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Thursday, July 9, 2015

2015 Bajaj Pulsar RS200 - Ride Review

The Pulsars have been into the "Let's change everything you know about us" mode off late. Bajaj surprised us with the Bajaj Pulsar NS200, the most un-Pulsar like Pulsar ever to kiss the Indian tarmac. With the Pulsar NS200, Bajaj got itself a platform on which it can model it's future stable and capitalize into being one of the most formidable performance motorcycle manufacturer in the country. Building on that platform, there are quite a few products slated, but one of the first to reach us is the Bajaj Pulsar RS200. So, without further ado, let's get under the skin of this Bumblebee shall we!!


The Bajaj Pulsar RS200 beats through a Single Cylinder, SOHC, 4 valve per Cylinder, 4 Stroke, Triple Spark, Liquid Cooled, Fuel Injected 199.5 cc Engine unit producing a juicy 24.5 Bhp of ballistic prowess @ 9750 rpms and 18.6 NM meaty torque @ 8000, but then those are just numbers, looking good on paper (or in this case, may be the quad HD display of your device).

What looks good, needs to go good to, else, there's no point in fighting the social stigma and riding a motorcycle in today's time, and riding motorcycles is what binds us. Yeah yeah, I know, you want to hear the good things.... so let me tell you the good things :)

The good guys at Bajaj R&D have improved upon an already cracker of an engine to give us the most exciting engine any Pulsar has been blessed with till date. The fuel injection has done miracles to be very honest. Now wipe that wicked smile off your face seeing that the engine of the Pulsar RS200 just makes roughly 1 bhp and 1 NM over the Pulsar NS200, because the way fuel injection has changed this engine, is way more than mere numbers.

Now, the engine feels more composed, relaxed and at the same time eager to rev freely and smoothly. I personally felt that the gearing is a tad shorter on the Pulsar RS200 than the Pulsar NS200 and engine was simply racing through the rev range, which makes working on the engine very easy, be it fast dashes, or slow negotiations, this engine just loves to sing to the tune of the right wrist.

The Gear Box is just butter smooth, it's Suzuki or Honda smooth, it's that smooth. Working through the gears is actually fun, and it totally complements the engine. Coupled with the feather light clutch, the cogs would move through so fast, by the time you are on 6th, you would be thinking - heck, when did I shifted to 2nd!! I know with each line your eye balls are popping out and is on the verge of dropping off right now - butter smooth gear box, feather light clutch, smooth engine - Really!!! Are we talking Pulsar here!!!

One thing we noticed is that, even though the Gear Box was butter smooth, it lacked a certain character, I mean, that's totally my own liking and disliking, but the Gear Box was way too switch like, if you know what I mean, it felt like, I was not riding a performance machine, but rather a commuter, it was that effortless and straight forward, I was not at all feeling the gear shifts. I can be a good thing for many, but for me - ummm, didn't quite liked it that way.

It's a good thing that Bajaj did away with the under slung exhaust and went with the "mid-ship" stout exhaust for the Pulsar RS200, and it has resulted in a very throaty exhaust note, which I totally loved. It was just singing in the low and the mid range, and screaming as the revs climb up.

I totally loved the engine note of the previous Pulsar 200 DTSi and Pulsar 220 DTSi and didn't quite appreciate the engine note of the Pulsar NS200, but it all changes with the Pulsar RS200 - it's nothing like the Dukes, and has more depth in the note, which would tickle the rider's aural senses in a good way.

That's enough of engine and other bla bla .... let's now concentrate on - How it goes, because that would be the motorcycle's biggest selling point (other than the looks)

Ride and Handling

Let me put things straight to begin with, the Pulsar RS200 is not a "track tool", the red version is not a "Ferrari on two wheels", the yellow version is not a "Camaro for Indian roads on two" or any crap like that what so ever. The Big Boffins at Bajaj have designed and implemented a motorcycle for the roads, where it can do the road duties and make thus make it's presence felt. It is Race Sport, meaning, you can have fun with it, with what it can do, just don't over expect from the bike and then keep cursing it just because it might not deliver what you wrongly expected just for the sake of it. And now that the preaching is done, let's get on with the Business.

