The Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle is produced by the India-based Bajaj Auto, maker of two- and three-wheeled motorbikes. Since 2005, more than one million Pulsars have been sold in an Indian market thought to be unfriendly to larger motorcycles. Instead, the 150, 180, 200 and 250cc bikes have proved immensely popular.
Bajaj Auto was founded in India in 1945 as a scooter manufacturer. For decades, it built 80cc Scooterettes and 125cc Scooters for the motoring public. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that it considered graduating to larger bikes. In 2007, it made an important move to acquire a 14.5 per cent stake in KTM Power Sports, a leading Austria-based sportmotorcycle manufacturer, to beef up its motorcycle credentials.
India was a nation of scooters and Bajaj management believed there was no market for larger bikes. But Honda broke the tradition by introducing its Hero Honda CBZ motorcycle in 1999, and demand soared. Bajaj had a relationship with Kawasaki to build rickshaws and small scooters and concerns were raised that entering the motorcycle market would harm Bajaj partnership with Kawasaki.
Bajaj didn’t want cede the market to Honda and began working with the Japanese design studio Tokyo R&D to come up with a viable product. Following three years of research and development at a cost of one billion rupees, the Pulsar was born.
Production began in 2001 with two bikes: A 150cc and 180cc model. Each was equipped with an air-cooled, single-cylinder 20-horsepower four-stroke engine. Although basic in every way, the motorcycle featured standard disc brakes and sat on 17-inch wheels, which was unheard of in an Indian motorcycle.
By 2003, Bajaj began increasing the horsepower ratings of its bikes without compromising gas mileage. Small improvements like a trip meter and a two-tone horn were standard equipment. In 2005, all models were equipped with gas-filled Nitrox shock absorbers.
In 2006, the Pulsar emerged as the most popular 150cc and larger motorcycle in India as Bajaj insisted on providing buyers with a new product each year with improvements in styling and mechanics. The 2006 model was especially well received. It featured turn indicators, an LCD screen with a digital readout of the bike's functions, an LED tail lamp assembly and side panels for a tapered look and more horsepower.
Today, 2007 and later models, such as the Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi, are fuel injected and oil-cooled with an all-modern design that includes all-black paint schemes, tank scoops and 3D logos emblazoned with “Pulsar.”