Every automobile journalist I know wanted to ride one of the exotics from Harley-Davidson, Ducati or Royal Enfield to the India Bike Week 2013, but not me! I was looking to ride something different. My bike had to be reasonably fast, reliable and comfortable, in the city as well as on the winding coastal highway linking Mumbai and Goa. I couldn’t think of any bike that was better suited than our long-term Bajaj Pulsar 200NS. Neat styling, good attention to detail and smoothly chiseled lines make this an attractive bike that you will seldom fail to turn back to admire again.
The group I rode to Goa with was confident that they would reach Goa in less than 10 hours from Mumbai, which wasn’t really a priority for me and sounded quite pointless. But, as it turned out, this bike munches miles quicker than I thought.
I’ve had my fair share of doubts when riding previous generation Pulsars, but the NS performs much better than any other Pulsar, making all my misgivings a thing of the past. The 200NS performed well on NH4, allowing me to effortlessly cover 400-odd kilometres in less than seven hours, despite several breaks. My pace slowed as we ran into some bad road surfaces after the Nipani junction, and it was time to put the bike’s handling to the test. Bumps kept trying to unsettle the NS, but the Pulsar’s able suspension took everything in its stride, its potent brakes further helping to keep my ride safe. The NS glides over poor roads, thanks to its rear monoshock suspension. I did, however, find myself pleading for better grip from its tyres, as I pushed the bike harder and inched closer to its limits in the ghats.
The NS is one of the quickest bikes in its class, this engine outputting ample torque. A solid mid-range and wide power spread make it easy to power this bike through city traffic, and it can sometimes take a little restraint to avoid getting carried away. Clip-on style handlebars, an upright riding position and abundant thigh support make the NS a comfy bike to pilot, even for tall riders like me. But, I can’t say the same about the Pulsar 200NS’s sporty riding saddle, which could offer better padding over long distances.
The NS was surrounded throughout my Goa ride by sportsbikes, cruisers and larger capacity touring bikes, which should have easily overwhelmed it, but the NS never let that happen. Two weeks and 2,445km astride the NS have, in the end, proved nothing short of blissful. My commute to work involves a 30km ride and it has never felt so relaxing or fast. The NS sure beats the crowded Mumbai local trains and never-ending bus-stand queues. It’s a very well rounded package, whether for city rides or highway stints. And this is a really light bike on your pocket, with good fuel-economy (overall 35.2kpl) that left a big smile on my face throughout my ride.
I’ve been to Goa often, by road and rail, but the IBW 2012 trip has proven really memorable. The Pulsar 200NS has been tested and reviewed time and again, always passing with no less than flying colors. This ride has helped me realise what makes Pulsars so popular across India. These are comfortable, quick and sporty bikes you can live with everyday and tour with easily as well.
Bajaj Pulsar 200NS:
Price: Rs 94,334 (on-road, Pune)
Test economy: 35.2kpl
Maintenance costs: Rs 480 for engine oil change, and chain lubrication