Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z Review - The Game Changer!

Arun Mohan NadarMay 12, 2024

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The Pulsar NS400Z is phenomenal but does it have the OG Pulsar DNA to enthral Pulsarmaniacs?

The Bajaj Pulsar, it’s not just a name, it’s not just a motorcycle. It’s an emotion for millions of riders. When the Bajaj Pulsar made its debut 2 decades ago, youngsters finally had access to performance without breaking the bank, it looked macho and more importantly, it changed the Indian two-wheeler market forever. Over the years many iterations of the Pulsars have come and gone, but what we’re riding today is the biggest Pulsar ever, the NS400Z. Yes, it’s pretty late to the party, but better late than never, right?

It’s also a game changer as you can now access an almost 400cc bike for just ₹ 1.85 lakh (ex-showroom). While the pricing is phenomenal, can it live up to the Pulsar name and offer a thrilling ride as well? Find the answer in our Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z review video.

Performance

Powering the new Pulsar NS400Z is the same engine as seen on the Dominar 400. This was done, so as to keep the costs under check as the Dominar engine was recently updated to B6.2 emission norms. Another reason for this move is that the Dominar engine is a tried and tested unit, while the 399cc engine on the 390 Duke is all-new.

Parameter

Value

Engine

373cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled

Power

40 bhp @ 8,500 rpm

Torque

35 Nm @ 7,00 rpm

While the engine is the same as the Dominar 400, it’s 18kg lighter (courtesy lighter wheels, box swingarm and lighter handlebar) and that difference can be clearly seen in its acceleration. It shoots off the line with urgency and 0-60kmph is done in under 3 seconds and 100kmph is achieved in less than 7 seconds. The top speed is a claimed 154 kmph, which is less than the Dominar 400 due to the change in gearing.

What I really like about the engine is the chunky mid-range and good top end. The midrange makes it very easy to ride at city speeds or even when you’re cruising or overtaking on the highway. The engine tuning is more for highway riding as the bike sits at a shade above 5,000 rpm at 100kmph and 120kmph at 6,200rpm. So this makes the Pulsar NS400Z a very good tourer as at those speeds you only feel a minor buzz on your feet.

What I don’t like is the engine nature at slow speeds, although it gets one tooth more in the rear sprocket for better low-end. The engine feels a bit jerky at very low rpm and till 4K rpm there are vibrations and you feel the buzz especially on the handle bar. At low speeds, you will have to feed it revs to keep the bike happy and this means commuting wouldn’t be an easy task in crawling traffic.

Specifications

Value

Claimed Fuel Efficiency

28.5 kmpl

Fuel Tank Capacity

12 litres

Real World Range

Around 300 km

Electronics

The NS400Z is loaded with electronic aids such as ride-by-wire, various riding modes, traction control and ABS. The four riding modes are different engine maps which have been tuned to deliver the power and torque in a distinct manner. Sport and Road modes offer you the max power and even the top speed achieved is the same. Rain and off-road offers a softer tune and even the top end performance is less. In off-road mode, the rear ABS isn’t disengaged but there is less intervention. TC can be switched off only in sport and off-road mode.

Styling & Features

Even before the bike was launched, the hot topic was the styling of the flagship Pulsar and meme pages had a gala time. Even I was a bit shocked with the styling of the new Pulsar, but in person, it does look better. The design highlight is the new face of the bike with lightning-shaped DRLs that have a frost finish and a large projector headlight.

Other design changes include a revised fuel tank extension and a new panel on the tail section. The gold anodised finish on the USD fork, chunky fuel tank and radiator shrouds gives the new NS400 a butch stance. However, in profile and the tail section is very similar to the Pulsar NS200, which is very disappointing. Also, I am not a big fan of the underbelly exhaust muffler.

Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z

One aspect where the new NS400Z impressed me is in the fit and finish department. There were hardly any loose wires, weld quality is good and the panel gaps are tight. However, the real test of the quality of a Bajaj bike is in the long run and that’s something we have to wait and watch.

On the features front you get all-LED lighting, digital instrument console, USB charger and Bluetooth connectivity for call alerts, turn-by-turn navigation and music control. The instrument console is interesting, it’s a combination of a LCD and dot matrix screen. There’s a new switch cube that lets you wander through the various settings. While the console has loads of information, it’s cluttered and difficult to read, a large LCD display would have done the job, but then again it would have added to the cost.

Handling

I had mentioned earlier how the 18kg weight drop has helped the Pulsar NS400Z’s performance when compared to the Dominar 400. And that tale continues in the handling department as well. Bajaj engineers have sharpened the rake and made the swingarm shorter than even the NS200.

Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z

Specifications

Pulsar NS400Z

Dominar 400

Wheelbase

1343 mm

1453 mm

Tyres (Front)

110/70-17 (non-radial)

110/70-17 (radial)

Tyres (Rear)

140/70-R17

140/70-R17

Kerb weight

174 kg

187 kg

These modifications have blessed the flagship Pulsar with very good handling dynamics. The bike tips into corners very easily and is very stable too for most sections of the corner. Only when you start pushing hard, do you notice the tyres, especially the rear buckling under pressure and sliding a bit. You can upgrade to grippier tyres and that should help improve the high speed handling. What it will not solve is the heaviness it feels at slow speeds, mind you it isn’t as bad as the Dominar 400. But the Pulsar NS400Z feels lazy at low speeds, but you can cut through traffic.

Comfort

The perimeter frame is the same unit as seen on the Dominar 400, but the suspension is different. The flagship Pulsar features USD fork and a monoshock suspension setup, with 130mm of travel on both ends. The ride quality is much better than the Dominar as it tackles potholes easily. But on sharp speed breakers the rebound is snappy and you do feel the jolt on your back.

While we didn't face any issues with the low 165 mm ground clearance, on large speed breakers and deep potholes the bottom might scrape. The disc brake setup is again similar to the Dominar, while the bite is decent, the lever progression is missing, especially on the rear. On the track, I could feel the brake lever coming in after hard braking. Now this is an issue when you push the bike hard, for daily use, they do a fair job.

Verdict

The Pulsar NS400Z is a really likeable motorcycle. It offers exciting performance, good handling and the amount of electronics is really great for this price point. Being a Bajaj, it would be cheap to run as well and spares will be easily available. It isn’t a perfect bike though, it still feels a bit heavy at low speeds, the styling isn’t much different from the NS200 and vibrations at low speeds are irritating.

Bike Name

Bike Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Pulsar NS400Z

₹ 1.85 lakh

Dominar 400

₹ 2.30 lakh

Pulsar NS200

₹ 1.58 lakh

But all these flaws start to dilute when you look at the asking price, while it isn’t perfect, the NS400Z is offering you so much more at such a price point is just amazing. I think that has been the Pulsar DNA, it always had flaws but offered you a thrilling ride at a competitive price and that’s the same with the biggest Pulsar too. At this price you get options such as the Yamaha Mt15, Suzuki Gixxer 250 and the Hero Karizma XMR. And in comparison to all these bikes, the Pulsar offers you so much more.

It’s easy to criticise Bajaj as a ‘parts bin manufacturer', but, when you dig closer, you can look at the advantages of this methodology and how cost effective it’s. The entire development cost of the Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z is around ₹ 50-60 crores, peanuts by modern bike standards. Bajaj managed this because the chassis, engine and other major components were already developed for other bikes. It’s another Bajaj Pulsar moment where it’s enabling the masses access to a 400cc bike performance without breaking the bank! In that sense, the Pulsar NS400Z is another game changer from Bajaj.

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