Behind the scenes and on ground with resident stunter Hrishi Mandke on his attempt at setting a national record for the fastest quarter mile wheelie astride the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200
This is for the enthusiasts. You’re not here because you like bikes; it’s because you LOVE them. Riding them, stunting on them, even looking at them. For you, as for most of us, motorcycles mean freedom and individuality… precisely the cornerstone in the development of the Bajaj Pulsar over two decades ago! This is a journey of how we at evo India embarked on a challenging journey to set the national record for the fastest quarter-mile wheelie, on a Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 ridden by Hrishi Mandke.
When it came to picking a motorcycle, the choice was obvious. Since its inception, the Pulsar has leapfrogged over the competition by dint of Bajaj Auto’s focus on offering the best of equipment. This approach continues with the current Pulsar NS series as well.
Whether it be the 160 or 200, they both stand apart from all the rivals with a host of segment-first features. The stiff perimeter frame endows them with balanced, predictable handling. And they both boast the highest power output in their segments (16.7bhp for the 160, 24.2bhp for the 200) with Bajaj employing its unique triple-spark technology. This, combined with the precise throttle control makes the Pulsar NS series bikes the ideal wheelie machine for both rookie stunters as well as stunt gurus, like Hrishi Mandke.
Hrishi’s craze for the craft started innocuously enough, showboating on a bicycle during his school days. Chasing this high saw him practice the basics on a friend’s bike, before moving on to a Bajaj Pulsar, an ideal companion to sharpen his fledgling skills. And then, a brief tryst with a club of like-minded stunters helped him gain enough expertise to quit his job and pursue stunting full time. Between then (2007) and now, Hrishi has participated in numerous events and competitions, making a name for himself in the stunting world. And despite gracing the pages of this magazine too many times to count, he always looked forward to the next big thing, which led to…
Despite its widespread appeal, stunting is regarded more as an afterthought than an established discipline. Hence, Hrishi decided upon setting a record for the fastest quarter-mile wheelie, the intention being two-fold: to bestow the much-needed mainstream legitimacy to stunting, while also giving future stunters a benchmark to aspire to.
Once he had outlined his plans, Hrishi and the Fast Bikes India team jointly approached both the India Book of Records, and the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of India (FMSCI). In doing so, we now had qualified professionals overlooking the various facets of the record attempt and faithfully tabulating their results, making it that much easier to stake the claim for a national record. And the quarter mile was the apt distance, considering motorsport has always held this standard when showcasing the straight-line performance of competitive vehicles.
However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Firstly, a choice of venue. A marked distance of a quarter mile requires an area at least twice as long, along with plenty of run-off space. Additionally, such an area must be completely free of both traffic and pedestrians, to minimise untoward occurrences. Last but not least, immediate medical assistance must be available at a moment’s notice. Hence, the Baramati airstrip was a natural choice: deserted, with acres of blacktop, and an ambulance with trained professionals always on call.
Along with being a well-balanced and powerful bike, the Pulsar NS200 has a predictable and easy-to-modulate throttle action, especially beneficial during a gruelling stunt routine. Off the line, a quick dab on the throttle and a firm pull on the ’bars makes it easier to pop the front wheel without undue stress on the gearbox – integral to maintaining the wheelie. Besides, raising the front sufficiently also shields you against the windblast. Once on the move, it’s imperative to find a ‘sweet spot’ on the tarmac, so as to lock your line and minimise weaving. Yes, you do need to drop the rear tyre’s air pressure for it to grip the road better, but it’s more a trial-and-error than an established norm. Either way, you’ll need to anticipate your bike’s behaviour and respond accordingly. Yes, you’ll be hanging off from the handlebar, but there’s more to it than grip strength; you must engage your core – easily done on the Pulsar courtesy its sporty ergonomics – and lock your legs within its tank recesses.
Remember, you’ll be in some seemingly unnatural positions from the perspective of a ‘proper’ riding stance, and so must keep yourself in tip-top shape, or you’ll find your body giving up before your bike does! Lastly, as with any skill, you’ll need to practice, practice, practice. You’ll drop the bike often, so a positive attitude, and comprehensive protection (for both you and the bike) is a must!
Here's how Hrishi put his plan in action and went on to set the national record for the fastest quarter-mile wheelie!
The preparations for the attempt started much before Hrishi sat on the bike for the first time. In accordance with both the FMSCI and India Book rules, we attached a Racelogic VBox Performance Box to the rear seat of the Pulsar to calculate the exact distance (in this case 402.3-metres) covered and time taken via a satellite link, ensuring zero errors (from stopwatches, or for that matter any human intervention). The bike was kept absolutely stock, with the dispensation to remove the rear mudguard and number plate holder. This was because during the practice runs they would scrape the ground if Hrishi would wheelie at anything close to vertical. Finally, Hrishi’s gear – a certified full-face helmet with a D-ring closure, part-leather textile jacket with adequate protection at the shoulders, chest, back, and elbows, attached via zipper to a matching pant with protection for the hips, knees and shins, and rounded off with calf-length boots to protect the ankle and toes – was checked and double-checked.
Rolling up at the start line, Hrishi kept his eyes glued to the wind sock, waiting for the crosswinds to subside. Once they had sufficiently reduced, he gave the go ahead signal for the satellite link to be remotely activated and keyed the ignition. Dialling in the revs, Hrishi engaged first gear, slipped the clutch and pulled on the ’bars in one fluid motion, and was off!
Watching from a distance (as per the rules laid by the officiating bodies), we could hear Hrishi engaging second gear and modulating the throttle, before the constant hum indicated he had found the sweet spot. By now, however, the crosswinds seemed to pick back up, prompting Hrishi to shift ever so minutely on the ’pegs.
About half distance covered, and we imagine Hrishi would be grinning wide under his lid. From our eyes, all we saw was the Bajaj Pulsar now at a steady angle, and the bend of Hrishi’s elbows conveying the practiced ease with which he was covering the rapidly shortening distance to the finish line, demarcated by traffic cones.
The crosswinds, however, seemed to be getting a bit more intense in the final fourth of the run, causing Hrishi to respond with a string of split-second changes to his stance on the bike. The final moments were particularly nail-biting: a freak gust of wind had caused Hrishi to deviate from his path, and a last-minute correction saw him crossing the line while missing a cone by what seemed like a hair’s breadth!
But that was it! A quarter mile covered, and after a quick rechecking of data, the record was set: 23.68 seconds, at a terminal speed of 77.83kmph.
For its part, despite innumerable practice runs, followed by the record attempt itself, nothing on the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 was even minutely damaged or worn out of spec, a testament to the sturdiness that Bajaj endows to each and every motorcycle it produces. So whether you’re zipping around town, or aspire to – like Hrishi – get your name etched into a record book, you can never go wrong with a Bajaj Pulsar!