I got my Xpulse 2 weeks back and done 1000 kms, ridden in the city, highway and off roads. Below is my experience with my bike so far.
Power delivery is linear, there is no sudden jerks or sudden increase in power anywhere in the rev range. Low end is okayish, mid range is very good, acceleration in mid range from 3500 to 7000 rpm is strong. 5th gear acceleration is also good. Cruising speed is 80 to 90kmph. Engine is stressed post 6500 rpm that is after 90kmph, stress in the sense engine noise, not like bike is unstable or unable to handle at those speeds. 100kmph comes at 7000 rpm and the bike is still stable. I would be happy if 100kmph is stress free. There are very little buzz in the sides of the fuel tank where knee touches between 4500 to 5500 rpm and after 7000 rpm. Other than that bike is smooth especially low end & mid range are. There are no vibes in the handlebar or in the seat. Rubber mounting in the foot pegs reduce the vibes in it.
I expected the engine to be tractable like pulling from 25kmph in 5th gear without any hiccups but it’s not. 5th, 4th, 3rd & 2nd gear should be kept above 50, 40, 30 & 20 kmph to avoid lugging. Gear box is smooth and have positive feel but it needs a little more pressure than usual to shift in slow speeds especially first gear to neutral needs lot more pressure. First gear is very short & remaining gears are tall. I like the 2nd and 3rd gear, we can ride 30kmph in 2nd, 40kmph in 3rd gear without feeling sudden jerks or over revving especially when riding easy off road sections which I do most of the time.
The long travel front suspension is on the stiffer side compared to the Himalayan. When going over sharp potholes or obstacles, the shock is transferred to the rider. The small obstacles, bigger speed breakers and jumping over bumps in off road are easy and composed. I like the fork gaiters. Overall front is tuned for aggressive off roading. The rear mono shock suspension is very hard, the preload is 10 step adjustable, the default setting is 4, I moved 2 clicks down even then very little difference and still it’s hard. Every uneven surfaces in the road are felt by the rider but with the pillion the rear shock feels better. A link type mono shock like in the Himalayan will be good. Over all the rear is tuned for expert off road riders who will be pushing the bike to the limits like jumping high in the off roads tracks. For example joints in the cement bridges are felt by the rider, almost like a road bike from the seat, if there is a big round layer of road just like a big pizza removed from the tarmac and rider wants to ride over it without slowing down which causes discomfort from the rear shock but if standing nothing to complain about. Rear shock is the only thing I’m heavily disappointed in the Xpulse.
Brakes are good, front have decent stopping power but doesn’t have initial bite and feel. No nosedive even under hard braking. Rear brakes have good initial bite, stopping power and progressive feel. Easily lockable which is good for off road riding. The Ceat Girp XL tyres are amazing, I expected it to be very bad on the tarmac but it’s not, they have good grip in the sand and the tarmac from an dual purpose tyre stand point.
Ergonomics, Rider sit upright with forward set foot pegs, almost like sitting in a wooden chair with narrow seat. Seat is soft when pressing in hands but when sitting & riding it’s hard even the pillion seat is. A 50km ride will make the bum pain. I expected the seat to be good for a 200kms ride. Also the seat is narrow from start to end like the motocross bikes so there is no under thigh support to distribute the upper body weight which gives back pain. I expected the seat like in the Himalayan where it starts narrow and goes wide for a comfortable ride. I recommend to have a air seat for longer rides which gives more contact to have a comfortable ride.
Road, For office commutes the bike is great, In my office commute I have to deal with 15+ speed bumps one way so commute itself is fun riding the Xpulse. In highway if kept under 90 kmph no issues, occasional 100kmph can be done for overtaking. When Going over obstacles or uneven surfaces without discomfort, rider needs to standup or else have to slow down like road bikes since the suspensions are stiffer. Strong mid-range makes overtakings easy.
I used to do easy off roading in KTM Duke, so coming from 17" road tyres, short travel stiffer suspension, the Xpulse makes it easy riding off road. Tyres play a big role providing good grip in sand. Big 21" front makes it easy going over obstacles, long travel suspension makes small jumps easier. The foot pegs rubber mounting can be removed easily without any tools for riding in the mud. Handlebar is wide and comfortable. It’s not as high as in the Himalayan to stand upright comfortably but it’s positioned lower to have a aggressive off road riding position to ride fast. I like it. I like the fuel tank shape, It’s comfortable to keep knees close to the tank when sitting and while standing(leaning forward) gives good support without any discomfort. The side panels below the seat are not wide which is gives good grip while standing(leaning back).
