You've been waiting for the new Pulsar. You've been expecting it to be the biggest Pulsar. What you will get is the smallest Pulsar. Say hello to the Pulsar 135 LS, Bajaj's all-new offering that looks set to create a segment of its own.
Aesthetically, the 135 LS is an evolution of the Sonic concept that was shown at the last Auto Expo. The front fairing and its 'floating' fairing is reminiscent of the concept, though the production version's shape is more angular and refined. The speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer and trip meter are digital, while the tachometer keeps an analogue face. The front mudguard features ridges on the top to complete the aggressive front look. New clip-on handlebars highlight this motorcycle's sporty intent, while switches and grips are the familiar Bajaj units.
The tank is a sculpted unit and features tank extensions that merge well with the overall look, enhancing the LS's sporty appeal. The seat is a two-piece unit that ends in a slinky-looking tail section devoid of a plastic mudguard. A rear wheel shroud now protects the pillion from whatever the rear wheel might throw up. Oh and lest I forget, the wheels are five-spoke alloys, something that we seem to take for granted these days. What catches your attention is the nifty little number plate holder at the rear, and also the new slash cut-look exhaust that tapers towards the end.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
The 135 LS features a four-valve head and DTS-i, the first time that these two technologies have been combined. And the resulting 13.3 bhp@9000 rpm and 1.16 kgm@7500 rpm make the little Pulsar good fun to ride. Thanks to the four-valve setup, the bike revs eagerly to 10,500 rpm where the limiter cuts in. But it also pulls from as low as 20 kph in top gear without a pillion, so low-end torque is good too. Bajaj claims a 0-60 kph time of 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 115 kph which is extremely good for a 135cc engine and treads into 150cc territory. The engine is smooth and refined for the most part, except at the very top end where you do feel some vibes through the handlebars. Out of corners, there is just about enough shove to keep you involved, though in traffic, the power delivery should make it a hoot to ride. Part of the Pulsar 135's surprising performance comes from the fact that it weighs just 122 kg. Which brings us to the ride and handling part.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Pulsar 135 LS lives up to it 'LS' moniker, which by the way stands for 'Light Sport.' The chassis features a box-section single downtube with the engine acting as a stressed member, while the rest of the frame is tubular. The swingarm is a box-section unit too, and hugs a full-size 100/90 MRF Zapper. The front forks are strong and handle the braking forces that the 240 mm front disc can dish out, while the rear shocks are gas-charged, triple-rated units that damp out road undulations very well. Overall, the bike has a very taut feel to it, and while we cannot comment on the ride quality on normal roads, given that fact that Bajaj's bikes always ride well, this one should be no exception. The Pulsar 135 LS is confidence-inspring around corners and extremely stable on straights. And between those corners and straights, it's extremely agile too. Mid-corner corrections are effortless and non-scary. Also, repeated hard braking from 90 kph failed to make the 135 LS lose it composure. It always tracked straight without any wiggling or jiggling from the rear. Again, I'd love to ride it in its natural habitat - city traffic - and see exactly how much fun it is. That it will be fun is without question.
VALUE FOR MONEY
At Rs 51,000, ex-showroom, Delhi, the Pulsar 135 LS is excellent value for money. It has all the right kit, the right looks and the right dynamic package that should appeal to a wide range of customers - from college-goers to commuters wanting that little bit extra and everyone in between. The 135 LS is sure to take the Pulsar name to new heights.