Today, 150cc bikes represent both commuter and the entry-level of sport bikes. However, things start to get really exciting once you hit the 200-plus cc space. This category, which didn’t really exist some time ago, is now bursting with options.
We’re comparing three bikes here – Bajaj’s Pulsar NS200, the Apache RTR 200, and the Yamaha FZ25. These three represent the best bikes you can buy today in India, with a budget of a little over a lakh. So, which one makes the most sense?
Apart from the new paint scheme and body stickers, the design of the NS200 remains unchanged from the bike that Bajaj launched five years ago. It features a bulbous fuel tank with large extensions, a neatly tucked away underbelly exhaust, a sharp tail with an uncluttered number plate holder. The large instruments feature an analogue tachometer alongside an LCD information panel. The switchgear looks good on this bike but it’s feel could have been better.
The Apache’s lines are sharper now and it has a mean, hunkered down look. The headlamp and fairing sit lower than they ever did before. The bike looks a whole lot beefier thanks to the faux air intakes in the tail panel. The massive double-barrel exhaust slung to the right of the bike looks straight out of a video game. The all-digital instrument panel holds a lot of information here.
The FZ25 looks quite familiar – it maintains the same feel and look as the FZ16/FZ FI family. While the proportions look somewhat exaggerated. Don’t be mistaken, this is certainly a very good-looking motorcycle, just that it looks a bit busy. This bike also gets completely digital LCD instruments. The overall fit-and-finish and quality of the panels on the Yamaha are great.
All three bikes have large, tall fuel tanks and split seats while the riding posture differs. The rear set foot pegs on the Pulsar give it the sportiest riding position of the three, while the FZ has a more relaxed lean. The RTR has the most unique riding position of the lot – the bars are a lot closer to the rider and they favour a slightly leaned posture. And despite them being compact, even riders who are well over six feet tall won’t be uncomfortable on the RTR. The Pulsar NS200 is your best bet if you’re looking for a muscular, beefy bike.
Engine and gearbox
The FZ25 makes 20.9hp from its 249cc, single-cylinder air-and-oil-cooled unit, which is the lowest of the lot. But this bike makes up for in terms of refinement. It’s a smooth experience that’s typical Yamaha – you do feel a bit of vibration above 7,000rpm however. This bike makes 20.0Nm of torque, which is the highest here – off the line, this bike is quicker than the NS200 and the RTR 200. At low speeds, this bike offers great rideability. This is the only fuel injected bike in this comparison and you can hold speeds of upto 100-110kph with no trouble at all.
The NS200 is powered by a 199.5cc single-cylinder unit that makes 23.5hp but only 18.3Nm of torque. Thankfully, throttle response is snappy and this bike loves to be revved. This bike offers the strongest top-end performance of this trio. The six-speed gearbox helps this bike feel relaxed at higher speeds. When compared to both the FZ25 and the RTR 200, the Pulsar feels distinctly unrefined however, you can feel a lot of vibration through the rev range.
The Apache RTR 200’s engine was the most fun of the lot. The air-cooled 197.75cc single-cylinder is extremely responsive. It makes 20.5hp of peak power and 18.1Nm of peak torque. While this figure is low on paper, this bike offers better bottom-end grunt, and the RTR 200 gets on the line quicker than the NS200. The bike’s got a deep, bassy roar that bike enthusiasts will love.
And the winner is...
The Pulsar NS200 is a tried and tested formula and it feels biggest from the saddle and that itself may be enough reason to buy it. At Rs 96,749 (ex-showroom, Delhi) it’s well-priced too and offers a good combination of performance and handling. The bike isn’t as refined as the rest though. The FZ25 is best for city riding or over relaxed long distance riding. It’s high price tag of Rs 1,19,335 (ex-showroom, Delhi), may put you off but you get Yamaha’s bullet-proof reliability for you money. The Apache RTR 200 is, without a doubt, the most engaging to ride. And, at Rs 92,915 (ex-showroom Delhi), it’s significantly lighter on the pocket. Of the three, the differences are very minor, but after and extensive test, we recommend the Apache RTR 200 of the lot.