Today I finally got a chance to ride the Hero Xpulse on and off road.
Power: Noticeably better than an Impulse with a Karizma engine. Surprisingly decent low end torque which needs some getting used to. Helps in quick starts from traffic stops as well as tractoring over uneven surfaces off-road. Reaches 80 kmph rather quickly. As expected, 100 kmph takes a much longer time.
Vibrations: Slight buzzing at the handlebar at 80 kmph. Feeling at the foot pegs is solid. At 100 kmph the engine feels like you are wringing it’s little neck. Surprisingly, the motorcycle doesn’t feel like its going to come apart.
Weight: Feels slightly heavier than the Impulse, but not enough to make actually make a difference. Quite manageable off-road. But if Hero had maintained the weight of the Impulse or kept it to a number close to that of the Impulse, the motorcycle would have performed much better on tarmac. 20 kgs makes a huge difference when the engine is just 200 cc.
Suspension: Awesome!!! I went off road on rocky terrain and rode in a straight line where I would have normally weaved between the rocks trying to find the path of least resistance. Went standing on the foot pegs and returned sitting down. If you have ridden an Impulse off-road with a “let’s do some stupid shit” attitude, you already know what I mean.
Handlebar & Riding Posture: Horrible. Handle bar is too narrow and you need to lean forward to reach it. Makes no sense. Yes, I’m 6 feet tall. So my shoulders are higher up. But it also means I have longer hands. The Xpulse I rode belonged to my friend and the first time I rode it around the block it had the stock handlebar. But when I rode the bike today for a longer distance it had an aftermarket handlebar which was wider and deeper. This is the same handlebar I use on my Hero Impulse and BMW G310 GS and it made a world of a difference. People reviewing the Xpulse and saying that the standing riding posture is great are lying. Even with the deeper aftermarket handlebar I would still need handlebar risers to stand and ride comfortably.
Foot Pegs: Forward as in the case of the Impulse. Feels like you are sitting on a chair and not a motorcycle. Poses a problem when standing up and riding since you are leaning a little too forward. Not sure why Hero has done this for the Impulse and has carried it forward to the Xpulse. Works well for cruising on highways, but not optimal when riding off road.
Gear lever: Too short. Will need to be extended if you are going to wear motocross or adventure touring boots.
Highway Cruising: Sweet spot is 80 kmph. The time required from 50 kmph to 80 kmph on 5th gear is about 12 seconds. This is what you will be doing all the time on Indian highways clogged by trucks on all lanes. This means that you won’t be able to keep up with your friends with more powerful motorcycles. But if you are riding alone you won’t get too irritated. Of course, you can downshift and keep it twisted till you reach 100 kmph to catch up with the pack. But the ride would be a stressful experience for you and the motorcycle.
Off-Road Handling: Amazing. Just like the Impulse. Very confidence inspiring. Gives you the “let’s go down that track and see how much trouble we can find” attitude.
Seat: Pathetic. Hero might as well have well bolted a plank of wood. A seat is there to give you comfort, especially when you are exhausted standing on the pegs negotiating around rocks and ruts. WTF?
Wind Deflector: Rather pointless. Junk it or replace with something taller, sleeker and possibly useful.
Headlight: Didn’t get to test it as I rode the motorcycle during the day. But I feel the size of the headlight seems a little disproportionate to the rest of the motorcycle. But then maybe Hero was going for the tall and slender look.
Knuckle Guards: Give the motorcycle some character. Better to replace with proper metal reinforced hand guards, which will protect the levers when you lay it sideways.
Hand Levers: Don’t have a notch to break at. This means you may be left without a clutch or a front brake in the middle of a nowhere. It doesn’t cost Hero anything to add a notch to the hand levers.
Brakes: Pretty good. Did the job well. Gives enough confidence to zip around in traffic.
Exhaust Sound: Don’t care. Sounds like a motorcycle. That’s good enough for me.
Ground Clearance: Very good. The 21-18 inch wheel combo does its job well. But this could be a challenge for shorter riders. Be sure to test ride the motorcycle on uneven terrain and waddle to figure out your tipping point. Remember that XPulse isn’t as light as the Impulse. Those additional 20 kgs are going to make their presence felt when you are one foot down and trying to straighten the bike back up.
You SHOULD buy the Xpulse if:
- You are mainly interested in riding a motorcycle off-road. How you get to the off-road section and get back home isn’t very important.
- You own a big, tall and heavy adventure motorcycle and your friends laugh at you as you are completely stressed out struggling to stay upright on trails.
- You are considering buying an old Impulse and pimping it up with a Karizma engine.
- You like riding off-road solo. Picking up this bike on your own won’t be much of a problem.
- You are new to riding off-road and are often at the back of the pack. Nothing scares you more than being last on a trail with a motorcycle which intimidates you. I know. I’ve been there. Everybody needs to build the skill and muscle memory to ride a motorcycle well off-road. It’s best to start with a “friendly” motorcycle instead of something that is hell bent on throwing you down.
You SHOULD NOT buy the Xpulse if:
- You often do medium to long distance group rides on tarmac with friends riding more powerful motorcycles.
- You prefer riding on tarmac and sometimes indulge in light off-roading. Consider the Xpulse 200T.