Bajaj Pulsar NS200 BS6: Road Test Review
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Does the BS6 NS200 have enough to hold off the fierce competition?
The year 2012 was one of the highlights for the motorcycling industry, with KTM giving us the 200 Duke and Bajaj following this up with the Pulsar NS200 -- both solid offerings at that time. Thanks to its competitive price and extensive dealership network, the NS had the edge over its Austrian cousin. More importantly, it was almost equally quick, handled well, and dazzled enthusiasts with its design.
But, the reality is that the bike hasn't changed much ever since its launch, apart from a cleaner engine and some fresh new colours. Its competition, on the other hand, has grown manifold and more fierce. Can the BS6 NS200 fend off the competition in 2021?
- Has gained in performance, despite the strict BS6 emissions.
- The engine is more frugal now, thanks to better fueling.
- Still handles well.
- Lacks bottom and mid-range performance.
- The new colour scheme may feel a bit garish.
- Lacks modern features compared to its competition.
- Rear monoshock is on the firmer side, which fails to flatten sharp bumps or potholes.
The only bike in its segment to feature a perimeter frame.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
- Thankfully, the NS hasn’t lost out on its brashness. It’s still quick, lively, and exciting!
- The 1PS advantage over the outgoing model is noticeable in our acceleration runs; it’s almost a second quicker than the BS4 bike we had tested earlier.
- That said, the bike lacks bottom-end and mid-range punch, which means you really need to work the gearbox to keep the motor in its sweet spot.
- There’s a good surge of torque kicking in post 7000rpm, after which the bike accelerates pretty hard.
- The inclusion of fuel-injection has improved fuel efficiency considerably. However, there isn’t much of a change on the refinement front.
RIDE & HANDLING
- The NS200 gained 2kg during its BS6 transition, but that hasn't made much of a difference in the way the bike handles.
- The wide handlebars make the bike feel light on its feet, be it while carving corners or weaving through traffic.
- In terms of suspension, the front soaks in most of the bumps, but the firm rear shock fails to flatten nastier bumps and potholes.
- Brakes have a good initial bite, but lack feel and progression through the lever. As a result, the front-end feels a bit jittery and fails to inspire confidence while braking hard.
- The NS200 with its single-channel ABS setup tends to lock up the rear quite easily during hard braking. It in turn leads to the rear stepping out making it a bit unnerving for new or novice riders.
- The design hasn’t changed at all in the last nine years. Still, the NS manages to stand out from the crowd.
- The red paint scheme and graphics lend freshness to the bike. The mix of colours, especially the slather of white on the frame and wheels, make the bike pop in our opinion.
- You have four new colours to choose from: grey, red, blue, and white
TECHNOLOGY & FEATURES
- The Pulsar NS200 almost feels archaic compared to its rivals.
- There is no LED light, no dual-channel ABS, and not even a full digital-console -- features that are commonly found on motorcycles in this segment.
- In comparison, the 2021 RTR 200 offers adjustable brake and clutch levers, adjustable suspension, and ride modes. Check out our full review here.
- There’s no change here either. You sit in a slightly forward-leaning posture with rear-set footpegs.
- A weight of just 156kg (kerb) means it’s easy to move around, be it in the parking lot or when squeezing through city traffic.
- The seat is comfortable and well padded; you can spend hours on the saddle without taking a break.
With mere cosmetic changes and a handful of emission updates, the Bajaj Pulsar NS200 has soldiered through nine years of intense competition. As a result, pricing, features, and ease-of-use have ceased to be the bike’s strengths.
It’s evident that the bike is in dire need of a massive update. What should work is a more powerful engine, a bag of features, and a complete design overhaul. That said, the NS still puts up a strong fight in the BS6 era and is a perfect fit for those who like their bikes sporty and a little raw. The rumour mill suggests that Bajaj is currently working on a 250cc NS. All we can do is hope the bike continues the NS legacy in a more potent package.