Bike weights 155kg is the main reason why I choose Xpulse over Himalayan even the cruising capabilities are limited. The low weight makes easy handling, even with long wheel base and extended trail and bigger rake angle, bike is easily flickable and direction changes in road and off roads are easy. Taking U turns are also easy since the turning radius is smaller than I expected. Cornering is fun, I lean angles as much as I do with my Duke in open wide corner roads which is big surprise to me. Sudden direction changes are easy like a street naked, does not feels like a 21" front with dual sport tyres. From the showroom my bike comes with an issue when handlebar is made loose, bike goes to the right which is fixed by truing the spoke wheels.
First service needs to be done between 500 to 750 Kms then remaining periodic service intervals are 3000 Kms or 3 months. It’s recommended to change engine oil in alternative services and top up in remaining times so at 6000 Kms engine oil will be changed but I might be changing at every time since my usage heavy. It seems Hero uses mineral oil, guessing by it cost 350 rupees. I have done the first service at around 700 Kms which cost me 450 rupees. Total 5 free labour services.
Headlight is LEDs, throw & intensity is good, the stock settings throws light to the sky but its easily adjustable using an 8mm spanner, we need move the whole headlight up & down, not like adjusting a screw will move the bulb alone. Horn in decent, not quiet like my duke. I like the rear brake light LEDs. The indicators are the odd bits which is contradictory to the modern led headlight and led brake lights, led indicators are welcome changes in the future. The small windshield is very effective to deflect the air but in slow speeds it vibrates, not much disturbing though. The material quality is not good, it’s scratch magnet, from the showroom I received with a scratch in it. Rear view mirrors gives good visibility, It doesn’t not vibrate much but slight buzz is there may be I over-tightened it. They are wide so in traffic it touches other vehicles. The quality of the plastic used in the mirrors is not good. The mechanism to adjust the mirrors are different and tougher than usual, we can’t adjust it without tools.
Coming from the KTM Duke which has a digital display with lot of information, I like the big wide digital console. It has Gear position indicator, Trip1, Trip 2, Bluetooth paring and Eco mode indications. I like the Eco mode and gear change suggestions in it. It’s easy to pair with the Bluetooth using the Hero app which has inbuilt map. The navigation's can be pushed from the app but it does not show all the routes that are shown in Google maps, especially the roads less taken. Also navigation’s shown in the display are little different from the Google maps navigation so the user have to get used to it. It also shows the caller ID and the message received but only when navigation is ON otherwise it won’t show them, disappointing. I haven’t encountered the calls or messages shown in the console yet. I miss the average fuel consumption in the trip 1,2 and the instant fuel consumption options. I like date and time displayed. The mode and set button are very small and placed on the right side of the display having no gap between them, we will operate the buttons while moving using the left hand with gloves so difficult to reach also less feedback to know the button is pressed or not. I like the service reminder indication with a spanner icon when Kms reached and the remaining kms to go for next service while we switch on the key.
Fuel efficiency is around 35kmpl for mixed riding in traffic, highway and off roads. The tank capacity is 13 litres so range comes around 400+ Kms. The carb variant misses out the metal bash plate, knuckle guards and petal disc brakes while the FI variant has all these. It’s disappointing to miss out all these features. I bought Carb because the unavailability of the FI model. The gloss finish fuel tank paint quality is good in the carb variant and I very much like the matt finish paint quality in the FI variant. The other panels quality are also good. I like the front mud guard design, instead of having a full size one close to the tyre and an high mounted one like in the Himalayan, the half cut lower mudguard look neet. The rear mud guard looks bigger, feels out of place compared to the other parts of the bike but it’s easily removable, there are only two bolts under the mudguard, the number plate needs to be fixed somewhere else if removed.
Tail rack is very small but it’s good to have one instead of nothing, I like it’s made of aluminium. This will help when bigger saddle bags needs to be mounted for longer riders or we can have a small tail bag with some necessary tools in it all the time. Hero is selling a set of water proof saddle bags with stay and a tail bag for cost 6800, but it looks very small. Side stand is easily accessible, When the luggage is mounted on the rear seat or tail rack, We can climb up & down on the bike with side stand down. Coming from KTM, side stand used to loose when we put more weight on them. Center stand is available as an accessory for around 500 rupees, yet to get it.
Overall, I like the Xpulse for its off road capabilities, road handling, fuel tank capacity and digital console. It will good if Hero offers comfortable seat, softer rear suspension and 6th gear for easy cruising in the highways. Looking forward to ride more in the off roads.