The baby NS has got its ba­sics in place

Evo India - - CONTENTS - Words by: Je­han Adil Darukhanaw­ala Photograph­y by: Ro­hit G Mane

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...

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