Hero Xpulse 200 First Ride Review

02 May 2019, 01:00 PM Vikrant Singh

Introduction

This is the encore to the Hero Impulse. And unlike the latter, it is here at the right time. Now, we’d ideally describe it as a dual sport motorcycle. But, given the craze for adventure motorcycles, we might stretch things a bit and also call it the most affordable ADV on the market today.

Let’s dive right in and see what’s it about...

The Visuals

I like the way it looks from the front, all the way to the rider’s seat. The round LED headlamp brings a simplistic charm to the design. The knuckle guards and the high front fender give the bike a deeper sense of purpose. And, the tiny fly screen over the head lamp actually gives you an excuse to call the Xpulse an ADV. Then there’s the 21-inch front spoked wheel, which adds to the motorcycle’s off-roading creed. 

But, once you sweep your eyes past the rider’s seat, things start to get a bit confusing. It has a low tail, a tiny rear carrier, and a rear mud guard which will look more at home on a street bike than a dual sport. Overall, it seems like two different set of designers went about sketching the Xpulse; one with an ADV brief, and the other, with a commuter on their agenda.

Quality wise, the Xpulse is good. Nothing feels or looks cheap. The switchgear works well; the instrumentation feels par for the course; and the paint quality - especially on the rims and glossy plastic - is impressive too. But, the Xpulse falls short on the finish front. One can spot wires and connectors all over, and these haven’t been smartly routed either. Plus, the heel plates seem like a late addition. But, at least these are usable.

Hero Xpulse 200

Hero Xpulse 200

  • Displacement199.6 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)18.1 bhp
  • Kerb Weight153 kg
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 98,000

The Package

Okay, the finish issues aren’t big. And when you get over that rear-end design, there is lots to like about the Xpulse. For starters, like the Impulse, it is an accessible motorcycle. Which means it is light, easy to manoeuvre, and though it makes more power and torque now, it’s still very much under the easy-to-exploit column.

It has a decent set of features too. It gets LED head and tail lamps. There’s ABS, although it is a single channel unit. There’s some storage under the seat. And it gets an all digital instrumentation. It also has readouts for time, engine rpm, and gear selected. It also has two trip computers, which show the distance traveled, average speed, and time taken. 

The display is Bluetooth compatible. Using a Hero proprietary app, one can connect one’s android or apple phones and use the display for turn-by-turn navigation. And it is easy to read too, even on the move. 

It uses the same engine and the 5-speed gearbox from the Xtreme 200R. But, the engine sits in a revised chassis. The Xpulse also gets new front forks and a new swing arm. The suspension travel has gone up, and in keeping with the requirements of an on/off road bike, there’s good ground clearance too. 

Just to throw some figures at you - the 199.6cc, fuel injected air cooled engine makes just under 19bhp and a little over 17Nm of torque. The bike weighs around 155kg. The ground clearance is 220mm, and even then, the seat height remains at an accessible 825mm. The suspension travel meanwhile, is 190mm at the front and 170mm at the rear. 

The Ride

Let’s get the less interesting thing out of the way first. 

It’s easy to swing your leg over the Xpulse given its low tail. Once seated, the ergonomics feel right. The handlebar is tall and wide, the footpegs are neutrally positioned, and the distance between the handlebar and rider’s seat won’t have you reaching for the bars. Moreover, nothing about the Xpulse’s ergonomics feels odd, which is great.

Once you start riding, it won’t blow your mind. At least not on the road. Not that the Xpulse is slow; it has a strong mid range, it pulls strongly from 3,000rpm, and it is relatively free-revving as well. But it isn’t exactly exciting. It has a nice induction note - we will give it that - and the throttle response is crisp, the gear shifts are precise, and unless you get near 8,000rpm, it doesn’t seem to run out of breath. As far as vibes go, it has some, but nothing extreme. 

On the highways, it feels best when cruising at 90kmph in fifth. It can go up to 115kmph with the throttle wrung to the stop. And even to around 120kmph if you manage to hide your big frame behind that tiny flyscreen. But you know, the Xpulse isn’t enjoying this as much. 

It feels planted in a straight line at these speeds. And though the brakes - the front in particular- isn’t the best when it comes to feel or bite, it still manages to haul the bike down without scaring the rider. Around winding roads, the Xpulse’s large front wheel and the lazy rake do make for a relatively slow steering bike.

The ride quality, though, is impressive. It’s not overly soft like the Impulse, and the rear suspension can further be adjusted for preload. However, even in the stock setting, there’s a hint of firmness to the ride which prevents the motorcycle from bottoming out. But again, it isn’t firm enough to throw the rider off the seat. It rides the bumps, absorbs the potholes, and then settles down without a hint of wallowing.

And then when you go off-road, you immediately start falling for the bike. The Xpulse seems to be built for it. It has the suspension travel, it has the tyres, it has the balance, and now it has the mid-range torque to make dirt riding interesting. You can jump it and slide it and take on the trails with utmost ease. And though it weighs more than the Impulse, it’s still not heavy to move around or pick up when you happen to drop it. And it’s lovely to stand up and ride upon as well. 

Conclusion

Yes, the Xpulse is a good follow-up to the Impulse. It has all that made the Impulse a darling. But without its shortcomings of an under powered engine, cramped ergos, and too soft a suspension setup. 

Is the Xpulse perfect then? No. It is an acceptable upgrade for Impulse owners, and the go-to bike for those who always wanted the Impulse but never bought one. It might not be great on the road, but you can commute on it, and indulge in a bit of unhurried touring too. So in that sense, it does everything an ADV is expected to do.

Mostly though, at this price point, it’s just a low hanging fruit. 

Photography by Kastubh Gandhi

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