Feb 17, 2007

Bajaj Pulsar 200: The Review

As promised, here is the Pulsar 200 riding impression. Please remember that since I managed to mooch a ride on the 220 first, all best yet or worst yet comments include the 220.

Overall, I wasn't quite expecting to like the bike this much. I know I've really liked the first gen Pulsar 180 and more or less felt at home on most of the Pulsar series bikes I've ridden, but I truly, geniunely believe that the Pulsar 200 is a new peak for Bajaj. And I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that despite being a technological tour-de-force (not to mention a no-show), the 220 DTS-Fi is actually not the superior motorcycle of the two. I think it's that good.

Now to the details, the niggles and the nitty-gritties.

  • Slickest Pulsar engine yet. I don't think even the 220 will beat the refinement of the 200. There's this calm, creamy-smooth thing it does that no other Pulsar manages. Whatever little noise the motor makes (it still isn't a Unicorn-smooth sounding motor, mind you), gets quickly drowned out by the wind as the speeds build up

  • The gearbox is damn good too. Unless you're in a hurry. If you're to-the-throttle-stop-hard on a charge, the gears don't fall quite as nicely, though. However, I am happy to report that in ever other condition, from lolling about like a drunk rag doll to charging about briskly, gears slot in positively, there's no notchiness in the shifts, no effort is needed and even neutral is easy to find.

  • On the open road, more than once I wished Bajaj had put in a six speed gearbox on this bike. The calm but impressive performance gives the bike what journalists like to call long legs. A sixth gear with a highly overdrive-type ratio would have allowed it to cruise at near-110 kph speeds and would have been the perfect cherry on this rather tasty cake.

  • I like the fact that Bajaj has finally taken to nixing the kick starter from the bike. This shows that they believe their starter motors are now up to the mark and will not fail on one hand. It also is a step forward and will soon become another of those things that separate commuters from more pleasure oriented motorcycles.

  • The panels at the front of the tank are a superb addition to the Pulsar package. The 200 is my favourite looking of the Phantom-ed Pulsars and I have a feeling that if I parked the Pulsar 999 DTS-Fi... er... next to the 200, I would completely forget about the bigger machines looks. The 200, in the flesh looks muscular, feline and most impressive. Especially in the blue with the dark powertrain and chassis bits. Very nice. I like. I like lots.

  • The 200 also has the advantage of sharing most of the engine (actual stroke apart) and chassis (thinner front fork spec, rear drum brake, 5mm less wheelbase and 5 kg lighter overall) with the 220. This gives it great poise and strength. Both of which are obvious in corners. Despite the fairly large wheelbase, the 200 turns very quickly, is a stable cornering platform and very neutral in behaviour. It won't bite unless you're plain dumb. I am also happy to have sampled three memorable corner carvers in such a short span on time – the CBZ X-Treme, the P200 and P220.

  • Ride quality is exactly the same as the P220. The 200 feels very light on its feet and appears to be able to dance over the road's worst spots. The springs work quickly to damp out the worst of the road and it feels quite plush. Karizmas are still plusher, but the P200, most crucially, returns a wealth of feedback. Which means when the road starts to worsen, you can safely hold on to your pace for longer.

  • The brakes are just phenomenal. The front brake, effectively, is the same spec as the P220, but somehow, the set on the bike I rode left a much bigger impression. I usually figure these kind of things easily, but this time, I have no clue why. They felt strong, friendly and utterly trustworthy. As I said, it's just another 260mm rotor with the two-caliper on it. But it's damn good.

  • The tubeless tyres are a stellar addition to the package as well. They're practically weightless in feel and I love how they felt in corners and on bad roads. If I could, I retrofit all Pulsars with these babies. Can't wait to see what the P200 will become if I could replace the MRF jobs with proper sticky as gum Pirelli/Michelin/Bridgestones.

  • Unfortunately, Bajaj persists in 'equalising' all the Pulsars so as a P200 owner you will have to put up with the fact that all the bikes (150, 180, 200 and 220) have more or less the same features. That sucks. I want my bike to be more individual. The 200 logo is practically hidden under the split grab rail, so chances are, not many people will have the time to notice that my Pulsar (as opposed to theirs) is a 200, before I disappear on them. That also sucks.

