Hero MotoCorp has been a champion when it comes to fuel-efficient motorcycles – a fact very evident in the sheer number of Splendor motorcycles it has sold over the years. But the motorcycling scenario is now changing in India as the rise of the performance-oriented motorcycles has begun. And with the launch of these three new motorcycles – Hero XPulse 200, XPulse 200T and Xtreme 200S, Hero MotoCorp has underlined its intention to roll with the times. The XPulse 200, in fact, has been an immensely awaited product as its popularity finds its roots in the previous model, the Impulse. With the XPulse 200 range, Hero MotoCorp has added an entirely new shade to its colour palette. It is a great looking motorcycle, and following my experience with the two bikes touring around the city of Bangalore and an outing on the Big Rock Dirt Park off-road track, I'm convinced of their capability as well. So here's why I think this could be the hit product Hero has been trying for since it got separated from Honda.
Hero XPulse 200
The XPulse 200 is pure adventure territory and the silhouette describes the 'dirt bike' personality. In comparison to the XPulse 200T, it has larger wheels, a taller riding stance, an upswept exhaust, higher ground clearance, and a simpler headlamp setup. The XPulse 200 is a properly good-looking adventure bike and the build quality is on point as well. The quality of the switchgear may, in fact, be better than some of the motorcycles available in the market at this price point.
Hero XPulse 200T
The XPulse 200T, on the other hand, boasts of more style with its shimmery paint job and a modern-classic headlamp setup with an LED DRL. The overall appeal of the 200T is more compact and is inclined to deliver more comfort than to be capable off-road. Clearly, the motorcycles reflect their purpose quite clearly through their impressive design.
Hero XPulse 200, 200T Engine
Hero XPulse 200 and XPulse 200T are both powered by the same 199.6cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine that makes 18.1 hp at 8,000 rpm and 17.1 Nm at 6,500 rpm. However, the fuel-injected system on the XPulse 200 makes the power delivery slightly swifter.
Both motorcycles get a five-speed gearbox, which is rather smooth without any trouble in shifting or finding neutral. In terms of top speed, the two are capable of about 120 km/h. But while touring, I'd say 80-90 km/h is the sweet spot where the XPulse twins can sit for long. The XPulse 200's initial torque promises smooth ascend on inclines.
Hero XPulse 200, 200T Features
Hero XPulse 200 and 200T are both quite loaded with features and come equipped with a fully digital instrument cluster including a fuel gauge, gear position indicator and service reminder. The highlight, however, remains the Bluetooth connectivity which allows a rider to use navigation and receive call alerts on the screen through a mobile phone application called Hero Ride Guide.
While we did about 200 km around the outskirts of Bangalore and I was pretty content to have the instrument cluster on the motorcycle giving me turn by turn directions. However, the navigation paired with an iOS system seems to have some glitches, while the Android users didn't have much trouble. The two also feature single-channel ABS, thereby adding to the safety quotient.
Day one of our time in Bangalore involved a ride from the airport to Zion Hills Golf Club some 90 km away. This was when we could test the comfort of the XPulse 200T – after all the T stands for touring. The riding stance of the 200T clearly puts it in the comfortable category but the seat cushion is a tad too hard for a motorcycle which is expected to have a rider on it for hours at a stretch. Good thing is that the 200T is also slightly shorter and lighter and hence is accessible to shorter riders as well.
Day two was pretty much the highlight as we got to ride to the Big Rock Dirt Park – testing the XPulse 200's touring capability and then take it out for a spin on a surface it likes to be on best – dirt. In terms of touring, the XPulse 200 feels comfy with a slightly raised handlebar, but it too like the 200T has a hard seat cushion.
Show the XPulse 200 some dirt and that is where it shines in all its glory. And to make things even better, we got to ride with Hero Motorsport division's champion rider CS Santosh. He first led us through a jungle trail where the XPulse 200 felt at home. This was followed by laps of the Big Rock off-road track with its inclines, slopes, sections of deep gravel, and corners full of dirt.
The XPulse 200 can take it all with ease. It is one brilliant motorcycle that can teach the rider a lot. This was only the second time I've been on a dirt track and I was able to lean into corners and do slight jumps as well. Tips from Mr Santosh were obviously gold!
Hero XPulse Twins Verdict
Hero XPulse 200 is undoubtedly a very capable off-road machine. Not only will it take roads to Leh or Kathmandu with ease, but it will also go where there's never been a road. If you've been wanting to get into motorsports and haven't found an affordable machine – the XPulse 200 comes ready to hit the dirt right from the factory.
On the other hand, if you're looking for comfortable daily commutes and hope to go touring at times involving mild off-roading, the 200T is the bike for you. Not to mention, it offers a little bit more style too. At their price tags, the XPulse twins are just the entry-level ADVs we wanted.