Bajaj Pulsar: Gone, but not forgotten
The first motorcycle I bought with my own money! It was a blue 150 – the ‘Classic’ as they call it these days – and only the second Pulsar to be delivered in the country. Naturally you’ll enquire about the first Pulsar. That was a red 180 and it had my boss’s name on it. Truth be told I wanted a 180 and I really, really wanted a red bike (my wall had a red Monster looking down on me), but Adil always had a story in mind and wanted (what he expected to be) the game-shifting twins on the long term test fleet. A blue 150 it was for me, but he did give in to one request and got the R&D folk at Bajaj Auto to put in the 180’s one-down four- up gearbox on my 150, instead of the all-down it came with. And the 180’s fatter rear tyre. Special bike, bro! That bike almost cost me my job.
“It looked like nothing else, it went like nothing else, it broke down fairly often too but a journalist, six months into his very first job could afford it and that mattered the most.”
You really had to be there to feel the buzz the Pulsar created. Sure we had the CBZ, sure we had the Fiero, but neither of them looked like the Pulsar. This was India’s Monster, that birthed the Streetfighter genre in India. It looked like nothing else, it went like nothing else, it broke down fairly often too but a journalist, six months into his very first job could afford it and that mattered the most. Safe to say the Pulsar put Bajaj on the map, and hammered the final nail on the Chetak shaped coffin.
So anyway, the second month with my blue 150. Fed on a diet of UK biking magazines (like the parent of this very one!) that had voluptuous centre spreads with barely a stitch on them, we convinced Adil to do something different with the upcoming 150cc comparo. With no website or social media to pre-occupy ourselves with, we spent the month scouting for five hot girls to pose with five bikes.
“If social media had been around, our shoot would have been the second viral event, close on the heels of the actual launch of the Pulsar.”
That story flooded our mailbox – the physical mailbox, those were the days. The hundreds of letters were equally split between guys saying more, more, more and mothers screaming at us, saying they had to hide the magazine from their kids. A father, who waited to read the magazine with his son every month, had to hide it from him. If social media had been around, our shoot would have been the second viral event, close on the heels of the actual launch of the Pulsar. Adil hadn’t zoomed in on the pictures. There was a nip-slip.
I’d like to think I was already a half-decent writer and that saved my job. As for the Pulsar, well, it hasn’t gone anywhere and it is far from being forgotten. In short order came twin spark plugs, then a bikini fairing, an extended swingarm, better brakes, more power, more efficiency, more bits and pieces of fairing, more stickers, less inclination to break down and more, and more variants. We’re still pulling wheelies, stoppies and other stunts. It still outsells every other enthusiast bike in the country. It is Bajaj’s backbone. And it continues to be the bike that bike journos spend their first paychecks on.