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It was more than two decades ago, that Bajaj launched a game-changer in the Indian market. Until the arrival of this motorcycle, a Pulsar was a rotating neutron star that emitted electromagnetic radiation. Once the Bajaj Pulsar was launched though, the name became permanently associated with motorcycling and the Bajaj Pulsar became one of the most well-known motorcycle brands in the world.
Over the years, several new Pulsar models were launched and these motorcycles all had their own characteristics. However, the biggest generational shift came in October 2021 when the largest Pulsar ever was launched. Bajaj launched the Pulsar N250 and F250 in the Indian market and they were lovely motorcycles with an enjoyable character.
On 24 June, 2022, Bajaj launched a smaller capacity Pulsar based on the bigger 250s. Called the N160, it was touted to be the replacement for the NS160. It slots into one of the most competitive motorcycling segments in the world and we rode the motorcycles in and around the scenic locales of Pune amidst the heavy monsoon rains.
What is this motorcycle all about? Is it really the replacement for the Pulsar NS160? What's it like to ride? Read on to find out.
Design & Style
Without a doubt, there will be many who would confuse the Pulsar N160 for the Pulsar N250 and vice versa. This is because both motorcycles look exactly the same and there are no differences in the design and styling. This is simply great for buyers of the N160 as they get the same design as the bigger quarter-litre Pulsar without having to pay as much.
Up front is the unique face with the projector LED headlamp and the eyebrow-style LED DRLs. It has the same unique lines and the same aggressive design. The mudguard and even the telescopic suspension have been lifted directly from the Pulsar N250.
Above the headlamp unit is the slim instrumentation and this is something we liked even on the N250. Once again, there are no changes on the instrumentation. It looks great from the front as it looks like the instrument cluster and the headlamp are one single unit. From the rider's perspective though, the instrumentation looks even better as it is almost like an infinity display.
The fuel tank extensions look nice and so do the grey graphics on the fuel tank. We rode the dual-channel ABS variant and this one is available in just one colour option - Brooklyn Black. You also get an interesting graphics scheme with silver and red streaks at different parts. The only way to make out this is the N160 and not the N250 is the badging on the rear panel.
At the rear too, the motorcycle gets the same design traits as the N250 with the clear-lens LED tail lamp. The number plate mounts, indicators, and reflectors are all mounted on one unit. The 17-inch alloy wheels with their unique spoke pattern compliment the rest of the design and styling on the motorcycle.
The engine too plays a role in the design and styling department. The cooling fins on the cylinder feature a wave pattern to aid in better cooling while the exhaust is underbelly mounted.
Bajaj Pulsar N160 Features
Bajaj clearly states that the Pulsar N160 is a sporty commuter. As a result, it gets features that are basic in nature. Firstly, you get LED lighting for the headlamp, DRLs, and tail lamp. However, the indicators are still lit up by halogen bulbs. This is something that definitely could have been better. LED indicators are what this motorcycle needs to complete the package.
The next feature that is worth mentioning is the analogue-digital instrument cluster. It is one of the few motorcycles to still feature an analogue tachometer and it is a joy for motorcyclists to see that needle move in sync with the engine revs. It also features a small LCD screen that displays a lot of information.
It does get the usual speedometer, odometer, and trip meters. In addition, you also find the distance-to-empty meter and gear position indicator. There are several tell-tale lights as well. There is a USB charging slot placed ahead of the fuel tank for users to charge their smartphones. These are the basic features found on the Pulsar N160.
Bajaj Pulsar N160 Engine Performance & Riding Impressions
The Bajaj Pulsar N160 is powered by a 165cc, single-cylinder, air and oil-cooled engine. At 165cc, it is about 5 cubic centimetres bigger than its rivals. It has a maximum power output of 15.7bhp at 8,750rpm and a peak torque output of 14.65Nm at 6,750rpm. A 5-speed gearbox drives the rear wheel.
Thumb the starter button, and you are greeted by a smooth rumble. It is one of the smoothest engines found on a Pulsar yet and this is made even more evident when you start riding. The figures make it quite evident that the power and torque figures come in at higher engine speeds. As a result, performance is excellent at higher RPMs.
However, this is a sporty commuter and that simply means, a majority of its usage will be in the urban landscape and at lower engine speeds. The mid-range is meaty and it is happy between 4,000 and 6,000rpms. As a result, the motorcycle is quite enjoyable to ride between 50 and 70km/h.
We did try some extremely low RPM riding and it does pull clean from as low as 2,000rpm. There is no engine knocking and the power is actually usable. However, it isn't anywhere near as quick as we would have liked it to be. It takes a long time to accelerate from these engine speeds. But as you get to 6,000rpm, the motorcycle picks up pace very well.
Given how stressed the engine feels under 3,000rpm, this motorcycle will need constant gear changes at low speeds, which some ‘commuters' might not be too happy doing. Apart from this, the motorcycle is excellent and feels brilliant indeed.
Bajaj claims 85 percent of the torque is available over a wide RPM range and this is something that adds to the great ride experience. Bajaj also claims the Pulsar N160 is the fastest from 30-70km/h in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th gears. The raspy exhaust note only makes it that much better.
The chassis, suspension, and brakes on the Pulsar N160 are identical to the ones found on the larger N250. As a result, handling is great. It is surely among the best in the segment in terms of ride quality and handling.
Suspension duties are handled by a 37mm telescopic fork up front and a monoshock at the rear. The telescopic fork is best in class and it is seen in the way bad roads are handled. The suspension is set up more towards the stiffer side and you do tend to feel potholes and bumps quite a lot. However, it is also very comfortable to a large extent and this is largely because of the seat.
The seat is soft and cushioning is great. It does feel nice over longer rides, but we do suspect a saddle time of over two hours would be a little too much to handle. Braking duties are handled by a 300mm disc brake up front and a 230mm disc at the rear. This is best-in-class braking hardware from Grimeca and it is seen in the way the motorcycle stops.
You can choose between the single-channel ABS and dual-channel ABS variants and the ABS is very effective indeed. We rode the motorcycle around the soaking wet locales of Pune in typical western ghat monsoons and the ABS performed flawlessly.
This brings us to the tyres, which performed excellently in the wet. The MRF Zapper tyres are non-radial as Bajaj needed some cost-cutting. On the whole though, the Bajaj Pulsar N160 is a thoroughly enjoyable motorcycle. In the rains and narrow roads, we didn't really feel the need for more power. On the highway though, it does feel a little slow and that is fine, because this is a sporty commuter that isn't really meant for highway speeds.
Bajaj Pulsar N160 Variants & Colour Options
The Bajaj Pulsar N160 is available in two variants and a total of four colour options. Both variants remain identical in terms of their mechanicals. The only difference is in the ABS and colour options.
Bajaj Pulsar N160 Single-Channel ABS:
- Caribbean Blue
- Racing Red
- Techno Grey
Bajaj Pulsar N160 Dual-Channel ABS:
Priced at Rs 1.27 lakh, the dual-channel ABS variant is available in just one exclusive colour option - Brooklyn Black.
Bajaj is very clear about this motorcycle's positioning. The brand says it is a sporty commuter and the Pulsar N160 more than just delivers on this front. It looks great, rides well and that engine is very smooth indeed. It is a very enjoyable motorcycle and we had a great time on the saddle.
Bajaj has also found that the Pulsar NS160 doesn't really have as many buyers as it should. For this reason, the brand might eventually discontinue the NS160 and the N160 will continue to be sold in this competitive segment.