  • Someone asked about backlit switches in a comment on the blog. Well, the 200 has them. They're a value-add to the novice motorcycle buyer but as all experienced riders know, we never have the need/time to look at the switches. As such, it's a gizmoid of questionable value-add, but certainly a thing that will impress people. Oh well.

  • The new indicators switches do not have push-to-cancel. That's stupid and a backward step. I will beg, grovel and plead that Bajaj returns to the push-to-cancel switch set. I don't even care if they can't give me auto-cancel, but push-to-cancel is a must.

  • Ergos are great. The P200 has a normal bar as opposed to the clip-ons on the 220. The position, I think, is even more sporty than the 180 and I loved it. On a three-hour ride, I never felt cramped for space, or uncomfortable. Great.

  • Price? I am told the P200 is roughly Rs 6500 more than the P180. Which means The Black must fear the P200. I can't see any reason for anyone to buy the P180 anymore. It is also about Rs 15000 less than the P220. Which is a whopping difference. I'm undecided on whether that price differential is justifiable. Please leave me a note in the comments as to whether you think the price diff is something you can justify if you were in the market and buying a 200/220. Appreciate it.
Other posts on the 200: Press Release | Full specs


Glifford said...

Nicely Written Review! Makes me wanna buy.

Well for a first time buyer (or someone moving up from a commuter), I guess the 200 makes more sense (economic and everything else) than the 220. Unless ofcourse one wants bragging rights and the need to show off (the rear disc and those headlamps in the fairing). But it also means more headaches and maintenance. I know the heart borken hours I have spent every time my new bike was scratched or dropped in parking. Imagine someone handing the big fairing in cramped parking spots. With self assuming parking attendants push and shove bikes from one handle bar to another's tank! Ouch!

As for me... I am in a fix (atleast trying to get into one).

With my 3.33 odd yr old 180 DTS-i, the jump to the 200 is not big enough. It is not worth a jump at all... unless ofcourse I have loads of spare money to do this. The 220 seems more likely :) Bigger engine, loads more features, more power and hence worth the upgrade. Yes it will cost more too :)

But as for me personally, don't think am parting with my Scarlet as yet. Some more years before I decide to get something else :) Maybe I will keep Scarlet then too :) Afterall first love is first love :)

theslayer said...

The bigger Pulsars have been in the making for how many years now?? Definitely more than two .. who pays for all the coffee and pizzas drained down by those merciful, generous, look ahead type of designers at Stars Ahead?? Me of course..

Who pays for the FI system acquired from Delphi?? Me of course..

And though the part sharing concept will subsidize the costs of each bike..i justifiably or unjustifiably or simply, believe the biggest sister needs to bear most of the burden..

Making the P200 and P180 so very affordable for the typical Indian will bring performance to the masses, and the P220 oh-not-so-very-affordable will
make the P220 a truly PREMIUM offering...So with those rumoured new tank and fairing designs, you are definitely bound to have the 'individualism' you need from your bike..

Finally..if there weren't a P150, a P180 and a P200, and Bajaj was a company that burst into the limelight with a single offering christened P220...How much would i have been paying for that bike? Definitely in 6 figures...right?? So 85k-90k..is a blessing..For a 220cc beast that makes one good soul say things like 'And you could keep a coin on the tank and rev it to the moon (or rev limiter, whichever is earlier) without aforementioned coin sliding off.' and What's a Karizma? You mean that little yellow speck in my fold-away, fairing-mounted, shapely mirrors?. Yes ...a ...blessing of course! :D

appu said...

Hi Kautilya (I figured that's your name from your Flickr - please correct me if I'm wrong),

Nice summarized review of the bike, and thanks for putting it up!

Regarding the price differential between the 200 and 220, it's a very subjective thing. From the perspective of a review, one can say that the 220 is probably not worth the 15k extra, especially given that the 200 is as good as you say it is. But that wouldn't matter to many. I know it wouldn't matter to me, for instance.

It's a bit like buying the latest and greatest computer hardware. You will definitely get a lot more for your money by buying a high-end graphics card costing around 300-350 USD as compared to an uber-ultra-high-end one that retails at 500/600+, but there's a market for those types as well.

Moreover, I guess an artificially big price differential will actually get you the exclusivity that you want automatically, with the 220.


The BATFAN said...

