Bajaj really hit the spot with the Pulsar NS200 in 2012. As far as naked streetfighters go, this bike looked very, very good. It was quite refined, well-powered, handled great and came with a thrifty price tag. But then, in 2015, Bajaj stopped selling it. Tears were shed and protests made, but the cannibalising of its sibling, the AS200, could just not be permitted.
Those tears and protests were perhaps not in vain, because now, in a dramatic turn of events, the replacer has become the replaced. The NS200 is back by popular demand, and will take the place of the AS200 in Bajaj’s extensive Pulsar line-up.
The 2017 NS200 features a handful of changes. Most importantly, it is now BS-IV compliant, which was achieved by changes to the fuelling and exhaust systems. While these changes will alter performance, they will do so only marginally and, as we can attest, imperceptibly. One perceptible change, however, is in the engine note. Bajaj has tried to make the bike sound raspier and bassier, and has successfully done so.
The other changes are mostly aesthetic. The NS200 is now available in three new colour schemes – Graphite Black, Mirage White and Wild Red (we particularly like the first and last ones) – and features new graphics. It also gets a new belly pan which fits in rather well with its streetfighter appeal.
Apart from the switch to BS-IV conformity, things remain unchanged on the engine front. The power and torque figures remain unchanged with 23.5hp at 9,500rpm and 18.3Nm at 8,000rpm, respectively. The liquid-cooled, single-cylinder unit continues to be mated to a six-speed gearbox. In terms of performance, the NS200 continues to be a punchy and enjoyable bike to ride. The powerband is wide, which means that it will suit the urban atmosphere well. The powerband, in fact, stretches all the way to the imposed limit of 11,000rpm. The short-stroke nature of the engine – 72mm x 49mm – means that it revs quite freely too. The new exhaust note makes the NS200 sound a bit more like its distant cousin, the KTM 200 Duke, but on the whole, performance is much the same as it always was.
The gear shift is crisp and precise, with a clutch that is easy to use. The gearing is not too short, reducing the frequency with which you need to shift ratios. In sixth, going flat out on Bajaj’s Chakan test track, we managed to hit about 128kph on the speedo.
The twin-spar pressed-steel frame continues to lend the bike admirable composure on straights and around corners. A low centre of gravity and well-centred mass facilitates confident lean around corners, aided also by MRF Zapper tyres. The NS200 rides on telescopic forks up front and a gas-charged monoshock round the back, and though we only tried this bike on a smooth track, we know from experience that it generally rides well.
Braking duties are, commendably, handled by Bybre brakes chomping on a 280mm petal-type disc up front and a 230mm disc at the rear.
At Rs 96,453 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the NS200 is competitively priced and, with those refreshed looks, is likely to pick up right where it left off two years back.