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First Ride: Hero XPulse 200
It is a fairly well-established fact that Hero has taken their time about the XPulse since it was first shown at EICMA, in Italy, in 2017. Even the India debut happened more than a year back at the Auto Expo. However, Hero wanted to make sure they get it right and held on to it for an extra month even after they’d decided they were ready. Nonetheless, the XPulse is here and it has been announced at Rs 1,05,000 for the Fi version and Rs 97,000 for the carburettor version, ex-showroom Delhi. But has all this waiting around been worth it?
It doesn’t quite look like the Impulse...
You would be damn right about that. Yes, the XPulse has been designed to fill in the gap that the Impulse had left. But, we are all aware of the fact that the Impulse was a bit of a box-office disaster outside of a room full of people who wanted to ride in the dirt. It may have been ahead of its time, and it may have suffered from its singular approach. Although I would like nothing better than that exact formula to be put into use again, Hero has burned their fingers once and have decided to do things differently. The XPulse does have a cool LED headlamp and a high beak at the front. It even gets a little windshield. But, it meets a commuter style motorcycle as you walk past the halfway point. Yes, there is a little luggage tray that can hold your toilet bag, but that doesn’t really say much. What does work, is the 21-inch wheel at the front and 18-inch wheel at the rear, both done in spokes. Long travel suspension with rubber gaiters to protect the tubes. The rubber mounts come off the serrated footpegs. You get a solid metal guard under the engine and the exhaust is properly upswept. It isn’t exactly good looking, but the simplicity and retro theme has a bit of charm to it.
Is it a modified Xtreme then?
Well, the XPulse does use the same motor as the Xtreme, but the similarity ends there. The 200cc, single cylinder, air-cooled unit makes roughly 18bhp and 17Nm of torque and is mated to a 5-speed gearbox. It has been tuned differently and the rear sprocket gets an extra tooth for better bottom-end grunt. Moreover, the frame has been strengthened for dual-purpose use and the swinging arm is longer on the XPulse for better stability on loose surfaces. Suspension set up is completely different with 190mm of travel at the front and 170mm at the rear. You even get dual-purpose Ceat tyres to help you along. So, while the motor is very similar to the Xtreme, all the other bits have been re-worked, re-designed for the XPulse, including the twin disc-brake set up, which has dampened responses for the dirt. Of course, you get a different fuel tank as well which makes standing up on the pegs a whole lot easier and can take 13-litres of fuel to ensure you aren’t stranded on a trail.
What’s it like to ride?
Should you buy one?
If you thought the XPulse would be your everyday motorcycle, dirt bike and adventure tourer, all rolled into one, well it isn’t. Munching miles at triple digit speeds with big saddle bags attached isn’t something this bike can do. Instead, the XPulse is a great bike for any sort of motoring that can be done within a certain sort of pace - 80-90kph to be precise. This makes it a great urban bike as it will demolish every pothole on your commute. It is a great motorcycle if you prefer exploring state highways, instead of national highways. It works even better out in the wilderness where you need to make your own road. It is likely to be a better motorcycle for the Nilgiris rather than the Himalayas and everything that comes in between. It even gets Bluetooth connectivity for your phone and gives you turn by turn directions to your destination via a little display at the corner of the dash. Sure, finish needs to be cleaner and the seat can do with a rethink and I’d get risers for the handlebar. But, at 1.05 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is more than 60,000 cheaper than the only other motorcycle that can claim to live in the dirt. Very compelling, isn’t it? I feel a long ride through bushy trails coming on.
Price: 1.05 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Engine: 199.6cc, single cylinder, air-cooled
18.1bhp, 17.1Nm, 5M
Tyres: 90/90-21 (fr); 120/80-18 (rr)
Seat height: 823mm
Ground clearance: 220mm
Fuel tank: 13 litres
Kerb weight: 154kg
Pros: great suspension, good ground clearance, light enough to manage
Cons: highway ability, rear styling, finish levels