'Small capacity motorcycles in India are workhorses.' There was a time not too long ago when this statement was true. Not any more. A couple of years back, the Honda Stunner waltzed into the Indian motorcycling scene and changed the way we look at commuters. Whoever said only big bikes can have all the fun? The Stunner added 'fun' to 'frugal' and created a segment all its own. And the sharp new Pulsar 135LS is set to take that segment by storm. So, let's see which one's more fun, shall we?
Sharp or Suave?
Right from the off, let me say that the Pulsar is the better looking of the two, though that rear mudguard would do one of Kyle's oldies proud. Nevertheless, the P135 looks fresh, lithe and sportier than any small-capacity Indian motorcycle to date. Bajaj has done a great job of ensuring that prospective buyers will take more than one look at the P135, and that's half the battle won. And you get all the kit too - clip-ons, comprehensive digital meters, back-lit switches, alloys and LED tail light. The Stunner only has one of these and no tachometer. However, the little Honda feels more substantial than the Pulsar. And though it's not as racy looking as the Bajaj, it has a certain charm to it. Ever seen a shy but beautiful girl in plain blue jeans and a white T-shirt and thought 'Wow'? That's what the Stunner is, while the Pulsar comes across as the outdoorsy girl, fresh from a trip to a designer clothes store. I'd choose a bike depending on whom I was picking up.
Anyway, the Stunner's experience with us could be likened to that of an American soldier in a Vietnamese war camp. In spite of all the thrashing that we've put it through, the Stunner has held itself together like the finest British butler, never mind the loose chain, worn brake pads, missing mirrors and age-old engine oil. It's still as smooth and refined as ever and also remains rattle free. You can still see the golden bits shine like new when you run a finger through the dirt that covers them. About time for some much-deserved TLC, then. The Pulsar is well-built too, much better than what we've seen on small Bajaj bikes so far, though a little work on finer details is needed. The welding finish on the end of the exhaust can, for example, is one thing the bike could have done without. And I'm sure the ungainly metal rod frame holding the rear mudguard in place could be done away with and a better looking bracket designed for the purpose. Don't presume I'm nitpicking for no reason at all. If Bajaj takes their bikes to the next level, motoring journos are obliged to do the same to their game too! Anyhow, at the end of it all, when you crash either bike while trying to roll your stoppies that little bit farther, it will be the Stunner that holds together for longer. To be fair, it won't be by that much.