2017 Pulsar 150 Review
Bike Tested: 2017 Pulsar 150; Road Test No. 883; Test Location: Chakan
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 87,962/-
With the 2017 Pulsar 150, Bajaj has concentrated on mechanical updates
The brand ‘Pulsar’ has been associated with Bajaj Auto since a really long time. First launched in November 2001, the Pulsar 150 brought about a revolution in the country’s performance motorcycling scene by standing against the usual crowd of 80-125cc commuters. Many rivals, even under the same brand, came and went but none could hold a candle to the Pulsar 150’s charm. What’s more? Even after close to 16 years of existence, it manages to outsell every motorcycle in its class clocking sales of over 36,000 units this October. Mind you, there has been no drastic transformation in all these years. For 2017 though, Bajaj has launched a BS4 compliant version of the Pulsar 150 to comply with the Government’s latest norms. The domestic major claims that the changes are more than just superficial, but are they? We take it for a spin to gauge the magnitude of improvements the ‘Definitely Male’ motorcycle has incorporated.
Motor Quest: Started in 1944 as a scooter trading company, Bajaj shifted its focus to motorcycles since 1986. In 2001, the Pulsar 150 and 180 were born. The duo was a saviour for enthusiasts and commanded more respect than the KTMs of today. There have been 9 different Pulsar models on sale till date but the Pulsar 150 remains as strong as ever. Bajaj has previously updated the Pulsar 150 in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. Capturing the largest stake in the brand’s domestic sales, the Pulsar 150 still holds the crown of their bread and butter model.
Styling – Even after two or three gazes at the 2017 Pulsar 150, we were hard-pressed to differentiate it from the pre-2017 models. Save for the laser-edged paint scheme, the similarity is so intense that mango people won’t be able to tell it apart from the older Pulsars at all. A sleek visor sits atop the sizable halogen headlight while the sculpted tank is flanked by extending shrouds on either side. The silhouette transitions to a raised rear in a seamless manner and the vertically-laid split LED tailpiece plays its part to sum up the design beautifully. The engine case is now dipped in gunmetal shade and if one goes close enough, there is a SAI (Secondary Air Injection) pipe running around the cylinder head to improve combustion. The side-mounted exhaust looks proportionate while the 6-spoke alloy wheels have been carried forward with the addition of rim stripes. Looking at the overall design package, it is obvious that Bajaj doesn’t want to mess with an already proven formula but that trait is best left to the Japs!
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Doing duty on the 2017 Pulsar 150 is the same part-digital instrumentation unit which made its debut on the UGIII Pulsar in 2006. Almost 11 years down the line, things haven’t changed much. Bajaj has generously sprinkled faux carbon fibre finish in and around the console while the tachometer area looks fresh with the use of energetic white background colour. There is an RPM limit light below the tachometer on the right side which lights up as you hit the redline.
A blue-backlit LCD display dominates the other side and houses a fuel gauge, odometer, speedometer and two trip meters along with other warning signs and malfunction lights. While a clock is sorely missed, well laid-out data ensures that the available information is legible even under direct sunlight. At this price, we couldn’t have asked for more! Switchgear is carried over as it is from the previous version barring the headlamp switch as the Pulsar 150 now gets AHO functionality. Backlit buttons are a joy to use and have a premium feel to them. However, this is not your typical Japanese creation and does have some imperfections when it comes to fit and finish.
Ergonomics – The Pulsar 150 is, and has been, at the top when it comes to seating position and ergonomics. So, it was quite natural for Bajaj to leave this department untouched. Wide clip-on handlebars not only enhance the visual appeal but also help in a sporty leaned-in position for the rider. However, the position isn’t very dedicated and won’t hurt your wrists in stop-go traffic. The footpegs and seat are aptly set to provide a relaxed and upright posture. Even tall riders won’t feel cramped astride the Pulsar 150 as the single-piece seat offers a lot of room to move around. Ergonomically, the Pulsar 150 is quite sorted with all the controls falling right in place. For the pillion also, the seat is quite comfortable and the black grab rail feels pretty sturdy. Lastly, the rearview mirrors are sufficiently wide and function well.
Performance – The Pulsar series, since 2001, has been known for the adrenaline rush that comes bundled with the motorcycles. Achieving this status was no easy task and the company practised the principle of bumping up the power figures with every successive generation. However, with no dearth of performance-oriented choices (case in point, the NS 160) this time, Bajaj has tuned the motor for tractability rather than outright performance. Power figures have gone down by around 1 BHP while peak torque has seen an increment of 1 Nm. With this iteration, Bajaj has also made its 149cc air-cooled DTS-i motor compliant to BS4 norms.
