It was back in November 2001 that Bajaj Auto launched the Pulsar brand with a 150cc motorcycle. Another 180cc motorcycle was quickly added to the Pulsar family about a month later. Naked yet smartly styled, the Pulsar twins made college kids lust and level-headed married men rethink their priorities. There has been no let-up on the growth of the Pulsar range ever since. Soon both versions were revamped with DTSi technology and styling tweaks. The hunger for speed grew with the addition of the 200cc motorcycle, and, ultimately, the big daddy in the form of the Pulsar 220 and its streetfighter version. It is the introduction of the P220, as it is popularly known, that made famous ‘The Fastest Indian’ tag.
In short, Bajaj Auto has consistently made performance, crisp styling and a sporty image synonymous with the Pulsar brand — all of which were rather lacking with commuter motorcycles in the sub-150cc segment. So the thinking went: Why not envelope the motorcycles that inhabit the lower rung with the Pulsar aura?
Bajaj Auto did just that with the Pulsar 135LS, the LS standing for Light Sports. And the results are there to see with over 85,000 Pulsar 135LS already sold in the 130 days since its launch in December 2009. In fact, Bajaj Auto claims that the Pulsar 135LS is now the second-largest player in what the company calls the ‘sports segment’, second only to the larger Pulsar 150. So whom did the smallest Pulsar get all excited enough to put their hard-earned money on? That they are young is a given, but many of them were first-time buyers as well. They were people who loved the performance and styling of the larger Pulsars, but were put off by their price or weight. With the Pulsar 135LS, they could revel in the imagery of the Pulsar without having to spend much. The Fastest Indian tag was attached to the Pulsar 135LS as well, though obviously the performance was not quite in league with the flagship, the P220.
To reach this audience, the manufacturer identified physical and virtual youth hangouts — ranging from malls to social networking sites — and made sure the Pulsar 135LS was seen there. Bajaj Auto General Manager (marketing) Milind P Bade says: “Since the Pulsar 135LS is targeted at the youth, marketing has also largely been through activations at youth points and the internet. All of which have created a lot of positive buzz around the bike that is reflected in the sales numbers.”
For a product to truly work, it must actually live up to what it portrays. And the Pulsar 135LS managed to do just that. The engine, for instance, boasts a four-valve head which in itself is a novelty in the segment. Keeping the design light has bestowed the Pulsar 135LS with performance that equals larger 150cc bikes, and sometimes even exceeds them. But in keeping with the segment, Bajaj Auto has cleverly given the small Pulsar an upright riding stance without losing the sportiness — and that makes it a comfortable commuter or a great all-rounder.With such a multi-faceted motorcycle, Bajaj Auto can safely say that it has a bike that has no direct competition. It is partially true, as the only other serious 135cc player is Bajaj Auto’s own Discover 135 DTS-i.
When it comes to pricing, at Rs 53,000 ex-showroom Delhi, the Pulsar 135LS operates in the same zone as the 125cc segment. But by offering 150cc-like styling and performance, that too at the price of an up-market 125cc commuter, the newest Bajaj Auto motorcycle has created a niche for itself. It has disrupted the sub-150cc segment by making it more exciting and vibrant. More than that, it has made the aspirational values of the Pulsar brand much more accessible to motorcycling enthusiasts.