Hero Xpulse 200T Review
Does a road-only version of what is essentially a long travel, on/off-road bike make sense?
This, the 200T, is the road-only twin of the XPulse. So, now you know why it looks the way it does. But, we will get to that in a bit. First, let’s talk rationale; the rationale behind having two versions of the same bike.
“Economies of scale. Not putting all your eggs in one basket. Giving buyers more options.” No matter who you speak to, the rationale behind having just one model on a single platform, is clearly the right way forward. And it’s especially true when you introduce a bike in a category that has always faced headwinds. In this case, that would be dual sports.
So, does a road-only version of what is essentially a long travel, on/off-road bike make sense?
Hero is going for ‘retro’ with the 200T’s design. Therefore, the round head lamp, the flat one-piece handlebar, the raked out stance, and the exposed instrumentation. Is it a great design? I personally don’t think so. But, it is a polarising one. And if it is polarising, it will be talked about. Which in itself is something Hero will be happy about.
The headlamp, the instrumentation, the switchgear, the fuel tank, the tail, and the tail lamps are all identical to the XPulse 200. But, there are differences. The 200T runs 17-inch alloys draped in sporty looking MRF rubber. There’s a tyre hugging front mud guard. The side panels and footpegs are different. And, the handlebar is flatter too.
Like the XPulse 200, the 200T gets fully digital instrumentation with two trip computers, Bluetooth cellphone pairing for turn-by-turn navigation, switchgear with engine kill and pass-by switches, and LED headlamp and tail lamps. Additionally, thanks to alloy wheels, the T runs on tubeless tyres.
The engine and gearbox on the 200T are exactly the same as the Xpulse. But, instead of fuel injection, the T runs on a carburettor. The 200T has the same exact chassis as well. But, there are more mechanical differences between the two rather than just different sized rims and differently treaded tyres.
The rear suspension and swingarm on the 200T is from the Xtreme 200. It uses a completely new front fork. The 200T has a sharper rake and shorter trail compared to the XPulse. And, it has a lower seat height. The ground clearance is much lower, as well.
The first thing that struck us about the 200T after jumping off the Xpulse was the difference in seating ergos. The handlebar is lower, as is the seat. The footpegs have been repositioned as well. This makes the 200T more accessible, particularly for shorter riders. It also makes the bike feel more manageable, and easier to chuck around.
The handling too is nicer on the T. Where the XPulse felt lazy and slow at turn-in, the 200T feels agile and alert. It requires less effort at the handlebar compared to the Xpulse to flick it from side to side. And that means it’s nicer to ride both around twisties and through traffic.
The suspension travel might be lesser on the 200T, but it hasn’t affected its ride for the worse. Sure, the XPulse is better at flattening almost everything. But, unless the pothole is too deep, or the bump has a cliff like edge, or you completely misread a tall speed breaker, the 200T stays flat and comfortable. But if you happen to live out any of the above mentioned scenarios, the T’s front end will bottom out. And, its rear will kick.
The 200T can’t match the XPulse’s performance either. The gap isn’t huge. But the change in fuelling, tyre sizes, and the final drive ratio between the motorcycles, has blunted the T’s performance in comparison to the Xpulse. The T also vibrates more, which again is possibly because all three touch points - handlebar, footpegs, and the seat - are different on the two bikes.
Like we said at the start, Hero is playing the retro card with the 200T. It wants to offer an easy to ride, commute centric machine, which can also manage short road trips. And the bike can do it all with varying degrees of competency.
But, it has a polarising design, which may or may not work for the bike. Plus, the design apart, it doesn’t bring anything significantly new or exciting to the table. Unlike the Xpulse 200, which makes a brilliant case for those looking to go offroad, we can’t see a single USP working in the T’s favour.
Photography by Kastubh Gandhi
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