Performance: Now comes the most exciting part of the comparo, because of the fact that both the bikes are targeted towards performance, primarily. First we talk about the Pulsar. Pulsar 180 was the bike which redefined ‘performance’ in 2001. Come 2009, the story hasn’t changed very much but sure has seen more competition. Pulsar 180 is very fast BUT put a Pulsar 180 on a weighing machine and you will come to know the reason of the bike losing out a bit to the competition. The bike now weighs a hefty 147 Kgs up from 142 kgs and these 5 Kilograms sure take its toll on the overall performance of the bike. Add to this, the fatter 120 section rear tyres which further aggravate the condition. Moreover, if we get a chance, we would love to ask Rahul Bajaj the reason of the bike shedding 1 Nm of that all important torque which further hampers the bikes performance. On the contrary, let me also tell you, despite all these factors acting against this bike’s performance, the bike manages to return one of the fastest performance times both from 0 – 60 and 0 – 100. The 0 to 60 dash comes in sub 4.5 seconds along with the 14 seconds it takes to touch 100 from standstill, which goes along with the 123 Kmph true top speed. After these figures, we were quite jubilant and surprised at the same time because we did not expect this Bajaj to do this much, this fast! Accolades to Bajaj engineering team!
Coming to the TVS stable: Being a full 10 kilogram lesser than the Pulsar (at 137 kgs), greater torque and relatively slimmer tyres, we tried to demystify the obvious and we got what was evident. The bike is a sheer performer and we must admit that TVS has beaten the Pulsar 180 in performance (although just), finally! The bike is an out and out scorcher. Does a zero to sixty sprint in less than 4.5 seconds with the zero to hundred dash coming in less than 14 seconds. Along with it, the bike goes all the way to a true 124 Kmph and revs all the way to 12000 rpm (with the absence of rev-limiter). Fast and furious might be the right word to describe this pint sized powerhouse as it just blasts away to glory when in full swing, full throttle.
Mileage & Braking: Not much to compare on the mileage front considering the segment of crowd these bikes are catering to, but then this is India and how can we underestimate this all-important factor. Both the bikes are extremely efficient engines fulfilling our insatiating appetite for power and very respectable mileage figures, at the same time. Apache RTR 180 would return a city mileage of something in the range of 39-44 kmpl with the highway mileage hovering all the way to 43-48 kmpl. Pulsar is more hesitant in drinking fuel. It returns a mileage of 41-46 kmpl on city driving with the highway figures close to 46-51 kmpl.
Apache comes loaded with discs both at the front and rear: 270 mm petal discs doing the duty at the front and 200 mm petals doing it at the rear. All this means lovely braking and the bike sure stops when and as ordered to. Had the tyres been Zappers, we probably would have seen an even better and precise braking.
260 mm discs do their job pretty well on the Pulsars front along with 130mm drum trying simultaneously to stop that 147 kilogram fiery beast. Not in the league of Apache, but they are good and work well under heavy braking aided by the MRF tyre set as well.
Instrumentation & Other Stuff: Both the bikes come loaded with the typical stuff they are known for – Digital fuel gauge, Digital Speedo meter which goes with an analogue tachometer and trip meters with the Pulsar coming in an all DC set-up to ensure you get regular and constant beam of light (or horn) at all rpms. It also sports a split seat and a clip-on which has been borrowed directly from the bigger Pulsar 220. The tank can guzzle down 15 liters of petrol at one time with the bike warning you when you have 3 liters of it left as reserve. The chain is also an O-ring which now comes naked to add to that oomph factor but needs more servicing than the regular covered ones majorly because of the Indian muddy conditions. The kick lever has been thrown away and the bike only has an electric start now. It also does away with the traditional toe-heal gear shifter and now comes with a toe-only shifter which has been moved back to enhance the sitting posture.
The console is blue back lit in Apache which makes it a charm to look at especially during the nights and sure looks better than the orange colored Pulsars console. Apache comes loaded with a clip-on and a 16 liter fuel tank and despite a very sporty seating position the bike still retains the kick lever (which is finding a dismissal from every bike these days, despite no fault of its) along with the electric starter. Both the bikes come loaded with a 12 volt 9 Ah maintenance free battery and 35 Watt front headlights. Apache has a distinct looking bull horn type split grab rails which sure are better than Bajajs as they also does the job of letting the pillion ‘grab’ them! Pulsar comes in 4 colors viz Red, Black, Blue and silver. Apache is also available in 4 colors with the always underestimated white color finally making way into the Indian bikes along with the sparkling yellow, matt gray and the ‘Black’.
BikeAdvice Verdict: With not much to differentiate between these two very evenly poised bikes, we were caught in a dilemma as to which bike to crown a winner here. Let us put it this way, in cities like Pune where the difference in prices of both these bikes is close to Rs. 3500 – 4000, we would recommend you the Pulsar 180 for its almost brilliant ‘everything’. This is the bike which does everything in the right quantity and probably would be the best value for money in its price range. It looks huge and superb, handles well, performs with aplomb and doesn’t just guzzle down fuel at its will.
And in places, where the price difference between these two bikes is very much negligible, we would advice you the bigger, evolved version of the tried and loved Apache RTR 160, the Apache RTR 180. We felt TVS made this bike with a lot of heart and it shows in almost every bit of the bike. Just that the vibrations are a letdown still, but can be neglected considering its innumerable pros. In the end, we would just put it this way. You end up buying any of these machines, one thing is for sure, and you would end up ‘enjoying’. So, what are you waiting for, hit the showrooms and book your favorite one.
TVS Apache RTR 180: 8.5 /10 ; Bajaj Pulsar 180 2009: 8 /10