Cons: Not comfortable for taller riders, less performance from the motor
India is a land of adventure. With a vast coastline and never ending mountains, even a lifetime of travelling is not enough to completely explore India. Still, one must try. And to do that, Hero MotoCorp has yet again endowed upon us an adventure motorcycle in the form of the XPulse 200. First unveiled at the 2017 EICMA show, the Xpulse 200 has the accolade for being the most affordable adventure tourer in India. Now, it might not be a very fancy-looking motorcycle and is also packed with some unnecessary gizmos but it still is simple yet purposeful. Moreover, it comes with some basic cycle parts and features that make it an interesting product.
A rugged motorcycle needs cycle parts that aren’t just unbreakable but also long-lasting. Luckily, the Xpulse doesn’t miss out on it. For instance, it comes with cast iron elements on the motorcycle that look and feel great. Then, there are the fibre parts like the front mudguard and side panels that can take a considerable amount of abuse.
The fuel tank too, looks rugged and is finished in fine paint. The handlebar feels nice to hold on to and so does the grab rail. The headlamp cover and its assembly finish also get a premium feel. On the downside, the plastics around the cluster feel a bit tacky.
On the XPulse, you sit a bit higher, thanks to the good seat height. And that gives a very good visibility of the front. The wide handlebar and neutrally-set footpegs further make things very comfortable, especially during long hauls. All in all, the seating triangle is spot on for most Indians. However, for a select few (read: tall riders), the footpeg position could prove to be a tad uncomfortable as it is placed a bit higher than normal. This could prove to be bothersome while standing and riding as you’ll need to bend a bit further. For shorter riders or the average Indian for that matter, it won’t pose a problem. The long single seat offers great amount of comfort and support. Plus, the presence of slight dip on the seat and great knee recess on the tank make city commute an easy affair.
The 200cc single-cylinder engines by Hero MotoCorp sure are refined but not really performance oriented. It is because they were designed to offer decent performance without putting a big hole in the pocket. The one on the XPulse is no different. The 18bhp motor isn’t class-leading in any way, but it offers power and grunt through the mid-range. It pulls quite easily from as low as 3000rpm, and stays strong throughout. It’s only when the revs start to climb towards 8000rpm, the performance deteriorates. There’s decent amount of buzz around the pegs and the handlebar then. Moreover, the five-speed gearbox is precise and easy to shift while standing up and riding. Its sweet spot, however, lies in the 90kmph range. It does 110kmph as well, but that means tucking behind the windscreen for most of the part. The road dynamics are also great and so is the straight line stability. The ride quality too is impressive, even on the worst possible roads.
But, off the road is where the Xpulse feels at home. With a strong low-range, it’s quite easy to cross water bodies or even do some steep climbs for that matter. If the technique is right, power slides are also possible on the Xpulse. Meanwhile, the combination of great ground clearance, potent motor and long travel suspension is a major boon for extreme trail riding. In fact, after a few jumps, some of which were unsuccessful or bad, the Xpulse continued to feel at home. This could be attributed to the CEAT tyres that offer great grip and instill confidence in the rider.
Also, the brakes might not be the best in the segment, but it does the job of stopping the motorcycle on time. In fact, in off-road conditions, the lack of power in the front brake proves to be useful, especially while riding down a steep slope just for its predictability.
There’s more than enough technology on the Xpulse to justify its price tag. The most important one is the instrument cluster that supports Bluetooth integration. This means you can connect your smartphone via the Hero app, feed in the destination details, and the directions on the cluster will help you reach the spot. In fact, it also gives an approximate ETA. The same cluster shows side-stand and eco indicators.
The bike is further loaded with modern components. The presence of LED headlamp and integrated pass switch clearly show the bike’s intention to stay relevant in this modern world. Single-channel ABS is standard which is acceptable since it is fun to slide the rear tyre of an ADV occasionally. There’s a bash plate as well to take on the abuse the country offers. The monoshock at the rear gets a 10-step adjustment – something that is a must for a bike of this type.
The Xpulse 200 sports a 13-litre fuel tank. So, with a fuel efficiency figure of 32kmpl, the bike can be ridden for approximately 400kms before stopping at the fuel pump.
Fitness of Purpose
Adventure bikes are like the SUVs of motorcycles and are gaining equal popularity. These two-wheelers can go where it’s difficult, if not impossible, for regular bikes to go while also being practical and durable. What’s more, it can take a hell lot of abuse without breaking the rider’s back. Keeping this in mind, the Xpulse does manage to hits all the right notes. It’s a brilliant off-roader. The road dynamics are decent as well. Plus, the accessible seat height and the comfortable riding position make it a perfect city tool too.
Hero MotoCorp has priced the Xpulse 200 at Rs 97,000 for the carbureted version and Rs 1.05 lakhs for the fuel-injected model. For these prices, the Xpulse is a steal, especially for the ones looking to enter the world of adventure riding and exploring. Sure, the Xpulse doesn’t have impressive highway cruising figures or a 200cc performance, but it has the ability to let you have fun the way you want it. The bike can jump. It can slide. And you will be able to pick it back up with ease in case you fall while crossing a river. All of this with just a little damage to the motorcycle. On the road too, it can easily become the perfect daily companion. The ride setup is good, so is the fuel efficiency. In conclusion, if you have been looking for an affordable do-it-all bike, your search should end at the Xpulse 200.