Hero XPulse 200 4V: Likes and Dislikes
We find out if the 4-valve update makes up for the shortcomings of the XPulse 200
The Hero XPulse 200 has been one of our favourite motorcycles for a long time now- it is one of the most capable off-roaders you can buy in India today. To top it off, it’s beginner friendly and fairly wallet friendly as well. That said, it doesn’t really wear its “adventure-tourer” tag all that well as it suffers from a lack of top end grunt on the highway. Hero has sought to remedy this by making some key modifications to the XPulse - from a new 4-valve head to a larger oil-cooler and revised gearing. So do all these updates help make it a better all-rounder? We explore that question by discussing the things we liked about the XPulse 200 4V and the things we didn’t.
Better off-roading ability
With the inclusion of a 4-valve head, the XPulse’s engine now makes 1.02PS power and 0.9Nm torque more than the 2V XPulse. So inherently you’re going to get some more performance. But that’s not all that Hero has done. This new XPulse now has a much larger rear sprocket (45 teeth vs 38) and completely revised gearing that sees taller 1st, 4th and 5th gears along with shorter 2nd and 3rd gears. What this translates to is you get a serious increase in drivability and you no longer need to work the gearbox as hard at slower speeds. This means, you’ll have a much easier time crawling along on tricky trails without having to worry about stalling the engine.
More relaxed at high speeds
Not only has the new engine tune and revised gear ratios helped increase the drivability of the XPulse, it has also made the bike calmer at higher speeds. Ok, so the top-end performance hasn’t really improved all that much and you’ll only be able to hit top speeds of about 110-115kmph. But this new XPulse can get there much quicker. And while its sweet spot still is between 85 and 90kmph (thanks to vibes in the footpegs after 8,000rpm), it feels much calmer at those speeds. So you’ll be able to sustain that cruise speed all day long without any effort.
The one thing that Hero hasn’t talked about in their press release about the XPulse 200 4V is the revised suspension tune. The compression stroke of both the front and rear suspension is set up to be much softer now and this endows the XPulse with a much plusher ride, almost reminiscent of its predecessor, the Hero Impulse. While hardcore off-roaders will prefer the slightly stiffer setup of the 2V XPulse when riding on the rough stuff, a majority of the riders will highly appreciate the softer suspension as it flattens out bumps and potholes on the road, making for a much more comfortable commute.
Increased seating comfort
And speaking of increased comfort, the seat profile is now a bit flatter, with a less pronounced hump between the rider and pillion section, and the seat cushioning is softer too. This vastly improves the seating comfort whether you’re riding on an off-road trail or just commuting in the urban jungle.
Still not a great highway tourer
As much as the XPulse’s mid-range performance has improved, there isn’t much change in the bike’s top end grunt. While it can go just slightly faster, it still only feels comfortable at speeds of about 85-90kmph (the same as the 2V version). This means that if you plan to take this new XPulse long-distance touring, you’ll need to be fairly patient when covering large highway sections.
Very commuter-ish ergonomics
Yes, seating comfort has improved and we think that the XPulse 4V is a much better commuter than the 2V. But the rider’s triangle is still a little too commuter-ish. Which means the moment you leave the confines of the urban jungle and hit some trails, you will start feeling the need for a taller handlebar, if nothing else. Hero would’ve done well to include the handlebar risers from their Rally Kit as standard fitment on this 4V XPulse.
While the updates haven’t really made the XPulse 200 a better highway motorcycle, the improvements in drivability definitely make it a better commuter as well as a lot more approachable for newer riders when riding on the dirt. And let’s not forget the increased comfort thanks to the revised suspension tune and seat. What makes these updates more wholesome is the fact that Hero is offering the XPulse 200 4V at Rs 1,28,150 (ex-showroom Delhi), which is just Rs 5,000 more than the XPulse 2V. So even if it does still have a few shortcomings, this new bike gets our wholehearted recommendation.
Words: Priyadarshan Bawikar