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What flashes your mind when you hear the word “adventure”? For some, it might be trail-hiking into the mountains, skydiving, exploring unknown terrains, or just trying out something that you’re scared of doing normally. These activities are termed adventurous because we discover ourselves and our true potential during these journeys that encourages us to be better. Even riding a bike for the first time might be adventurous for some of us. And for exploring trails on two wheels, we need adventure bikes that can easily carve out a path without hassling. Hero Motocorp ventured into this concept by commercializing the Hero Impulse, probably the only adventure bike in India back then. After almost 9 years, Hero upgraded the underpowered Impulse with its new adventure motorcycle, the Hero Xpulse 200.
India wasn’t much familiar with off-road and adventure riding as we never had the luxury of affordable off-road machines earlier. To overcome this, Hero Motocorp introduced a 150 cc adventure bike named Hero Impulse to the Indian masses in 2011. Hero’s Impulse was the only Indian bike that could take over some rough terrains and discover the hidden trails flawlessly. It was the first bike to come out of production from Hero after parting ways with Honda in 2010. It packed a punchy 150-cc air-cooled engine that churned out 13 BHP and 12.74 Nm of torque. However, this bike didn’t appeal much to the masses & experienced low sales figures in India. Probably our country wasn’t prepared for such bikes and thus, Hero finally pulled a plug on it in 2017.
Royal Enfield launched its ADV tourer “Himalayan” by then which was quite heavy and expensive too for the Indian crowd. Later in Auto expo 2018, Hero surprised everyone by displaying the production ready version of the Xpulse 200 adventure motorcycle and launched the bike officially in 2019.
So, how does the Xpulse appeal aesthetically?
The Impulse was heavily based on Honda’s NXR-150 from Brazil, whereas the Xpulse is a complete homegrown product for Hero. Starting from the front, it gets a round LED headlamp setup with chrome outlines and a tiny windscreen that will avoid some amount of windblast while riding. The bike stands tall due to 190 mm long travel suspension with 37 mm telescopic forks in the front while the gas charged monoshock at the rear, which is preload adjustable, offers 170mm of travel. The Xpulse gets 220mm ground clearance which is enough for Indian terrains and gets a seat height of 825 mm.
It gets a high-raised mudguard, knuckle guards on the handlebar, a metal bash-plate and an upswept exhaust making it look purposeful. The XPulse also gets a longer, high-tensile steel swingarm, a further stretched-out wheelbase, a little larger tubular diamond frame and a self, kick start as standard.
The tyres are off-road biased from CEAT having a 21-18 inch wired spoke setup and it gets a single-channel ABS with petal discs. As we move onto the rear end, that’s when it starts getting confusing due to a subtle change in styling. It gets a tiny luggage lack on the rear and a mudguard that looks commuterish. Switchgear on Xpulse is pretty decent and it gets a brand new Bluetooth compatible instrument cluster displaying all necessary information. The display offers a basic navigation system in the form of distance and arrows on the side screen. Hero has a proprietary application on Android and iOS to assist this feature powered by Google maps. This system seems to be helpful but the ETA isn’t accurate and it lags while rerouting. There’s also an under-seat USB outlet to keep and charge your phone while the navigation system is running.
What’s inside the powertrain of this off-road junkie?
The Hero Xpulse gets a 199.6cc oil-cooled single cylinder, 2-valve, SOHC motor (Programmed FI) similar to that on the Xtreme 200R but in a different state of tune. Even the power and torque figures are similar at 17.8 bhp at 8500 rpm and 16.45 Nm at 6500 rpm ranging in 160cc performance levels. The bike weighs around 157 kgs and may feel a bit sluggish as compared to other 200cc machines, but it has a linear torque delivery throughout the rev range. The speedometer hits a maximum of 116-120 km/hr in 5th gear.
The Xpulse feels happy, buzz free while cruising at 90 km/hr and gets a 5-speed gearbox. Even while off-roading, the clutch feels light and smooth and the gearshifts are quite crisp as well. Xpulse’s engine is friendly and within proper riding conditions, you can expect around 42-45 kmpl mileage for a 13-litre tank.
How are the ergonomics on Xpulse 200?
When you’re on board, you’ll feel that the seat is patterned simple, slim with a relaxing rider’s triangle. The seating posture is a bit taller, yet comfortable and upright which keeps you engaged throughout the ride. The footpegs are set higher with rubber mountings which can be removed for better grip while trailblazing. On highways, it feels underpowered and the engine screams out for more power as we throttle in the high revs. But when it goes off-road, there’s a paradigm shift in the riding dynamics and you’ll start loving the Xpulse for what it is. It gets in its groove and it will make you forget all the shortcomings while off-roading. The Xpulse feels more confident, agile & responsive as tyres work well over dry off-road conditions and offer decent grip.
The single-channel ABS comes handy during off-road to slide the rear wheel for quick directional changes on the dirt. Be ready to experience some amount of dive-in while applying front brakes due to the long travel suspension. The bike’s centre of gravity is maintained well and thus it feels well balanced and planted. Be it on roads or on trails, it feels nimble and you can push it into corners without any effort.
So to conclude, who should buy the Xpulse ?
The Hero XPulse is certainly a good bike if you want to learn & experience trail riding, and the nuances of riding off-road. It’s cheaper, will be relatively affordable to maintain, and fix even if something breaks (perks of being a Hero product). It’s an accessible dual-purpose motorcycle you can use to its full potential, and learn a lot of tricks riding off-road. Hero’s got all the basic goodies and inherent qualities to make Xpulse a cheerful, encouraging trail hunter. With the right modifications, you can tour on it for shorter distances as well. It comes with a price tag of INR 1.15 lacs for the BS6 version and for those who have a powerful bike in their garage already, Xpulse will surely fill the spot of having a tiny off-road machine for weekend trail excursions.
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