Hero XPulse 200T First Ride Review
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Could the XPulse 200T be the right bike to suit your small-capacity touring aspirations?
Hero MotoCorp has now got four motorcycles based on the same 200cc engine. A sporty commuter in the form of the Xtreme 200R, a full-faired option with the Xtreme 200S, the XPulse 200, a hardcore off-roading bike for beginners, and finally a road-biased tourer called the XPulse 200T. So we put Hero’s claim to the test and find out whether the XPulse 200T can actually cover miles on end?
Also Read: Hero XPulse 200: First Ride Review
- Comfortable and upright riding stance.
- Turn-by-turn navigation-equipped Bluetooth console.
- Tubeless tyres make for a convenient touring aid.
- Engine feels strained at highway speeds.
- Lacks refinement.
- Overall design looks a bit odd.
- Tubeless tyres are a big boon on Indian highways.
- Digital console gets turn-by-turn navigation assist.
- Round LED headlamp looks classy.
One look at the XPulse 200T and you can tell that the design is a bit strange. Hero claims that it’s supposed to be retro, but I’m still a bit unsure of whether the 200T actually manages to pull that look off. You find the same 15-litre fuel tank of the XPulse 200 but the side panels are styled differently. It does miss out on those off-roady bits like the large front fender, spoke rims and knobby tyres. Instead, you get the same wheel setup as the one found on the Xtreme 200R. There is no aluminium bash-plate as you would not venture out into the wild with this bike. Instead, it gets a normal plastic one. Overall, the XPulse 200T’s stance feels a bit disproportionate, and it doesn’t do enough to immediately turn heads.
The overall fit and finish levels have improved since the last time we tested one of Hero’s 200cc motorcycles - the Xtreme 200R, even though this XPulse variant shares quite a few things with the 200R. The positioning of the choke knob continues to look a bit out of place, but we had no further complaints with regards to switchgear location, or quality for that matter.
Even though Hero has ditched the long travel suspension and the large spoke wheels from the XPulse 200 for a more approachable setup, the riding stance on the 200T is still upright. This gives you a commanding view of the road ahead. The seat height of 799mm is a whole 24mm lower than the off-roader. Plus, the T is 4kg lighter as well. All this means that the bike is easier for the average Indian rider to manage when getting his or her feet on the ground, and pushing the bike around a parking lot.
Our test bikes were still not the production-ready models, so they had a few small niggles. One particular issue was that the seat foam on the XPulse 200T felt too hard, giving you a feeling of sitting on a pile of bricks. Thankfully, Hero knows about this issue and has said that it will be addressed on the final production models. Pillion comfort is good, with ample room to perch yourself comfortably. It gets a nice grab-handle which merges in the centre to form a top-box mount of sorts for your luggage.
Technology & Features
When showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo, Hero had stated that the XPulse 200 would come with an all-new digital information cluster with Bluetooth-connectivity. The layout is simple and effective. You have useful information such as the gear position indicator and odometer always on display, along with two trip calculators. What it does miss out on is a distance-to-empty indicator, something that should be a no-brainer on a touring motorcycle.
We also tested out the connectivity part of the display and that worked quite well. The mobile application (available on both Android and iOS) connects to the system in no time. It gets turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps integrated. It also alerts you in case of an incoming call or if your device is running out of battery. The overall experience is pretty appealing but there are a few bugs in the application that need to be ironed out. While testing it out, the app crashed on the phone after every couple of minutes. Hopefully, OTA updates should solve this issue.
The XPulse 200T rides quite well for a tourer. The pliant suspension setup manages to soak in slow speed bumps. If you do encounter bigger bumps, the rear end does tend to kick back. Whether this can be solved by finding a better preload setting, or whether it has more to do with the rebound tuning, shall have to be tackled in our proper road test.
Given that this bike is meant to do long distance highway riding, it comes with a wide rake and long(ish) wheelbase. So it’s not really meant to feel corner happy, flicking from one side to the other through a series of bends at speed. But be gentle with it, and don’t push it too hard, and the 200T manages to hold a clean line through the corners. Things feel much better when you bring the speeds down even more. In the urban environment, it is surprisingly light on its feet and is able to dart through slow moving traffic with relative ease.
Coming to a halt quickly is not a problem for the 200T. It carries the same brake setup found on the Xtreme 200R, along with single channel ABS. Even though it does not have the petal discs, the 200T manages to slow down better than the XPulse 200 and also, I am going to stick my neck out for this, the Xtreme 200R. But much like the Xtreme, this bike too lacks lever feel.
We are still pretty confused about why the 199.6cc single in its current state would be used in a motorcycle meant for touring as it is not suited for the highway. In fifth gear at 80kmph, you’ll find the motor screaming away at 6000rpm - not what you want if you’re going to be spending hours in the saddle going down the highway. In fact, it struggles to get to 100kmph (at 7500rpm), and getting there (eventually) is accompanied with a huge dollop of vibrations.
Currently, there are no variants available on the XPulse 200T. We can expect the fuel-injected version of the engine to feature on this bike prior to new BSVI emission norms that kick in on 1 April 2020.
Hero has got the pricing bang on with the 200T, which retails for Rs 94,000, ex-showroom Delhi. At that price, it is a mere Rs 3,000 more than the Xtreme 200R with which it shares its engine and a few other parts. However, the motorcycle fails to live up to its touring aspirations. Even though the riding position is comfortable, it needs a softer seat (which hopefully Hero will address). And then the engine disappoints on most counts as it is not best suited for highway cruising. So if you are looking for a small capacity tourer, you are better off spending a bit more and getting yourself a Bajaj Avenger 220 or the Suzuki Intruder. And if you fancied yourself a 200cc commuter motorcycle that is affordable and isn’t focussed on giving you high performance, why not just stick to the regular Xtreme 200R?