Pulsar is the brand because of which Bajaj has become successful in the two-wheeler segment. After years of wait, Bajaj has finally given us an all-new Pulsar. It is called the Pulsar 250 and there are two variants of it. There is the N250 and F250. As the name suggests, N250 is the naked version and the F250 gets a semi fairing.
The design of both the motorcycles is radically different from any other motorcycle that we have seen from Bajaj. The manufacturer knew that they would need to revolutionize the design this time because the Pulsars that are on sale have more or less the same design since 2003. If you are an enthusiast, you would be able to see some design elements of the older Pulsars. For instance, the aggressive fuel tank that measures 14 litres and the fairing which is also quite similar to the one found on the Pulsar AS200. The fairing on the F250 and the side shrouds on N250 integrates with the fuel tank seamlessly.
Personally, I think the front of the F250 looks better than the N250. Both motorcycles now get an LED projector unit that houses both the high beam and the low beam. Both also get LED Daytime Running Lamps but the design is different for both motorcycles. The F250 also comes with a windscreen whereas the N250 does not get it because it is a naked design. The rearview mirrors are also redesigned and offer a good view of what’s behind. On the F250 you can fold them upwards as well. However, at lower revs and higher gear, the rearview mirrors on F250 start vibrating a lot.
The side profile of both the motorcycles is the same except for the tank shrouds or the fairing. The alloy wheels measure 17-inches in size and they look like they are from the Pulsar NS200 but the materials have been changed and now they save a total of 1 kg. Thus, reducing unsprung mass. The front tyre measures 100/80 while the rear one measures 130/70. The exhaust is short, stubby and has twin ports. It sounds nice and throaty. At the rear, the tail lamp is similar to the previous-gen Pulsars. Overall, the design does look attractive, sporty and still has traits of a “Pulsar”.
Bajaj has developed an all-new instrument cluster that we see on the new Pulsars. They call it the “infinity display console” because the instrument cluster has minimal bezels. It does look quite nice, especially on the N250. Bajaj has retained the analogue tachometer and it sits right in the middle. The telltale lights are spread across the cluster. There is also a side stand indicator. On the right side, there is a digital instrument cluster. The instrument cluster shows a fuel gauge, two trip meters, speedometer, odometer, time, gear position indicator and distance to empty.
There is also an rpm limit light that blinks when you are near the red line. The tachometer did feel like it was slow to respond because often the revs were higher than what was displayed on the tachometer. Bajaj has also added a USB charging socket on the fuel tank to charge the mobile devices.
Comfort and Handling
Bajaj is using a split seat setup for both motorcycles. The padding and the seat texture are quite nice. Also, the front of the seat is low, this makes the seat height accessible at just 795 mm and you feel like you are sitting “in” the motorcycle instead of “on” it. The seat is neither too soft nor too hard. The riding triangle has the right balance of sportiness and comfort. It is not too aggressive that your wrists or back starts aching nor it is too upright that you feel like you are on a commuter motorcycle. Bajaj has achieved this by placing the footpegs slightly rear-set and the handlebar is wide and raised.
Bajaj is using a new tubular frame with the engine as a stressed member. The new frame is stiffer than the 220F’s frame. The motorcycle handles pretty well and inspires confidence in the corners. What also aids in handling is the near 50:50 weight distribution that Bajaj has managed to achieve.
Bajaj has developed an all-new 250 cc, single-cylinder, fuel-injected engine for the Pulsar 250s. It is a simple 2 valve unit that is air-oil cooled and comes with DTS-i technology. It does not get any fancy liquid-cooling, triple spark plugs or Variable Valve Actuation. Bajaj said that DTS-i works better with these kinds of engines. Also, liquid cooling and VVA would have increased the cost of the production of the engine. I did not face any heating issues while riding the motorcycle.
