When the Hero Impulse was launched a few years ago, the motorcycle did not get the attention it deserved. Over time, when enthusiasts got a chance to make some real good use of the Impulse is when the bike shone. It was and still is a really good machine in its territory. Like most things, the Impulse did come to an end, but what carried on is the character of a machine that good which is now evolved to become the Hero XPulse 200.
Though both these machines are built to portray the same character, they are different motorcycles when put to use. The Hero XPulse is here to show you that it is capable to be called the evolution of a motorcycle India ‘needs’.
What is the design and ergonomics like?
It is straight forward. You get a lot of attention when you ride the Xpulse around in the city. It is mainly because of the flying front mudguard, a tall stance and a ‘I will glide over pot holes’ picture it puts out. With 220mm ground clearance, the seat height is 823mm and if you are short and fancy the XPulse, you have to learn the art of balancing the motorcycle on one leg in stop and go traffic. The seat is rather small but with the tank sculpted where your thighs land, it gives a decent grip to grab on to the bike with your legs. That said, the seats could’ve been softer to make your weekend long rides tad bit more comfortable.
Once you are on the saddle, riding the motorcycle, the high raised handlebar keeps you in comfort for the most part while the small windscreen does a fantastic job of deflecting wind. What I was not happy about is the circular full LED headlight. Not that Hero could have made it look better, but the functionality part of it does not do justice and most owners will look for additional after market parts to illuminate their night journeys.
The footpegs are high set which means your knees are quite high when you’re sitting on the motorcycle. But these high set footpegs make it way too easy to stand while you’re off-roading or jumping speed bumps in the city. And when you do stand up, you notice the handlebar is set low which makes you lean forward more than you would want to. Hero could’ve changed the ergo here a little bit, but as you get used to the posture, it won’t make you feel uncomfortable.
The exhaust note is mild and I am not a fan of the way the exhaust is put together. I rather like the neat design on the Impulse and I wish Hero carried it forward too. The digital display is laid out neatly and all the info is easy to read. It comes with a trip meter, avg km reader, a clock, trip time, turn by turn navigation via bluetooth and it also tells you the date.
21 inch wheels upfront and 18 inch rear wheels comes wrapped with CEAT rubber which does the job well. It tends to slip in wet conditions but hold well on dry terrain. I had been riding this motorcycle on all bad roads possible and the tyres did not slip once on any of it.
Switch gear is not high quality but it’s not too bad either. Good functionality all over and the build quality is top notch for a Hero.
How does it handle the terrain it was built for?
Very well. I have to tell you that Hero have made good use of all the experience they gained competing in the Dakar and transformed it into a machine which handles Off-road riding the way it does. With 190mm of travel, the telescopic front forks does wonders. That coupled with a 10 step Rider-adjustable rear mono shock, the XPulse is a very capable off-roader.
It is a confidence inspiring machine which an inexperienced off-road rider like me can pick and fall in love with trail riding. In not one instance did the Xpulse’s underbelly scrape the ground nor did the bike feel unsettled. With 18.4ps of power available from the 199.6 cc engine, the Xpulse is nicely powered to teach young off-road enthusiasts to handle a terrain we are not quite used to.
The throttle response is smooth and linear, thanks to fuel injection and the bike does not feel rushed or hungry while on the go, which, in my opinion, is a healthy sign for a motorcycle of this character. But this engine holds good only off the road and when it does come out on the streets or on the highway, it falls short of awe striking you the same way it did off the tarmac.
If you are an avid tourer and are used to doing so on your regular machine (200cc and above), the XPulse’s engine will not impress you. It does not pack the punch or the enthusiasm to keep at high speeds for a long time and even if you did do about 100-110kmph at 7,000 rpm, you would just be straining the machine and feel it in your palms and legs. The one thing I missed the most on the highway is the 6th gear which would’ve made a world of a difference. The XPulse rides the highway much better with a pillion on board or a little bit of luggage at the back.
But the moment you leave the highway and go exploring into the jungle, the XPulse enters a territory known for itself. The sense of connection you experience with the Xpusle is unparalleled to a herd of machines we have available in our country right now and I cannot think of a single other machine which comes close to making me feel that way.
With 154kgs, it is not really heavy but the weight could’ve been balanced better to further enhance your bumpy (thanks to our roads) city journeys. But if you are someone who likes to ride hard in the city, the XPulse just doesn’t behave the way you would like it to. Zipping around traffic is seamless only when you ride it in a relaxed fashion. The moment you try to push the XPulse in the city, you are just straining yourself because it does not allow you to do it comfortably.
Even if you did do it, the 276mm disc brake with single channel ABS will come to your rescue and it comes in to do it really well. Single channel here means that only the front gets the ABS and it does a pretty good job. I would’ve expected the rear 220mm disc to catch up, but it falls short to me. On the go, with 154kgs, the rear brakes could do a better job of stopping the bike but the feel just gets better when you slap down on the lever slightly harder. Well, no rear ABS means you can slide and ride the XPulse which enthusiasts will enjoy doing the most.
The XPulse is a brilliant machine built to take on off-road in a stylish fashion. Offering a 200cc motor, Hero has aimed this machine at young enthusiasts who are open to explore their off-road dreams and enjoy doing so. The XPulse is a comfortable machine to ride on the highway and is very relaxed In nature. For a motorcyclist who enjoys being on the highway without worrying about what speeds he/she is doing, the XPulse fits in right. If you were to take this machine to places like Ladakh and Leh, it will be as happy as you being there. But the XPulse would’ve appealed to a larger crowd if it threw a harder punch from the engine, or a slightly bigger capacity motor (250 or even a 300 cc). At 1.05Lakh rupees Ex-Showroom, there is no other motorcycle that is as capable as the Hero XPulse right now in the country.
The full photo gallery of Hero XPulse 200 can be found below:
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