For some uncanny reason, off-road motorcycles are not a trend in India, even after having such pathetic roads. Hero tried to create a segment for affordable off-road two-wheelers with the launch of the Impulse back in 2011. However, it did not appeal to many, and the home-grown brand is at it again with the XPulse. Now while the Impulse was based on Honda NXR 150, the XPulse is new from ground up in almost every way. Let’s take this bike for a spin to see if it has what it takes to bring in some good sales figures for Hero MotoCorp.
It has those looks
From what we’d initially seen on the concept, not much has changed on the production bike. The design is rather simple, nothing too thrilling to look at. The moment you take note of the MX-like front fender, the up-swept exhaust and huge spoked wheels, you’re left with no second thoughts about this being a proper off-roader. But we prefer the old Impulse’s looks. However, we do like the LED headlamps and tail lamps and the tiny windscreen that helps on highways. The rear hugger can be removed; so can the indicators. The 835mm seat height of the Impulse was actually the prime reason behind it not taking off in the first place in India since the motorcycle was too tall. So in order to lower the seat, Hero Bikes had to get back to drawing boards, include a stepped seat, bringing the seat height down to 825mm on the Hero XPulse. For something that has tyres made for the beaten path, along with 220mm of ground clearance, we’re quite impressed. Also, the slender seat somehow makes the motorcycle so much more practical to ride. Swing a leg over, and you’d be happy to be seated on what it is perhaps one among the most comfortable seating positions as it helps your back stay upright. The wide handlebar is easy to get to grips with.
The bike features a new LCD instrument cluster that displays legible information. You also get navigation assist that include arrows and a remaining-distance readout. An app has to be downloaded and is powered by Google Maps. The Hero XPulse also features an underseat USB outlet, wherein your smartphone can be kept on charge while the navigation system does its thing. It is useful, but re-routing is a bit of an issue.
The Hero Xpulse feels like it is built to take on the rough stuff the moment you’ve started riding along. No matter how big the rut or bump, this bike never gets unsettled, thanks to the suspension setup; the springs aren’t very soft and are in fact, well damped for good control along with a lot of wheel travel. You get good leverage because of the wide handlebar, which proves to be great since the steering is low-set with the massive 21-inch front wheel. The Ceat Gripz tyres allow the bike to lean into a corner without much effort, and the handling is quite predictable. In terms of braking, the bike is equipped with petal disc brakes at the front and rear. The brakes at the front bite well and the ABS is a single-channel setup. We think braking performance is just perfect for a bike of this sort.
Powering the Xpulse from Hero Bikes is a 199.6cc, two-valve, air-cooled engine, featuring fuel-injection. This results in better refinement and allows the engine to hold itself at higher revs, which also helps with frugality too. The motor develops 18bhp and 17.1Nm of torque. Performance is not what we had expected it to be. Off the road, there is good low-end torque and tractability is good too. In first gear, you’ll manage to get the rear wheel to work, but push any further and steering the bike won’t be a joke, despite there being a bigger sprocket at the back. The bike can manage a top speed of about 120kph but that would mean the engine is under pressure. It is best ridden at a comfortable pace of 85-90kph. The XPulse is more for the rider who prefers riding in an unhurried manner.
Gets the pulse racing?
The XPulse is definitely an improvement over the Impulse, particularly when it comes to dynamics and off-road ability. We just wish it looked better than the Impulse, but then, with its cut-throat pricing, it sure does offer value for money. Also, grab the latest info on new bikes, only at autoX.