The Pulsar brand is what made Bajaj’s motorcycles so popular. It was first launched in 2001 with styling reminiscent of another icon, the Honda Hornet, and with a 150cc engine. The standard front disc brake was something new for the time. The 180cc Pulsar launched with a standard electric start, but its claim to fame was its speed – its 15bhp was enough to make it the fastest motorcycle made in India at the time. The electric start was an option on the 150cc model. In 2003, the Pulsar’s styling changed to what we’re familiar with today. It also got the DTS-i tech, which was two spark plugs, that booster both power output as well as economy. Another two years after, 17-inch rims and gas-charged rear shock absorbers were the big changes. 2005 also was the year when Bajaj began to release new features for the Pulsar every year, for the next seven years.
2006 saw a major update of the Pulsar – non-contact, backlit switchgear; self-cancelling indicators; a mostly-digital instrument cluster, an LED tail lamp, and a non-contact speedo sensor. 2007 was an important year – Bajaj only just missed out launching the first fuel-injected Indian motorcycle, with the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi. It also featured an oil cooler, a rear disc brake, and clip-on handlebars, all of which were new. 2008 was a bit of a rollback for the 220, with it ditching the fuel injection for carburettion. The instrument cluster also had warning lamps for a few new things like the air filter condition and oil level.
2009 saw the launch of the Pulsar LS 135 – this was a slightly different take on the brand, as it was intended to be a sporty commuter and not a completely sports-focused model like the rest of the range. It had a four-valve engine head that was made of plastic, which was unusual. 2009 was also when the 3D tank logo debuted, as did the tank scoops and a switch to a DC electrical system. 2010 was when the Pulsar 150 reached its current form, with the clip-on handlebars.
2012 was a big year for the brand, because the 200NS was the first of the new-generation Pulsars, with a perimeter frame, liquid-cooled engine and rear monoshock. Other firsts include a triple spark engine and a four-valve head – this is an engine based on the KTM 200 Duke’s engine.
The current Pulsar range has a distinct divide: the old-school Pulsars include the 150, 180 and 220F. Somewhere in the middle is the 135 LS, which caters to those who don’t want to compromise on fuel efficiency. Then there is the modern Pulsars with their perimeter frames, etc: the NS160, NS200 and RS200. A rear disc brake is available across the range except on the 135 LS, and single-channel ABS will be available across the range shortly.
The Pulsar range continues to be defined by a lot of performance for the money, and excellent value, both in terms of purchasing and maintenance.