It’s 2015. There has never been a better time for the Indian motorcycle enthusiast. Name your intent and your budget, and there is a very high probability that you’ll find a bike that fits the bill.
Bajaj, the pioneers of the performance bike segment, have brought in two tantalizing motorcycles into this fast expanding sector. While both are powered by a similar engine, one is a sportsbike, while the other is pegged as an adventure sport tourer. Both are priced under Rs 1.5 lakhs, so a conundrum arises - which one should you buy? Well, that’s what we’re there for! Let’s find out!
While the AS200 looks smart, sharp, and suave, the RS200 isn’t immediately appealing to the eye. It has very fussily detailed fairing, which is the deal-breaker here. It looks interesting from dead ahead, and from the rear three-quarters, but otherwise, this is one controversially-designed motorcycle; you either hate the way it looks, or you adore it.
The AS200 faces no such aesthetic issues though. It carries forward the new-age Pulsar look brought forth by the naked 200NS, with a bit of added touring flair to it, thanks to the stylish semi-fairing. As a result, it looks very attractive, more so in this luscious shade of red.
Our biggest gripe with these two bikes here are their build quality. We were surprised to see a sub-par level of fit and finish on premium bikes such as the RS and AS. While the quality of the materials used were very good, both bikes had a galore of uneven panel gaps, and flimsy panels. Bajaj needs to take more care in this respect.
The ergonomics are spot on for their respective categories. The RS has a sporty riding posture which feels very comfortable, even when riding for over extended periods. The AS makes you sit bolt upright, which bodes well for long jaunts on the highway.
Pillion comfort is altogether an entirely different ball game. Both bikes have small seats, and grab rails aren’t the best around, making pillion rides a short affair.
Both the AS and the RS are powered by the same 200cc liquid-cooled triple-spark single-cylinder engine, although with a critical difference – the AS is carburetted, whereas the RS is fuel-injected. This means that on the run, they feel quite different. The RS is a smidge more powerful, and is also the more refined and responsive of the two. The AS on the other hand is no slouch, although it could do with a tad more refinement.
Both the RS and AS are very fast, capable of hitting the 100 kmph mark in less than 10 and 12 seconds respectively. The AS200 achieved a speedo-indicated top speed of 132 kmph, with revs to spare, whereas the RS200 maxed out at 147 kmph on the speedo. Both bikes did feel they could go faster if there was room to spare.
You’d be pleased to note that despite the stonking performance on offer, the RS200 and AS200 are surprisingly frugal. We recorded an average mileage figure of 38 kmpl for both bikes, as tested in a mixture of road conditions.
Although they share the same suspension bits, both bikes are set-up differently, according to their intent. The RS is tuned for sharper cornering responses, and hence gets a shorter wheelbase and mildly sharper steering. It feels agile and eager to turn in, and is very stable when cornering at speed.
The AS gets the same set up as the 200NS, so while it corners with confidence and stability, it doesn't feel as adept or intuitive around the bends as the RS. Ride quality is firm on both bikes. They feel sufficiently pliant over small undulations, but shocks from larger crests and bumps tend to be transmitted to the rider with very little filtering.
As for the ‘Adventure’ side of the AS200, we found that it is fairly capable of traversing the beaten path. The tires offer good grip over loose surfaces, there is sufficient ground clearance, and thanks to the upright ergonomics, it is easy to ride the bike standing on the pegs. If you’re the type of rider who likes to explore different terrains, the AS200 should bode pretty well for you.
Ok, so here is a little surprise for you all – the AS200 was quicker to come to a halt from 60 kmph than the single-channel ABS-equipped RS200. Where they differed though, was the way they stopped. The AS came to a halt in a whirlwind of tire squeal and stoppies, while the RS put its anchors down in a much calmer fashion. We reckon that the RS200 would offer consistent performance even when braking on low-grip surfaces, something we doubt the AS200 would be capable of.
Both bikes come loaded with a good set of features. They get projector headlights, LED taillights, and a funky digital-analogue combo instrument cluster. Only the RS200 is available with ABS as an optional extra.
The AS200 is available as only one variant, which is priced at Rs 91,550 (ex-showroom, Delhi), while the RS200 has two, one with ABS and one without, retailing at Rs 1,30,000, and Rs 1,18,000 respectively.
So, are they value for money? You bet! The AS200's only immediate rival is the Hero Karizma ZMR, and it retails for Rs 1,05,500. The RC200 on the other hand, the RS200's distant cousin and its main competitor, costs a whopping Rs 30,00 more, and it doesn't get ABS.
Well, these two bikes may only be as different as mozzarella and cheddar cheese, but selecting one is a tough ask. Both offer quicksilver performance and possess excellent dynamic character, more so in the case of the RS200, with a good serving of touring capability, all for under Rs 1.5 lakhs.
If you’ve got a budget of Rs 1 lakh for a quick bike that you can take on long tours, the AS200 will suit you perfectly. On the other hand, if you're a riding enthusiast with a budget of around Rs 1.5 lakhs looking for a bike that’s a hoot to ride, the Pulsar RS200 should be the right pick for you.
|Engine||Triple Spark, DTS-i Engine|
|Power||24.1 bhp @ 9750 rpm|
|Torque||18.6 Nm @ 8000 rpm|
|Brakes||Front:Single Channel ABS, 300mm Disc
|Suspension||Front:Telescopic Front Fork
Rear:Nitrox Mono Shock Absorber
|Fuel Tank Capacity||13|