Reviews

Bajaj Pulsar N250 First Ride Review | Quarter-litre for the masses?

In its twenty years of existence, this very bike has redefined India’s biking culture. Does the all-new 2021 Pulsar N250 pack enough to take forward this legacy?

Vipul Punetha, Principal Correspondent, evo India

Back to basics. One key aspect that Rajeev Bajaj and his team kept emphasizing at the launch of the all-new 2021 Bajaj Pulsar 250. The Pulsar sports bikes have come a long way, starting their journey over two decades ago. Soon after the bike was launched in 2001, Bajaj was quick to update their then flagship constantly with market leading technology, with a major tipping point coming in with the twin-plug DTS-i-equipped Pulsars. Thereon, smaller wheels made the Pulsars nimbler, and the NS 200 and the RS 200 were introduced with liquid cooling and six-speed gearbox, making them the most advanced Pulsars till date.

Bajaj saves the Pulsar from being overly expensive and complicated for the general audience's reach
Bajaj saves the Pulsar from being overly expensive and complicated for the general audience's reachShot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

Such is the influence of this motorcycle on the Indian automotive scene, it was obvious for our expectations to be high. Would it be as revolutionary as the ones before? What new technology would Bajaj introduce to dent the Japanese competition? It wasn’t said out loud but somewhere, everyone was hoping for yet another ‘Fastest Indian’ to emerge from the wraps.

There was a lesson to be learnt at the unveiling of the all new 2021 Pulsar N250. Faster doesn't equal better. Bigger doesn’t equal agile, lustrous does not equal high sales volume. That’s what Rajeev Bajaj taught us all in those few minutes. Bajaj saved the Pulsar from being overly expensive and complicated for the general audience's reach. It was always meant to empower the masses, and that it stays true to that ethos. So, although the perimeter frame from the NS 200 is replaced by a tubular chassis, the six-speed gearbox is now down to a five and the gas charger barrel is omitted on the rear monoshock, the bike still promises agility and surefooted handling. The Pulsar sticks with its mantra of affordability, shunning new-age trick ingredients to stay more practical with price as the priority. And to tell you better, I’ve had a chance to assess the razor edged of the two, the N250. You can read more about the F250 by clicking on this link here.

2021 Bajaj Pulsar N 250 styling and changes

As compared to its faired sibling the N250 boasts of a lighter front end, retains the same bi-function projector headlamps but with distinctive DRL designs. The windscreen has been given a miss too, and a tubular handlebar does duty instead of clip-ons that the F250 gets. The fuel tank on the N250 has shrouds that extend to the front forks adding to its muscular stance. But apart from these cosmetic differences, both the bikes remain identical mechanically, with a slight difference in their ergonomics. You can read more about the F250 by clicking here.

A few hot laps around Bajaj's test facility in Chakan
A few hot laps around Bajaj's test facility in ChakanShot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

The fit and finish is excellent, possibly one of the best Bajaj has achieved till date. The two new colour schemes look eye-catching, the panel gaps and materials quality feels consistent. The Pulsar N250’s switchgear, seat fabrics, design and headlamps; are all quintessentially Pulsar but now have a new-age theme to it. Then there’s the way vibrations have been contained; even at higher revs it’s ironed out considerably well. It rides confident, just like how any quarter-litre bike should. The all-new Pulsar N250 also adds a few key features like a gear position indicator, a USB charger, and readouts for fuel efficiency and fuel range.

We finally see an integrated USB charging slot on the Pulsar lineup
We finally see an integrated USB charging slot on the Pulsar lineupShot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

While the fairing does add to the F250’s sporty stance, the Pulsar has always been a street bike and the N250, with it’s slightly upright riding stance and handlebar, stays true to its form. With a saddle height of 795mm, the riding position brings out a perfect triangle for a relaxed city commute while also having absolute control of the bike should you want to ride sportily. Gripping the tank has been made easier and the N250 zips and cuts through traffic with poise and precision.

Tubular handlebar on the Bajaj Pulsar N250
Tubular handlebar on the Bajaj Pulsar N250Shot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

Although the new steel-tubular frame is used instead of the N’s superior perimeter frame, the N250 still retains the trademark Pulsar sure-handness due to various other modifications that the bike receives. For one, the frame itself is a whole three kilos lighter than the NS 200. Then there’s the engine that’s more densely packed within the body, sitting at a 20-degree angle as compared to a 30-degree angle on the Pulsar 220. The wheels might look identical to the NS 200 but they are half a kg lighter on either end.

