One story is from a Hosur-based company and the other is from a Pune-based company. But when it comes to catering to a particular customer segment they always end up with similar artilleries. Both of these companies are known for their over-the-edge engineering and hence both of these companies command a respectable fan following.
One set of fan base is purely based on value for money performance, while the other set is completely gung-ho about the best-in-class innovations. Both the fan-bases are completely devoted to their respective brands and this is exactly what fuels the investor’s interest in these two magnanimous two-wheeler manufacturing companies.
Coming to our topic, the 200s from these two manufacturers have been promoted to cater to the upgraders of our generation. Customers who had started their passion for biking with the respective 150 segment bikes of these two companies were eagerly waiting for a long time to upgrade to higher-capacity motors and hence the 200cc segment was introduced. Bajaj, the Pune-based company struck the first blow by launching their 200 iteration way back in 2009. A very significant aspect to be considered here is that Bajaj, true to its character, launched a product that was nothing like anything seen in the Indian Market. For the first time, there was a performance bike with performance that was mostly seen in over Rs. 1 Lakh bikes at a cost less than Rs. 1 lakh.
Bajaj was churning out a bike that had a sub-perimeter frame like the one seen in premium sports bikes. It had a fuel-injection system, similar to the one seen in the premium segments. For the first time, there was an underbelly exhaust and a mono shock absorber fitted in a manner that supported the mass centralization and concentrated the center of gravity of the bike at the center, again a feature from the premium sports segments. And all this, when provided under 1 lakh, proved to be too good to be true for the performance bike enthusiasts around the country. Bajaj enjoyed a huge market share in a segment that had no competition.
Bajaj had developed the Pulsar 200NS on the basis of all the technical know-how it had received in its strategic collaboration with the Austrian bike manufacturing company, KTM. At the same time, KTM entered the biking sector in India with its own 200cc segment bike, the Duke 200. This bike was truly a revolution of its own kind. A bike so powerful, that many customers got second thoughts on buying the bike on the very first test ride itself. It was much better than Pulsar 200NS. People, who went for the previous one, heard about the new entry from KTM and since it was promoted by Bajaj themselves, people had got an obvious choice. The Duke 200 from KTM started enjoying a monopoly by overshadowing Bajaj Pulsar 200NS and eventually led to the discontinuation of the latter that had started everything in the first place.
The band from Hosur joins the party
Now the reason why I am babbling so much about the 200cc segment and not the big brothers like the mighty litre-class superpowers is because, practicality is the word that many look out for while buying a bike. A 200cc segment is the segment which dishes out the performance that gives the feel of a sub-500cc segment, while providing the mileage figures of 150cc commuter segment.
So when finally this realization dawned upon the people at TVS in Hosur (after almost 3 years) along with the healthy sales figures of other 200cc rivals, they threw in everything they had (I mean everything) and they took complete technical advantage of their tie-up with BMW, to come up with a product that looks like an amalgamation of every 200cc launched by every little houses. They offered almost everything in one single please-all package and yet stayed short of some features to keep the price in check. They offered Fuel Injection as an option, ABS as an option and better tyres as an option for some extra premiums. The point to be noted here is that, none of these extra options are available in any of its rivals.
To further enhance their sales, TVS launched it under their Apache brand name to tap into the Apache fan base. So if you ask me, whether we have got a winner in the 200cc segment from Hosur? Well on paper, it looks pretty sweet, but then even Sholay was proclaimed a flop in its initial week. Like its rivals, it has a single cylinder, with 4 valves and liquid cooling (oil-cooling to be precise, which is much more ergonomic). Almost everyone performed on the same platform with equal élan. Well, Almost.
|TVS Apache 200 4V Fi||Bajaj Pulsar 200NS||KTM Duke 200|
|Power||20.7 bhp||23.2 bhp||24.6 bhp|
|Torque||18.1 Nm||18.3 Nm||19.2 Nm|
|Top speed||129kmph||132 kmph||135 kmph|
|Fuel tank capacity||12||12||10.2|
Yes, Apache provides Fuel Injection as an option, which only Pulsar 200NS team does not. TVS is the only team to provide ABS even as an option.
So if you are out there, looking for a 200cc bike that can do a decent amount of touring, can tackle rough roads and at the same time take on the hassles of the city traffic, then TVS has pretty much got a wholesome package. And then there are those who want to give out a style statement, while at the same time want to ride a power package, then KTM is the one to look out for. And finally, with the new launch of Pulsar 200NS with all the BS-IV compliance and AHO system at almost the same price, the question has been raised again, who is the crowned champion of the 200cc segment? On technical papers, one looks the best, on financial papers, another looks most viable and in the eyes of an enthusiast, for the ones who know the true feel of a superbike, the third one stands the tallest even if it costs as much as the new Bajaj Dominor 400cc bike.