RIDE: BAJAJ PULSAR NS 160
The baby NS has got its basics in place
MMERGING PERFORMANCE WITH practicality is the forte of the premium 150cc segment. We have seen how versatile the Suzuki Gixxer and the Honda CB Hornet 160 R are. Although the Bajaj Pulsar 150 DTS-i had been battling it out for the longest time ever, it was time for the baton to be handed to something fresher. Bajaj did try with the Pulsar AS 150 but that didn’t bring in the numbers they hoped it would. So for attempt two, Bajaj is banking on this, the new Pulsar NS 160.
What is it? To put things bluntly, a slimmed down version of the recently revived Pulsar NS 200. In fact one can barely call out the difference between the two. However, stare hard and you start to find out the NS 160 bears smaller wheel assemblies, thinner forks and thin-section swingarm; with the obvious 160 graphics on the tank panel giving it away. The other obvious difference one would notice is the engine.
All new? Not really. You could say that the AS 160 has shed its tank top and put on a bikini to become the NS 160. The chiselled 12-litre fuel tank, the split handlebars, the semi-digital info panel and the seats were identical on the NS and the AS platforms; thus, nothing has changes here. We also get to see Bajaj’s trademark perimeter frame employed with no changes done to alter the steering geometry.
What else? The bikini faring around the transformer headlamp unit is one of my favourite designs. Although the design is over five years old, it continues to be one of the most striking designs in the market. I would however implore Bajaj to redo their graphics scheme and add some colour. The current colour palette may look great in commercial campaigns but isn’t really as eye catching as it could have been.
Fun To Ride? Quite a pointless question actually as hardly anyone who has taken the NS 200 for a spin would grumble and say anything different. The perimeter chassis working its magic yet again. Although the front fork as well as the rear swingarm are identical in dimensions to the AS 150, the suspension has been tuned for a slightly softer ride, which makes for a pliant ride quality over our perfect roads. That does not however take away from the motorcycle’s dynamic abilities as she is more than
happy to chase corners with ease. The slippery roads during our test session did curb our enthusiasm in finding those extra degrees of lean, although I doubt the bike will be any less surprising than it already is.
There is a small chink in its armour though. By making use of virtually the same setups from the previous Pulsars, the NS 160 tips the scales at 142 kilos. Add to that the taller saddle height of 805mm and the NS 160 may just lose out to the Gixxer and the Hornet in quick direction changing abilities and may cause hindrance to smaller built riders in daily commuting. On the plus side, the long 1363mm wheelbase adds to stability on straights and midcorner.
The 240mm front disc and 130mm rear drum brakes stop the bike in an instant, providing excellent feel at the lever. However one can never have enough of safety and Bajaj has confirmed that the rear disc option would be made available if the need ever arrives but shied away to comment on ABS.
The NS 160 uses MRF rubber with the front receiving the Nylogrip Zapper FS1 compound while the rear gets the Zapper C. The front 80/100-17 tyre works without any fuss but the same could not be said of the rear 110/80-17, especially in the wet; its water dissipation capabilities could be better. Overall, a fatter 120-section rear tyre would have helped improve grip.
Powerful? As the tagline suggests, the NS 160 is the most powerful 160cc in the country, albeit by just a small margin. The 160.3cc single-cylinder motor is a reworked version of the AS 150’s mill. Operating in the mid-range being its strong suit, the engine makes 15.3bhp of power (quarter bhp more than the Hornet) and 14.6Nm of torque. Given the engine is more suited to operating in the mid-range, there is a surge in max torque at a low revs. Although the export model gets fuel-injection, fuelling continues to be done via the means of a carburettor; our slightly lax emission norms allowing the latter to be used. Even the gearing of the 5-speed transmission has been engineered to help in maximising the engine’s midrange performance. The engine also receives a new counter-balancer to help in engine refinement as well as an oil-cooler to keep temperature in check.
Efficient? Bajaj officials claim the NS 160 should return a figure in the region of 40kmpl, which is on par with its rivals. Optimistically, one could expect a range of 480km on a tank full but a bout of spirited riding could bring the figure down, the additional weight being the determining factor here.
Value? It was made clear right from the start that the NS 160 would not be a replacement for either the Pulsar 150 or the slightly larger Pulsar 180. These three would operate in their own spheres with only a small chunk of customers overlapping. At least, that’s what Bajaj hopes. The purpose of the NS 160 is to stand up to the Gixxer and the Hornet. With that in mind, the price tag of ` 78,368 (ex-showroom Delhi) is just one grand more than the Suzuki, but crucially saves four thousand over the Hornet.
1: The graphics scheme is carried over from the NS 200, albeit with the 160 moniker. 2: Tuned to deliver the bulk of the power in the mid-range, the new 160cc engine comes with an oil cooler as well as a kick-starter. 3: The controls are typical...