2017 Pulsar 135 LS Review
Bike Tested: 2017 Pulsar 135 LS; Road Test No. 891; Test Location: Chakan
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 72,844/-
The 2017 Pulsar 135 LS remains a beautiful package that will appeal to the younger crowd
Off late, Asia’s volume-intensive motorcycle fragment has become a spectator to evolving preferences of the public. This transition towards high displacement motorcycles is fuelled by the rising product diversity and resutlant ferocity of the competition. Demanding new motorcycles to push the boundaries of performance and value, the end users have emerged as winners of this drama. Without a doubt, 200cc has become the new standard of affordable performance motorcycles in Asia over the course of a decade. Bajaj Auto, creator of the evergreen Pulsar series, believes that the same applies to lower displacement category of motorcycles as well. And that formed one of the reasons for the Pune-based automaker to position the 2017 Pulsar 135 LS in the commuter space. One wouldn’t have thought that a commuter motorcycle will flaunt the Pulsar badge one day but the motorcycle still retains the ‘Light Sport’ nomenclature intelligently, doesn’t it? Undeniably, there was no better place to put this so-called ‘commuter’ through its paces than at the Chakan test track! Jokes apart, we were keen to find out how well the 2017 Pulsar 135 LS serves its purpose as a commuter motorcycle.
Motor Quest: Launched in 2009, the Pulsar 135 LS became the most affordable motorcycle of the Pulsar family. It was also the first motorcycle from the brand to sport 4-valve DTS-i technology which made it decidedly superior in the performance department. Save for updated colour schemes every now and then, Bajaj Auto hasn’t bothered to revise the package in all these years. With Government’s BS4 sword over the head, the manufacturer was forced to launch the latest Pulsar 135 LS in April 2017. The Pulsar 135 LS is exported to other countries as well, Singapore and Colombia being two of them where the baby Pulsar has significant presence.
Styling – Design of the Pulsar has been a hit or a miss with the masses. While some of them can’t get over the lack of muscle, many of them appraise its clean and proportionate stance. Evolved from the Bajaj XCD 125, the sizeable headlight unit houses twin pilot lamps flanked by sleek tank shrouds. There is an inherent sharpness in the design of the tank and side panels which is further amplified by the lifted tail section. Save for the Laser Edged colour schemes, visual changes to the 2017 version include the seat and grab rails, both of which are single-piece now as opposed to the split arrangement seen on earlier models. New graphics, rim stripes and gunmetal finish on the engine casing further enhance the visual appeal. Said to have incorporated user feedback, the 2017 Pulsar 135 LS also deploys a larger and taller visor up front which provides better protection from wind.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Instrumentation on the 2017 Pulsar 135 LS makes use of faux carbon fibre treatment and revised font for the speedometer dial. Though we’ve been seeing essentially the same console for past 8 years now, there’s no denying the fact that it still holds relevance in front of the competition. Dominating the left side of the console is an analog tachometer which does a full sweep on startup! It gets a light shade background seen on the entire 2017 range of Pulsars. In a show of commendable space utilisation, the large orange-backlit display houses a speedometer, odometer, tripmeter and a digital fuel gauge!
Backlit in white, switchgear on the 135 LS is a straight lift from the Pulsar parts bin which is a major at this price point. It houses a kill switch and a high beam flasher too. The headlamp switch is omitted as the motorcycle comes with AHO (all-time headlamp ON) which is a mandatory requirement along with the BS4 update. There are some minor imperfections in the cluster though. Sitting beside the display, the neutral indicator probably needs a microscope to be seen in broad daylight and the button for switching between the odometer and tripmeter readouts feels quite crummy to operate.
Ergonomics – Commuter motorcycles are expected to provide a comfortable and relaxed riding position. Besides providing ample room for movement, the well-padded single piece seat is comfortable but the positioning of the footpegs and clip-on handlebars doesn’t allow for an exactly relaxed posture. The rider sits slightly leaned in but at no point of time does the position feel taxing on the wrists or lower back. At 805 mm, the saddle height would be a deal breaker for short heighted riders but swing a leg over and you’ll be greeted by a commanding view of the road ahead. Thanks to the single-piece sturdy grab rail, the pillion rider wouldn’t be complaining at all. For a stress-free experience in the urban jungle, Bajaj has provided a heel-and-toe shifter to ease shifting between gears.
