3rd May 2019 12:30 pm
The road-biased XPulse offers a completely different experience from its off-road sibling and it leaves us with more questions than answers.
The Kawasaki Versys 650 teaches us that fitting a set of 17-inch wheels onto what would otherwise classify as a tour-adventure motorcycle can be an excellent idea. What you get is a bike with a suspension that can handle any quality of road, but the smaller wheels keep the handling light and easy. These kinds of motorcycles are perfect for riders looking for true all-road comfort and ability, but with no interest in pointing their motorcycles in the direction where no road ventures. And that was the promise of XPulse 200T when it was first revealed at EICMA 2018, as a sibling to the XPulse, but that’s not quite how things panned out.
Visually, there’s no doubt that this is an XPulse, since it wears all of the same bodywork as the off-road bike. You can read all about here. Park them side-by-side, however, and the T is dwarfed by the XPulse due to the latter’s bigger wheels and much longer suspension travel. While the T uses the main frame from the XPulse, it actually has a lot more in common with the Xtreme 200R, with which it shares its swingarm, brakes, wheels and tyres, carbureted engine and even the rear shock. And therein comes the first disappointment. The T offers only as much suspension travel as you’d find on the Xtreme 200R, or 130mm and 110mm at the front and rear, respectively. That’s a far cry from the 190/170mm setup you’ll find on the XPulse, and it shows.
On the road, the T rides exactly like you’d expect a standard street bike to. There’s a good level of pliancy in the suspension, which keeps things comfortable, but it certainly doesn’t eat through craters as the XPulse can. Handling is pretty good too, thanks to the grippy MRF rubber, but the bike isn’t as responsive or reactive as the Xtreme, because it has a more relaxed steering angle and a longer wheelbase.
The ‘T’ in the name is supposed to stand for ‘Tour’, but that’s a bit of a stretch. For starters, the T doesn’t get the small windscreen seen on the XPulse, but the bigger contradiction to that name lies in the powertrain. The XPulse T uses the very same carburetted 18.4hp/17.1Nm air-cooled, 2-valve motor from the Xtreme, with a precise 5-speed gearbox. Unlike the XPulse, you can only have this one with a carburettor.
Performance is familiar, with it being torquey and tractable at lower speeds, but a tendency to run out of breath above 110kph. While the power figures are the same on the XPulse, that bike’s optional fuel injection creates a little smoothness and that means the engine is a little less offended when asked to hold high speeds for long durations. Nevertheless, the kind of performance you’ll find on both XPulses is good for quick city work, or on slow technical trails, but not for effortless touring.
As things stand, the XPulse T is a street bike, and with a price tag of Rs 94,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s quite a nicely priced one. The fact that it offers a full LED headlamp and a Bluetooth-capable LCD instrument console with turn-by-turn navigation makes it even better value than the Xtreme 200R as well. If you do find yourself considering this machine, you should be aware that the only XPulse- related experience you’re getting is in the design and the name.