2017 Bajaj Pulsar 150 First Ride Review
- Feb 13, 2017
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Over the course of its long and distinguished history, Hero, and now Hero MotoCorp, has perfected the art of creating efficient commuter-class machines that deliver on their promise without fuss. The Indian company can be credited for empowering the masses with reliable workhorses that were affordable and easy to maintain.
The new Achiever 150 is the latest iteration of a decade-old model name that, while not as flamboyant as most of its 150cc siblings, has nevertheless been a mainstay of the premium commuter segment all this while. It might not have set the sales chart on fire like the 100cc Hero offerings did and routinely do, but it has apparently been successful enough that Hero has deemed fit to endow it with a thorough makeover.
Design and Features
Close your eyes for a second and conjure up in your mind the basic template for a 150cc Indian motorcycle that is meant to appeal to the economy-conscious and you’ll have the design of the Achiever 150 down pat. Hero is emphatic in its declaration that the bike isn’t meant to cater to the “boy-racer” types, and it shows. There are no flashy curves and details here, just the silhouette of a mature and calm workhorse.
In compliance with the new government regulations that stipulate that every two-wheeler on sale in India should have their headlights on at all times, the Achiever 150 becomes one of the first Indian bikes to incorporate this feature. There’s no headlight on/off switch, just a switch to toggle high and low beam instead. The two parking lamps on both sides of the headlamp also stays on at all times, so be prepared for some helpful hand gestures from fellow commuters and pedestrians, signalling that your lights are on.
To keep things simple, the instrument console is fully analogue, consisting of twin circular pods – one housing the speedo and the other the tacho. The de rigeur tell-tale lights, including a side stand down indicator are housed below and between the two pods in a rather incongruous manner. The all-important switch for the i3s system is on the right ‘bar, where you would normally find the engine-kill switch. Yep, there’s no engine-kill switch here.
Fit and finish levels are up to the mark, as we’ve come to expect from Hero, and little bits like the minimal stickering and new chrome heat guard on the exhaust can serve to add a subtle class to the Achiever 150’s design. If you discount the view from the rear with that tyre that’s too skinny for a 150cc machine, that is.
The Achiever 150 is all-new, in the sense that it is one of the first all-new products developed at Hero’s spanking new Centre of Innovation and Technology (CIT) in Jaipur, like the Splendor iSmart 110. However, the heart is still the same; the Honda-sourced 149.1cc mill has done duties on numerous CBZs and Unicorn derivatives to date. Although peak power and torque outputs remain the same at 13.6PS@8000rpm and 12.8Nm@5000rpm respectively, Hero has extensively reworked the engine and the powertrain.
The result is that the Achiever 150 is now BS-IV compliant, and it will sprint to 60kmph from standstill in 5.95 seconds, while 0-100kmph comes up in 17.45 seconds. Initial grunt is indeed strong, and she will pull cleanly from as low as 2500rpm even in fifth gear. In third gear, she will climb from 30 kmph to 70 kmph in 7.10 seconds, and in 4th, she will climb from 40 kmph to 80 kmph in 8.52 seconds. Quarter-mile run is accomplished in 20.08 seconds, with the Achiever exiting the run at 102.74kmph. The surge of torque tapers off gradually as you reach the higher part of the rev range and on to the V-Box-measured top speed of 105.76kmph. In its new avatar, the engine needs to be revved to extract performance, especially in the city, but even then, there is very little hint of vibrations or engine discomfort right up to the redline. The speedo needle has the band between 40-60kmph marked in green, helping you know just where the engine is happiest performing, in case you had any doubt.
The other big selling point of the new Achiever is the integration of Hero’s Idle-Start-Stop (i3s) technology. I was a bit sceptical of its implementation on a two-wheeler, but it works, and is a rather handy feature. Come to a stop at a traffic light with the engine in neutral gear, and she will idle for 5 seconds before shutting off. When the lights turn green, simply pull in the clutch lever and the engine springs to life again; so quietly, it feels more like an electric motor than an internal combustion engine.
The only downside to this whole thing is that I have a habit of coming to stops at traffic lights with the engine in first gear, clutch pulled in all the way, engine burbling and ready to go at a moment’s notice. While neutral is easy enough to find on the Achiever – and the motor cranks to life in barely a second – I still find this easier than having to play footsie with the gears at every stop. This is where the aforementioned absence of the engine kill switch comes to the fore. With the addition of it, the whole thing would’ve been an even more efficient and well-rounded package.
With i3s on and used the way its makers intended it to be, the Achiever 150 will returns 51kmpl in the city and 61.7kmpl on the highway, which translates into an average fuel efficiency figure of 54.11kmpl as per our testing methodology. This is pretty stellar for a 150cc machine and also affirms that the Achiever 150 delivers exactly what its makers promised – a decently fast premium commuter that is easy to run and even easier on the wallet.
Ride and Handling
The Hero Achiever 150 rides on 80/100 Ceat Secura tyres mounted on 18-inch alloys at both ends. This bestows it the rather dubious distinction of the skinniest tyres ever fitted on a 150cc bike that is on sale in India. But they have been deliberately chosen by Hero to provide less rolling resistance and thereby increasing efficiency.
These tyres, coupled to the fiercely conventional telescopic forks up front and the non-adjustable twin shock absorbers at the rear, mean that the Achiever was never intended to slice up your local ghat roads, nor even that spanking new flyover that just got built outside your hometown. On the contrary, these are workhorse mechanicals, and are tuned rather well to suit their job of commuting through traffic-infested city roads. Thanks to the wide seat and relaxed ergonomics, you can ride the Achiever 150 all day long without a hint of discomfort, even with a pillion, or, as is inevitably going to happen with some customers, a bike-load of household or farm stuff. However, the suspension, especially at the rear, is calibrated rather firmly for this task. When ridden solo, with a light fella like me on board, the Achiever tends to transmit some of the feedback from Pune’s pockmarked roads onto your backside. It is by no means a deal-breaker, but a more pliant suspension would’ve served its purpose better.
Our test unit came with a disc brake up front – an optional setup that will set you back a mere Rs 1000 more – which makes it a no-brainer in our opinion. While the bite from the callipers isn’t as powerful as we’ve seen on most sporty 150cc machines, it is progressive and has excellent feel throughout, again in keeping with the character of the bike. The skinny Ceat Securas do have a tendency to throw out the rear under hard braking, but that’s the price you’ve to pay for the efficiency it offers otherwise. Wider tyres would no doubt have helped its case, but the Achiever 150 is nevertheless a supremely comfortable and sure-footed machine to putter about on.
With the appeal and the subsequent deluge of flashy performance 150cc machines, you’d be forgiven for wondering if there even exists a market for premium commuters like the Achiever 150 in the country right now. But there actually is, and it is quite a thriving one. Just look at the other machines that it has to contend for market space with: the likes of the Yamaha SZ; its brother from another mother, the Honda Unicorn; and the class-straddling Bajaj V15.
The new Achiever undercuts all these worthy machines in that one parameter that matters the most for Indians: fuel efficiency. And at Rs 63,730 (disc brake variant, ex showroom Delhi) it is also the least expensive of this trio. These factors, coupled with its grown-up styling, rugged reliability, and the peace of mind offered by Hero MotoCorp’s expansive dealer network, make the Achiever 150 a worthy buy in our book.