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  • Sachin Sen

Bajaj Pulsar N160 Complete Review

Updated: Mar 30, 2023


Bajaj Pulsar N160
Bajaj Pulsar N160

When the 21st century was about to begin, the then Hero Honda launched India’s first performance-oriented 4-stroke motorcycle, the 150cc CBZ, in 1999. Someone was going to respond. In 2001, Bajaj launched the first Pulsars - Pulsar 150 and Pulsar 180. A few years later in 2003, Hero Honda introduced what was truly an aspirational motorcycle at that time, the 223cc Karizma.


Several years down the line though, the CBZ and the Karizma were tragically discontinued by Hero Honda, while the Pulsar went on to expand into a family of motorcycles. Today, the Pulsar brand has motorcycles starting from 125cc and going up to 250cc, consisting of air/oil-cooled and liquid-cooled engines.


Pulsar N160 - The New Generation of Pulsars


Bajaj Pulsar N160
Surprisingly engaging to ride

The Pulsar N160 sits somewhere between the Pulsar 150 (the one with dual rear shocks) and the NS200. It’s all a bit confusing, because Bajaj has recently launched a new Pulsar 150 (while the old one is still there), and there’s also a Pulsar NS160 (with perimeter frame and a 4-valve, air/oil-cooled engine).


That said, the Pulsar N160 is one of the latest Pulsars. It has a new air/oil-cooled single cylinder DTS-i engine and not the one derived from the original Pulsar 150. It produces 16 PS of power at 8,750 RPM and 14.65 NM of torque at 6,750 RPM. The engine is smoother and more tractable than the previous engine ever was. For a variety of reasons, I’ve never admired Pulsars, including the KTM Duke 200-inspired NS200, but the new Pulsar N160 has finally turned out to be a motorcycle that I really ended up liking a lot.


Here’s why…


Bajaj Pulsar N160
Compact, but heaviest in its segment at 154 kg

The Pulsar N160 is the sort of a bike that encourages you to ride enthusiastically. Under the stylish bodywork is a simple tube chassis, a pair of 37 mm telescopic forks, and a monoshock. Nothing to talk about on paper really. But everything comes together so well that the bike is worthy of your attention.


The Pulsar’s handling dynamics and the overall riding experience almost entirely revolves around its sportier riding position; which is due to the way the single-piece handlebar is positioned. The handlebar bends low and towards the rider; a bit like a two-piece clip-on on sportbikes, but not nearly as extreme. It creates a shorter reach to the handlebar and the riding stance remains very comfortable. Combined with the nicely positioned rear-set footpegs, the overall riding position is instantly engaging, highlighting the sensation of absolute rider control.


Together with the suspension that’s tuned well enough, the N160 is highly engaging to ride. The engine is very tractable with a nice spread of torque, allowing you to hold a gear without stressing or lugging the engine. Also, you can easily breeze through the traffic in the fourth and fifth gears. Only when you slow down considerably do you have to come down to the lower gears.


Bajaj Pulsar N160
Encourages spirited riding; fantastic riding position and good suspension

The ride quality is pretty good too. On good roads, the suspension feels compliant; there’s no wallowing or squatting at either end, even if you’re moving through traffic aggressively. The smooth and tractable engine doesn’t require unnecessary throttle changes or braking intervention. Add to that one of the nicest exhaust notes that I’ve heard out of a small air-cooled, single-cylinder engine; it is heavy and throaty at almost the entire RPM range. On the bad roads though, going unnecessarily fast tends to unsettle the bike.


But the biggest problem that the N160 suffers from is its weight. This dual-channel ABS variant weighs 154 kg ready-to-ride, literally making it the heaviest motorcycle in its class, and not by a tiny margin!


For comparison, the Suzuki Gixxer weighs 141 kg, the Honda Hornet 2.0 weighs 142 kg, the Apache RTR 160 weighs 146 kg, the Hero Xtreme 160R weighs 139.5 kg, and the remarkable Yamaha MT15 v2 weighs merely 139 kg ready-to-ride. All these motorcycles are considerably lighter and produce competitive power figures. Overall, each of these bikes has a better performance-to-weight ratio. I can’t help but think that the Pulsar N160 would feel even better if it was lighter.


Funnily enough, the N160’s weight is comparable to at least a couple of 250cc-300cc motorcycles. The Gixxer 250 weighs 156 kg (only 2 kg heavier), while the Honda CB300F is actually lighter at 153 kg! This should be embarrassing for Bajaj.


Brakes are from Grimeca, an Italian company owned by Endurance. They are good enough and do their job well. They have decent bite and feedback, and there’s nothing particular that I’d like to point out about them. However, I would say that the Nissin setup on the Hornet 2.0 felt better, especially in terms of how progressive those brakes are.


Should You Be Interested?


Bajaj Pulsar N160
This is a good looking motorcycle; well proportioned.

Regardless of its unmissable shortcoming, the Pulsar N160 remains a fun motorcycle to ride. Its involving handling and the fantastic exhaust note keeps it from becoming dull. It is also one of the better-looking Pulsars with decent fit-n-finish and build quality. The riding position is highly engaging, yet comfortable, and the air/oil-cooled 2-valve engine is the best of its kind, in its segment, in Bajaj’s lineup.


It should be noted though that there are other motorcycles in its category that perform better and are probably no less engaging to ride. For this reason alone, whether or not you should be interested in the Pulsar N160 depends entirely on how much you enjoy riding this motorcycle.



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