First, the looks. The design is edgy, with the two projector headlamps recessed in to the facia, the creases and folds; you either love it or not at all! The handle bars are well designed, damp vibrations well. Digital speedometer and analog tachometer have big enough displays, but the million rupee question is when do you get to look at them? Not at least when you are riding. The swept tail, the split tail lamp are superb design features. The recessed grips for the pillion are interesting, but not very effective when you try to wring out max revs and the pillion is hanging on for dear life! The entire look is well put together, business like. The seat could have been few millimetres lower. At 5'8", my feet were touching the ground but not flat on both feet. Anyone shorter would not be able to put both feet on the ground. Bajaj designers may think of detachable pads for raising/lowering the seat.
The water-cooled engine is gem, and I think Bajaj have mastered 4-valves in a small engine well and definitely an improvement over the NS 200 I had ridden almost two years back. The gearbox is butter smooth, though I must confess, I could not get to 6th gear and could only hit 91 kph on 5th. Two discs, both back and front make braking a sure thing, aided by the ABS. Think about it, ABS on a motorcycle which costs less than Rupees one lakh! About a decade ago, ABS was something that was available on the race track and sports cars in the stratospheric segment.
Although I have not ridden the Ducatis and Aprilias of the world, this puny bike of 200cc is world class for something that costs less than $1600. A Ducati's set of tyres would cost as much. The thick USD (upside down, for the uninitiated!) front shocker tubes are sturdy but the travel is not suitable for bad roads.
The adrenaline rush this pocket rocket gives is priceless! Welcome to take the first step in the world of speed junkies on two wheels. Let me end my review by saying the following:
1. This is definitely not a bike for old men, and is meant for a young speed junkie only
2. This bike is not for offering rides, however short or long, to any female related or unrelated. The consequences of such an act, however charitable the intentions may be, would have very negative social consequences, including social ostracism! Only the girlfriend, fiancée or young wife are eligible for pillion rides.
I am eagerly waiting to try out the AS 200, the sibling which shares the same engine, but is designed for both good and bad roads with longer front shocker travel and more comfortable sitting posture with wider handle bars. More of that later.