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Jack Of All Trades, Master Of One - Straight Line Speed and Stability | Pulsar 220F User Review - Venkat Reddy

Venkat Reddy
Bangalore, KA
Bajaj Pulsar
220F (semi-faired)
On-Road Price :
Rs. 98,200/- Karnataka
Midnight Black
Waiting period:
25 days
Khivraj Motors, Kasturba Road, Bangalore
Date of delivery:
12th of July, 2012
Freebies and accessories:
None asked for, none given; spare a crash and sari guard provided as standard fitment.

Why Pulsar 220F?
Reminiscing thoughts back to the summer of '12; I'd just after painstaking efforts, picked up an MBBS seat on merit at Bijapur which soon meant just one thing. It was now time to leave Bangalore/Bengaluru, my abode, niche, habitat and HOME!

Tremendous joy and relief was alas short-lasted and soon overruled by a nerve-racking dilemma. Being a rural and under-developed spot, ASS(after-sales service) and alternate service and spares options at Bijapur for my present 4 steeds; namely the Yamaha 4-speed RX-135, R-15, FZ-16 and a Honda Activa in the garage were scarce.

Not willing to ruin the bikes in which I'd made a substantial aftermarket investment in, it was time to pick up a new ride which complied with the following parameters:-

1) Local ASS, support and adequate availability of spares.
2) Value for money.
3) Good power on tap and acceleration. Definitely could not be your everyday A2B commuter bike.
4) Cheap thrills as this was going to be a temporary investment. 
5) A raw and meaty exhaust note to herald your arrival.
By dusk it became crystal-clear that only one auto-manufacturer qualified with flying colours; Hamara Bajaj Pulsar 220F!

Coming from a bloodline with Yamaha OCD(2T RD-350s' and RXs'), branching off the family tradition and picking up a Bajaj was stepping into unknown territory but I was left with no choice. The following morning I managed to test-ride two bikes, the famed P220F and the yet-to-launch 200NS.

Returned immensely impressed with both the bikes and felt proud with what we Indians could and have achieved indigenously over the years. Kudos to Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, for taking such a big leap and transforming the Indian biking scene under the 'Pulsar' brand.
The 200NS was definitely a next generation bike in comparison to the P220. The spot-on fuelling, 4-valve free-revving motor, KTM Duke 200 internals, bigger brakes, liquid cooling and that much needed less-notchier gearbox were all there. A perfect formula! It definitely trumped the 220 and emerged winner except that it lacked exuberance, soul, a fairing and that much craved after exhaust note! 

Coming from the FZ-16, I realized that wind drag on naked bikes can be a real bummer when a bike's up-to speed at times. Plus the beefy look comes gratis! So a fairing turned out to be mandatory. Mind shouted 200NS while heart screamed Pulsar 220. 

Went with the heart and booked the 220. 25 days later I found myself carrying out a thorough PDI(Pre-delivery Inspection) at the warehouse amongst 3 bikes on request and finally astride at the handle-bars of my prized possession; the Bajaj Pulsar 220 on the 12th of July, 2012 with six kilometres on the odo and a five litre fuel coupon in the pocket.

P220F Specification :
EngineType    4-stroke, DTSi, oil cooled, single cylinder
Displacement 220 cc
Max. Power    21.05 @ 8500 (Ps @ RPM)
Max. Torque   19.12 @ 7000 (Nm @ RPM)

Following delivery, I rushed over to the nearest Shell station and tanked up with 91 RON unleaded. So began the initial painstaking effort of running-in the engine over the first 1000 kilometers which really frayed my nerves. 
0-1000 Kilometers 
Stuck to a part Motoman and company specified break-in scheme. While keeping the revs in check under 4-4.5k, let the bike run through all the cogs with speeds upto 75kmph. An initial idle period of 20-30 seconds is mandatory when cold-starting this bike in order to allow for the engine to attain optimum temperature for circulation of lubricants and fluids. 

