The first impression was based on riding Sid's bike. It was a black bike, standing inocculously with the other bikes outside the dhaba where we met. Sleek, shiny and looking like a pulsar but not quite like a pulsar. Broader rear wheels, a 200 sticker, split seat and a different silencer are what are immidiately discernable to the eye. I had just reached there on nalin's pulsar which is one of the first lot with a few changes for stability.
Took the keys from Sid (thanks man for letting me ride the bike!), took a few pics of me on the bike , and off I went. I guess it was not more than 2kms up and down on the pune bypass highway.
The first few things I noticed were:
- Higher seating than the older pulsars
- Rock solid feel of being planted while ripping, but feels kind of awkward while braking as your stance is more forward (like a racing bike, but your butt feels kind of a bit high).
- Turning radius is smaller than the normal Pulsar because I can lean the bike more easily without feeling queasy.
- Throaty engine sound (after riding a Zma , anything feels throaty!). more than the classic i felt.
- Braking was ok, but since I was on public roads I could not really brake all that hard as: (a) I did not know the bike, (b) I did not want someone to bang me from behind, (c) It was not my bike or even a test bike.
Riding on the track
Chakan Track from Google Earth
We got only 2 rounds :( , due to time constraints. The BAL test track is a fun one with a couple of straights, lots of bends and a shocker of a hairpin bend (see pic above). The first round was a test round. I did not exceed speeds. Tested the brakes. Tested the leans in the corners gingerly as there was quite a lot of gravel and sand on the roads. The next round was a bit faster one, crouching on the straights, braking hard at the end. What I felt was :
- Bike brakes well. I was quite impressed. As per the BAL guys there, the front disc is smaller than the one in the ZMA. I tried some hard braking and did not get any fishtailing.
- Leaning is ok, but still does not feel as comfortable as the ZMA. It could be because I was not used to this bike.
- The bike accelerates fast till around 65-68kmph on the speedometer (which is digital btw, unlike the zma, where the odometer and trip meters are digital).
- When crouching, I cannot go behind the front visor , unlike the Zma. I am peeping above it.
- when crouching , I cannot easily read the speedo, I have to tilt my head down a bit to read it. I use a full face helmet and the lower jaw protection was blocking the view. No such issue in the ZMA.
- Taking the curves was ok. I could not really test it out as much as I would like to due to gravel . So, no hanging off. Swinging the bike from side to side seemed easier than on a classic pulsar, which does not really want to change direction from straight.
- The seats are split seat. I did not have any problems, but Nav , who is considerably heavier than even me, did have issues of fitting into it.
- The bike seat is high. For me (5'8") , I could not plant both feet properly on the ground.
- Hanging on to the tank with the knees is a problem. The point of contact with the tank is the knee only, and not the thighs, so holding on can become a bit of an irritant.
- The bike gives a viberation above 68kmph. Its not a resonance for that speed and which will then pass, but more of a viberation which keeps on increasing.
Comparison with the ZMA
So, the moot question, which got asked a lot to me from they guys and also from the BAL guys on track and later on in the evening - am I a convert ?
Unfortunately no. For a person owning a ZMA it makes not sense of moving to the 200, unless you are so desperate for a new bike or you want something with a better mileage (as claimed by BAL). Here are my reasons why I wont be going for it (unless I get it for free ;-) ) :
- Differentiation value not high enough. The ZMA though not the best looking bike around (CBZ used to look better), stands out of the crowd. When I plonk down the money, I want people to know that I have a different bike. As a pulsar I get no such feel. Also, I am sure people will say to the 200 owners - 'modification accha hai'.
- Its not that fast. Acceleration kind of loses out in the middle. Going above 100 is slow.
- Electricals had a problem. We faced another of the gremlins with one of the bikes speedo console going haywire and the LCD panel displaying gibberish.
- Handling through corners not as comfortable as on the ZMA. But i may be biased here as I did not ride this bike long enough. But I remember taking low speed banks on the ZMA when it was new without second thought. Here, I had to feel out how things were.
- The grunt though good for short stretches will probably not be so nice on long rides. For this reason I really like the stress less feel of the ZMA engine.
Should you get it ?
50-50 kind of answer.
Here's the thing:
- If you already have a ZMA - no point.
- If you have a p180 - no point. Why would you want to upgrade by a teeny-weeny 20cc ?
- If you have a 150cc bike, then you can think about it. But then why not wait till June for the 220cc pulsar to come out ?
- If you have no bike at present, and want to get one right now - best value for your money.