Pulsar NS160 Vs Hornet Vs Gixxer Vs FZ – Comparison Shootout is the definitive verdict for now. However we will wait for the new 2018 RTR 160 to come which should restart the segment
150cc isn’t enough. 160 is the new 150. A term that we are getting used to know. Even Bajaj felt the same and despite cannibalization with its own segment created by the 180cc it plans to invade this space. This shows Bajaj wants a piece of the action as there is no denying people are queuing up to get these Japanese machines which are high on displacement and power now.
Obviously, the Yamaha FZ went lower for reasons unknown, but hey, it still is something to look forward, let us explain why it still makes it to the test. Pulsar NS160 was first seen in Turkey with Fi and a motor which was based on the 150cc series which was bored to offer more. Bajaj saw the need and hype that the product created at home base as well. It came here and we reviewed it for you. Naturally, it is time that we pit it against its rivals. We have all the numbers and details.
However, most importantly, after riding these machines since their launch, we have a good impression to tell you which wins the heart and soul and which will conquer your head as well. Numbers aside, motorcycles are way ahead of them, the feel and character, the aura and flare they beam out as they start connecting with you is more important. Let’s find out what it is like as we compare them on cosmetic, mechanical and various other factors to give you the definitive verdict.
When it comes to design, the Hornet looks great for a Honda. Substantial, muscular stance is on offer. Gixxer has all the panels design right, but they are small in size. Something we said they day of the launch and ride. It does look purposeful and that’s what Suzuki’s are known for. FZ also has a good stance with well sized panels, but the lack of creativity at the rear and MT series headlight which isn’t well executed on the Fi version is a downer. Pulsar NS160 on the other hand has a bit of everything. Long tail and short stubby design at the front.
All bikes have large fuel tanks which look well on these bikes. The pulsar’s fuel tank is large and muscular at the same time. Sharing the entire set of panels with the NS200 gives a very substantial look. When you get closer you see it is more skinny because it houses a smaller engine and slimmer tyres and suspension, but first impressions for its prospective customers is going to make things pretty enticing for them.
Pulsar’s rear also continues to lack creativity but its has the yester year of Pulsar inspired tail-lamps which seem to define them so they aren’t exciting but they do the job. Overall, everybody has its niche carved in the design aspect but our pick would be the Hornet here, it looks more proportionate and quite a looker with all those paint schemes on offer. Let’ not Forget the X-shaped tail-lamps on offer.
Riding position is where every bike is comfortable yet offers a sporty riding position. The Hornet has a raised handlebar, but the reach to the bars is lower as the seating position is a bit high. The Gixxer bars are also low, but the seat height is also low. The pulsar has the same setup as these two too, as the clip-ons are mounted lower and you sit higher. FZ on the other hand continues with its wide handlebars which is a bit of reach from the seat, but offers a true naked big-bike feel. Hornet and FZ seat are similar in terms of comfort, but it is the Gixxer and Pulsar seat that offer more comfort for rider. The pillion seat is clearly better on the FZ and the Pulsar over the Hornet and Gixxer.
Speedo and Switches
Most feature loaded cluster has to be the Gixxer which has Eco and power modes on display along with gear position indicator, fully digital speedo and tachometer, clock and much more is on offer with the usual tell tale lights. Hornet comes in second with full digital display with clock and the usual things such as dual trip meters. Pulsar has a digital speedo with service reminder, tell tale lights, battery warning light, side stand indicator and the usual lights along with a analogue tachometer.
FZ comes last by far as it doesn’t even get a clock, but a economy meter to conserve fuel. Not very Yamaha. Apart from the red background there isn’t anything on offer. Hornet comes last when start to talk about switches. Pulsar comes first with its back-lit switches and decent on quality. FZ is high on quality and Gixxer falls below it by a notch despite identical use of switches on both these bikes.
Our testing over the time have suggested all these bikes do 0-100 km/hr in 17 seconds and FZ does it in 23 seconds. FZ loses because of a very close ratio gearbox and is low on power. 0-60 km/hr is very identical to all these bikes around 5.5-6 seconds. Once post 60 km/hr all these bikes lead to 100 km/hr while FZ is far away. Best rideability is seen on the FZ and Gixxer. Since Gixxer has a powerful mid and top-end it is the most fun to ride on the highway as well. This brings us to the Hornet. With just about adequate low-end power, the rideabiltiy is ok. Mid-range is good, but it is a typical Honda motor so it makes a lot of top-end power. Necessarily it doesn’t have the highest top-speed here either.
