Why to buy it?
- Tractable engine
- Agile handling
- Affordable price tag
Why to avoid it?
- Misses out on Bluetooth
- Vibey at high speeds
The quarter-litre motorcycle segment has grown quite competitive over the last few years in India. Today, there are more than half a dozen motorcycles in this category with almost each one bringing something different and interesting to the table. The Bajaj Pulsar N250, for instance, is the most affordable quarter-litre naked street bike one can buy in India today. It essentially represents the evolution of Bajaj’s iconic and long-running Pulsar brand and its platform.
Now, if you’re out in the market for a 250cc bike that doesn’t breach the Rs. 2 lakh (on-road) mark, should you consider the Pulsar N250? Let’s get you the answer.
Styling and Quality
With the new 250cc twins, Bajaj introduced a new design language for its Pulsar family. Clearly, the styling isn’t as revolutionary as the first-gen Pulsar which was radical when it debuted in 2001. To be honest, the new-age Pulsars lack the aspiration quotient visually, which is important for more footfalls in the showrooms. However, with its sharp edges and muscular demeanour, the Pulsar N250 looks sporty and relevant for 2023. In a typical streetfighter fashion, it boasts a front squatting stance with a low-slung headlamp, a sculpted fuel tank with angular extensions, and an upswept and pointed tail.
Quality-wise, there’s nothing to complain about. The Pulsar N250 is a well put-together motorcycle withsturdy plastic panels present throughout. The switches operate with great tactility, the paint finish shouts premiumness, and there aren’t any uneven panel gaps to be found. Even after riding it aggressively for over a week, I didn’t hear any unusual noises emanating from the bike.
Ergonomics and Comfort
The Pulsar N250 is welcoming even for shorter riders with a low seat height of 795mm. Getting onboard and flat-footing is effortless. When in the saddle, you’re treated with a tubular handlebar that’s shaped like a clip-on, a scooped yet spacious seat, and mildly rear-set footpegs. These elements concertedly provide a sporty yet comfortable riding stance. Your knees are acutely folded, arms are stretched out, back is slightly bent, and the bottom is at ease on a cushy and accommodating seat. The Pulsar feels comfortable for about two hours of continuous riding before the backside starts aching.
The suspension setup, meanwhile, is tuned in favour of good handling while maintaining reasonable comfort. On the N250, you feel even the smallest undulations but not in a harsh or obnoxious manner. It rolls over minor road joints, rumblers, manhole covers, or shallow potholes with a fair amount of plushness accompanied by just a mild jerk. Even the taller speed breakers are handled without much drama. It’s only when you go through a deep pothole that you feel the firmness of the rear monoshock with a jolt.
Performance and Handling
The Pulsar N250 is powered by a new 250cc, oil-cooled engine that clings onto a tubular frame. With performance numbers at 24.1bhp and 21.5Nm, a two-valve head, and a five-speed gearbox, this engine is outperformed by most of the 250cc offerings on paper. However, on the go, it’s fairly impressive and enjoyable, especially in the city.
Refinement and tractability are the strongest suits of this mill. The torque is spread almost evenly from 3,000rpm to redline which makes the performance progressive and consistent. One can ride the bike at 40kmph in fifth gear easily. Stay above 5,000rpm and the pull is strong enough to execute quick overtakes in traffic. A crisp gearbox and supremely light clutch further add to the ease of city riding. Meanwhile, the vibrations are almost non-existent until 6,000rpm. Beyond that, a mild buzz starts creeping in on the handlebar and seat. It’s not annoyingly high but constantly noticeable.
On the highway, things are a little different. Although the N250 can go faster than 130kmph, the engine starts feeling strained as you get past 100kmph. Crossing this mark feels forceful and strenuous for the engine, and the absence of the sixth gear is constantly felt. Even the vibrations become slightly more conspicuous. So, while touring on the N250, anything beyond 100kmph feels unnatural. Having said that, the bassy exhaust note of the N250 makes riding it an engaging experience at any given speed.
Adding to this is the handling of the bike. The front end has a tremendous feel and the chassis delivers great feedback. As a result, the N250 feels profoundly flickable while cutting your way through traffic. It’s also a hoot while switching lanes on the highway or carving corners around mountains. This is accompanied by a good braking setup. While the front disc has a strong bite, it could do with a better lever feel. Also, if you’re someone who pushes hard around corners, one thing holding you back will be the lack of grip from the MRF Zapper tyres.
Features and Technology
The new Pulsars have come a long way in terms of riding experience but there’s still room for improvement on the feature front. For instance, it continues to miss out on goodies like a fully-digital console and smartphone connectivity.
That’s not to say it’s all vanilla. What you do get is a full-LED lighting setup, an assist and slipper clutch, dual-channel ABS (optional), and a smartly-placed USB charging port. Although the layout of the semi-digital console looks old, it does show things like gear position, distance to empty, and average fuel efficiency, besides the basic data. Also, the LED projector headlamp offers great throw and spread in the dark.
The Pulsar N250 truly surprised us on the fuel efficiency front by returning 44kmpl in our test run which we execute in low to moderate traffic and by riding the bike gently. This is higher than any other 250cc motorcycle available in India. With this mileage, the N250 should return a range of over 600km with its 14-litre tank filled to the brim.
The Bajaj Pulsar N250 knocks it out of the park in terms of pricing. The top-spec dual-channel ABS trim of the bike is priced at Rs. 1.50 lakh (ex-showroom). The only other quarter-litre bike coming close to it is the standard variant of the Yamaha FZ25 which costs the same. As for the Suzuki Gixxer 250, it’s nearly Rs. 30,000 more expensive.
Now, as an overall package, the Bajaj Pulsar N250 is a likeable offering and almost everything about it is admirable. The engine is tractable and refined for the most part. The handling dynamics are phenomenal along with good brakes. Moreover, it’s also fairly comfortable and the ride quality is acceptable. Looks and feature-wise, it might not be mind-blowing but it isn’t bad either. In a nutshell, the new Pulsar N250 doesn’t pop out of the crowd, as its ancestors did many years back, but neither is it seriously lacking on any front.
So, who exactly is the Bajaj Pulsar N250 for? Mainly for those who are upgrading from smaller commuters, and want something bigger and sportier, with an affordable price tag, backed by an affordable ownership experience while not compromising on an easy-to-ride experience.
Photography by Kapil Angane