Is The Bajaj Pulsar Losing Its Charm?
It's been a while we haven't seen a new product in the Pulsar line-up from Bajaj.
If you’ve seen the Bajaj Pulsar history video then it is pretty clear that over the span of 20 years, Bajaj has made a brand out of Pulsar. There has been something new and innovative every 2-3 years. But we haven’t heard the launch of a brand new Pulsar in quite some time now. The Bajaj Pulsar popularity continues to be retained but is the product losing its charm?
We did get the Pulsar 125 which is definitely new but doesn’t look new at all! In the last week, a press release went around saying Bajaj has added a split-seat and sporty panels for the Pulsar 125 but then you realise it’s the same thing that’s available on the Pulsar 150.
If we see other brands, they are doing something new at least alongside the BS6 updates. A fresh new look along with some update in the hardware to give out a fresher product. But for the Pulsars, there’s literally nothing new except for maybe a colour scheme called Neon.
After the BS6 update, the adverse effects of power drop can be seen on all the bikes and most of the Pulsars are affected by it too. However, the Pulsar NS 160 and NS 200 received a power gain instead. That being the only marketing aim and strategy for either of the bikes.
Start Of An Era…
One of the few reasons why the word Pulsar comes to everyone’s mind is because of the affordable performance that Bajaj introduced in the early 2000’s. They started with a 150cc motorcycle and then followed up with a 180cc engine.
They saw a lot of traction as the young generation was looking for affordable performance motorcycles and the Pulsar 150 and 180 were right there at the right time. Within a few years, we got the Pulsar 220 and it was crowned to be the most iconic Pulsar till date.
The Pulsar wasn’t just a motorcycle for the youngsters, it was rather an emotion. I believe it still is, as the competition from the performance perspective hasn’t really created any problems. Ask any enthusiast and almost everyone will have a story around the Pulsar 150 and 220.
After a certain point, these motorcycles needed an upgrade. The Bajaj-KTM joint venture got us the NS and RS 200 which picked up the face value for the Pulsar brand. However, over the years there have been just minor updates for these motorcycles, which include new colour schemes or the addition of ABS.
The Pulsar 220’s major competition was the Hero Karizma. At that time it was the sole competitor while TVS was trying it’s best with the Apache 180 and Yamaha launched the R15. The first time we saw the Pulsar NS 200 was in 2012. It was another step to the performance motorcycles by Bajaj.
3 years later we saw the Pulsar RS 200 stepping into the game as well. And I believe that was the end of it. After 2015 there has been least development in the performance department for the Pulsar brand. The focus has rather shifted to Dominar which is at times suffering too because it is not called the Pulsar.
Even now everyone was expecting a Pulsar 250 from Bajaj but rather than getting a name from the performance-focused line-up they have used the Dominar brand for it too.
It is not just the external competition but then internal competition too. I say it is internal as the sister company KTM has been making entry-level performance motorcycles and competition has only gotten stringent. Even after the launch of the KTM Duke 125, the Pulsar 125 has had a major gap in performance.
Change Of Focus
If we see the current line-up, we have the Pulsar 125 and 150 with 3 variants each. Then we have the semi-faired Pulsars, the 180F and 220F. In the NS line-up, we have the 160 and 200 while the only fully-faired Pulsar is the RS 200. Bajaj already had a few products in the commuter segment but to increase the spectrum the Pulsar 125 came into the picture.
There was a time we had the Pulsar 135 LS which had light sport in its name while it was featured in stunt mania too. The Pulsar 125 barely has any sportiness except for the name. With the youngest Pulsar coming into the picture, things have changed quite a bit. The Pulsar 125 has just diluted the performance-focused idea of the brand and as we can see there are so many more options in the form of multiple variants.
The sales have definitely picked up but the charm of owning a motorcycle just for the performance aspect is dropping. A lot of people follow the quote – why fix what’s not broken – quite a lot and that is what has happened here too. An enthusiast can still see the design language of the age-old third-generation Pulsar (UG3) in the younger variants.
A prospective buyer will just see the brand name with a long and strong history. No doubt, the motorcycles were ahead of their time by offering liquid-cooling and all the hardware almost 8 years back. But now the competition has come close while a few have stepped ahead too. The Bajaj Pulsar surely is legendary but it is no longer as exciting as it was before.