Bumblebee. It’s the name that popped in my head the instant I saw the new Pulsar RS 200. Just look at it, there’s no mistaking the striking resemblance to the Transformers character. This however, is Bajaj’s latest Super Sport or Race Sport as Bajaj likes to call it (hence the RS); the RS 200 is the company’s first fully-faired offering.
To call the RS 200 the cosmetically upgraded sibling of the 200NS would be unfair. Every panel on the bike is new. You would however, notice the wheels, perimeter frame and meter console carried over from the NS and of course there is the engine too.
The RS 200’s front-end design is cluttered as there’s a fair bit going with slashes, creases, scoops and grooves thrown in. What came out as a result was a busy looking faring. The tank merges into the mesh-panel midsection and ends in a neat and sharp tail section. Although some may pass the design as a confused theme, there will be many who’ll accept it as a standout feature. Grabbing eyeballs is evidently what Bajaj was aiming at and they’ve achieved it.
There’s a whole 12kg increase in weight that the RS 200 has to now lug around compared to the 200NS. A majority of it comes from the fairing thus naturally, the weight bias has shifted a tad to the front. To compensate, there’s one bhp more and shorter gearing by altering the final drive ratio to help a quicker getaway off the line. The bump in power is courtesy a Bosch fuel-injection system, a bigger throttle body and re-worked head. Other mechanical changes include sharper steering geometry by bringing down the rake angle by one-degree. This has also resulted in a shorter wheelbase by 8mm than the 200NS.
Braking is another vital aspect that has been paid attention to with the front rotor upgraded to 300mm and the inclusion of a single-channel ABS system to the front wheels. Before you raise your eyebrows and frown at this, allow me to explain. Wheel speed sensors are fitted to both front and rear wheels but the system only modulates brake pressure to the front wheel. Considering that maximum braking force is applied to the front to effectively slow down or stop a motorcycle, this is a smart move which subsequently helps Bajaj rein in costs compared to a full system.
Astride the RS, the relaxed riding position is the first to come to notice. The raised, split handlebars and revised footpeg positioning make for comfortable ergonomics. I was rather expecting a more committed riding position with all the racing highlights in the bike’s adverts. The analogue rev counter is eager but the engine is fairly relaxed. A light clutch popped-in and a firm click of the shifter to engage first gear and I was off for a few laps at Bajaj’s test track at its Chakan, Pune facility.
From the entry, the track leads into a series of tight corners where at slower speeds it was surprisingly easy to get accustomed to the RS 200 with its well weighted chassis and balanced, neutral handling. Picking up the pace, the RS 200 displays poise with its straight-line stability while the sharper steering geometry shows eagerness for a fast turn-in but not as responsive and quick as the KTM RC200. The suspension setup proved a tad soft for the track albeit efficiently absorbing undulations without disturbing the bike. This should translate to a near perfect setup for the road. Approaching the banked left-hander, I gradually wrung the throttle open, gaining speed as I ducked under the small visor. Going through the solid shifts of the six-speed gearbox, an indicated 150kmph shows up on the digital speedometer and this is as much as the RS can manage.
The final corner is a fast left- hander before braking hard for another left turn to get back onto the start. The front brake offered good bite and surprisingly the ABS system wasn’t intrusive, holding back till the very limit of the tyres losing traction.
The shorter gearing also helps with strong mid-range performance but the engine hustles post 7,000rpm where the meat of the powerband lies. The redline is marked at 9,500rpm but the RS 200 happily revs away till 11,000rpm before the limiter cuts in. The FI system offers crisp throttle response and the engine feels unstressed at all times. The fact that the bike I was riding had 2,500km of thrashing around the track on the odo, is a testament to the engineering that has gone into this engine. We reckon that the RS 200 may turn out to be a capable tourer as well but a road test will reveal more.
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