The Bajaj Pulsar nameplate is an icon. It revolutionised the Indian entry-level sports commuter segment and continues one of the most popular nameplates for the bike maker in India and across the globe. The Pulsar brand was introduced in 2001 and come 2020, Bajaj Auto is celebrating the 18th anniversary of the legend. In fact, the Pune-based bike maker has revealed that the company has sold over 1.2 crore units of the Bajaj Pulsar across different cubic capacities globally in over 65 countries.
Commenting on the occasion, Narayan Sundararaman, Vice President (Marketing) - Motorcycles, said "It's a proud moment for Bajaj Auto to see one of our most successful brands turn eighteen. The Pulsar range has received many accolades over the years and is probably the most celebrated bike in Indian automobile history. At the time of launch, Pulsar created a new segment called 'Sports Biking' in Indian motorcycling and redefined riding for the youth, a testimony to the company's engineering prowess and vision of keeping the brand relevant with changing times."
The Bajaj Pulsar nameplate started with a 150 cc and 180 cc motorcycles, and over the years expanded up to 220 cc. The Pulsar nameplate was a hit right from start. At an interaction with the media on the Bajaj Chetak unveil, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto had shared an anecdote that the company had originally anticipated demand of 3500 Pulsars every month back in 2001. The figure was similar to what the Hero Honda CBZ would do at the time, but the company grossly underestimated the demand the rose to 10,000 units per month by the third month of sale.
That's how popular the Pulsar nameplate has been for Bajaj and also helped the manufacturer grow out from the shadows of the erstwhile Chetak scooter maker. By 2006, the Chetak was pulled off the market and Bajaj concentrated on the motorcycle segment alone, fuelled by the success of the Pulsar and subsequently Discover and Platina range of motorcycles. It also saw the company push the envelope in terms of research and development as we soon got higher capacity Pulsars.
The Bajaj Pulsar range currently includes the RS200, NS200, NS160, 220F, 150, 150 Twin Disc, 125 Neon, 150 Neon and 180F Neon variants. The Pulsar 220F that first arrived in 2007 continues to remain one of the most consistently selling motorcycles in the brand's stable and was also one of the first mass-market offerings in India to get fuel-injection. It was reworked to get a carburettor-based engine a year later, which catapulted sales further with more power and lesser maintenance woes at the time.
The Bajaj Pulsar 150 Classic, on the other hand, is the best-selling model in the portfolio. The classic design language continues to remain popular with the masses and the bike maker has changed little keeping customer expectations in mind, barring the timely hardware changes. The RS200, meanwhile, was the first full-faired Pulsar to go on sale and remains one of the more affordable performance motorcycles in its segment. It was also the second product to come from the brand using the same 200 cc engine as the KTM 200 Duke, after the Pulsar 200 NS.
Bajaj also explored the Pulsar brand in the lower end of the sports commuter segment over the past decade that saw the addition of the now-discontinued Pulsar 135 LS, and more recently the Pulsar 125 as the new entry-level offering in the stable that was launched last year. Bajaj Auto says the Pulsar brand currently commands a market share of 40 per cent in the sports motorcycle segment in the country.