It’s always fun when media events happen on the city outskirts. Be it Mumbai or Pune, it gives us a chance to step out of the office and get some refreshing lungful of air inside us. So, when Bajaj invited us to a swanky resort amid the cornering heaven that is Lavasa, more than one hand was raised at the office to snag the review. Thankfully, Bajaj had two models for the event.
Taking a breather on our ride, we stopped to quench our thirst and to swap biking stories. As my colleague Saeed shared his first encounter and infatuation with the semi-faired LML Adreno and its 100 section tyre which, as a kid, made him feel that the motorcycle can stand on ground without any support, I stared at the two motorcycles standing in front of me. The setting was perfect, with scenic greenery covered hills, a placid lake and bright coloured houses of Lavasa as the backdrop to the main actors, the bikes. Resplendent in their red and blue hues, the new semi-faired Pulsar duo, namely AS150 and AS200, is Bajaj’s attempt at catching the attention of those bitten by the touring bug.
The segment, which was once defined by the Hero MotoCorp Karizma R and later by Bajaj’s very own Pulsar 220, has been waiting for a worthy contender. Now, Bajaj plans to venture further into the touring segment with the introduction of the AS150 and AS200. But has the Indian two-wheeler giant ticked the right boxes to make the new Adventure duo a tourer and satisfy the needs of the wanderers? We rode the motorcycle on some of the finest stretches of road this side of the country, along with some bit of off-roading, to know the character and the comfort zone of these new motorcycles. Here’s what we found.
Design and Features – The similarities between AS150 and AS200
The AS tag stands for Adventure Sport but both the motorcycles aren’t actually adventure tourers as we know them. In fact, Bajaj itself says that the motorcycle is more of a sports tourer than an adventure tourer. So what’s with the nomenclature?
The AS nomenclature stands for Adventure Sports but the audience should not take the tag too literally. Instead, what the new AS150 and AS200 duo are, are everyday motorcycles with some clever changes made to handle the needs of tourers better than other offerings, and be capable to handle a bit of off-roading should the need arise. Previous attempts at either making an adventure or long distance motorcycles in India haven’t been comprehensive enough – blame it on the cost consciousness of the market or whatever. The AS duo, too, aren’t meant to plug that gap authoritatively, they just can’t at the price. It is a tentative step forward, though. Bajaj is still testing the waters – and should the reception be favourable, who knows, Bajaj just might go the full hog and give us our first, proper adventure tourer.
So what do these new motorcycles look like? Well, if you exclude the newly designed fairing, an updated headlight setup and an extended rear fender, the two motorcycles are very similar to the Pulsar 200NS. The headlight appears to be an evolution of the Pulsar 200NS with a new projector setup that comes as standard on the AS150 and AS200. The pilot lamps are re-positioned and are placed over the high beam light instead on the chin, as seen on the naked roadster. The projector provides the low beam while the high beam is taken care of by the conventional bulb. The headlight is housed neatly in the newly designed front fairing and complements the front look of the motorcycle.
— Motoroids (@Motoroids2) May 18, 2015
The front fairing is a good mix of balanced aesthetics and functionality. Bajaj claims that the fairing on the AS150 and the AS200 has been thoroughly researched upon and designed for better wind protection and the unit performs its duty surprisingly well. Along with the wind protection, the fairing also makes the motorcycle look muscular and larger in size than the 200NS. It’s been smartly divided into three parts, and to avoid a monotonous look, Bajaj has offered the setup in a dual tone finish. The entire fairing merges into the fibre tank cover and here on the motorcycle starts looking like the 200NS.
The 12 litre fuel tank holds the 3D Pulsar logo and comes with a tank pad to protect the paint from getting scratched. The tank is followed by a split, well padded saddle offering good cushioning for long distance journeys. The tail end of the motorcycles holds the rear panel, pillion grab bar and LED tail light that have been picked up from the 200NS. But unlike the naked roadster that gets a short, tidy tail unit to hold the number plate, the AS150 and the AS200 receive a large fender to protect the rider and the pillion against flying mud and water from the rear wheel, when things get wet and mucky. The rear fender holds the registration plate as well as its illuminator and the entire bodywork of the Pulsar AS150 and AS200 has been bolted upon the pressed steel perimeter frame of the NS200.
The Differences between AS150 and AS200
While the AS150 and AS200 are near identical and have almost the same dimensions, the former has a slight ground clearance advantage over the latter. The AS150 has a ground cleareance of 170mm, while the corresponding number for the 200 stands at 167mm. Moreover, the AS150 receives an air-cooled motor whereas the AS200 gets a liquid cooled engine which gives the AS150 a weight advantage of 10 kilogram over its bigger sibling. Additionally, the AS150 comes with a centre stand and kick starter as standard whereas the AS200 does not. Other notable differences between the two are the tyres and brakes. The AS150 receives relatively skinnier tyres than the AS200 but that doesn’t give the latter much advantage. We will talk about it in detail in the handling section. The AS200 also benefits from front and rear disc brakes whereas the AS150 only receives front disc brakes and has to make do with a drum brake at the rear. The swingarm on the AS200 also looks beefier than the AS150 and comes with a chain tension gauge.
