There is an abundance of cheaper end commuter bikes on the market, some of them are quite ordinary and feel as cheap as their price tags but others like this Kymco Pulsar S actually do a fantastic job. Ok it’s still a no frills bike (it costs just £1699, plus OTR costs) but you’re getting quite a nippy and well put together Taiwanese bike for your money. Obviously you’re getting all the standard bits and pieces you expect from a modern commuter bike, like electric start, side stand, centre stand, rear carrier and conservative styling but you’re also getting it from a name you can trust and it’s got a bit of oomph behind it too.
The Pulsar S looks quite substantial up close, it’s a chunky machine rather than a weedy looking lightweight bike and that extra bit of bulk certainly helps it to feel stable out on the road, that stability is helped by the twin rear shocks as well.
Prod the starter and snick it into first, it’s a five speed manual box on this bike and one of the first things you’ll notice is just how feather light the clutch is and also how precise and smooth the gearbox is. Our test bike was actually a pre production model and had a rotational rather than sequential gearbox but that won’t be on the production models. The bike also came with just kmh on the clock rather than mph, which will also be sorted on the bikes you’ll find in your local Kymco dealership. The riding position is very comfortable and natural so you’re soon at home in the saddle, just as it should be on a bike you’ll probably spend most of your time sat on whilst heading to or from some mundane job. After all you don’t want to arrive feeling cramped up after battling in on a sports bike after being forced into a racing crouch.
Some four stroke 125’s are pretty gutless, you’ll struggle to keep up with traffic and have to plan any infrequent overtakes with military precision, not with the Pulsar though. It’s got quite a lively engine; it soon picks up revs and will hit its 60mph top speed without too much effort. It’s also got a rev counter and the tacho will easily spin into the red, peaking at around 9500rpm. In fact it’s quite a rev hungry bike and certainly doesn’t struggle to spin the needle. The bike has a gear position indicator on the basic but functional clocks, it’s a welcome addition to any geared bike, although it is a bit hard to read in bright sunlight but is still legible once you get used to it. I was soon feeling like the bike was quick enough to overtake at will, I was also pleasantly surprised at just how well the bike goes around corners; it’s not shy about getting stuck in, so there are no complaints about the handling or suspension from me. It’ll also turn around in the smallest of roads so no need to worry about the turn in the road manoeuvre if you’re taking your test on one of these. Brakes are also worth mentioning, the front disc, rear drum combination give plenty of stopping power and to be honest it’s not a problem having a drum as opposed to a disc on the rear of this particular bike.
The Pulsar S is well finished, looks well put together and it rides well too. Add in the price tag and it’s powerful engine (making just less than the permissible power limit) and you’ve got the makings of a very useful little commuter bike. It’s the kind of bike that deserves to be used by training schools and Wheels 2 Work schemes, as well as the ordinary commuter. New stock will be arriving in dealers by early May so snap one up whilst you can. In a class usually dominated by the likes of the Yamaha YBR 125 and the Honda CBF125 it’s good to see a worthy budget alternative.