Both the R15 V2.0 and Pulsar 200 NS are as different as chalk and cheese, yet both offer a splendid riding experience.
When the Yamaha R15 was launched in 2008, it kicked off a revolution of sorts. Strong performance and splendid handling made the R15 the cheapest way to enjoy riding. Just last year, Yamaha upped the ante with the launch of the R15 Version 2.0. Even though the Yamaha R15 became costlier, it was still the bike to have since there was no competition. Come 2012 and the competition intensified several notches. First there was the KTM Duke 200 and then the Honda CBR150R, both tried to steal the R15′s thunder. Being more expensive, they were not able to unsettle the R15. With the launch of the Pulsar 200 NS, the R15 faced stiff competition from a potent motorcycle, which not only offers more performance, but is cheaper too. But does the R15 still hold onto its crown, of being the cheapest way to motorcycle nirvana?
Styling - Both these bikes have very different styling. While the Pulsar 200 NS is a naked motorcycle which exposes its body parts and flexes some muscle, the design at some places (rear) is not really impressive. The Yamaha R15 is a small capacity sports bike, at least the styling makes us believe that. This mini-R1 and mini-R6 hybrid is a full faired machine and looks the part. Right from the twin headlights at the front to the raised rear, the R15 is a looker and thus the bike to ride if you want to grab some eyeballs.
Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear - Both bikes get an analogue tachometer and a digital speedometer. While the R15′s clear cluster is neat, we like the Pulsar 200 NS’ console, which feels more substantial. The Pulsar’s instrument cluster also displays more data, including side stand warning light, shift light and low fuel warning light. Switch gear of both these motorcycles are good but the R15 feels more robust and superior in quality than the Pulsar 200 NS. Overall, there is not much to choose from between both these bikes in the console department.
Performance - Both these mean machines use 4-valve, liquid-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder engines. However the displacement and output are very different. Powering the Yamaha R15 V2.0 is a 150cc motor which belts out 17 PS of power at 8500 RPM and 15 Nm of torque at 7500 RPM. The Pulsar 200 NS uses a 200cc engine with triple spark plugs, generating 23.5 PS of power at 9500 RPM and 18.3 Nm of torque at 8000 RPM. While the Pulsar weighs 145 kgs, the R15 weighs 9 kgs lesser. The extra power and torque output does play in the Pulsar’s favor and even the weight advantage doesn’t really help the R15 much, because the 200 NS does have significantly better performance, right from the word GO.
Any speed, whack the throttle of the Pulsar 200 NS and it will surge ahead of the R15 without breaking into a sweat. The 200 NS is faster to 100 km/hr by a whole 2 seconds and even has a higher top speed by 7 km/hr. Clearly, the Yamaha R15 is no match for the Pulsar in terms of outright acceleration but this Yammie pulls back strongly when it comes to engine refinement. The R15′s engine is supremely refined with absolutely no vibes at any RPM, although the Pulsar 200 NS does tend to vibrate a bit at high revvs. The R15 redlines at a higher 10,500 RPM, compared to the 10,000 RPM of the 200 NS. The fuel injected motor of the R15 is quite advanced and feels extremely relaxed at all speeds. If you redline all day, you know this Yamaha motor will remain faultless for years to come.
Both bikes are mated to 6-speed transmissions. The Pulsar 200 NS has seen a huge leap in shift quality but the R15 continues to hold an edge when it comes to cog swapping smoothness. There is not much to choose between the mileage of both these machines, which return anything between 35-40 km/l (depending on riding style). Overall, the Pulsar 200 NS edges out the Yamaha R15 in the performance department, but that was no surprise, now was it? Higher displacement and more power, worked in the Pulsar’s favor.
Riding Dynamics - While the Pulsar 200 NS takes a huge leap in terms of underpinnings and hardware, the Yamaha R15 does have that extra edge with better components (aluminum swing arm, etc). The Pulsar does handle splendidly well with the 50:50 weight distribution helping in sharp and precise handling. However the Yamaha R15 does one better with even better handling than you can imagine. Riding the R15 makes you forget physics, its so sharp, agile and inch perfect in changing directions. Yamaha has truly made a track machine with the R15.
Ride quality of the Pulsar 200 NS is a bit on the stiffer side while the R15 feels a bit more plush. Both bikes offer a compliant ride but the R15 feels more composed throughout. Even at high speeds, the R15 simply sticks to the road like its glued to it. It doesn’t get affected by crosswinds and the sheer composure of this machine is truly marvelous. The Pulsar 200 NS does tend to get affected by air turbulence but feels reasonably stable for a street-fighter motorcycle. Braking performance of the Pulsar 200 NS is extremely good, although the tyres play spoilsport. The R15′s brakes are simply mind boggling and offer stupendous speed shedding capability.
Even though the Pulsar 200 NS has very good riding dynamics, the sheer brilliance of the Yamaha R15 makes the Pulsar 200 NS look pale in comparison. The R15 is undoubtedly the more confident and surefooted motorcycle to throw into corners, with a wide grin in your helmet.
Verdict - The decision to decide between the Yamaha R15 V2.0 and Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS has only got tougher? While the R15 overrules the Pulsar 200 NS in the styling, handling, stability and braking departments, the Pulsar 200 NS pulls back strongly with better performance and a mouth watering price tag. The Pulsar 200 NS is priced at Rs. 1.02 lakhs, while the Yamaha R15 Version 2.0 costs significantly more at Rs. 1.35 lakhs (all prices on-road, Mumbai). For the extra amount you pay, you get a tried and tested motorcycle, which is faultless and will never let you down, even if you keep the throttle wide open 24 hours a day. Thus, if your budget permits, the extra dough spent on the R15 is well worth it. But if acceleration is your main criteria, the Pulsar 200 NS emerges on top. You simply can’t go wrong with either of these fantastic motorcycles, they are that darn good.
The Pulsar 200 NS offers the best power to money ratio, while the Yamaha R15 excels in handling and quality. Both bikes can put a wide grin on the rider’s face, as soon as the throttle is opened.
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