While monoshocks definitely are the way to go, the Bajaj makes a solid case for well-sorted twin-shocks. The gas-charged rear shocks and low stiction front telescopes work conspicuously well. Ride quality on good surfaces is feedback rich without upsetting the rider unduly. When the road begins to go bad, the shocks continue to work effectively. In the same corner, fatter rubber and greater shock-absorption ensure that the Pulsar maintains the neutral, confident stance, so you can hustle along without hesitation.
The ride quality alone doesn’t give the Pulsar a handling advantage. It also scores on cycle parts, like the smaller diameter alloys, and the low-n-narrow handlebars. The bars lower leverage, but return more feedback and allow more control. The smaller rims, though heavier than a 17-inch spoked equivalent, lower steering effort and make the 150 feel quite effortless.
The Unicorn also feels light-effort, but with a difference. The taller, wider bar puts more distance between rider and contact patch, which is nice trundling along at 60, but hides crucial information going ten-tenths and trail braking into a corner.
The Pulsar is ahead on ride and handling; down the straight highways, though, you won’t notice much difference. Both are bottom-friendly, despite the sportier tuck of the Pulsar.The most obvious difference in attitude are the approaches to powertrain and styling that Honda and Bajaj have chosen. The Pulsar is unashamedly sporty, while the Unicorn is safely, even meekly, styled to be attractive and acceptable.
On to the powertrain. The Honda’s engine is pretty straight-forward. The offset crank helps damp vibes and a ventilation system of sorts cools the head. The motor works very well. While the Unicorn is slower off the blocks than the Pulsar, you won’t really mind it that much. The engine feels so refined, sorted, unstressed and willing that you come to like the serenity of each fast or slow ride. The slick one-down-four-up gearbox is a fast friend as well, and the Honda surges forward with a low growl whenever you open throttle, no matter how badly timed the input.