We all know that the Pulsar happens to be Bajaj’s flagship and its halo product. At the start of the noughties it was the freshly launched Pulsar and Hero Honda’s CBZ that dared to throw in a fair bit of performance along with the regular dose of efficiency, comfort et al. Suffice it to say that it changed Indian motorcycling forever; its success kicking off a chain reaction that has led to a day where the full gamut of entry level performance bikes could crowd up a small helipad.
So if the Pulsar brand was to up the performance ante and move into supersports territory, it would have to do so while staying true to its original home-grown, penny-wise ideology. That’s what brings us to the all new Pulsar RS200 (Race Sport). Although the new panelling suggests otherwise, the bike is based entirely on the Pulsar 200NS with a few very significant changes.
To begin with, this one has one extra bhp added to the single-cylinder, liquid cooled engine, bringing the total count to 24 bhp with 1.9 kgm of torque peaking at about 8000 rpm. The extra power exists because the RS200 dispenses with a carburettor and replaces it with the KTM Duke 200’s fuel injection system which has been tuned for the RS. With the fairing adding a good 6 kg to the kerb weight, the added power is a welcome change. The bike also gets a single-channel ABS unit as an optional extra, which means that the ABS only works on the front wheel.
With all those details aside, let’s focus on what the bike feels like to ride. Bajaj has sharpened the rake angle by one degree and shortened the wheelbase by 5mm. Minuscule figures, but the effect is fairly strong. The first thing that sets the RS200 apart from the 200NS is how much more comfortable it feels around corners. The turns are self-assuredly sharp and quick. The seating is upright and the riding position is adjusted for everyday city riding, which means it’ll never be as hardcore and track focussed as an R15. The power delivery is incredibly smooth, taking the bike all the way upto 10000 rpm. With stronger power delivery at the top-end of the rev band and reworked gearing, the RS200 does manage to attain a top speed hovering around 150 kph. All these factors go on to make the RS200 an extremely approachable and fun bike to have, thanks in particular to the grippy set of MRFs on this motorcycle. Although the 200NS was always a fine handling bike, the Eurogrips on it just didn’t inspire the same level of confidence and subsequently the same kind of lean angles. What does stick out is the design, which is a bit too freestyle for my liking. That said, it did prompt plenty of rubbernecking so you certainly won’t go unnoticed.
For a budding motorcyclist, the Pulsar RS200 is a very friendly and affordable alternative to some of the more extreme motorcycles it competes with (R15, CBR 150, RC200). There’s plenty of grunt at the bottom end, but it doesn’t feel strained even at the end of the rev-band. For anyone looking to buy the motorcycle, go with the ABS option (it’s just Rs 23,000 extra). The Pulsar RS200 may not be as puritanical as some of its competition, but it is extremely friendly and unabashedly fun to ride. What makes it so appealing is that it happens to be all these things while packing an FI and ABS system at Rs 1.3 lakh (Ex-Delhi). And that makes it a heck of a bargain.