Bajaj Pulsar 125 Neon test drive review : the new sporty commuter?

2001 is when Bajaj launched the Pulsar brand name in the Indian motorcycling segment and ever since this name has been associated with sporty and affordable performance oriented motorcycle. Can the same DNA be carried forward to the smallest capacity Pulsar yet? With these thoughts in mind, we went down South to Pune to ride the new model. Was I impressed?

3bajaj Pulsar 125

I will start with the design here. Bajaj wanted to carry over the same theme and brand name to a younger and wider audience which means the Pulsar 125 looks identical to the Pulsar 150. And hence you do get a good looking motorcycle, one that looks substantial for a 125cc. Infact, this new Pulsar 125 has the longest length and wheelbase in the segment.

Our test bike came in a shade of dark grey and looked good under the soft sun of post-monsoon showers here in Pune. The contrasting finish for Pulsar logo on fuel tank, the grab rail and other little details in similar shade on the alloy wheels and side panels does look good. The bikini fairing, tank and side panels are too familiar now and help give the bike its own identity. Even the speedometer console has been carried over without any changes. That said, there is no ABS light (this one gets CBS or combined braking system) on this one.

16bajaj Pulsar 125

The Pulsar 125 is based on its elder sibling and this means it makes use of the same underpinnings too. Its a tried and tested chassis and the suspension components, brakes and tyres are a carry over as well. This also means the bike is heavy, topping the charts at 140 kg (kerb weight) which makes it heavier than bigger bikes like the Yamaha FZ and the Suzuki Gixxer!

You also get the same riding posture as the P150 which means you sit upright with a slight sporty stance and I must add, the clip-ons do look nice for the segment. The seat is slightly on the harder side but overall comfort levels are above average and will be preferred by most. I got a chance to spend about 3-4 hours with the bike and once rain gods showed some mercy, took the bike for an extended spin.

13bajaj Pulsar 125

And this gets us to the biggest change in the bike – its heart. The new 125cc engine is based on the Pulsar 150’s unit but with a shorter stroke. Yes, this gets a short stroke unit, one that loves being revved all the way to 10,000 rpm before the limiter cuts in. In the process, it does over 35 in the first and just a shade over 55 km/ in the 2nd gear. Outright performance is excellent given that this is a 125cc unit and thanks to a good top end and the 5th cog, you can see over 100 km/h easily.

11bajaj Pulsar 125

But the new Bajaj Pulsar 125 will be spending a lot of time on city roads in traffic and this is where riders will appreciate the new found NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels. Till about 6000rpm, the pegs, bars and tank remain smooth and it’s only when you go North of 8000rpm is when the tingling sensation comes in. The exhaust note and engine sound also remind you of its elder sibling.

In terms of numbers, the Pulsar 125 is the most powerful bike in its segment and puts out 12 PS of power as compared to 14 on the P150. Torque drops from 13.4 Nm to 11 Nm which is similar to the torquiest bikes in the segment. We are also glad to see the 5-speed gearbox being carried over (gear ratios unchanged) though the shift action could have been better. On our test bike, finding neutral at standstill was a game of sorts.

10bajaj Pulsar 125

Thanks to a smaller unit, efficiency has gone up by about 15%. Though it’s not a match for most other bikes in the 125cc segment, it is a small pay off for an otherwise well performing engine. The tank capacity however has gone down from 15 to 11.5 litres.

I love the fact that the Pulsar 125 feels as dynamic as its elder sibling. Inspite of the longest wheelbase in its class, flickablility remains good and high speed manners further earn brownie points. Brakes are a carry over too (240mm front on the bike you see here) though the overall bite could have been better.

9bajaj Pulsar 125

At Rs 64,000 for the drum version and Rs 66,618 for the front disc equipped model you here, the Pulsar 125 is a tad cheaper than the Honda Shine SP but expensive than all other rivals. If you picture in the Pulsar 150, you save about Rs 5000 in terms of on-road price and get a (more) frugal bike. But will this gap be enough for garner good sales figures for this new model considering Bajaj’s other 125, the Discover is a good Rs 4000 cheaper than this new kid on the block? We hope the ‘Pulsar’ brand name is strong enough to do justice to the development of this all-new bike. This truly is a good stepping stone for young guns and biking enthusiasts into the Pulsar family.

PS: Before we end, the dual-seat Pulsar 125 that some websites have carried is for Andhra Pradesh only and has been introduced there to rival the Hero Glamour.

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