Hero Xpulse 200 | Rs 1.13 lakh | The Hero Xpulse on the other hand may be an old bike, it is the only kind ‘dirt-bike’ you will find in this segment.
Back when Hero launched the Impulse, a 150cc bike designed to look and function as an offroader, the Indian market wasn’t ready. Only a niche few people took to the bike and it was only after it was all but discontinued that people saw true value in it.
Then Hero MotoCorp brought in the Xpulse. An upgraded version of the Impulse, but with the same distinct flavour and character. This time, however it was available in two variants - the 200 and the 200T. One for touring and one for offroading and what we get to test is the more offroad friendly 200.
Keep in mind that the Xpulse is now in its BS-VI avatar and we weren’t able to ride the BS-IV version, so the Xpulse is an all new bike to us. Now then, let’s begin.
First of all, the Xpulse makes a statement. Its uniquely tall stance and long travel suspension gives it a distinct look on the streets. It gets a round LED headlamp, a nice compact tank and a seat that could do with a little more flatness (which we will get to later). Below the headlamp is the beak and this is what gives the 200 its real offroad look. That and the high positioned exhaust pipe.
The Xpulse is powered by a 199.6cc single-cylinder that makes 17.8 PS of power at 8,500 rpm and 16.45 Nm of peak torque at 6,500 rpm and transmission is a 5-speed gearbox. Suspension comes from a 37 mm front fork that offers 190 mm of travel and a 10-step adjustable monoshock at the rear. Braking duties are taken care of by discs at both ends and single-channel ABS.
The Actual Review
Ah, this is where things get interesting. The Xpulse 200 rides like any other dirt bike on the street, but with a few nuances. You sit nice and high with a decent view of what’s ahead of you. Back stays straight, palms on nice wide handlebars and feet placed under you. All of this means you get a smooth highway ride albeit it feels numb because of the 21-inch front wheel. But despite that wheel, the 200 is surprisingly lithe. Turning into a corner is as hard as it would seem, but the bike flicks really well. This makes it really good to ride in the traffic, but on high speed highways, the Xpulse will feel a little underpowered.
Where the 200 really shines is when the highway ends and the in-roads and trails begin. Off the beaten path, the 200 really comes into its own. The big 21-inch wheel fords over bumps and ditches like it’s none of its business. The wide handlebar makes it so easy to leverage the bike like it’s not even funny. And the suspension that will feel stiff at slower speeds loosen up when speeding through the mud giving the bike a stability you’re not ready for. Gear shifts are smooth and mostly precise and clutch is fairly easy to feather.
Also, the Xlpulse gets single channel ABS, so emergency stops highway using the front brake and sliding through the mud using the rear brake is both safe and easy. The brakes themselves feel well-tuned with a mildly lacking initial bite but decent progression. The ABS however, isn’t as intuitive as I would like. It feels like the ABS kicks in just a tad too late. Nothing dangerous, but early is always better than late.
Then there is the instrument cluster. I feel like i should mention this because even though it gets bluetooth connectivity and a full suite of readouts, the gear position indicator was a bit faulty on my test bike. The actual number shows up only when riding and sometimes doesn’t show up at all. This could be a one-off issue, however.
For what it’s worth, the Xpulse 200 brings with it all the fun and functionality that many missed out on Impulse, not because the Impulse lacked it, but just because no one recognised it on time. The offroad and trail riding audience may be few, but the Xpulse 200 along with its 200T variant fits the bill of the average Indian. It serves really well in the cities and does a bang up job when you want to go on an adventure. The only downside is the highway ride. A little more power and an extra gear would’ve helped for sure, but the bike will always get you to that trail on the other side of the city. And a price of Rs 1.13 lakh, I’d say the Xpulse 200 is definitely worth it.