent brakes, and lighter wheels as a generational update. While we have explained why the bike still exists in Bajaj’s portfolio in our first ride review of the 2023 Pulsar NS160, it’s time to tell you who can consider purchasing the latest model. For that, we spent an entire week riding it in and around the city and conducted a comprehensive test.

Styling and Quality

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Front Three Quarter

Even with such an old design being carried over in 2023, the Pulsar NS160 looks quite sporty and can be mistaken for the NS200. Given its almost triangular face and chunky fuel tank, the bike feels front-heavy, but more on that later. The refreshing bits for 2023 are the N250/F250 borrowed wheels alongside the USD forks. Both parts add to the NS160’s aesthetics and make it look attractive. Moreover, the overall sporty demeanour of the NS160 stays intact in 2023 as well.

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Front Three Quarter

Even the quality levels on the latest model are fairly upmarket. All the panels are evenly fitted. We couldn’t find any loose bits or random wires hanging around. Be it the tank extensions or the rear tyre hugger, all the parts feel sturdy and solid. Even the switchgear setup is very responsive and the buttons have a reassuring click. It’s only the turn indicator switch that I felt was a little overdone with the case around. You’d need to press it twice to ensure the indicator light has been turned on.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Side View

While everything about the NS160 screams aggressiveness, its rider triangle is the complete opposite, and in a good way. The wide handlebar, slightly rear-set footpegs, and the scooped seating position offer a very commanding and comfortable setting. The vast and flat handle offers immense leverage when changing directions in a jiffy, while the rider pegs are low enough to offer enough room and one does not feel cramped.

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Side View

With a seat height of 805mm and my 5’10 frame, I could place my feet flat on the ground very easily and leverage that to move the bike around while on the saddle. Even though the opportunity to ride in full-tucked positions is seldom, the NS160 doesn’t allow that because of its length. I had to either move my bottom to the rear seat or place my head on the handlebar for it, and neither is practical.

Moving on to the comfort bit, the newly added USD front forks and the gas-charged monoshock are quite pliant. The springs easily absorb most of the bumps, be it a long off-road patch or a pothole/speed breaker that catches you by surprise. Even when taking corners, the NS160 was very stable and inspired confidence to push the pace further. The bike’s compact nature works in its favour when you ride in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and if the need arises, it doesn’t need much calculation to slice between vehicles.

Performance and Handling

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Engine From Left

Bajaj has powered the 2023 Pulsar NS160 with a 160.3cc single-cylinder engine and it’s linked to a five-speed gearbox. The revs climb with urgency and you’ll find a majority of the NS160’s power around and post the mid-range. This complements its sporty nature but at the cost of its tractability. The NS160’s gearbox is slick and responsive but needs to be worked on often. Since all the power is in the later revs, it’s a struggle to ride the bike in higher gear at low speeds. So, downshifts are inevitable. Further, we observed a speedometer-indicated top speed of around 117kmph, which is good when you consider how old the motor is. But you’ll be met with buzz and uneasy clatter from the engine when gunning for the top speed, which is a notable flaw for the NS.

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Front Three Quarter

On the handling front, the 2023 Bajaj Pulsar NS160 scores a point. It's very predictable around tight turns and equally stable at high speeds too. The directional changes are enjoyable, and you can truly go riding in the ghats on Sunday with the Pulsar NS160 and take it to work on Monday. The bike responds to the feedback given from the handlebar in no time and the front-heavy setup helps maintain the balance. The MRF tyres, too, offer adequate grip and won’t leave you second-guessing as the twisties arrive.

Features and Technology

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 TFT / Instrument Cluster

The features list is where Bajaj can improve by a substantial margin. The NS160’s setup is quite archaic with the halogen lights and semi-digital instrument console, especially when its rivals get LED illumination and a fully digital console. Having said that, it gets dual-channel ABS now, which makes the overall riding experience slightly better since this feature has enhanced the safety net.

Fuel Efficiency

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Side View

During the BikeWale fuel efficiency test, the NS160 returned 52.2kmpl of mileage. That’s quite a commendable figure, especially when you pair it with the bike’s 12-litre fuel tank. On average, the bike should return a range of around 620km in one go. However, the figure could vary by a slight margin because we tested the bike in mild traffic conditions in the city as well as on the highway. And considering your riding style and conditions, the final figure would be different.

Conclusion

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Rear Three Quarter

The 2023 Bajaj Pulsar NS160 is affordable, sporty, and has the youthfulness and other factors to lure in younger customers as well. Not to mention, it’s also easy on the pocket in terms of fuel efficiency and Bajaj’s spare parts, too, are fairly affordable. So, for anyone who’s just entering college or has passed out and is looking for a sporty-looking, naked motorcycle, then the NS160 could be their choice.

However, it’s not the only bike in the 160cc segment. There’s the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V, Apache RTR 160, and even the NS160’s cousin, the Pulsar N160 in the same category. So, for the NS160 to stand out in the crowd, it needs to do more in terms of performance and offer better features as well. Until then, only customers specifically looking for the NS would buy one.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Side View
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Side View
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Engine From Left
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Front Disc Brake Caliper
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Side View
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Front Three Quarter
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Right Front Three Quarter
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 TFT / Instrument Cluster
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Rear Three Quarter
Bajaj Pulsar NS160 Left Front Three Quarter

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