Performance – In simple terms, the 4-valve DTS-i engine of the Pulsar 135 LS punches way above its weight. Fed by a carburettor, the 134.66cc air-cooled motor takes the motorcycle’s low kerb weight in its stride to outperform even some of the 150cc motorcycles out there (including the Pulsar 150) when it comes to power-to-weight ratio. In the BS4 compliant avatar, the engine utilises a SAI (secondary air intake), more ignition maps, fuel evaporation recovery system and a revised exhaust. Accelerating to 60 km/hr from halt in 5.1 seconds, the Pulsar 135 LS feels peppy in the low-end. The soft exhaust note at lower RPMs turns into a deep rasp as you approach the redline.
Wide torque spread makes riding the Pulsar 135 LS a breeze in traffic
NVH levels are considerably lower and the engine doesn’t feel strained even at higher RPMs. Due to ample availability of torque lower down the rev-range, the motor has a tractable nature in city conditions which makes doing lower speeds at higher gears effortless. The lack of grunt is evident on highways as the motorcycle loses all its might near the redline where progress becomes painfully slow. At 53-58 km/litre, the fuel efficiency is pretty good but it doesn’t translate to a healthy range due to an utterly small 8-litre fuel tank. Only flaws in its commuter recipe are the notchy gearshifts and a clutch that requires extra effort.
Riding Dynamics – Sitting on a cradle frame with a traditional suspension setup (telescopic forks and twin-shock absorbers), the Pulsar 135 LS provides nimble handling by commuter-motorcycle standards. While the nitrox-filled rear shocks offer 5-step adjustment, the front end is so soft that it dives in in an intimidating manner. Then, there is the side stand that hangs so low (changed positioning due to heel-and-toe shifter) that one has to be watchful on sharp turns. The ride quality is compliant over bad roads but large undulations do unsettle the Pulsar 135 LS. Even though the slippery EuroGrip tyres are a letdown, braking performance (with the front 240 mm disc and 130 mm rear drum) is more than satisfactory.
Verdict – Marketed as a sportier alternative to the crowd of 125cc commuters initially, Bajaj has now made the positioning of the 2017 Pulsar 135 LS clear with the changed aesthetics. Apart from the step-motherly treatment from Bajaj, cannibalisation from the established Pulsar 150 has ensured that the baby Pulsar never made it to the top-seller’s list. However, when we consider the overall package – 4-valve engine, DC electricals, features, improved refinement, neutral silhouette and sorted ergonomics – and the asking price (a cool Rs. 15,000/- cheaper than its 150cc sibling), the Pulsar 135 LS makes a strong case for itself. Keeping a few shortcomings aside, this one fills the shoes of a city runabout and a premium motorcycle equally well.
* Charming design wrapped in an attractive paint scheme
* Value for money pricing
* Peppy performance, good mileage and improved refinement levels
* Comfortable seating position and absorbent ride quality
* Neutral dynamics, handles and brakes as expected
What’s Not So Cool
* Small fuel tank limits riding range
* Gearshifts are notchy and clutch action isn’t light
* Power fades out at high RPMs
* Trades in the sporty appearance of earlier models for practicality
2017 Pulsar 135 LS Specifications
* Engine: 134.66cc, Air-Cooled, 4-Stroke, Single-Cylinder
* Power: 13.56 BHP @ 9000 RPM
* Torque: 11.4 Nm @ 7500 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed Manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 18 Seconds (Est.)
* Top Speed: 105 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 53-58 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Cradle
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), 5-Step Adjustable Nitrox Shock Absorbers (Rear)
* Tyres: 2.75/17 (Front), 100/90/17 (Rear), EuroGrip
* Brakes: 240 mm Disc (Front), 130 mm Drum (Rear)
2017 Pulsar 135 LS Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 1995 mm x 765 mm x 1045 mm
* Wheelbase: 1325 mm
* Ground Clearance: 165 mm
* Seat Height: 805 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 8-litres
* Kerb Weight: 122 kgs
Pulsar 135 LS
Pulsar 135 LS Review
Well, to sum it all up, the Bajaj Pulsar 135 LS makes perfect sense for someone who wants a motorcycle for their daily commute, but would also like to have some extra grunt over the basic commuters. The edgy styling and the Pulsar badge is sure to attract more users from the 125cc segment to the Bajaj Pulsar 135 LS.