The overall build quality seems okay but it’s nothing stellar, though a practical, simplistic design of the AS duo did manage to impress the entire team. Having a similar design and sharing various parts gives Bajaj a huge cost advantage which reflects in highly competitive pricing of both the motorcycles.
That’s that with the design part. But how do the new motorcycles perform in real world?
Click on Next Page for Engine and Performance
Engine and Performance
The Pulsar AS200 shares its 199.5cc triple spark four-valve liquid cooled motor with the NS200. The AS150, on the other hand, unlike what many of us would presume, is an all new motor. The 149.5cc “twin” (not three) spark four valve air cooled motor delivers 17 PS of power at 9500 RPM and 13 Nm of torque at 7000 RPM, giving credibility to Bajaj Auto’s claim that it is “the most powerful 150cc motorcycle.” In comparison, the current Pulsar 150 DTS-i delivers 15.06 PS of power 9000 RPM and 12.5 Nm of torque at 6500 RPM.
Numbers don’t give us the full picture, however. And that’s precisely why we are here.
After a short briefing and introduction about the motorcycles from Manish Tandon, DGM Customer Insight at Bajaj Auto Ltd, we were let loose on the fine stretches of Lavasa and here’s how the duo fared.
The new motor on the Pulsar AS150 feels remarkably refined. In fact, with all branding removed, one might even mistake it for a thoroughbred Japanese 150cc motorcycle, and that’s the highest compliment we can give. There is sufficient power in the lower band to cruise around the city. Some vibrations do begin to creep in after the 5000 RPM mark but they remain well within the limits of tolerance. The motor feels happy to rev all the way to the redline and you would have a fun time venturing north of the 7000 RPM mark.
This being a touring machine, Bajaj has given both the AS duos a pretty tall gearing for relaxed mile-munching. This long-legged nature works very well, giving the bike a relaxed and fuss-free feel but it does have a slight downside. The power delivery is linear but it somehow doesn’t feel as punchy as a 17 PS machine ought to. Do not expect the motorcycle to clock high three digits speed numbers and be prepared to settle for a two digit cruising speed on highways. Perhaps this would give you more time to soak in the beautiful views on those long weekend hauls.
The five-speed transmission is spot on and slick and we didn’t have any trouble during up or downshifts. Adding a pillion does change the scenario against the motorcycle and you may have to downshift a cog or two than your regular practice. This is an engine you have to keep on the boil to really get the best out of it.
Braking on the AS150 is on par with its segment albeit nothing to boast about. The motorcycle receives 240mm disc grabbed by a single-piston caliper at the front and a 130mm drum unit at the rear. The front tends to dive under heavy braking but that is forgivable considering the fact that the suspension has been set up for touring and not for aggressive riding.
The Pulsar AS200, as you’d expect, isn’t much different than the 200NS in performance. Compared to the latter, the added weight of the AS does not bother the engine as it carries the mass relatively well. In fact, the added weight gives the motorcycle better stability, at least in a straight line. Venturing into the three digit speeds is also relatively easy with the additional protection from the wind blast thanks to the added windshield and semi-fairing.
It is also a peppy machine, this thing. Cruise as low as 2000rpm or wring it all the way to its redline, the AS200 responds to your input with equal enthusiasm. The six-speed transmission is precise and taller gearing ratio in higher gears as on the 150 comes handy for cruising on highway. But that’s about it with the AS200. You barely feel any difference than the 200NS as the motorcycle is equally refined and offers a similar, linear power delivery throughout the powerband.
Bajaj has come a long way in terms of engine refinement and it really shows in the 200cc unit that does duty not just here but also on the original 200NS. While not as rev-happy as the KTM 200 Duke’s mill, this engine is remarkably stress-free and we reckon it will be a pleasure on long rides. Still, there’s no substitute for cubic inches and we still fell that a bigger engine would have really fit snugly into that advanced perimeter frame and given this chassis the performance it deserves.
Unlike the AS150, the AS200 comes with disc brakes at both ends, a 280mm dia unit gripped by single-piston caliper upfront and a 230mm dia disc at the rear. This endows the bigger motorcycle with a much better braking ability, something that fatigued long distance riders will appreciate. Still, ABS as an option, even if it is the single-channel unit on thee RS200, would have really sealed the deal for the As200.
Click on Next Page for Details in Images
The Pulsar AS150 and AS200 look ALMOST identical and can be differentiated only by those who have a real eye for detail.
The semi fairing and added windshield improves aerodynamics and adds to the muscular appearance.
The projector setup comes standard on the AS150 and AS200. Sadly though, we rode as the sun provided more than required illumination on the hot summer afternoon and we could not test the headlight performance. We are quite sure, though, that the AS duo would ‘outshine’ its rivals, quite literally.
The riding position is spot on while the saddle has been sufficiently padded for comfortable, long distance runs.
Except for a few elements, both the motorcycles are near similar to the Pulsar 200NS Naked Roadster. Both motorcycles receive 12-litre tank but the AS150 should offer better distance range than AS200.
