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A quick fix for speed junkies

autos Updated: Aug 17, 2012 01:34 IST
Hari Warrier
Hari Warrier
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Naked Sport. That is what the NS stands for. So let us see what Bajaj has done to its sportsbike legacy in India with its latest offering. Does its association with premium sportsbike maker KTM influence the latest Pulsar? Boasting figures that would make a statistician gloat, is this THE bike for India's young brood of throttle-happy bikers? Read on.

Looks

The Pulsar legacy is very much in evidence, and the tweaks and turns stand out clearly too. For one thing, it is naked -- so no fairing, not even an apology of one. The lines are generally in keeping with the Pulsar family looks, but this one looks like it has had steroids in the milk bottle, so everything is just that bit larger. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/8/17-08-biz4.jpg

Larger tyres, larger cowling, a very macho fuel tank, clean, nice (and strong) headlights, a very well laid out analog-digitial combo instrument cluster... Nothing to complain about in the looks department. Bajaj has cunningly hidden the exhaust system under the body -- almost invisible... something borrowed from KTM... that opens up the whole right side. Is that naked or what...

And oh yes, Bajaj has put out a sporty yellow that is sure to drive the market crazy. Other colours: red, blue and black.

Feel
Climb on board, and you find that this is a very tall bike. Nothing like the tarmac hugging R15 or Apache RTR. One would imagine it suits a tall rider, especially with the space on the rider's seat that allows a pushed-back, crouching posture.

As such, with my 5'6" frame, I did not find it particularly cumbersome to handle this bike. But that may have something to do with its excellent specs.

The instrument cluster is easily visible, and the switches are well laid out and illuminated in the night mode. The gear does not have a toe-heel lever, but this is a sports bike, right? The rear seat has fair space, the front seat more than enough. A warning -- watch that belt buckle, it may well take the paint off the fuel tank...

Engine
Don't get taken in by the 200CC monicker. The NS has the best specs among Indian sportsbikes: 200 cc, 23.5 BHP power, 19-odd Nm of torque, a 6-speed gearbox, a top speed of 134 kph... Mere numbers, you may jeer. But they sure translate into performance.

The first thing you notice, when you start the engine, is the almost complete absence of noise! With the exhaust hidden away, for one thing, the sound does not get a chance to come up. For another thing, the muffling is very efficient...

In keeping costs down, Bajaj has not introduced fuel-injection in the 200NS, while it is available on the Duke 200. On the other hand, it has the famous/notorious triple-spark technology, which makes the combustion more complete, and supposedly enhances the mileage. For sure, the mileage claim on the NS is slightly higher than the Duke.

All these are just words, though. Put the bike in gear, engage the throttle, and what comes next is pure adrenaline rush.

This is without doubt (Duke apart) the best take off that one has experienced on a single-cylinder bus. The gearing gets spaced out as we go higher, so the sixth gear (yes, sixth!) comes into play across 70. If you drop to 60, there is no choice but to shift down, the short-stroke engine is merciless on that front.

On the other hand, the sheer joy of acceleration is incomparable. (Cut that out, we have not tried the Duke yet...) If you are looking for a steady ride at 50 kph and a nice 60kpl fuel-average, this baby may not be for you. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/8/17-08-biz5.jpg

There is a downside to this naked business, though. When you get to about 90, your own body becomes a hindrance in picking up speed. This is where a crouched stance comes into play. Don't even dream of hitting top speed sitting upright. A small windbreaker up front would have altered things drastically. Listening, Bajaj?

Having said that, we understand that a semi-faired version is on the way. That will help with the wind factor, but of course it will add weight...

Cornering, overtaking, weaving in traffic, taking off from start, braking to standstill -- top marks in all departments. The disc brakes are excellent, and one does not miss an ABS though it would be a welcome option.

The fat rear tyre has enough bite to take on Delhi's numerous traffic circles, and the rear suspension is rigid enough to make this stable.

Apart from the lack of a windbreaker, there is precious little to cavil about in the 200NS. Mileage, maybe. But if you are looking at performance, don't even dream about great fuel efficiency! The company claims 50-odd kpl, but that is optimistic. Closer to 40 would be realistic.

Seriously, at the price that Bajaj has put it out - Rs. 95,000 on road in Delhi - the Pulsar 200NS ought to be a hands-down winner.

What do you think?