Does this next-generation Pulsar continue to hold the mania that made its predecessors a household name?
I still remember its first motorcycle. It was a black Bajaj Pulsar 150, a first-generation example with the round headlamp and muscular fuel tank. It redefined the sportiness of that era with its rortiness and potent 150cc motor. What I remember most about that motorcycle was that it suffered no fools. Handling was tricky at the limit and successfully extracting maximum potential from that motor was a steep learning curve. In fact, I learned a thing or two about riding from my first-generation Pulsar and when the time came to upgrade, the Pulsar 220 felt like a natural progression. The Pulsars that followed defined machismo though in a good way. This new one though seems to carve a new path for the Pulsar legacy. The new Pulsar P150 seems to prefer user friendliness which is good news for newer riders but has the potential to alienate Pulsar loyalists. So is breaking tradition a good thing here?
It starts with the design. Gone is the iconic muscular fuel tank, in its place you get a slimmer unit with integrated tank extention reminiscent of the Pulsar N160. In fact, the bodywork is similar to the N250, the next step in Pulsar evolution. That’s not a bad thing though. The design is well executed and the P150 even manages to look distinctive thanks to a new headlamp design that is stylish and functional as well thanks to a LED projector setup, a segment first. While the Pulsar P150 is a good-looking motorcycle, it will have a hard time convincing purists of its muscular genes. On the feature front, it borrows the cool-looking semi-digital instrument console from the N250 and also gets a fuel-tank mounted USB charging port. The P150 impresses on the fit and finish front, especially when compared to previous generation Pulsars. A step in the right direction.
A hallmark of previous generation Pulsar 150s has been its rorty powerplant which wasn’t exactly known for its refinement. The new one has achieved great strides in that direction. It impresses with its refinement and can easily be termed one of the most refined engines in its segment. The all-new motor features learnings from both the Pulsar and the N160 and in a way offers the best of both worlds. This air-cooled motor delivers 14.5PS and 13.5Nm. While its power figures are not the best-in-segment, the P150 delivers 95 percent of its peak torque between 3,500rpm and 8,500rpm. This makes the motor quite tractable. You can ride the P150 at speeds as low as 25kmph in fifth gear and still accelerate cleanly to a higher speed. This makes the Pulsar P150 quite an effortless motorcycle to ride in the city with its low-to-mid range performance. It is fairly comfortable sitting at highway speeds though the motor does protest audibly about not being in its sweet spot. Bajaj claims a real-world fuel efficiency of 49kmpl for the Pulsar P150. The extremely light clutch actuation is welcome though the gearshifts from its five-speed gearbox are not as precise as its competitors.
The first-generation Pulsars had a lively chassis with-on-the-limits handling characteristics that can be best described as tricky. While the Pulsar’s chassis has constantly evolved over the years, the all-new one on the Pulsar P150 features quite a substantial update. For starters the P150 is a whopping nine kilos lighter than the Pulsar 150, the chassis and engine being major contributors towards weight savings. Handling is light and nimble and the P150 feels planted in corners as well. The riding position is rather relaxed and the suspension is set up on the softer side that soaks road imperfections well. The brakes offer a strong and progressive bite as well.
The P150 seems to trade sportiness for stability and that kind of defines it. An easy-going and dare I say, premium commuter. With prices starting at Rs 1.17 lakh (single disc variant), it continues to deliver on the VFM quotient. As far as legacy goes, the new Pulsar P150 treads a new path. One we can get behind.