Post break-in, it was time to undertake the task of riding the 220 down to Bijapur over a distance of 650 kilometres. Neither did the bike nor did I break a sweat. Oodles of low-end torque ensured almost nil downshifts on the highway. Slot into 5th and you can cruise or pull away from a crawling 45kmph hassle free.

Averaging close to a 100 an hour, the journey was completed in under 8 hours. The improvements Bajaj has made to this bike since it's FI counterpart's launch back in '07 is easily evident. The 2012 model comes equipped with an aluminium engine casing to ensure better dissipation of heat.

Suspension - Best in class, flattens out all bumps and potholes. Slightly stiffer set-up would aid handling.

Brakes - Steel-braided lines and Bybre rotors and callipers provide decent amounts of bite and feedback upfront. Lot more left to be desired from the rear disc.

Tyres - MRF NYLOGRIP ZAPPER provides excellent grip in the dry and adequate wet grip. 120/80 tyre at the rear serves the bike perfectly. I didn't find the need to upgrade rubber, although Michelin and PSD is an option.

Engine - Easily tractable power. Top speed attained under bone stock conditions was 148kmph with a pillion rider. Post installation of K&N stock replacement filter BA-2201 and re-tuned carburetor, the bikes does 100kmph in under 10 seconds.

Top speed - 153 kmph. 

"Best performer for little less than a lakh of rupees"

I had a quarter mile drag race with a CBR-250 which costs twice as much. The Ceeber was just two bike lengths away. Bike feels super planted at high speeds.
Torque on tap is super-addictive. 80 kmph comes up in a jiffy. 100 with just 6k revs on the tachometer.

Amazing exhaust and intake sound. Guys who've experienced the vocal aura of a Pulsar 220 with an open airbox and a K&N filter will vouch for me. 

Riding position and saddle comfort is spot on. Neither too touring oriented(upright) or aggressive(lean forward) a la R15. Can be suited to as per requirement. Undertaken several rides all over Maharashtra and Karnataka. Find attached snap clicked with 11,111 kms on the odo @ Kolhapur.

Handling-This bike's all about straight line speed. Suffers from low ground clearance. Scrapes almost everywhere. Corner fast and it will understeer and prove fatal.

Ever present fairing vibes. Temporarily solved with double sided tape and packaging thermocol. Engine vibes post 6-7k revs get transferred over through foot pegs and clip-ons rendering the rider numb on long rides. Rear view mirrors render almost useless and need a design overhaul.

Service & Maintenance
Comes bundled with 5 free services. Khivraj does a fantastic job while Bijjargi Motors, Bijapur is just satisfactory. Regular servicing, lubrication, brake fluid top-ups and oil-changes are a must for extracting best results out of the bike. Easy and inexpensive to maintain bike.

The bike is an absolute beauty to look at from upfront with its dual projector 55W setup inspired by the Ducati 999R. Best in class night time visibility and spread, almost car-like. Commands road presence and looks best in the all black theme. Upgraded my lighting system to a full HID 4200K setup.

Aftermarket modifying options

  • Race Concepts provide the 220 with an inhouse upjetted carb, forged internals, big-bore block and piston to 230cc, performance air-filter and a free-flow exhaust all under 30k. Videos are uploaded on YouTube for reference. Guaranteed bump in power of upto 30%. Beats a stock Ninja 250 and CBR 250.
  • Racing CDI developed by Mr. Nisar Khan at NMW.
  • K&N filter, CAI and carb up-jet or retune serves as the basic mod.

My Verdict
The Pulsar 220 is a jack of all trades, master of one - Straight line speed and stability.
Its 2-valve motor is a little long in the tooth but still for sure entertains.
The best bike priced under a lakh for cheap thrills. Enough performance to give the big boys priced at almost twice as much a serious run for their money with a few modifications
With a few updates from Bajaj, they are sure to have a winner on their hands if they play their cards right.

I'd easily recommend this bike to any adrenaline junkie on a tight budget.

Thanks to Editor-in-Chief, MotorZest for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts on the Pulsar 220.

-- Venkat Reddy

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