Both are 200cc bikes & both are recipients of the Indian Motorcycle of the Year award. But they’re poles apart. So, which will win this unusual cross-segment comparison?
If you’re like me and you often find it tough to decide the kind of riding style you enjoy more, then I’m sure that, at least once in your life, you must have found yourself confounded by the following question – what kind of motorcycle should I buy? If I had enough money, I’d have bought every kind there is. You see, I love to ride fast and take on a nice section of sweeping corners, but I also like to cruise on the open highway, and, when the time is right, I never miss an opportunity to hit the dirt trails or go on an occasional Ladakh or Spiti trip. And do I also need to mention my fondness for hardcore technical off-road courses?
Without any self-aggrandisement, let me say that I consider myself an all-rounder, which essentially means that every time I think of buying a new motorcycle, I find myself scratching my head, unable to decide which motorcycle I should go for.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single motorcycle that’s suitable for all kinds of roads and terrain, while still being a good everyday commuter motorcycle. Even crossover motorcycles don’t really offer the total package. There are, however, bikes that are good for a specific purpose and can still be used as everyday commuters. For instance, the Apache RTR 200 and the Xpulse.
The Apache 200 is a wonderful sports urban motorcycle. You can ride it to work every day, take it to a track if you so desire, and maybe even use it for occasional touring. The Xpulse, on the other hand, is a great urban Enduro motorcycle that can take on rough Indian roads, and you can also have some amazing off-road fun with it.
The reason I’ve chosen these bikes is that both of them are the best at what they do. The Apache RTR 200 4V was crowned the Indian Motorcycle of the Year in 2017, while the XPulse won the same title in 2020. So, I think it makes perfect sense to do this offbeat cross-segment comparison for those who are looking to by a motorcycle that can suit almost all kinds of riding styles.
On paper, both the XPulse and the Apache 200 are similar in terms of their engines. The BS6 Apache, which we have here, is powered by a 197.75-cc single-cylinder unit, which generates 20bhp and 16.8Nm of peak torque. The new BS6 Xpulse gets a 199.6cc single-cylinder engine, which produces 18bhp and 16.45Nm. We couldn’t get our hands on the BS6 Xpulse model for this comparison, which means that we had to make do with the BS4 variant, which offers a bit more power than its BS6 counterpart.
Both bikes get fuel-injection as standard and 5-speed gearboxes. The Apache is slightly more expensive, at ₹1.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), while the Xpulse is priced at ₹1.12 lakh (ex-showroom). Both bikes also get ABS as standard. Engine specs aside, both bikes have completely different ride dynamics.
The Apache, in my opinion, is simply the best 200cc motorcycle in the market. The 200cc segment is mostly filled with sports commuters, such as the Duke 200 and Pulsar 200. The Apache is superbly built and gets the best quality components. Also, it gets features such as Bluetooth connectivity and a slipper clutch. The new BS6 model feels outstanding on the road. I managed to do a 500-kilometre road trip in a single day, without any problems. In other words, I had a wonderful time with the bike.
In the city, it’s very comfortable, and its sporty and aggressive riding posture isn’t tiring at all – in fact, it feels very good. Some of the biggest highlights of the Apache include its engine and handling capabilities. The engine is the smoothest you can find in the 200cc segment, and the throttle response is quick and exciting. Even a slight flick of the wrist can make the bike pull forward very quickly. It won’t take more than a few kilometres on the Apache for you to realize and appreciate the amazing chassis of this bike.
With the clip-on handlebars, you get a nice feel from the front-end during cornering. It inspires plenty of confidence, and you enjoy the true sporty nature of this machine. The bike stays firmly planted on the road, as you manoeuvre through city traffic and on the highway with a smile on your face. It really is that good!
The engine and handling are so impressive that you can even take it to a racetrack for some serious fun. Even on nice twisty mountain roads, it handles superbly. As a highway tourer, it’s not bad either. You can easily cruise for hours at three-digit speeds. As a city bike, it makes perfect sense – its suspension is set up very well to handle bumpy roads.
What stands out about the Xpulse is its enduro appeal. It’s a very tall bike, with a high seat, which means that, on the road, you’ll seem to tower over everybody else. The Xpulse has also got a fantastic chassis, but it’s built to take on rough roads instead of tight corners. The suspension is perfect for bad roads. Also, it can be a relaxing and easy-going commuter. In small towns, it is surely a more practical option. With high handlebars and mid-mounted controls, you can easily stand up on the bike.
The bike is simply brilliant at lower speeds, but once you cross the 100km/h mark, it doesn’t quite feel so good. Even the initial acceleration feels lazy, but, still, the throttle response is quite good in the city and good enough on off-road trails. The Xpulse doesn’t have the smooth and buttery feel of the Apache RTR 200, but it’s certainly not rough as well. If you aren’t fond of sporty riding, then the Xpulse is the best bike you can get in the 200cc segment. In fact, the Xpulse is the only enduro-style bike in the 200cc segment, which makes it unique.
Those riders who enjoy aggressive and sporty riding will definitely go for the Apache, while off-road dirt-bike enthusiasts will opt for the Xpulse. People like me, however, who like both might just lean towards the Apache, for it has a lot more to offer. The Apache’s engine performance, handling, practicality, features, and build quality are far superior to the Xpulse. True, it’s more expensive, but only by about ₹17,000. Keeping that in mind, the Apache appears to be the better all-rounder.
The Xpulse is more of a niche product. So, if you’re confused between the two, my recommendation would be the Apache RTR 200. However, if you can spend an extra ₹38,000, you can get the Rally Kit for the Xpulse, which considerably boosts the X-factor of the Xpulse – making it more desirable, so-much-so that I might even consider it over the Apache.
- TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6
- HERO Xpulse 200
Engine: 197.75cc / Single Cylinder / Fuel-Injection
Power: 20bhp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 16.8Nm @ 7,500rpm
Price : ₹1.29 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-factor: The best-built and most fun 200cc sports bike in India.
• Engine performance
• Hard seat
Engine: 199.6cc / Single Cylinder / Fuel-Injection
Power: 18bhp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 16.45Nm @ 6,500rpm
Price: ₹1.12 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-factor: The only Enduro styled 200cc available in India.
• Enduro feel
• Lacking power
• Low cruising speed