Svetlana comes home

The pulsar 220 DTS-Fi was a game changer when it was launched back in 2007. It was the source of admiration for a lot of youth including me. It had many firsts, clip on handle bars, projector headlamps, digital speedo, rear disc brakes, self cancelling indicators etc. But it was very expensive. It cost around 90k or upwards when it was launched and then it was considered really expensive. I had my eye on the Red DTS-Fi since the day it launched. It was the most powerful motorcycle launched in India by an Indian company at that time.

In 2011, I had the good luck to get a used DTS-Fi from my friend, that too in a red colour.  It had run around 10k km, and was in good condition. Finally, Svetlana was home. I put around 40k kms on it in 6 years. And have ridden in on both long and short rides.

I got my real taste of proper riding on the Pulsar. I learnt to judge corners and understand braking distance. Since this was my first big bike( by Indian standards at that time), I was really scared of the motorcycle. I was scared of its disc brakes, and I was scared of its speed. I was just starting out after riding a Bajaj Boxer which is a 100cc no frills motorcycle. I started out slowly by riding around 50kmph and never going above, until I was comfortable with the speed and how I braked. Traversing the traffic in my hometown gave me more and more confidence in braking and judging the distances.

I had my first ride as part of the xBhp Trivandrum chapter, a ride from Trivandrum to Kollam. The distance was around 160km both ways. It gave me a rush and excitement that I never felt before, and I was hooked on big time.

I never trusted the Bajaj ASC much and from my experience they were not up to the mark. So I tried doing my own DIY, from changing the oil, chain to removing the brake pads and changing the brake oil.

From my DIY misadventures a single incident stands out fresh in my memory. I had changed my brake pads on my front brakes and also changed the oil. I rode up to Ponmudi, a beautiful hill near Trivandrum. While I was descending, I noticed a significant drop in front braking capabilities. I thought it might be air in the system and squeezed the brake lever a couple more times, upon which all braking capabilities just vanished. I was with out a front brake and descending a hill with 22 hair pin curves. And I had no rear brakes too since the brake pad was worn out and I had not replaced it. It was a hair raising moment. I engine braked and down shifted. Finally the motorcycle came to a stop. Upon inspection, I found that the brake fluid reservoir was completely empty. I had not tightened the bleeding nut to its proper torque and each time I applied the brake, a little bit of fluid leaked away causing the brake to be non functional. Since it was a saturday I was lucky because there would be shops open. I slowly rode along the side of a rode at around 20kmph or less to find a auto shop. I found one after half an hour or so, bought a bottle and brake fluid and filled it up. There was air in the system but it got me some braking capabilities which allowed me to reach home. Then onwards I was really careful during DIY.

On to the other facets of the motorcycle.

Pros:

  • Awesome headlamp and good throw
  • Large fuel tank 15L +
  • Cheap maintenance. Chain costs around 1.2k brake pads together 500. It is really cheap
  •  Upright riding position.
  • Really comfortable seat in comparison to my R15
  • Good fuel efficiency. Least I got was around 41(only city) and best was above 50kmpl by riding at 60 throughout.
  • Bottom end torque is really good. From 4k rpm you can cruise in the city at around 55kmph.

Cons

  • It vibrates but not as much as an RE.
  • Some parts fail now and then but easily replaced. Fi spares are a bit hard to find now.
  • Need to take care of it a bit more
  • Really small rear view mirrors.
  • The mirrors vibrate at around 90 kmph and above so it is difficult to see.
  • Self cancelling indicators, it mostly never works and is a terrible gimmick from Bajaj

Failures that occurred

  • During the first wash, I washed the motorcycle a bit too enthusiastically and, sadly water got in and shorted out a circuit near the battery. Couldn’t trace it for a couple of months. The bike would be okay after the water evaporated.
  • After service, one of the connectors was left loose by the mechanic. Loose contact during the ride and once while going to office, stopped in the middle of the road. Dad figured out the reason was the positive supply not getting to the key.
  • After service, speedometer was not working. Service centre the meter was kaput. Took it to another service centre and it was the cable that was detached. ( I have heard that the service centres do this so that the odometer does not change much)
  • Oil getting burnt. There were scratches in the cylinder and the oil was getting burnt. Went for a long ride just by topping up the oil. Changed the cylinder kit. Cost around 3k.
  • Once the service station while using the pressure washer shorted out the started coil. This caused the battery to overheat. Had to change the battery and the starter coil. Battery was 2k and starter coil was around 1.4k although I am not sure.
  • When it rains the oil fuel low sensor comes on automatically. This issue is there in multiple pulsar models I guess.
  • The engine kill switch just stopped working suddenly. It cost me around 500 INR to change it and sourcing it for the DTSFi was a bit hard since most shops did not have that specific part in stock.

It feels really bad when the bike stops in the middle of the road but most of the above issues are due to the service centre’s problem. I cannot stress the need to find a good service centre and a mechanic whom you can trust. Else you will be in a world of stress.

I really love my bike. It hasn’t failed me. Given its niggles and everything, I can live with it. It is really cheap to maintain and truly value for money. What more does a person want?

How fast does it go?

  • My speedo has clocked 131kmph once in the Kanyakumari-Tirunelveli highway. I rolled off my throttle and didn’t want to push it further. The mirrors were vibrating and it did not feel safe.

How well does it accelerate?

  • I found it to be a sedate motorcycle, and accelerating too much resulted in a lot of vibrations.

How does it handle?

  • It handles well although I haven’t taken it to the edge. The front feedback is not as sharp and the brakes are not that good. So, it is better not to risk it.

Have I had any crashes on it?

  • Yes once, when I was doing a downhill left hander under 30, the front washed out and I flew off to the side. Damage was scratches on the left side of the faring, bent crash guard and worn-down clutch lever nub.

 

3
At Land’s end, Dhanushkodi beach
2
The Golden Peak, Ponmudi
1
Traffic stop in style

 

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