I would say the price differential being justified purely on a business logic.

Keep your premium bike premium so that their are not many floating around to lose its niche. And tempt the others with the same pie at a lower price less the cherry.

Makes perfect business sense too. The 200 will be the Karizma beater purely on the basis of price. The 220 remains undisputed.

Sankoobaba said...

good review,,,have been visiting your blog regularly,, and have read your writeup in Jam magazine,, good writing, here is the address of my blog...http://sankoobaba.blogspot.com/
it has my bike's pics....mine is P-180 UG3(dec 2006)....P-200 sound promising....but then I didnt have the patience of waiting 2 months...as I had to wait for two months to get my blue 180!

JulianPaul said...

right, this is the best looking pulsar. period.

yup, we wanna six-speeder !

dunno if i posted this already. friend's phantom 180 starter would conk off intermittently. when we told the service guys (pro-biking, no less), they say "but its working now isn't it?" !!!!! thankfully, i think, it stopped working totally, and we got them to fix it. something about a 'loose-contact', maybe in the clutch switch. now i shudder to think what would have happenned if he didnt have a kick-starter as backup. (well, i would bump-start it, but not him.) two of the seven-segments in one of the digits of the odometer blew, they ended up replacing the whole meter assy, wiping out 4k of hard earned km.

my point is that all this techno-innovation just means more likelihood of failures. bajaj, heard of KISS ?

sticking to a rear drum is probably good, will save many bhendi-bazaar riders from rear-wheel-locked crashes.
remember when the cbz first came out ?

yup on the push to cancel too.

ergos, just like the 220 and unlike the 180, the front pegs are nicely rearset. hey ! rearset ! lol
(which is probably why they scrapped the kickstarter, it would hit the footrest.) its very stupid to have low bars and forward pegs, what, they want you to scratch your toes easily ? or retie laces ?

price, i would by one as soon as i have the money, personally i would mind spending 10k over the 180 for the package offered. 6.5k is peanuts for the add-ons. and the 220 'only' has fi, xenon, and a useless rear-disc. who uses the rear brake anyway ? ohhhh right - taper braking. so i wouldn't buy a 220 over the 200 really.

Arpan said...

The price difference between 200 and 220 is justifiable..
1)Rear disk (3K)
2)modified swinger (1k)
3) FI(8k)
4) clip ons (1k)
5)Projector headlamp(5-6K)
these are approx costs to implement on any bike obv it will be much lower for bajaj..but as the cost price increases so does the duty/road tax blah blah..so i think 15k is an okay difference..plus the 220 is err in a different league ...
the 200 is a zma killer what say ?

GR said...

FI = 5 K
RearDisk = 5 K
HID lighting = 5 K
sub-total = 15 K
rearset says
200 is better= -5 K
ideal price = 10 K + 200 :)
(not discounting FI might be v1.0 factor)

I'll bite.


rearset said...

Kautilya, Prashanth, is my friend who posts photos at flickr with that id and has a blog called Omphanoskepsis at victortango.blogspot.com. I am Caughtilya on flickr. My name is rearset.

Glifford said...

So how does it compare to the Karizma? Is it a K beater? (we know in price and BHP figures) but what bout handling and acceleration and all?

Revhard said...

So much rests on the P220 beign a Karizma beater ....does it ?

My friend has a P220 and had a Karizma before , he's certain that the P220 is not a Karizma beater ( in performance ) - acceleration is about the same ( slower upto 80 or so ) and then too like the Kari doesn't show much 'josh' past 110km/h , getting to 120 and above is still slow . Nevermind what auto-rags say .

I checked out his , another 2 brand new P220s as well as my cousin's P220 ( yup my bad influence , he bought one recently ! ) , and I found this :
The wheels , both front and rear , do not rotate freely . I tried the P200 , which has a rear drum but with size same wheel and tyre - it rotates the rear wheel a bit more freely . So is the rear disc on the P220 actually sapping power away by resisting free rotation ? And is the 220's rear disc also in contact with the pads causing further rotaional resistance ? Or is it weight that causes the wheels to resist ?

My Karizma has both wheels rotating freely , even the front ( with disc ) so it shouldn't be the disc , besides aren't tubeless tyres ( both the P200 and P220 have tubeless tyres ) supposed to be lighter than tubed tyres ? So does that finally point to the alloys on the Pulsar being a good deal heavier ( think unsprung weight ) and thus robbing the performance the P220 ( and 200 ) ought to have ?

