Bajaj Pulsar 125 Neon – Roadtest Review

The Pulsar brand was born in 2001 with the launch of 150 & 180cc single spark engines, and today 18 years down the line, both the Pulsar platforms, though iterated many times,still thrive & live, well not just live, they currently dominate the 150-200cc segment with 40% plus market share. The Pulsar brand has ever since its launch has resonated with thrilling masculine leading imagery. The brand position was further strengthened as Bajaj made many different iterations of the platform such as the P200 and Once the fastest Indian Bike, the Pulsar220 during 2008-2010 which still survives and sells like hot cakes along with the other Pulsars.

The economy and automobile manufacturing sector has been going through a slowdown, not just any but maybe this decade’s worst. Many automobile manufacturers have already cut down production, and most of them have their sales charts in Red, but that’s not the case with Bajaj. It seems like Bajaj has discovered the secret to what exactly makes a person tick and buy a motorcycle, or maybe they just did research. They started it with the KTM first, launching the best ever imagined 125cc motorcycles, the KTM Duke125, and that just did the job right. Bajaj understood that the brand & company shall grow only when its accessible, lets say they adapted to the changes in the ecosystem around it.

So the latest iteration to the Pulsar platform is the launch of the all new Pulsar 125 Neon. This shall be the smallest capacity Pulsar ever made. The new P125 replaces the P135, which was scrapped from the production line a few months back. So the question is why a Pulsar with just a 125cc mill, why not a 250cc maybe? Well the on-coming data shall get you clarity. Also, around 36% of current buyers in the 125cc segment are students, professionals in the age-group of 18-30, also the 125cc segment has a total net worth of 2.1 lakh bikes per month which currently is being dominated by Honda & Hero MotoCorp. It completely makes sense to target this 36% of the population and offer them a motorcycle which isn’t as sporty, fuel thirsty and costly as a KTM maybe, but something which offers the same experience & thrill of riding a Pulsar with a more fuel efficient but under-powered engine and a proportionately low price tag.

To start off with the Design & looks of the P125, well it looks exactly like the latest Pulsar 150 neon edition, with differentiating colour schemes. The P150 will be available in colour combination of Black with Neon green, while the P125 will have Glossy black with Neon Red highlights & Matte black with Neon Blue highlights a colour options. The overall DNA of the Pulsar brand has been carried forward in all terms, and to make you 100% sure of it, let me tell you it’s the exactly same Pulsar 150 bike, fitted with a smaller 125cc engine. In all sense, other than the Power mill, it’s a Pulsar 150 by means. The fuel tank although looks similar as a P150, comes with a smaller capacity of 11.5L to keep the weight of the bike in check. The P125 weighs a good 140kgs, which makes it heaviest of the lot, but that’s not always bad. The ride offered by the P125 is quite comfortable, stable and engaging than all others in the lot.

Speaking of the engine, its not a Duke125 engine, neither is it a Discover125 engine, it’s a Pulsar 150’s engine with a short store, keeping the Bore similar. Smart thinking there by Bajaj to keep the pricing & investment on the product low. With a bore x stroke of 56mm x 50.5mm, this 125cc mill manages to create the best in class power & torque figures. This engine pulls out 12Ps@8500rpm and delivers a torque of 11Nm@6500rpm, which on paper makes the P125 the most powerful 125cc commuter bike in the market, but not the fuel efficient. The P125 delivers a mileage of 57.5kmpl, which in my views is more than enough. The counter balancer shaft from the P150 has been carried forward to dampen out the vibes, and it does the job well until the engine cruises below 5k, post that, vibrations set in the footrest and handle bars. But that’s not something that will make you buy it.

What will make you buy it is telling you that it still has the same thrill, engagement and riding experience as a P150. The engine delivers enough power to pop-up a wheelie or stoppie, the engine response is crisp and overall makes you feel you are riding a 150cc sports bike, something that the shine, glamour, discover all miss out on and fail to deliver that riding experience what the KTM125s offer today. After all, its all about the experience & engagement one has while riding any bike, and the P125 experience has set a benchmark for what 125cc commuters can deliver. The engine surely is not the quickest to gallop speeds, but surely is the most thrilling 125cc out there, and touched a top speed of 105kmph during our test ride. Also, the bike can cruise easily on highways at 75-80kmph, which is fairly good for anyone planning out short rides around. The P125 will open doors to a new generation of riders, who want the most from their 125cc commuter bike, but with a practical price tag, but never really got what they wanted until now.

The frame, suspensions, tyres, headlight, tail light, body panels, mag wheels are all the same as the P150. So is the overall ride quality it offers. The P125 runs planted to the road, the suspensions and tyres do a good job of offering comfort as well as control. Excellent balance of both safety and rider comfort what Bajaj has managed to achieve. The P125 runs the fattest rear tyre of the lot, which is a 100/90-17 profile tyre, this guarantees better grip and control and the price of loss in rolling acceleration. Hey but then who wants to race on a 125cc bike again ! The P125 also offers the best in class ground clearance of 165mm. The parts from the P150 make the P125 a little slow but very steady on roads.

The P125 comes with the same digital console as a P150, with features like Digital speedometer, odometer, 2 trip meters, clock and fuel gauge & an analogue rpm meter. What the P125 misses out on from the P150 is the inclusion of ABS, The P125 currently is offered in 2 variants,
1) 240mm Front disk brake with 130mm Rear Drum brake(CBS) – Rs.64000/-
2) 170mm Front Drum brake with 130mm Drum brake(CBS) – Rs.66,618/-

Both the variants come equipped with CBS instead, which is combined braking system making it less likely that your tyres wash out in case of panic braking. Braking performance is another arena where the P125 disk variant impresses me. Such control, agility and fun in a 125cc bike, is something nobody than Bajaj has thought of. Another thing what makes the P125 stand out from competition is the long wheelbase of 1320, which makes it actually very difficult to fish tail in panic situations, again offering better control to the rider.
Now what do I think of it..hmm…

Surely not the right bike for me and my requirements, but it can be the right one for you. Go head out to your nearest Bajaj dealership and test ride the new P125 to actually feel what 125cc bikes can be, than just reading. Go feel the thrill, go feel the experience.

Words – Suraj Sawant
Photography – Govind Gadekar

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