2020 Hero XPulse 200 first ride review

Hero’s flagship motorcycle in India is now BS6-ready. Is it better than before though? Time to hit the trails to find out.

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2020 Hero XPulse (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Right off the bat, I must admit that I have a bit of a soft corner for the XPulse. Why? Because for the longest time, I’ve always wanted a dual-sport motorcycle to come to India. Why again? Given the state of our roads and the vast beauty of our land, there are many areas to be explored which cannot be done with a regular street motorcycle. One would need a dirt bike of sorts. Granted that Impulse was the first to do that in our market, but the fact that Hero believed in the dual-sport mantra and decided to go ahead with it, makes the Xpulse that much more special.

(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Recently, like all the other motorcycles in the market, the XPulse was made BS6-ready. But Hero MotoCorp did more than just upgrade the engine to fit the emission norms. They’ve also corrected a few of the issues pointed out by owners and journalists. For example, the XPulse now comes with an oil cooler to help deal with greater strain put on the engine by off-road enthusiasts. The homegrown brand has also made a concentrated effort to bring down the vibrations and enhance the smoothness of the BS6-compliant 199.6cc engine. And I’m happy to report, Hero’s efforts have not been in vain. There’s a considerable difference in the way the XPulse 200 feels in the mid-range.

(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Other than that, there’s also a catalytic converter to keep emissions in check and the power and torque figures have gone down from before. There’s also a three-kilogram increase in weight. Again, I’m delighted to report that the performance hasn’t really been affected. In fact, the power delivery as a whole is a lot smoother now. However, the punch at the low-end of the rev range has gone down ever so slightly. The 210mm of ground clearance and commanding riding position inspire loads of confidence on broken roads and off-road trails. And given that XPulse is relatively lightweight, it’s fun to chuck around in off-road conditions. On the road, however, it feels easy to ride but isn’t really a performance bike. It does the job rather well and has decent fuel efficiency too. So, it doubles up as a great commuter with a comfortable enough seat for two riders.

(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Hero MotoCorp has done well to keep the BS6-ready XPulse pretty much the same otherwise. It now also gets the option of a rally kit, for those looking to venture deep into the off-roading world. With that in mind, it has to be said that the XPulse 200 is one of the best entry-level off-roaders in the country. It’s one of those bikes I find myself secretly rooting for just because of what it represents. Also, before I forget, Hero has also made the bash plate at the bottom slightly bigger. Furthermore, as far as looks are concerned, the front LED headlamps and knuckle guards on the handlebars looks extremely cool and adds an ADV-flavour to the XPulse. From the side too, the Xpulse looks ready to take on any obstacles. But, it could do with a better looking rear-end, which looks slightly commuter-ish.

(Image: BBC TopGear India)

In summary, the BS6-ready XPulse 200 is an improved version of an already great package from Hero. And with the Hero MotoSports division competing in Dakar, there’s an added bit of legitimacy to the XPulse’s reputation as a capable off-roader, not that it needed it. The Xpulse more than just impresses off-road, it’s where it truly shines. So, if you’re out looking for a comfortable, easy-going motorcycle that has the ability to take you places you’ve never been before, the XPulse 200 could very well be the practical adventure motorcycle for you.

(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Specifications:

Engine – 199.6 cc, single-cylinder
Power – 17.8bhp@8500rpm
Torque – 16.45Nm@6500rpm
Transmission – Five-speed manual
Weight – 157 kilograms

Price: Rs 1.11 lakh (ex-showroom) onwards

For – Off-road capability, comfortable ride, seating position
Against – High-speed manners

Photography – Jassi Singh