And a question : are the headlights adjustable ( for height of the beam thrown )?

siju said...

any bike with new disk wont rotate freely. it is because they are adjusted to just touch the tyres at first and as time passes , the tyres gets free. it is not a serious problem. next time when you change the disc pad of ur zma, u check whether your tyre is moving freely or not. i am quite sure , it wont.

amol said...

This has to be one of the best overview of pulsar 200.All other blogs that I have seen are copied from one another and some reputed magazines.
All the best and keep up the 'original' work.

rearset said...

Thanks Amol!

?bLeAk?!! said...

I definitely agree to your point that P220 does not look even close to as good as P200 looks.

If P200 wouldn't have been released, I would never even consider that any other Pulsar releases looks even close to as good as my P180 DTSi spoke wheel pre bajaj logo change (especially since I have a double doom head light modification, which even though saps it from original design, gives it a much needed induviduality of its own).

P200, as far as I am concerned is more than just definitely male..
Its simply too male to handle..

Anonymous said...

this review shows that the writer is not a tyro but a virtuoso.....nicely written ....may be i am sayin so cause i am d proud owner of P200 n its really a great machine...n ya u r right, it's not jusfiable to have such a big difference in P200 n P220 ...but i personally like P200 more .......

fas said...

Very well written post, good points and well covered.

Pranshu said...

Buddy U Really Solvd ma Prob......Thnxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have P200 one month old and it has done 1000kms. Some how I feel that the brakes are not just good. I had to rely more on the front disc brake almost 60%. I cant even go beyond 60km/hr as I have no confidence. In some post I have read about this problem but not many have raised about it.
Could somebody help me what I should do or any alternate suggestion for good braking?. Is this problem faced by most of the P200 riders?

I live in chennai and here in rainy season lot of mud got deposited on the back side of my bike. i am wondering if there is any transparent chain cover made of plastic available so that the chain is proctective from mud. please tell if there is anything of this sort available in the market

thanks guys, hope somebody will help me in this regard.


Anonymous said...

whenever a new pulsar comes ppl wanna compare it with Karizma. perhaps that's the status karizma has created for itself. but, i have never found a pulsar which is an outright winner against karizma. guys, let me say my opinion, if Hero Honda guys had upgraded Karizma wid few more gizmos, pulsar could never have come close to karizma anyday. it's engine refinement, handling and comfort too much for any pulsar. but sad, karizma is not upgraded so me too bought a pulsar 200... i considered 220 as well. IMHO it's complete wanna-be' bike just like most of wanna-be-dudes out in the cities. i think, if somebody doesn't mind about the 'age' of karizma and trendy gizmos, karizma is still the best option (includint pulsar 220). otherwise, pulsar 200 is the way to go. hail pulsar 200!!

MiDAS said...

Hey RearSet. :D Great Review on the Bajaj Pulsar 200.

I'm from the Philippines, and the Bajaj Pulsar (or better known as Rouser) 200 here in our country was just released last April 2009. Though Kawasaki Philippines has not yet formally introduced the bike as their product, they have already started selling it to the market.

I am a active forumer of motorcyclephilippines.com, and to my knowledge there are less than 10 fellow forumers already bought this bike. Till now, a lot of forumers are still doubting the reliability, durability and quality of the bike because of numerous websites that posted about Bajaj having Quality Issues. For Example, the quality of the front shockers, I saw a forum (Indian) where an owner of this bike showed us his damaged front shockers. Really disturbing pictures.

I am still not convinced that this bike is worth my money, because I've never driven one yet, I'm quite concerned about the availability of parts here in our country and I'm still bothered by the pictures and websites saying that Bajaj makes poor quality bike.

Maybe in 1 year time or less, I might change the way I think about the Bajaj Pulsar / Rouser 200.

If possible Sir, can you share some tips and advices for owners and interested / potential owners like me.

here's my yahoo messenger account:

Thanks a lot guys! :D

umesh said...

I am living in USA,Arkansas (Monticello). I would like to buy Bajaj Pulsar 200. Can somebody help me in getting Bajaj Pulsar 200 in my city.