Words - Jatin Chibber
Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6: Introduction
The entry-level adventure bike market is one of the most underrated segments in India. However, the youngsters of India are starting to see the appeal of these ADVs. Thus, bike manufacturers in India are now concentrating on the affordable adventure bikes market a lot more. Last weekend, we got a chance to experience India’s most affordable ADV- the Hero Xpulse 200 in its newest, BS-6 avatar. When we rode and tested the BS-4 model, it impressed us with its low-end grunt and light-footedness. Hero MotoCorp has now introduced the new model with some subtle cosmetic and mechanical changes. So, without further ado, here’s our road test review of the new BS-6 Hero Xpulse 200 and we’ll be covering all the changes the bike manufacturer has made to the updated model in detail.
Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6: Looks & Styling
The new Hero Xpulse BS-6 looks identical to that of the BS-4 model. The bike maker has made subtle tweaks like the addition of a bigger metal bash plate and rerouted exhaust system. Upfront, it gets a non-adjustable windshield, which helps the rider to maintain highway speeds comfortably. Illumination duties are taken care of by an LED headlamp. The intensity of the light is good but its throw could have been better. The plastic quality of the front mudguard is quite durable, and its design further enhances the tough look of the motorcycle. Like the BS-4 model, the new BS-6 Xpulse 200 continues using dual-purpose tyres by CEAT on both ends. While they do not provide similar levels of ride quality as road-biased tyres, they do offer a good amount of grip on uneven surfaces and provide a good balance on and off the tarmac. Moreover, compared to the older BS-4 model, the motorcycle’s belly gets a bigger metal bash plate, which does a better job of protecting its powertrain while off-roading.
To the side, its tank gets sporty graphics and continues to feature an upswept exhaust to enhance the overall off-roader look. Unfortunately, the rear fascia of the motorcycle is not as exciting as its front. You do get an LED tail light, halogen side blinkers and a big chunky grab rail, which all try their level-best to infuse some drama to this area of the motorcycle. However, what does excite is the cockpit of this motorcycle. It gets a full-digital instrument console, which provides all the relevant information like fuel, speed, time, gear position indicator, tachometer, trip meter and so on. Moreover, it also features Hero’s Xconnect features. This feature allows you to connect your smartphone with the motorcycle and it’ll provide you information like incoming call alerts and turn-by-turn navigation. Overall the new BS-6 Xpulse 200 looks pretty good, is capable enough to turn heads and features some high-end technology as well. If you wish to spec out the bike for off-road use, there is an option of a Hero Xpulse Rally Kit as well.
Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6: Engine & Performance
The most significant changes to the new Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6 have been made to the powertrain, as it has now been updated as per the new BS-6 emission norms. The new Hero Xpulse 200 derives power from a familiar 199.6 cc single-cylinder, fuel-injected unit that produces 17.8bhp of peak power and 16.45Nm of torque. Sending power to the rear wheels is a 5-speed gearbox. Compared to the older BS-4 model, the new BS-6 Xpulse 200 feels more refined. Hero MotoCorp has added a new catalytic converter, in order to help the bike pollute a lot less. The initial power and mid-range of the motorcycle are strong, while the top-end could have been better. The BS-4 model had a slightly more peaky power delivery and that is also the byproduct of a more environment-friendly motorcycle.
The budget ADV motorcycle also gets a new oil-cooler paired with the rerouted exhaust system. Earlier, the BS-4 motor used to heat up after being overworked slightly, but now the new BS-6 powertrain can be pushed much harder, more happily. Hero has also worked well on the NVH levels, but one can definitely feel the vibrations coming through the handlebars and footpegs as soon as the motorcycle crosses the 70kmph mark. Doing triple-digit speeds on this bike is quite tough and sustaining those speeds is equally uncomfortable. However, despite all these niggles, the engine of this bike is powerful enough to make your daily commutes and off-road experiences pretty effortless and enjoyable. On highways though, the top-end feels quite compromised. Thus, anyone is likely to think twice before taking the Xpulse 200 on long trips but it can definitely be done.
Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6: Ride & Handling
Hero designed the Xpulse 200 to be one bike, capable of performing multiple tasks. Not only is the Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6 among the most comfortable bikes for city commuting, it is even light and easy enough for beginners to take on any off-road trail. The fact that Indian road conditions are as gruelling as an off-road rally stage, only adds to the benefits of having an ADV motorcycle. It offers a relaxed riding posture that will give you an effortless and stress-free riding experience on road, which is also adaptable to allow for all the body movement you need while offroading. It also gets a wide handlebar, which will not stress your elbows and shoulders while riding. The ride height of the motorcycle is pretty accessible, which even an average height person can ride without any problem. While my height is 5 ft 9 in, my colleague with a 5 ft 6 in stature was able to enjoy the bike to its full potential.
The suspension system helps the bike to easily counter potholes and bad roads, without any hiccups. Upfront it gets telescopic forks, while the rear employs a 10-step adjustable monoshock. Braking duties are done by a 276 mm petal disc brake at the front and a 220 mm petal disc brake at the back. Both come with a drilled-type design in order to allow for greater heat dissipation during hard use. It comes mated to a single-channel ABS. The braking system works pretty well and offers a good bite under hard braking. However, the brake lever does feel slightly squishy till a point before the calipers reply with a sharp bite. Overall, the motorcycle is very comfortable and is easy to manoeuvre through city traffic or tight off-road trails. There is a reason why so many ADV enthusiasts blindly suggest beginners to pick the Xpulse 200.
Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6: Verdict
Talking about its pricing, the updated Hero Xpulse 200 BS-6 carries a price tag of INR 1.12 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This translated to an INR 5,000 premium over its BS-4 counterpart. However, looking at all the changes Hero has made to the bike, the added price seems well justified. The bike now feels more refined and features a lot smoother throttle transitions. While this is a boon for use in the city, it also can be beneficial to maintain steady throttle during offroad adventures. The build of the bike is quite strong and is capable enough to counter the toughest terrains. Qualities like good ground clearance, capable chassis dynamics and lightweight construction make the Hero Xpulse 200 BS6 a good motorcycle for the budding off-road bike enthusiasts.