Pulsar 220 DTSi Ownership Review
Posted 04 January 2011 - 08:54 AM
Prologue - I was always interested in bikes.. Right from my childhood and learnt riding bikes with my uncle's K-Bajaj 4S Champion.. That was in when i was 12 years old.. But it wasn't very often.. I was always looking forward to his visit so that i could ride his bike.. I even managed to give him false info about a family function and made him come 2 days ahead of his schedule (and consequently got thrashings) so that i could ride his bike.. Then the Pulsar was launched and i would always long for a ride on one of those bikes..
Then all changed when my dad was transferred to another city.. I was without a bike to ride from 13-16yrs of age.. Three dreadful years when i even managed to just get on only with my Dad's scooter and learning about the updates in the Indian Biking Scenario.. Then when i was 16, i was given a TVS XL Super so that i could commute to my tuition.. My Dad being very strict about rules, decided not to give me even a Honda Dio.. Once i finished 12th, i chucked it away and went to Engineering, staying at a hostel as my Dad was transferred overseas.. I completed 4 years in Engineering by using my friends' various bikes for local commute..
And then the most important thing happened.. I got a job in a OE Two Wheeler Ancillary Industry.. The most important thing for me back then was to get a bike.. And what better way than the newly launched Pulsar 220 DTSi..?? I mean yes, there was the R15 which would look like a Luna if i sat on it and the Legendary HH Karizma which frankly speaking did not figure into my Taste thanks to its weird styling.. Then there was the Apache RTR180, which all the mags and blogs hailed as a stiff competitor against the likes of Karizma and 220..
I was quite inclined in favour of the RTR180 until i took a test ride and it was horrible.. It had very poor throttle response, had a lot of misfires and vibrated like a Female Sex Toy.. Maybe it was that particular bike that was very badly maintained.. But i was seriously doubtful because if this is what an SVC can do to a bike with just 1400 kms on the Odo, i couldn't bear the thought of my bike being in a similar state.. Then i tried the R15 and it wouldn't pull strongly from lower revs.. And me being the early shifter, i struck it off the list as i didn't want to change my riding style..
Then came the Pulsar 220 DTSi.. I went to the PBK and asked them for a test drive.. They took me to a Rolling Road and i tested it.. And my God was it quick..!! I mean, not just top end.. The bike pulled strongly and seamlessly from as low as 2500 rpm in top gear.. I managed to hit 154 on the Rolling Road before i gave up owing to the Manager's request.. Then i went ahead and took a real life test drive.. I was simply blown away.. Any Gear, Any RPM, a slight change in throttle position translated into a REAL SURGE in the saddle.. I thought there would be a world of difference between the Rolling Road and ON Road performance.. But there wasn't any.. And there wasn't any specific issues related to Engine and Drive train like the earlier horror stories I'd heard and read about Pulsars..
I left happily that day and then came around to that PBK three more times to get test rides and to talk to other owners at the SVC about their experiences and the mechanics themselves.. Here in Chennai, they're pretty knowledgeable and unlike any other mechanics I'd encountered in the past, were quite polite and handled the bikes very neatly with nary a scratch or screech..
Then came the tough part of CONVINCING my Dad to let me buy that bike.. It was absolute mayhem at my house for two weeks as my Dad had the preconceived notion that 150+cc bikes were Dangerous and that it wasn't worth riding in Indian Roads.. Then i showed him tons of articles on the net and in mags about these bikes and he accepted.. I went to the PBK on Sept 5th 2009 and booked a Plasma Blue 220 DTSi..
Sept 14th 2009 - 17:43hrs - I am handed over the keys to my bike a.k.a BLUE BRAWLER.. I gave my bike this name since my dad commented on the bike's appearance saying it looked like a BRAWLER.. And, boy oh boy, did it turn out to be a BRAWLER.. Addictive Torque and Great City Ride-ability.. I was all smiles till 1327 kms..
Oct 3rd 2009 - 17:10hrs - I am happily on my way from the office to the airport to send off a friend to Germany.. Am rolling at 50kmph.. A govt bus wants to overtake me and flashes his lights.. I move to the left lane, giving way.. But, for some unknown reason, the guy cuts to the left.. I have nowhere to go with a cyclist approaching me from the wrong side.. Being pretty new to the bike, i now start slowing when he hits me hard.. Within a split second, me & my Brawler are dragged on the ground for nearly 30-40mtrs with my helmeted head banging on the bus's rear wheel ( as told later by people who helped me up).. My Brawler's left side fairing is damaged.. I was enraged to see such a thing.. Only then did i realize that my right arm was bleeding.. My skin had peeled off and i was bleeding from my flesh.. I was hospitalized for a day and was able to use my arm only after two weeks.. My parents had put up a ban for using the bike for next 48 days, saying it was INAUSPICIOUS..
Nov 20th 2009 - 07:45hrs - I take my Brawler out for a spin after the ban period.. Its great to be back on two wheels again.. And, once again all was well..
