The N range of Pulsar enters the 160-cc segment with many features from the 250-cc space. We just had to ride it to check how that turned out.
Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
The Bajaj Pulsar needs no introduction but with the launch of the N160, the manufacturer now has as many as nine Pulsars listed on their website. In such an extensive catalogue, the Pulsar N160 slots right into the space between the Pulsar 150 and the NS160. By Bajaj’s own admission, the N160 is an ‘entry-sport’ model from the third-generation of Pulsars and we were invited to take it for a spin. Here’s how that went.
If one is familiar with the Pulsar N250, then the N160 has very little to offer in terms of fresh styling. The lean, mean, aggressive looks of the biggest Pulsars yet has been almost identically replicated in the N160. In fact, the only major difference on that front is the silencer. While the N250 has a stubby end-can, this one employs an under-belly unit. It does give the right-hand-side of the motorcycle a neat and tidy aesthetic but I feel the spout protruding from under the silencer cover could have been integrated better. But that is just me nitpicking on an otherwise attractive overall design. Bajaj have also retained all of the LED lighting from the N250 which is a commendable approach at giving the consumer more value for their money by not compromising on premium features.
The story is the same at the instrument cluster as well because the N160 has borrowed that from its larger sibling. The analogue-digital instrument console offers a layout that is easy to glance at and is equipped with useful readouts including fuel economy, range, gear indicator and clock. Being the smallest Pulsar of the N range, this motorcycle is expected to handle a lot of city riding and the rider triangle delivers that to good effect. During my time with the motorcycle, I found the riding position relaxed and the saddle comfortable, a welcome combination for an everyday rider. Plus, it is easy to manoeuvre through traffic. Now who does not like that?
The N160 draws motive force from a 164.82-cc, two-valve, air-cooled with oil-cooler, single-cylinder engine. Beats me why they didn’t use a four-valve head on this one. Even so, there is 16 hp to play with at 8,750 rpm and a peak torque of 14.65 Nm at 6,750 rpm. The numbers are just as impressive in the real world because they translate into usable grunt that is spread generously through the engine’s low- and mid-range. The well-spaced gear ratios of the five-speed transmission and an optimized final drive gearing allowed the motorcycle to pull away without fuss in fifth gear from as low as 35 km/h. The ability to ride around town comfortably without the need to constantly shift through the gears is a big win for a motorcycle in this segment. Refinement is another area that has worked out rather well for this Pulsar. The gear shifts are slick and precise, and vibrations are almost non-existent. In fact, a faint buzz at the handlebars and foot-pegs only creeps in towards the top-end of the rev range. This Pulsar is experienced best at speeds between 30 to 60 km/h and at such pace overtakes come easily and it responds eagerly to each input of steering and throttle. Out on the highway, the N160 did a decent job and sat comfortably at speeds in excess of 80 km/h but the torque had begun to wane away and by a little over 100 km/h the N160 had nothing more to offer.
During our ride, Pune was hit by rainfall and so I only rode this motorcycle in wet conditions. Despite that, the N160 impressed me with its agility in the corners. It responded well to steering input and carried pace through the curve without the slightest bit of instability. Of course, the MRF tyres also played their part beautifully providing traction where it was necessary. The suspension is set up for comfort and the ride quality reflects that admirably. Going over the fresh potholes unearthed by monsoon, the N160 never once seemed out of place and it was similarly composed at highway speeds as well. The rain highlighted one of the most impressive things about this motorcycle, its dual-channel ABS. Bajaj have managed to calibrate it so well that even if one grabbed a handful of brake in a hurry, the motorcycle would come to a stop quickly without any unnecessary drama.
At Rs 1.28 lakh (ex-showroom), the N160 has made a good case for itself as a motorcycle that delivered all that was expected of it and could be a great buy for a motorcyclist who needs a stylish 160-cc machine that is easy to ride and easier on the fuel bill. Bajaj are claiming 48.5 km/litre for this one. They also said that this model will be sold alongside the four-valve Pulsar NS160, which should be interesting because there is not much between them in terms of pricing.
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