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We were about to ride the R15 V3.0 and RS200 in stormy weather. But that didn’t let our spirits down, and we were only waiting to battle it out through the corners. We had with us two bikes which were the only faired bikes in the range. The Bajaj has remained unchanged for the most part other than the BS-IV update. To give you a refresher the RS200 is a faired variant of the NS200 which Bajaj’s version of the 200 Duke. That said, the RS is more than just another bike with loads of bodywork. The bike is quick and very capable.
The Yamaha is quite the opposite. It is made for one thing and one thing only – to take on racetracks. The bike is properly fast and heavily equipped for a 150cc bike. The new bike has evolved into a lot more than the original first-gen bike. On the RS200, you sit almost upright and the handlebars are as high as regular bars. While it does look very sporty, the bike is surprisingly comfortable. The seat is large and the footpegs are more forward-set. Interestingly, the position keeps you in control without adding to much stress on the wrists.
On the R15, it’s the other way around. You are put in an aggressive position which is pretty clear from the low handlebar and rear set foot pegs. The R15 is a focused machine that has geometry suited toward track riding. It is also the narrower and more compact motorcycle. The bike also has an impressively low kerb weight of 139kg, making it around 25kg lighter than the RS.
Powering the R15 is a 155cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor that makes 19.3hp. This is very impressive for the size of the motor. The Pulsar, on the other hand is powered by a 199.5cc engine that makes 24.5hp. However, it is far heavier. While the R15 was in the front for the most part, the RS200 did manage to stay on its tail.
The transmission on the Yamaha is a six-speed box that is one of the best in the market (below Rs 2 lakh). The bike is sharp and refined and even sounds good. The bike has a good chassis which does give it dynamic handling. The RS200 has a nice gearbox as well, but misses out on a slipper clutch. It can miss a gear during heavy acceleration and is paired to a strong exhaust note. The RS200 also has a strong mid-range which is addictive.
Both, the R15 and RS200 have a good amount of composure and grip. When we rode them at the track, we felt the same way. Impressively, the RS200 can fit a larger passenger without fuss. Another thing worth mentioning is that the projector headlights on the RS200 light up the road ahead better than the LEDs on the R15. The RS200 also shines in the urban commute thanks to it being more approachable.
The Pulsar also has the larger brakes – a 300mm disc up front and a 230mm disc at the rear – and also offers a single-channel ABS; our test bike, however, was the non-ABS version. Handling suspension duties is a telescopic fork and Nitrox monoshock. While the RS200 does feel a bit stiffer, the pillion seat on it is much nicer.
While the R15 is not an all-rounder like the RS200, it is very good around a racetrack or a winding road. The R15 has better-tuned suspension and decent brakes but misses out on ABS. One cannot get it even as an optional extra. While the R15 is a more focused motorcycle, there is no denying that it has become a bit too serious.
Should I buy one?
Choosing from the two is, therefore, easy. The Pulsar with its Rs 1.26 lakh price tag has a few negatives like the fit and finish levels and heavier kerb weight but, in real world conditions, the bike impresses in many ways. The R15 with its identical price tag has a much longer list of negatives. However, when you consider everything, both bikes are for different type of customers. If you are a MotoGP fan, we would suggest you go for the R15. But, if you are looking to do more than just go fast on your bike, the RS200 is the one that deserves your money. All prices ex-showroom Delhi.
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