The Pulsar RS200 benefits immensely from it's fairing. The motorcycle cuts through very smoothly, and doing constant high speeds is less stressful than the Pulsar NS200. The light clutch and the smooth gear box helps the riding cause and lowers the stress factors by many notches. The smooth engine response, and crisp throttle behavior are added cherries over this delicious cake. Talking about the Throttle Response - this is the most responsive and crisp throttle that any Pulsar has seen this date. Even the first gen Pulsar 220 Fi was also a fuel injected unit, but the fuelling on the RS200 and the way the throttle behaves to the input is leagues apart from what we first saw on the Pulsar 220 Fi, it's just that good, it's not even good, it's simply brilliant. Having said that, with 6+ kilos weight more than what's there for the NS, the RS200, is a little slow off the block as compared to the NS, which it quickly, or rather very quickly compensates for, when on the move.

Sitting on the saddle, you would instantly feel the difference and would realize that the seating is already way different as compared to the NS200. The seat, even though comfy, is a lot chiseled and narrow than the NS. So, now, instead of seating back on the seat, your natural tendency is to go towards the front of the seat and this results in an interesting Wheel, Handlebar and Seat triangle. This is interesting because, the rake angle of the Pulsar RS200 is steeper by a couple of degrees than the Pulsar NS200, which has resulted in a more forward biased riding posture as compared to the NS200. Even though the brushed paint finished clip-ons are high, but with the rear-set foot pegs, naturally "move over" the clip-ons rather than "grab" the clip-ons. To make it a little more natural for the rider, the only way is to move your bum back on the seat, but with the narrow chiseled seat, this doesn't happen that easily and naturally, and the final result is that, the rider tends to load up the palms and wrist way too quickly. I was already feeling that by the time the ride was done, and I took at a good look at my palms and then on the motorcycle as to why this happened. This is a problem, yes it is, but only for the first few rides, because in situations like these, but the time the first service happens, the rider has usually gotten used to such riding postures.

The knee recesses are good and support the thigh properly should feel the need to grab the tank and take your bum out of the seat. The rubber tank pad is soft and does it's "job" pretty good. There's a small padding on the perimeter frame too, which is good, but I could fully appreciate it's utility, because I have never felt it's need and/or absence on the NS.

Speaking of the perimeter frame, the real star of the ride and handling of the RS200 is the Perimeter frame. It gives the required lateral rigidity to the motorcycle and coupled with the smooth Engine, the immaculate Fueling, the Crisp Throttle and the Steeper Rake, the Perimeter frame does it's magic - be it negotiating traffic or commanding the corners, the Pulsar RS200, does all that and more and beyond with fair ease.

Bajaj has gone ahead and offered an optional Single Channel ABS version for the RS200, which means that the ABS would be working only on the front wheel, leaving the rear wheel susceptible to lock up during hard rear braking - which is not that big of an issue in "most" of the cases. The sensor on the rear wheel sense wheel lift and prevents that from happening during any odd case. We got the ABS version to ride, and it does a fairly good job, with the only exception of a lack of initial bite from the front when you tend to grab the front lever, post which the ABS kicks in and it brakes very progressively and effectively, but the lack of that initial bite is not something that I personally felt comfortable with. The rear brake was a revelation. It had the bite and it braked very progressively to say the least.

During my ride, I compensated the lack of initial bike from the front brake with engine braking, and for a new motorcycle, the engine braking was a bliss. Yes, technically it was loading up the rear wheel rather than doing anything with the front wheel, but because the front not slowing down the motorcycle as quickly as I would have liked it to do, the engine braking went in a long way to inspire confidence overall.

