Strong performer

K Shivraj
Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bajaj Pulsar NS 160 feels adequate under most riding conditions and costs less than many other bikes in its segment

Bajaj Auto has launched the smallest bike in the Pulsar NS Series called the NS 160. The segment the bike enters has evolved over the years. The segment now contains bikes that are premium, practical and stylish. Complementing the Pulsar 150, which continues to contribute good numbers to the sales statistics of the Pulsar family, the NS 160 will offer a stylish and albeit more powerful alternative to those who are looking within the Pulsar family for an upgrade. 

A LOT LIKE NS200
Aesthetically well engineered and good looking, the NS 160 can however be mistaken for the NS200 since the styling is quite identical. All the panels — the head lamp fairing, the tank with those extensions and the sharp tail section — look almost identical to that of the Pulsar NS200. Even the clip-on handlebars, the analogue-digital instrument panel, the split seat, and the foot pegs look alike. The riding position of the NS 160 is also quite similar to that of the 200. 

It takes an amount of treasure hunting to find out the differences. The front fork tubes and the swing arm for example look less beefy. The tyres — 80/100 17-inch at front and 110/80 17-inch at the rear — look smaller than that of the 200. The space that houses the radiator covers on the 200 looks empty on the NS 160. A close look however reveals that there is an oil cooler in place.

The single-cylinder engine that displaces 160.3cc, and produces 15.5bhp at 8500rpm, is smaller than the engine of the 200. It is new, and flaunts distinct looking cooling fins. It also features a kickstarter on the right side.  

HIGH SEATING
If the less diameter forks and smaller tyres give the NS 160 a bit of an odd look from some angles, the NS 160 feels bigger than most other bikes in its segment in terms of seating. At 805mm, seat height is more than  most bikes in the segment. Short riders will not find the height a hurdle however. It is possible that they may find the lower seat height of other bikes in the segment better. The fact is, they will over time come to appreciate the higher, 170mm ground clearance of the NS 160 when riding over less-than-ideal surfaces. 

Producing 14.6Nm of peak torque at 6500rpm, the four-valve oil cooled engine of the NS 160 delivers a strong performance. Free revving, the engine brisks acceleration resulting in a strong pull almost from the start. The engine has the bike displaying high lugging ability. There’s good amount of power available in the low and mid-range. Riding in the city is made easy by the long-stroke nature of the engine. Out on an open road, the engine simply changes its nature to gather speed to display a sweet riding range between 70 and 90kmph in top gear. It can comfortably clock speeds in the region of 100 and 110kmph, thanks in part to the five-speed gearbox which has ratios that aid city riding as well as open road riding. 

A BIT OF ‘BUZZ’
Refinement levels of the NS 160 throughout its operating range are good. They are however not the best in the segment. A bit of ‘buzz’ finds its way to the handlebars as revs near the 6500rpm, and lasts a shade over 7000rpm. The suspension that consists of telescopic forks at front and a gas-charged monoshock at the rear has a firm edge to it.  

VERDICT
At Rs 78,368 ex-showroom Delhi, the Pulsar NS 160 costs less than many other bikes in its segment.  
Pros: Competitive pricing, performance, agility, handling
Cons: Looks a bit odd from some angles

- K SHIVRAJ

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