The engine produces 24.5 PS of max power at 8,750 rpm and a peak torque output of 21.5 Nm at 6,500 rpm. The engine is more powerful than the NS and RS200 as well as the Pulsar 220F. Having said that, the engine is less powerful than the liquid-cooled unit found on the Dominar 250. This is because Dominar uses a reworked engine from the Duke 250. Dominar 250 produces 27 PS of max power and 23.5 Nm of peak torque.
On KTM derived Pulsars, you would have to rev the engine to extract its power, this is not the case with the new 250 cc engine. Bajaj said that 85 percent of the torque is spread on either side of the peak torque. I noticed that the power and torque come earlier in the rev range when you compare the 250’s engine to the NS200 and the RS200. Due to this, the engine pulls nicely and you do not have to work the gearbox much. Bajaj is using an offset crank balancer shaft to reduce vibrations and the vibrations have reduced when compared to previous Pulsars. However, at higher revs vibrations still manage to creep in.
Bajaj is still using a 5-speed transmission, but it now comes with a slip and assist clutch. The clutch action is very light and the gearbox is also smooth for the most part. I did face false neutrals twice while riding the motorcycle in city traffic.
The ARAI fuel efficiency of the new Pulsar 250s is 39 kmpl. However, Bajaj says that you can expect somewhere around 35 kmpl to 40 kmpl of fuel economy in real-world conditions.
Brakes and Suspension
Braking duties are done by a 300 mm disc in the front and a 230 mm disc at the rear. The front brake is quite good but it was squeaking on the motorcycle that was provided to me. The rear brake, on the other hand, lacks the initial bite and if you use it slightly aggressively then you will end up locking the rear wheel which does reduce your confidence especially on turns.
Bajaj is offering Pulsar 250 only with a single channel Anti-lock braking system and it does not come with steel braided brake lines. They should have offered dual-channel ABS at least as an option. Suspension duties are done by 37 mm telescopic front forks and a mono-shock at the rear. Bajaj says that the rear mono-shock is all-new and has more wheel travel to make the ride comfortable. The overall ride quality is quite nice and well balanced. It handles better than the previous generations of Pulsars because the suspension is now slightly stiffer. Still, the suspension is able to absorb the bad patches of roads smoothly.
A Few niggles
There are a few small niggles that I noticed while riding the new Pulsars. Both the motorcycles miss out on a centre stand. There are two plastic covers that hide the nuts on the front of the fuel tank. The left plastic cover was quite loose as compared to the right one on the N250. Due to this, the plastic cover comes out quite easily and in the long run, there is a possibility that it can fall out on its own. But I expect, this could be an issue with only the first batch and Bajaj can fix it up easily.
Bajaj has not used proper rubber ties on the F250 to tie the wiring harness under the handlebars whereas on the N250 there are proper rubber ties. Because of this, the wire management on the F250 does not look as neat as it looks on the N250. Moreover, the bolts on the clip-on handlebars of F250 are visible whereas on the earlier models they were covered with plastic caps.
Prices and conclusion
Bajaj has been able to price the new Pulsars quite aggressively and attractively. The N250 costs Rs. 1.38 lakhs whereas the F250 costs Rs. 1.4 lakhs. Both prices are ex-showroom. It is Rs. 5,000 more expensive than the Pulsar NS200 and Pulsar 220F but it packs in more equipment, a more powerful engine and most importantly, a modern-looking styling. If you are looking for a more committed riding triangle then you can opt for the N250 because its handlebar is lower which gives a slightly aggressive stance to the rider. The F250, on the other hand, does have clip-on handlebars but they are higher and closer to the rider so they are more comfortable for city commutes. Having said that, most people will be opting for the F250 because it looks better and it is a spiritual successor to the Pulsar 220F. The icing on the cake is that it costs only Rs. 2,000 more than the N250.
Bajaj did say that they are three years late in bringing the 250 cc Pulsars but the future now looks bright because they have said that there will be more Pulsars eventually that will be using the new platform and the new design philosophy. The delivery dispatch to the dealerships will commence on November 10th.