Among other tweaks, a revised exhaust system, larger cat-con, new engine mounts, SAI and an EVAP system have helped this Pulsar slip through the BS4 barrier. The low-end performance shows a marked improvement and the carburetted motor is quick to respond to throttle inputs. Part of the credit also goes to the improved CDI unit which now uses five maps instead of two. Mid-range continues to be as strong as the previous version but the lack of punch near the redline is bothersome. Refinement has seen a tremendous improvement and the inherent rasp of the Pulsar 150 motor is nowhere to be seen.
The 2017 Pulsar 150 boasts of an improved low-end and strong mid-range
While top speed (110 km/hr) and outright acceleration figures aren’t mind-boggling, the Pulsar 150 packs a serious punch in the mid-range and has good in-gear acceleration. Coupled with fuel efficiency figures of around 50 kms to a litre, the Pulsar 150 is good to go for 750 kms on a single tank of fuel! With the changed engine characteristics, riding the motorcycle in traffic is where the motorcycle feels at home. In addition to that, Bajaj has worked on the transmission to ensure a progressive clutch action and crisp gear changes.
Riding Dynamics – Suspension duties on the Pulsar 150 are performed by telescopic forks at the front and adjustable shock absorbers at the rear. Ride quality is pliant over bad roads and the Pulsar plainly dismisses small road undulations without transmitting them to the rider. However, it continues to be underpinned by an old double cradle frame which doesn’t give it the much-needed poise around corners. At 144 kgs, the Pulsar 150 is no feather-weight and lacks the agility and steadfastness that one would normally associate with this class of motorcycles. Braking department is headed by a 240 mm disc rotor at the front and the rear wheel gets a drum brake. The front brake offers a positive feel and good stopping power but the rear one isn’t quite up to the task. Anyway, we aren’t complaining as braking action involves the front end in higher proportions and the Pulsar 150’s performance is satisfactory in that regard.
Verdict – Every update to the Pulsar series has been worthwhile and met with appraisals from the large fanbase. The 2017 series is no different as, along with the entire range, it introduces a whole lot of changes to the Pulsar 150. This update was controversial as the engine characteristics were toned down in the interests of lower emissions. With improved NVH levels, smoother gearshifts and better power delivery, the Pulsar 150 is undoubtedly a safer bet than before. However, everything that glitters is not gold! Bring the Pulsar NS 160 into the picture and the Pulsar 150 starts to show its age. Enthusiasts opting for the 150 are going to be stuck with an age-old frame, dated suspension and probably a design which is too long in the tooth now. Moreover, Bajaj has extracted the rush from the top-end of this motor by prioritising power delivery lower down the rev range. This has taken away the famed fun-to-ride nature of the Pulsar and made it more of a city commuter. To sum it up, the 2017 Pulsar 150 remains a viable alternative for users who want a proven product but for an enthusiast, the brand itself has made it irrelevant with the launch of the NS!
* Smooth and refined package – engine, gearbox and clutch
* Fuel efficient motor with healthy fuel tank capacity
* Strong low-end performance, improved throttle response
* Comfortable riding posture and h suspension setup
* One of the most tried and tested products in the country
Whats Not So Cool
* Looks dated in front of the competition
* Unimpressive outright performance, lacks top-end punch
* Isn’t confidence inspiring around corners
* Fit and finish still leaves a lot to be desired
2017 Pulsar 150 Specifications
* Engine: 149cc, Air-Cooled, 4-Stroke, Single-Cylinder
* Power: 13.8 BHP @ 8000 RPM
* Torque: 13.4 Nm @ 6000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed Manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 21.17 seconds
* Top Speed: 110 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 50-55 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Double Cradle
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), 5-Step Adjustable Nitrox Shock Absorbers (Rear)
* Tyres: 80/100/17 (Front), 100/90/17 (Rear), MRF Zapper
* Brakes: 240 mm Disc (Front), 130 mm Drum (Rear)
2017 Pulsar 150 Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 2055 mm x 755 mm x 1060 mm
* Wheelbase: 1320 mm
* Ground Clearance: 165 mm
* Seat Height: 785 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 15-litres
* Kerb Weight: 144 kgs
Pulsar 150 Review
The Bajaj Pulsar 150 is here to stay. Some major updates are now required to be made to keep the bike relevant and we might see some soon. However, the current model by no means is a slouch as the Bajaj Pulsar 150 proves to be one of the better all-rounders out there.