On a new adventure: Pulsar AS200 and AS150

first_imgWhile you’ll read about the AS200 in the pages to follow, allow me to get you acquainted with the smaller but completely new AS150 first. Let’s start by getting the obvious out of the way. AS stands for “Adventure Sport” but there’s barely any resemblance to an ADV bike. No long-travel suspension, dual-sport tyres or panniers here. What you get instead is a half-fairing and a tall windscreen. Bajaj explains that the aim was not to offer an out-and-out adventure bike but to bring the genre to the masses and familiarise them with adventure touring. With this, the AS150’s intent and purpose becomes clearer.You see, a lot of riders out there take to weekend getaways for their share of thrills and more often than not, the daily commuter is the steed for that getaway but there are problems. The bare muscles, street warrior doesn’t have a fairing or a windscreen to save you from the countless bugs on the highway. The headlight that we never paid attention to in the city, now seems inadequate because there aren’t any street lights to help visibility. Then there’s the engine which suffices in rush hour traffic but there’s an evident lack of it on the highway.Bajaj has identified these issues and has addressed them to offer the best of both worlds. Starting with the looks, a half fairing gets slapped onto the familiar NS200 tank. Adorning the fairing is a low-beam projector and halogen high-beam. And the fairing isn’t just there for aesthetics; the tall wind screen offers enough real estate to duck behind. Taller handlebars and slightly rearset footpegs make the rider trianglular for comfortable ergonomics. Although, we don’t quite understand this fascination with pseudo clip-ons; a straight-bar offers better feel, feedback and is far easier to deal with in case of a crash. You’ll also be looking at a recognizable instrument cluster originally from the NS and the stock tank pad is a stylish and functional touch. The overall design is attractive and we like it; despite the multiple panels used in the fairing, it isn’t busy.advertisementMechanically, the AS150 gets a new engine shrouded in a perimeter frame and monoshock rear suspension. The 150cc engine is the most powerful air-cooled engine in its class with 17bhp on tap but is relaxed in nature due to its under-square construction. This is a long-stroke engine which usually translates to more bottom-end torque but the combination of the 4-valve head assisting better breathability, a larger air-box and matching gearing offers sufficient grunt low down but focuses more on top-end performance. But we’ll get to its performance in just a bit. The highlight on the AS150 is the perimeter frame which makes its way from the… well, take a guess, and is a departure from the dual-cradle frame on the older bike.The winding roads of Lavasa gave us a taste of the AS150’s performance and the venue couldn’t have been more apt. Varying gradients strewn with twists and turns are a test for the bike’s overall performance and handling. So, we hit the twisties and straight off the engine’s relaxed character comes to fore. There isn’t much vibration neither is there any hint of stressed performance despite the engine being air-cooled power flows in a linear fashion and the AS150 never feels out of breath. But a slight drawback is that power builds up over 6,000rpm and below it, there’s a definite lack of poke. One has to really give it the beans to stir the motor for spirited riding. Mind you, this relaxed nature is deceptive as the bike does accelerate as fast as its competition, claimed at 4.9 seconds for a 0-60kmph dash.  The focus here being touring, AS150 riders will appreciate the long-legged feel of the engine on the highway.The gearbox is slick and clutch feel is light which translates to hassle free city commutes too. Dynamically, the AS150 benefits from the perimiter frame and feels light on its feet. It’s easy to flick in corner transitions and the ride is plush even with the suspension sprung soft.Though, this softness tends to compromise on sharpness when turning in,. But having said that, it doesn’t rob away the fun that one can have. The bike holds a confident line around fast corners. 170mm of ground-clearance should mean that you’d be able to take it off the road but road-biased (and slightly skinny) MRF rubber ensure that you quickly get back onto tarmac. No ABS here, not even as an option, a feature that we think would’ve been welcome considering that the 240mm front disc feels squishy and lacks feel while the 130mm rear drum just about suffices.advertisementlast_img read more