The Pulsar RS200 comes shoded with MRF Zappers (rather than the horrendous TVS Eurogrips on the NS200) and they are just brilliant. During hard rear braking or engine braking, there was not once that I was able to get the rear wheel to lock, and mind you I was doing road speeds, and I was on the verge of road legal high speeds, and still the rubber held up pretty good.

The stock suspension setup is perfectly dialed for road, even though I would have liked the rear to be dialed in a little on the stiffer side to have even more purchase out of the rear, but over all, the factory setup is perfect for road conditions.

Electronics and Equipment

The electronics and equipment on the Pulsar RS200, is standard as there was Pulsar NS200 and the default switches and their placement too. Since the Pulsar RS200 is a Fi unit, so there's a dedicated Fi lamp on the console rather than sharing the duties with the RPM/Shift lamp.

On the additions, the RS200 gets, Twin Projector Head Lamps, LED turn indicators, New LED Tail Lamp cluster, New Eye Brow LED Parking Lamps.

So, nothing much differential in the electronics and equipment department for the Pulsar RS200 here.

Fit and Finish

Pulsars have always been about Affordable Performance, and that's why Pulsars have been so successful. Yes, both the Non-ABS and ABS versions of the Pulsar RS200 are INR 1 lac +, but still, when you consider the feature to price ratio, there's no denying that the Pulsar RS200 has a killer price tag attached to it.

Having said, we would have liked a better finish quality on the RS200. There are un-even seam gaps between the panels, the plastic quality feels budget and not that premium, panel vibes are evident post 4.5k rmps. On a macro scale, there's attention to details, like the textured panels on the sides of the tank, the integrated grabs behind the rear seat, the grainy texture of the seating leather, but the attention to details at the micro level leaves us wanting for more.

One thing that looks the jazziest but a bit too much for my eye is the tail lamp. Yes it looks futuristic, yes it catches attention right away, but it's a bit too much for my taste and I would leave that under the curtains happily. In my honest opinion, the RC siblings has one the most amazingly designed tail lamps.

Both the gear and the brake levers are nipped near the end, so that in case of an unfortunate fall, the levers break off from the nipped area, leaving a workable lever to work with till the time the lever is not changed.

The design, fit and finish of the RS200 is a very busy place to say the least. There are not of panels and sub-panel, textures, mesh, stickering, all happening at the same time at the same place.

There are a lot of joins, and joins are not that good, if you think about it, on a performance machines, because when you talk about joins, you cannot ignore the rattling that's gonna happen between those joins. The panels on the Pulsar 200NS vibe at lot, and there we are talking about four times the number of panels than the NS.

Another issue in my opinion about the fairing of the RS200 is that, the designers just didn't leave any option to plonk frame sliders on this machine. There's just no provision for frame sliders under the fairing and the only frame sliders that might go with the motorcycle would be cut through sliders, which would need cutting the fairing, making modifications and then having the sliders on, which is a pity actually!!


Well, the Pulsar RS200 is here to win many many customers for Bajaj, which was last demonstrated by the Pulsar 220F. The motorcycle would appeal the masses by it's looks and keep the performance mongers excited with it's moves. Talking about performance, and knowing how capable the NS has been, it's not much of a quantum leap over the NS, but for a Pulsar, this is the new face of Pulsars and an authority stamp by Bajaj auto, for Bajaj auto.

With it's catchy price and zesty performance, it's nearest rivals - Yamaha R15 V2,0, Honda CBR 150, KTM Duke 200 and KTM RC 200, might already feel the heat, and more so because it's only the Pulsar RS200 that provides ABS as an option, and that's a BIG addition to have.

Images By : Sajal Chakraborty and Krishnendu Kes
Text By : Sajal Chakraborty
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  1. My only concern about this bike is there is no facility to install the frame slider. This is what keeping me from buying this bike.


Item Reviewed: 2015 Bajaj Pulsar RS200 - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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