2021 Bajaj Pulsar N 250 engine and performance

It’s a similar story with the N250’s heart. The DTS-i technology powers the N250 instead of the N’s the triple-spark setup, yet Bajaj has made significant improvements to the engine itself, making it much more tractable. For the very first time, Bajaj has introduced an offset crank and the differences are immediately evident – the N250 is now smoother and much more refined. The unit has been tuned for a meaty mid-range with ample amounts of grunt on offer; 24.1bhp and 21.5Nm . Flex your wrist and the N250 is quick to react, even when the engine is left spinning at lower rpms. This makes things easier should you find yourself in a higher gear as you exit a corner. What also adds to the #ThrillOfRiding is the newly designed cluster with an analogue tachometer in the center, a much welcome sight in this age of digital tachos.

We would have preferred the sixth gear for the bike to carry triple digit speeds at lower rpms
We would have preferred the sixth gear for the bike to carry triple digit speeds at lower rpmsShot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

Power is channeled through a five-speed constant mesh transmission with an assisted slipper clutch. Where is the sixth gear you ask? Bajaj has been adamant that the Pulsar doesn't need a sixth gear, as it’s able to extract similar levels of performance and efficiency that other bikes do with the added gear. While their claims will have to be tested on another day, we would have preferred the sixth gear for the bike to carry triple digit speeds at lower rpms. Also, the clutch action is much lighter than the NS 200’s, making it a joy to operate.

Adding to the #ThrillOfRiding is the newly designed cluster with an analogue tachometer in the center
Adding to the #ThrillOfRiding is the newly designed cluster with an analogue tachometer in the centerShot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

2021 Bajaj Pulsar N 250 dynamics

Comfort on the Bajaj N250 remains acceptable, the 37mm telescopic front fork setup and the all-new monoshock at the rear work to the levels of things being adequate. The ride is settled through patchy sections as well, and it strides ahead without losing composure. The duality is what impressed me the most, this very setup was adequately stiff for a few hot laps around Bajaj’s test facility in Chakan. While the 100-section tyre on the front serves its purpose well, allowing for the rider to dive in confidently, it’s the 130-section rear tyre that deters one’s confidence. Maybe a size wider would have helped, yet Bajaj claims the decision was made keeping in mind that the N250 is aimed towards street and city commutes. The narrower rear tyre also aids it’s agility through traffic and helps keep the fuel efficiency in check.

The frame is a whole three kilos lighter than the NS 200
The frame is a whole three kilos lighter than the NS 200Shot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

Braking is taken care of by a 300mm disc with single-channel ABS upfront and a 230mm petal disc at the rear. Bajaj is expected to launch a dual-channel ABS bike in the future, but details of it aren’t revealed yet.

2021 Bajaj Pulsar N 250 verdict

Launched at Rs 1.38 lakhs (ex-showroom, India), the N250 sits very close to the Yamaha FZ25 but is considerably cheaper than the Suzuki Gixxer 250, Dominar 250, KTM Duke 250 and the Husqvarna twins, making it an appealing package for consumers looking for a no-nonsense city quarter-litre city commuter. While the KTM Duke 250 and the Husqvarna have a lot more performance on offer, the Bajaj Pulsar N250 aims at a different section of buyers.

The Bajaj Pulsar N250 is a simpler bike, but that’s by choice, that’s the theme here
The Bajaj Pulsar N250 is a simpler bike, but that’s by choice, that’s the theme hereShot by Abhishek Benny and Avdhoot A Kolhe for Fast Bikes India

So, what do we make of the all-new Pulsar N250? Not every new iteration has to fit the rule of ‘faster the machine, more tempting the choice’, and that the team at Bajaj understands. Come to think of it, in the quest of performance and features bikes have now become so complicated and cluttered that they seem to have forgotten the basics of carefree riding (and stunting). Bajaj has incorporated lessons from their continuous learning and have designed a product that fits the bill for consumers across the country. It’s a simpler bike, but that’s by choice, that’s the theme here. For Bajaj, their back to basics is a journey of simplification to a fulfilling, soulful bike that’s ready to build the Pulsar legacy for another few years.

Fast Bikes India
www.fastbikesindia.com