What was once regarded as the flag bearer for performance-oriented motorcycles made in India, the Bajaj Pulsar has now expanded its baseline. It has ventured into the 125cc space to offer a sporty and stylish alternative to functional commuters. A carbon copy of its 150cc sibling, the Bajaj Pulsar 125 Neon is priced at Rs. 66,618 (Ex-showroom, Delhi), an asking which is about INR 5,000 less than the 150 Neon. If you look at it in isolation as a 125cc motorcycle though, it brings quite a lot to the table. Here’s what it’s all about:
The Bajaj Pulsar 125 Neon is every bit a Pulsar 150 Neon, save for the badging on the rear panel and an engine block which has been reworked. Otherwise, the suspension, wheelbase, tyres, brakes, body panels, instrument cluster, and everything else, is similar to the Pulsar Neon 150. It is available in Glossy Black with neon red or neon silver lettering and accents and Matte grey with neon blue colour options. In its price range, the Pulsar Neon 125 is the only motorcycle to offer clip-ons and offers CBS for its front disc and drum variants, both.
Performance & Fuel Economy
Tipping the scales at 140 kilos (kerb), the Pulsar 125 Neon isn’t exactly lightweight compared to its rivals. The engine block on this motorcycle is similar to the one which powers the 150 Pulsar. However, the 60.7 mm stroke on the Pulsar 150 has been shortened by 10mm for the 125. The engine is now oversquare and revs quite briskly. In terms of power, the 124.4cc block now cranks out 12 PS @ 8,500 rpm and 11 NM @ 6,500 rpm. In comparison, the Pulsar 150’s power figures read 14 PS @ 8,000 rpm and 13.4 Nm @ 6,000 rpm. In terms of fuel economy, the Pulsar 125 Neon is ARAI-rated for 57.5 km/l. However, real-world riding would translate into anything between 40 – 50 km/l. The fuel tank can carry 11.5-litres at one go, which means that a tankful can last for 500+ kilometres with a gentle right wrist.
The short-stroke motor has good low-end tractability and power delivery is jerk-free after 2,000 rpm. However, it is after 5k rpm that the engine delivers healthy performance until its redline at 9,500 rpm (limiter at 10,000 rpm) and gives the rider a good feeling of acceleration. The employment of a counter-balancer shaft has improved refinement levels over the 150cc Pulsar. However, there are mild vibrations felt after 8,000 rpm. Nothing that will annoy the rider though. Gearshifts don’t set any new benchmark for smoothness and the feel at the heel-n-toe lever is slightly notchy. The clutch isn’t feather-light either and we would have liked it to be more on the lighter side in terms of lever pull.
The speedometer-indicated in-gear top speed which we achieved is as follows: 1st: 35 km/h; 2nd: 58 km/h; 3rd: 78km/h; 4th: 100 km/h; 5th: 120 km/h
To describe how the Pulsar 125 goes about its business when you ride it fast, acceleration feels strong until the motor runs out of revs in the fourth gear. The 5th cog here is more like overdrive and progress in terms of speed is slow in that gear. The bike cruises comfortably between 90 – 95 km/h and can achieve a realistic top speed of 110 – 112 km/h in 5th. The biggest number we could achieve on the speedometer with a tailwind and on a slope was 120 km/h.
Ride, Handling, Braking And Comfort
The riding position, although sporty, is not overtly so and since the clip-ons are raised and pegs bolted ideally, the seating position is comfy with a pinch of sporty. At 790mm, the seat height is ideal for anyone above 5.2″ to get on and about. The seat padding is ideal for spending more than usual time in the saddle for the rider and the pillion, both. In terms of braking, like all other Bajaj motorcycles, the Pulsar 125 with its 240 mm front disc brake can easily boast about being the best among its competitors when the anchors are dropped. The Drum brake version comes fitted with a 170mm front unit and coupled with CBS, for the performance on tap, braking feels strong and positive.
In the 125cc class, among its competitors, the Pulsar 125 Neon is the sportiest of the lot in terms of handling. Straight-line stability is great, however, since the chassis architecture is slightly dated now, it’s in the corners where the Pulsar 125 feels lacking when you ask too much from it. The grip from the 80/100 x 17 front and 100/90 x 17 rear MRF tubeless rubber could have been better too. The front telescopic forks and the twin rear Nitrox shocks are set up to find an ideal balance between comfort and sporty and the equipment does its job well to absorb the kind of rubbish our roads have to throw at the bike. The rear springs are adjustable for preload and will help if you find the rear too spongy with a pillion or otherwise.
The Pulsar 125 Neon comes fitted with a semi-electronic meter which has space for an analogue rev counter and a digital display for speed, two trip meter, a clock, an odometer, a digital fuel gauge and tell-tale lights. The bike comes fitted with a centre stand, a kick-starter in addition to the push-button starter, a saree guard, an LED taillight, conventional illumination otherwise, a crash guard and a rear tyre hugger.
Competition & Conclusion
The Bajaj Pulsar 125 Neon competes with the Discover 125, the Honda Shine and the Hero Glamour and Super Splendor. Among these, the Glamour offers the novelty of being fuel injected, is 15 kilos lighter, and its power figures are at par with the Pulsar 125. However, it is about INR 3,000 more expensive and doesn’t appear as substantial as the Pulsar. The Super Splendor, although cheaper by INR 6,000, is a more matured, utility-focused premium commuter and doesn’t offer a disc brake.
The Honda Shine is the least powerful among all these bikes, however, makes it up with refinement and better build. The CB Shine SP with its bolder appearance, a front disc brake and CBS is priced at INR 68, 938. However, the Pulsar for its appeal and the image it has secured in the average biker’s mindset is clearly the sportiest among all these. Bajaj has also introduced a version which gets tank extensions, engine cowl, sporty graphics and a split seat for the 125 Pulsar, which will only make the bike more appealing to young blood. Priced lower than all the 125cc competitors then and for what it offers, the Pulsar 125 Neon does build a strong case for its existence. Unless you wish to consider things like the Duke 125, the Pulsar is undoubtedly the sportiest, yet, value for money 125cc bike out there.