Bajaj Pulsar 125 first ride review
The 125cc segment in India is getting some serious attention of late. And why wouldn't it? It is a space that tries to blend the fuel-efficient manners of 110cc commuters to a dash of sportiness by offering some more performance. That said, the 125cc segment has been gravitating further towards sportiness of late the best examples being the KTM 125 Duke and RC 125, though at the extreme end of the spectrum.
And now, Bajaj Auto has launched the Pulsar 125. The Pulsars have always been about likeable performance and handling and it's interesting to see how Bajaj has packaged its smallest Pulsar yet, considering this is the 125cc segment where a major chunk of buyers are value and efficiency conscious even today.
The Pulsar 125 is powered by a 124.5cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine that offers 12PS at 8,000rpm and 11Nm at 6,500rpm. The engine is a revision of the Pulsar 150's, with a shorter stroke to reduce displacement. It is thus safe to call the 125 a derivative of the Pulsar 150, as it shares the platform and most cycle parts with it. Prices begin at Rs 64,000 ex-showroom for the drum brake equipped version, while the disc brake-equipped version we got our hands on retails at Rs 66,618 ex-showroom Delhi.
Style and Build
As mentioned, the Pulsar 125 being a derivative of the Pulsar 150 largely translates to the same styling and build quality we are used to seeing on the Pulsars. The fuel tank design is the same as well though capacity has been reduced to 11.5 litres to keep kerb weight in check. Paint finish for the blue highlighting on the rear grab handle of our test bike was good, but highlighting in other places feels tackier in comparison.
What's more, the Pulsar name on the fuel tank is the same as the 150 but gets a black background here, which means dust accumulating on it is visible very easily and will call for meticulous cleaning regularly.
Build quality overall is pretty good as is the case with the rest of the Pulsar family and fit-finish levels are good too. Thumbs up to that! However, the mirror stalks are short and hence getting a good view of what's behind you is a bit of a task.
Performance and Rideability
The Pulsar 125 boasts the highest power output in the 125cc commuter segment, but its higher kerb weight of 140kg takes away some spice. The motorcycle is 15kg heavier than its closest rival, the Honda CB Shine SP which has a kerb weight of 123kgs, but on a positive note, the additional weight makes for a more planted ride as compared to regular 125s, which feel flightier in comparison.
More importantly, the fact that its engine is a derivative of the Pulsar 150's means the Pulsar 125 feels similar to its immediate sibling in terms of acceleration. The Pulsar 125 is thus engaging to ride, with enough power on tap for overtakes. The engine's rev-happy nature adds to the engaging feel, though it tends to get buzzy above 7,000rpm.
The Pulsar 125 can also get past the 100kmph mark on the speedometer, though the engine feels stressed at the point as the tachometer needle is at 8,000rpm at the speed and there's a bit of vibration coming in from the footpegs. The five-speed gearbox offers precise shifts with a butter-smooth feel, thereby making gear changes easy. Gear ratios are well spaced and work well in the city and on open roads both.
The suspension setup feels firm, but ride quality is comfortable as the suspension soaks up undulations well. This, of course, has been a likeable trait in the Pulsars and the 125 carries that forward. The riding position is the same as the Pulsar 150 as well, with the 125 using the same two-piece handlebar for a sense of sportiness. The rider's triangle is relaxed and offers lots of room to move around if needed and in that sense, the Pulsar 125 is more accommodating than regular 125s.
Handling and Braking
The twin downpipe cradle chassis and telescopic front forks offer decent feedback when riding enthusiastically. In fact, the Pulsar 125 has a distinct advantage over regular 125s in the handling department given that it uses hardware belonging to a machine from a segment above. On the same note, the Pulsar 125 is only the second 125 to use gas-charged rear shock absorbers, the other motorcycle being Bajaj's own offering, the Discover 125.
The 1,320mm wheelbase also helps in offering a stable feel, while not affecting flickability. The Pulsar 125's 100/90 rear tyre is also the widest in class. That said, the bike is shod with Eurogrip tyres that are lacking somewhat in terms of outright grip and result in a slightly nervous feel.
You will thus want to restrain yourself from pushing hard around corners. The 240mm front disc offers a confident feel, helping shed speeds in a progressive and reassuring manner.
That said, being a 125cc motorcycle the Pulsar 125 only gets combined braking and not ABS, which is a miss in our opinion. What's more, getting used to the sensation of combined braking with a disc brake in front (as opposed to a front drum brake seen on combined braking systems usually) takes some getting used to.
Priced at Rs 66,618 ex-showroom for the disc brake version, the Pulsar 125 sits right in between the Bajaj Discover 125 and Pulsar 150. In fact, at the price, it sits below the fully-specced Honda CB Shine SP that retails at Rs 68,938 ex-showroom, which as we know is a promising package in itself.
Of course, that's beside the point that the Pulsar 125 is now the entry point to the Pulsar family and it certainly has the DNA. Add low maintenance costs and a well-rooted service network to that and you know the ownership experience will be good value for money and low running costs have always been a forte for Bajaj and the Pulsar 125 is yet another example of the same.
Photography - Ram Shrikhande
Starts Rs 57,165
Starts Rs 64,000
Starts Rs 57,683
Starts Rs 63,300
Starts Rs 1,51,000