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2001: The Bajaj Pulsar 180 arrives, and Indians get a taste of what performance motorcycles really are. Even the nine-year-old me was enjoying the saddle time, though at that time it meant clinging onto my cousin as he whizzed past the then-calm street of Pune as everything went by in a blur. Today, almost a quarter-century and many Pulsars later, the biggest bike of the lineup — the Pulsar N250, is looked at as a commuter. And though it may be one, the 2024 iteration of this Pulsar is a reminder that it is a Pulsar above everything else.

The new N250 gets USD fork, wider tyres, a new LCD instrument console, three-mode ABS and traction control. Now that shouldn’t change much, right? After all, it is the same engine, frame and design. But with the changes, the N250 (and Bajaj), are in sync with what a rider would desire from a bike like this now more than ever.

And it was almost impossible to ride it without demanding everything from that engine. It’s not that the 249.07cc mill is dull. In fact, it has a punchy low and mid-range which makes it all the more fun. With the addition of the traction control and ABS modes, the bike was tempting me to push it even harder. This is one of the most seamless ABS units that I have experienced so far, although I am not convinced with one of the modes being named ‘off-road’. Though I couldn’t test the ‘rain’ mode, the ‘road’ and ‘off-road’ ABS modes did just what is expected of it.

The beauty of the off-road mode is that it allows a bit of locking, so on gravel-y road, the rear tyre can actually dig in and aid braking. At the front, too, the intervention is eased to a point that I didn’t feel that the ABS won’t allow the bike to halt. In fact, after testing the road mode, I rode the whole time with the off-road ABS. Also, this is the only ABS mode which allows switching the traction control off. And boy, is that system impressive! I had to look at the console while giving full throttle on a gravel patch just to see if the traction control was even working. So yeah, with a trustworthy ABS and traction control system, pushing the bike wasn’t going to be much of a problem, or so I thought.

The champagne gold USD forks add to the visual appeal, but they also contribute so much to the riding experience. Just like before, it can handle almost anything you take it through — undulations, speed bumps, potholes, or even off-road. Nothing unsettles the suspension, and now, when going through corners, the N250 feels more composed than before.

But, it isn’t just because of the suspension. Complementing it are the new wider tyres. The previous N250 felt almost over-enthusiast when ridden through a set of corners. Its (comparatively) skinny tyres made it tip too quickly, which was unnerving till I got the hang of it. But the new one? I didn’t need any corrective measures for corners… until I really began pushing the bike hard. It was then that the bike would weave and give a feeling that a low-side was imminent. Thankfully, we stayed right-side-up all throughout.

At Rs 1.51 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the 2024 Bajaj Pulsar N250 is just Rs 857 more expensive than the previous model. And for the premium, there’s ABS, traction control, better tyres, fancier suspension and a more composed riding experience. And even though the quarter-litre segment isn’t an exciting space anymore, the N250 is a bike that is guaranteed to make those mundane commutes fun and entertaining. Maybe, at the turn of the next quarter of the century, people will remember this Pulsar as the one that brought back life to the 250cc space.