The Pulsar AS200 receives disc brakes on both the wheels offering decent feedback.
The Pulsar AS150 receives a disc brake at the front but has to settle for a drum brake at the rear. The braking performance is satisfactory for the characteristics of the motorcycle.
Instrument cluster and switchgear on the AS150 and AS200 are identical to the Pulsar 200NS. The build quality is at par but nothing stellar.
The Pulsar AS200 receives a liquid cooled engine which has been borrowed from the Pulsar 200NS.
The Pulsar AS150 receives an all new engine that feels as refined as a Japanese motorcycle.
Click on Next Page for Ergonomics and Handling
Ergonomics and Handling
The new Pulsar Adventure duo is targeted for long highway rides and hence ergonomics are a crucial part of the design. The Pulsar 200NS had a comfortable, straight forward riding stance and the adventure duo are not much different either. But the AS150 and the AS200 earn brownie points for better aerodynamics due to the semi fairing and the windshield that diverts the air away from the rider hence giving a relaxed ride experience. Both motorcycles feel a little heavy but that’s a positive as the extra weight adds to the highway stability of the motorcycle.
I’m 5’9″ tall and the riding position was spot on for me. With the easily accessible handlebar and a perfectly located footpegs, the rider’s triangle was just what I look forward to in a touring motorcycle. What about relatively shorter people? My colleague who was accompanying me for the photo shoot is about 5’4″ which helped us get a wider perspective of the ergonomics. Was he uncomfortable? Not at all!
But that does not mean that you would have to put in an extra effort to tackle the corners? To a certain extent, yes. The added weight, does rob some bit of the cornering ability from the AS150 and AS200. Further adding to the woes is the Eurogrip rubber on the AS200 test motorcycles that was bit of a let down. The tyres are not bad but they don’t give you the confidence to enter hard into the corners. Bajaj has some plans for the tyres though. Bajaj will soon offer an optional soft compound MRF Nylogrip on the AS200 which should offer better grip. Surprisingly, the relatively skinnier MRF tyres on the AS150 performed better than I expected.
The suspension setup on the AS150 and AS200 was no different. The tuning matched the characteristics of the two motorcycles as minor pot holes didn’t seem to exist on the roads. At the same time, the level of tune was sufficiently stiff for better handling. The well set suspension, along with sufficiently padded saddle, will surely let riders clock more miles with lesser halts. While the motorcycle is capable of riding on broken, slightly uneven surfaces, it is not meant for serious off-roading and taking it off the tarmac is not advisable.
All in all, both motorcycles perform their assigned duties quite well. Yes, they do feel out of their element when you try to go knee down but that’s not what it is meant to do. What is our final word?
Click on Next Page for Verdict, Technical Specifications and Full Image Gallery
The new Pulsar duo is far away from being an out and out adventure tourer but the motorcycles are the stepping stone for Bajaj to start an all new segment for its Pulsar brand. The AS duo aren’t meant to plug the gap between the tourer and adventure motorcycles yet but it is a tentative step forward and Bajaj is still testing the waters before going full hog and developing a proper adventure tourer.
Sharing the hardware between products has given Bajaj a cost advantage which reflects in the highly competitive price tag. The Pulsar AS150 costs just Rs 79,000 whereas the AS200 comes with a price tag of Rs 91,550 (both prices are ex-showroom Delhi). Yes, that’s how affordable the two motorcycles are. The Yamaha Fazer, that directly competes against the AS150 costs Rs 80,910 (ex-showroom Delhi). The Pulsar AS200 that stands against the Hero Karizma R is priced slightly higher but offers much more power and features than the latter.
Both motorcycles offer true value for the money and we are sure would help Bajaj clock better sales in coming days. Here is an image gallery and technical specifications that would help you understand the motorcycles in detail.
|Specification||Bajaj Pulsar AS150||Bajaj Pulsar AS200|
|Type||Twin Spark 4-valve DTS-i Engine||Triple Spark 4-valve DTS-i Engine|
|Cooling Mechanism||Air Cooled||Liquid Cooled|
|Maximum Power (PS @ RPM)||17 @ 9500||23.5 @ 9500|
|Maximum Torque (Nm @ RPM)||13 @ 7000||18.3 @ 8000|
|Length x Width x Height (mm)||2070 x 804 x 1205||2070 x 804 x 1205|
|Ground Clearance (mm)||170||167|
|Kerb Weight (Kg)||143||153|
|Front||Telescopic with anti friction bush||Telescopic with anti friction bush|
|Rear||Nitrox mono shock absorber with Canister||Nitrox mono shock absorber with Canister|
|Front||80/100-17” 46 P Tubeless||100/80-17” 52|
|Rear||110/80-17″ 57 P Tubeless||130/70-17″ 62 P Tubeless|
|Front||240mm disc||280mm disc|
|Rear||130mm drum||230mm disc|
|System||12 V Full DC MF||12 V Full DC MF|
|Headlamp||55 W Low beam Projector55 W High beam MFR||55 W Low beam Projector55 W High beam MFR|
Price (Ex-showroom Delhi)