Feb 3rd 2010 - 08:30hrs - I was on my way to office as usual in the city's choking traffic.. I was near the Koyambedu Bus Terminus.. It was a busy intersection.. When my signal turned green, i started ahead, moments later only to realize something coming in from my left.. I stop my bike in time, but i'm thrown off it.. When i get up a moment later, still recovering from a shock, i see a Govt Bus which has violated a red signal, mow over my Brawler, its front end TOTALLY DESTROYED.. We're talking mashed rims, bent disc, cracked forks, broken plastic strewn over the road, a big void on the front end of my Brawler.. In a Fit of Rage, i pull out the driver and whack him in the middle of the traffic.. I don't even have a single scratch on myself.. But the bike is damaged.. My parents ban me from driving the bike for another month..
Mar 4th 2010 - 07:45hrs - I am back on my Brawler, ever so cautious.. I slowly gain confidence and recover to normal riding.. And ever since that day, I have been riding accident free and have done lots of touring trips, even some high speed stints like 350kms in 3h 15m in the night, a 40kms stretch in 22 mins with a similar sized pillion on board, a number of official trips on the Chennai - Hosur - Chennai and Chennai - Trichy - Chennai.. I usually maintain a speed of 100-120 on the highways to make up time for city traffic..
PERFORMANCE REVIEW - I don't need to tell anything special, but still, its the best street bike in India at the given price point.. Its got immense potential for further performance improvements if one needs it.. I weigh the good part of 100 kgs and i have touched 147 kmph speedo indicated top speed till date.. I touch 135+ on weekdays and 140+ on weekends on the way to my office ever since i started avoiding the city and took the 6-lane ARMCO barricaded highway instead..
Also, in the city, even with a pillion, i hardly need to shift down, even on inclines.. The torque starts flowing in from as low as 2500 rpm in Top Gear.. Its a boon.. And, above 6000rpm, it gives a distinct KICK IN THE PANTS acceleration..
HANDLING - I seriously don't understand the problem with people criticizing the 220 for its Handling.. I mean, i can lean into corners very well at high speeds as well as maneuver city traffic with ease.. It might not be as good as a R15, but it certainly handles well for its old age chassis.. At first i was troubled by the center stand which would cut in far too early when i leaned into the corner and i would end up scraping the side stand.. Then i found a cure for it by cutting away 3/4 of the rubber bush on the exhaust muffler against which the stand would rest.. Now, i have no problems.. I can lean INTO a corner far deeper than earlier.. Personally, i have taken a high speed curve on a highway at 137kmph as i misjudged the entry speed, but still the bike maintained its line perfectly with proper lean and grip.. No Squatting of the rear suspension whatsoever.. But, if you encounter a mid corner bump, you'll feel a little uncomfortable.. But once you get the hang of it after three or four times, its a piece of cake..
FUEL EFFICIENCY REVIEW - I have never calculated the FE for my bike.. But, it usually gives me 30-32 kmpl for my high speed riding and around 35 kmpl in the city.. I've maintained a CO% of 2.8 ~ 3.2 till date.. I found out today during my 3rd paid service that my bike has been running rich at 5.6% thanks to a faulty CO setting machine.. After re-calibrating the machine, i set it to 2.3% today.. The low end BASS is far less pronounced than before, but the part throttle response has become far crisper.. The current Top End is still around 145, although i need a little more road to get there than earlier..
NIGGLES - There is no single bike which is PERFECT.. There are bound to be a few niggles and the 220 had its fair share as well.. I would quite sincerely admit that my bike had its fair share of niggles as well.. My fairing vibes have never disappeared and when in city, it vibrates like a truck.. My rear disc didn't work till 2000 kms and i did actually contemplate fitting the 200's rear rim with its drum brake.. But then, thanks to the help from PBK guys here in Chennai, i got a really sharp disc with amazing feedback.. I could FEEL the rear disc about to lock.. I still have that same bite after 12500 kms and 2 sets of pads.. Also, my bike didn't go past 124kmph till 2800kms.. I sat at the PBK for a full day with the PBK people and sorted out a lot of things with adjusted Tappet Settings, Valve Clearance and re-tuned Carb.. Finally i hit 147 on a 700km road trip that ensued after this rectification..
PBK SERVICE - I see a lot of people criticizing their city's PBK.. But here in Chennai, its a DREAM.. I go there, give my bike and list out the niggles.. I come in the evening and they change the Motul 5100SS that i give them in my bike and i'm off to happiness again..
OVERALL - My bike has been awesome.. I would definitely recommend this bike to anyone who asks me, but with a PINCH OF SALT that one ought to treat this beast like a rebelling teenager.. It'll serve you well if you maintain it properly..
If on the other hand if a person thinks that a bike will remain good no matter what they do, then they'd be better off with a Splendor..
I do not wish to give this bike ratings out of five or ten like on some blogs.. Because it all boils down to the end user's preference.. And, as far as comparisons between R15 & P220 go, i'll say just one thing.. P220 is a STREET BRAWLER and the R15 is a Ballet Dancer.. You applaud for a Ballet Dancer only when they perform.. But you respect a Brawler no matter where they are.. At the same time, a Ballet Dancer cannot Brawl and a Brawler cannot perform Ballet Dancing..
I am the Blue Brawler.. Cheers..
Posted 07 January 2011 - 04:25 PM
Posted 23 March 2011 - 06:42 AM
Posted 18 April 2011 - 09:50 PM
Posted 19 April 2011 - 11:44 AM
Life is tough, only to make you tougher!
Ride right, Ride safe, and Ride hard!
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