At 110 km/hr it is slowest as the Gixxer does 114 km/hr and NS160 does 117 km/hr. We got 109 km/hr on the FZ as the top speed. All GPS mandated numbers. NS160 excels everywhere as it has the gearing spot on this time too. 4-valve and top-end mid-range power equipped bike is surprisingly well tuned. Fifth gear is taller and that is why it does away with a higher top-speed and can cruise at 100 km/hr at ease. Gixxer wins over the FZ and gives tough time to the NS160 because gearing is even better there. NVH level are good on all bikes except the Honda. The motor has a lot of vibes at the higher and mid-range revs. All bikes have smooth shifting 5-speed gearboxes.
The Pulsar NS160 has great level of NVH and Bajaj has clearly uped the game in the 150cc category. Gixxer sounds the best of the lot with a throaty exhaust note and howling intake. Rest of the bikes are commuter in their own way. Expect these bikes to deliver around 35-40 km/l in daily riding conditions. NS160 should deliver even higher thanks to its taller gearing and DTSi setup as always when it comes to the highway run.
Ride and Handling
Dynamics is where the game changes. Hornet comes last because it feels restricted and heavy when steering around. This is because the tyres just give up immediately in the corners, when riding at the limit. Taller tyre, non-radial units aren’t the best and Honda needs to find a replacement. Hornet feels the most secure on the highway though. FZ has the best chassis, front-end as it feels nimble in the city, agile in the corners and stable at all speeds.
Only place the FZ works is this. Lack of power and superb dynamics makes it fun to ride for first time riders. This is also because the FZ has the best tyres here. Gixxer may have the same tyres on paper, but they are just a bit behind in terms of grip. FZ comes first with good brakes and bite, second is the Hornet as it offers CBS and large petal disc brakes on both ends. Pulsar NS160 and Gixxer front brakes offer good bite and progressive power. NS160 doesn’t have disc brakes at the rear for now, but will come shortly. Gixxer does have dual disc option.
Gixxer then feels ideal. With more power everywhere in the rev-range, a sporty and eager chassis and a proper fun to ride character built into it, it is the best bike to ride here. Nimble, agile and stable it is a lot of fun to ride. NS160 has a rather unconventional setup when compared. However, with the slim suspension and tyres over its rivals, it is also nimble and agile. Change of direction feels more secure as the chassis is way too capable for a 160 cc motor underneath.
We see this chassis on the Dominar and Pulsar NS200 and it does it work here very well. Despite those Nylogrip MRF tyres, it has enough mechanical grip and the compound was good for dry and wet conditions that we saw while testing. The light front-end over the past Pulsar’s makes it an everyday easy bike to ride too. Stability is spot on as well. Overall, the Gixxer is best of the bunch when it comes to as an overall package, but now, the Pulsar NS160 does come closer as it has a eager chassis and engine on offer. Something not seen in the past by the Gixxer’s rivals.
Pulsar NS160 Vs Hornet Vs Gixxer Vs FZ, Verdict
Coming to the point immediately, the FZ comes last. Best chassis? Yes. But best motor, design and feature list? NO. The price doesn’t help it either. A bike that created this segment sadly doesn’t stand a chance as the competition just went ahead by miles. Next up, is the Hornet. Typical Honda motor and not extremely dynamic makes it a ideal Indian Honda motorcycle, something that not everyone is looking for but thanks to good aesthetics and Honda badge, it does what it intends to do well.
As times passes by, giving an ultimate winner in a comparison test turns hard for us. Technology is everywhere and used really well by all manufacturers. It is a tough call between the Gixxer and NS160. Gixxer is great fun to ride and is best in the Japanese lot. One cannot go with the tyres, features and other things on offer on paper that are superior. Riding dynamics and character has to be on the top. NS160 feels more mature and substantial in the way it rides.
NS160 has come a long way as a Bajaj product as it is unique and brings same virtues as its rival in a different style and presents it to the market. Pricing isn’t its forte this time as it is priced very close to Gixxer (Gixxer is cheaper by Rs 1,000). However, a dual disc version of Gixxer costs higher and the SF version with dual disc and Fi almost reaches Rs. 1.0 lakh. While base variant Gixxer cost cheaper, the Pulsar NS160 does offer more bang for your buck and near identical performance with its superior chassis and higher capacity and more powerful and efficient engine. Still, It is an extremely close call, but it is the Pulsar NS160 that wins this test.
Read this too: Gixxer FI Road test
Read this too: Pulsar NS160 Comprehensive Review
FZ Fi Price: Rs. 83,600
Gixxer Price: Rs. 77,500
Hornet Price: Rs. 82.537
Pulsar NS160: Rs. 78,386