As we all know, it was Bajaj Auto which recreated the performance oriented motorcycling scenario in India back in 2001 with the launch of two Pulsars, the Pulsar 150 and the Pulsar 180, with the numerical suffixes of theirs depicting the cubic capacity of the engines of the respective motorcycles. While both the versions of the motorcycle were launched with the intention of laying down the foundation of performance motorcycling in India, the character of both the motorcycles were quite different. The Pulsar 150 was on the perfect balance of performance and fuel economy, whereas the Pulsar 180 was the motorcycle to bring out the delirious side of the rider.
With a bigger engine on the board over the Pulsar 150, the Pulsar 180 clearly became the new favorite of motorcycling enthusiasts, as there was nothing in the market at that time which could overpass the Pulsar 180 in terms of displacement and performance. Over the years, the Pulsar 180 has been given a series of cosmetic and mechanical advancements, in parallel to the Pulsar 150. However, with the advent of more and more refined and powerful motorcycles in the space of 150-250cc category, the Pulsar 180 soon began to show its age and began to feel a bit dated and underpowered in front of its contemporary competition
For the year 2017, Bajaj has given a mild update to the Pulsar 180 in order to bring this once-a-game-changer back into the game of competition. The new Pulsar 180 now sports a few minute cosmetic and mechanical changes as well as a couple of equipment additions, which have made the motorcycle look a bit more premium than before, if not drastically. Here’s a brief review of the latest version of the Bajaj Pulsar 180:-
The original silhouette of the Pulsar 180, which received its first proper makeover in the year 2006, has been retained completely in this latest version of the motorcycle, which means that it is not as significant an upgrade as the other motorcycles in its competition. However, there are some changes which differentiate the present model from its erstwhile versions, which though are very minute and hard to notice in the first glance.
At the front, the motorcycle still has that unmistakable wolf-eyed headlamp, which basically comprises of the main headlamp unit with twin pilot lamps enclosed in a smart bikini fairing, which is now as recognizable as a coconut tree in Kerala. Though the face now sees the introduction of short and sleek decals on both the sides of it, which Bajaj likes to call as ‘laser inspired graphics’, due to their razor sharp flowing pattern.
From the sides too, the classic silhouette of the Pulsar 180 hasn’t changed a bit. However, the fuel tank, side body cowls and the rear side body panels get the same all new razor inspired body graphics which enhance the racy and sporty appeal of the motorcycle. The split pillion grab rails have now been flipped from their previous position, but as before, they don’t offer too much in terms of usability. Apart from these, the other visual changes on the motorcycle include a new matt grey finish to the engine and other cycle parts surrounding it as well as body colored graphics on the sides of the black colored alloy wheels. The biggest change which this new Pulsar 180 has received over its previous iteration is the disc brake at the rear wheel as well, which one very important feature was missing in the previous generation motorcycle.
For a while, the Pulsar 180 was the cheapest motorcycle in India to feature the split seats and clip-on handlebars, which over the course of time, became a common feature in lesser positioned bikes. Both the aforementioned features are still there as they were, and so are the dual vertical LED tail lamps. The part-digital instrument console of the Pulsar which was a rage at the time of its arrival on the Pulsar 180 few years ago, still exists on the current model proudly. The unit incorporates an analog tachometer with white background and an LCD panel which displays speedometer, odometer, trip meters and fuel gauge. While the layout of this overall part digital instrument console now feels like a one generation old thing, the saving grace of this particular meter console is the new blue backlit in place of orange backlit of the previous console.
The Bajaj Pulsar 180 has been featuring a single cylinder, air cooled, DTS-i, 178.6cc engine since 2007 – a unit which still remains largely unchanged in this new generation model. However, this time around, the engine is BS-IV compliant, something which has made this very engine a bit greener as well as slightly more powerful and refined than the same engine on the previous model. The engine here on the new Pulsar 180 pumps out a higher power output of 17.02 PS and torque output of 14.22 Nm.
This 180cc engine on the Pulsar 180 has always been praised for the sheer amount of power in the lower revs as well as in the midrange. The motorcycle still has the ability to surprise you with immense acceleration, and thankfully, now with more levels of refinement and controlled NVH levels. This engine comes paired to a 5-speed gearbox, but considering the amount of power it packs in, the need of a sixth gear is felt sometimes. Refinement too has improved over the engine on the previous model, however, there is still some room for improvement, especially when the revs rise beyond 6000 rpm.
Retaining the basic suspension setup and other components of the chassis from the previous generation Pulsar 180, the new Pulsar 180 too features a set of hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and NitroX gas charged adjustable hydraulic coil springs at the rear. With a gross weight of 145 kg, the agility of the Pulsar 180 around corners do not complement fully with the amount of performance its engine has in its store. The bike still continues to have a 260mm disc brake at the front, while at the rear, this time around, the bike has been blessed with a 220mm disc brake, which obviously has enhanced the braking feel of the motorcycle.
Almost all the motorcycle aficionados know how Bajaj has been the champion in pricing their motorcycles effectively in the Indian market, especially the ones which have the focus on performance. Continuing the tradition, this new iteration of the Pulsar 180 has been priced by Bajaj at Rs. 79,545, which is almost Rs.5000 more than the version it replaces, but still undercuts many of the 150cc motorcycles priced above it.
The dual tone color options of the previous generation Pulsar 180 have gone for two new color options – Nuclear Blue (with white graphics) and Laser Black (with red graphics).
Out of all the motorcycles of the 150cc-200cc bracket, the motorcycle which challenges the credentials of the Pulsar 180 head-on is the TVS Apache RTR 180. The Apache RTR 180 was launched as a direct rival the Pulsar 180 few years back, and while the Pulsar 180 is still more or less the same motorcycle as the one which was launched almost a decade ago, the current TVS Apache RTR 180 was launched as a comprehensive facelift over its previous generation model in 2012. And needless to say, the Apache RTR 180 looks sharper and fresher than the Pulsar 180 even after almost 4 years, despite the fact that it is the Pulsar 180 which has received the facelift only recently.
The TVS Apache RTR is powered by a single cylinder, air cooled, 177.4cc engine, which pumps out 17.1 PS of power and 15.5 Nm of torque. The RTR 180’s engine is more rev hungry in comparison, which results in a meatier top end grunt. While the suspension components and set-up of both the motorcycles are similar, the Apache RTR 180 does feature an optional ABS, which isn’t available on the Pulsar 180.
The Bajaj Pulsar 180 is a motorcycle which can be best said as a ‘too long in the tooth’ model, but the specifications of the motorcycle clearly say that there is still much life span left for it. While Bajaj claims that the facelift is something which brings a fresh lease of life in the motorcycle, we however doubt for the fact that the changes are very minute and very little over the model it replaces. While the design of the motorcycle is a bit too dated in comparison to more contemporary rivals, it still looks purposeful and styled to appeal everyone, which imparts a big bike feel to the rider.
The 180cc engine is punchy and has enough power to put some higher-positioned motorcycles in shame, and with the BS-IV compliancy, it has only become a bit more efficient and refined than before, though the differences are not much apparent while on the go. The equipment levels are acceptable, and so are the overall ride quality and dynamics. With a package of 180cc motorcycle at a price lesser than the premium 150cc offering from other rivals, the Pulsar 180 screams the best value at the price point at which it is available, only if you can digest its dated image and styling.