More power. More fun. More bang for your buck. The P220 returns with a vengeance
Words Bunny Punia
Photography Sanjay Raikar


While exiting the last left oval before the straight started, I ducked down as much as my large frame allowed. Gunning the bike, I upshifted to fourth and could see the digital speedometer climb towards the 120km/h mark rapidly. At close to 130km/h, I shifted to fifth and by the time I was forced to brake hard for a left curve, the speedometer had registered 135km/h! For a rider weighing in at a quintal, these speeds are phenomenal on a short straight. Can the new Bajaj Pulsar 220 easily clinch back the crown for being the fastest Indian bike?

When launched two years ago, the P220 redefined the rules of performance biking in India. It also marked the debut of technologies and features never before seen on any domestic motorcycle. As an overall package, true to Bajaj’s traits, the 220 was also a fantastic value for money proposition. However, once Yamaha entered the Indian performance biking segment, they stole the crown from the Pulsar 220. Later, with TVS confirming the launch of the 180cc RTR, Bajaj had to act fast to reclaim its lost glory.

Starting on the outside, the firm’s design boffins have followed an all-black treatment seen on the bike’s new smaller capacity siblings too. The engine, the alloy wheels, the suspension and the chassis – everything is painted the colour of midnight. In our opinion this treatment goes a long way in adding more muscle and poise to the bike. The inclusion of a braided brake hose not only looks good, but also improves the feel under hard braking as there is next to no flexing of the steel hose. There is a slight change in the sticker work as well but we are left wondering what the big ‘F’ logo behind the front indicator means? The tyres remain the same, however, Bajaj officials claim they are now made of softer compound in order to aid grip around corners.

A major alteration, however, is between the bike’s wheels. The engine does away with the fuel injection system and in its place comes the biggest carburetor seen on any current Indian production bike – a UCAL UCD 32 Venturi unit. This is a major departure but Bajaj claims that the overall benefits in terms of getting more power and better fuel economy at a lesser cost compared to the FI unit made them incorporate this change. Other modifications like graphite coating of the piston’s skirt for reducing the friction between the block and the piston, a modified intake port, high lift cams, a larger resonator and a bigger catalytic converter aid in generating more power which is up by a PS to 21. These figures give the Pulsar 220 the best power-to-weight ratio in India. Bajaj also claims to have made the final gearing longer for a better top end.

Right then, with our test equipment strapped on, it wasn’t long before we realized that the carbureted Pulsar 220 managed better timings than its predecessor. Most importantly, the new bike bettered its previous iteration’s top speed by a fair margin. Naught to sixty comes up in 4.7 seconds and the ’09 220 flies past the 100km/h mark in just 13.1 seconds. With Aspi on board and a relatively short straight, that didn’t do full justice to the bike’s top end, our test equipment still showed a true 132.5km/h with the bike’s digital speedometer registering 142km/h! Needless to say, these numbers make the new Bajaj Pulsar 220 the quickest and the fastest production bike in the country today. Performance aside, the company also claims an improvement in the bike’s fuel efficiency by approximately five percent over the FI model, however, we couldn’t test the fuel economy due to a lack of time.

Even the grab rail and clip-ons match the all-black treatment of this colour option

Just like the chiselled logo on the tank, the numericals of the tacho too get same effect with a grey background

The latest 220 employs the biggest carb on an Indian bike. K&N lovers rejoice! The engine also gets temperature based ignition mapping and an auto choke function

Time and again, we have highlighted the 220’s weakness around the track. Although there hasn’t been a significant change in the bike’s chassis and suspension setup, some retuning, especially at the front has been done. We rode the bike for an hour around Bajaj’s test track at Chakan and could feel the softer compound tyres doing their duties well. However, the main stand played spoilsport and was done away with for the photo shoot. The tendency of the earlier 220’s front suspension to dive while braking hard has been somewhat reduced in the new version. However, we would like to reserve our judgment about the bike’s handling prowess compared to its main rivals until we pit it against the competition soon.

Saving the best for last, the biggest improvement, rather the reason I would recommend this machine to bike fanatics, is its discounted price. We knew the 220’s sticker price would be reduced, considering the bike is now minus an expensive FI unit, but what we heard is simply outrageous. The 2009 Pulsar 220 will retail for approximately ten big ones less than the current bike which, simply put, makes it a shattering value for money deal! This price makes the 220 almost rupees thirty grand cheaper than its main rival – more than enough reason for bikers to head to a Bajaj showroom and book one right away. The 220 was once the benchmark for performance bikes in India and unlike other manufacturers, Bajaj didn’t want to sit and relax on their laurels. Instead, they have decided to raise the bar higher and challenge themselves by delivering a product that is not only better looking and faster but economical to run as well as to own. So, does that mean the competition has been smoked already? Let’s wait and watch!'

Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.

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