Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bajaj Pulsar: The Story of India's most successful motorbike

Bajaj Pulsar is a motorcycle brand owned by Bajaj Auto in India. The two wheeler was developed by the product engineering division of Bajaj Auto in association with famous Japanese design house Tokyo R&D.


History
Before the introduction of the Pulsar, the Indian motorcycle market trend was towards fuel efficient, small capacity motorcycles (that formed the 80-125 cc class). Bigger motorcycles with higher capacity virtually did not exist (except for Enfield Bullet). The launch and success of Hero Honda CBZ in 1999 showed that there was demand for performance bikes. Bajaj took the cue from there on and launched the Pulsar twins in India on November 24, 2001. The Pulsars excited segments of Indian youth, mainly due to a muscular shape and stylish design[2] as well as its powerful engine (in Indian context) at reasonable fuel efficiency and affordable cost. The Pulsars are believed to be greatly successful in redefining the market trend. Since the introduction and success of Pulsar, the Indian youth began expecting high power and other features from affordable motorcycles.

Market position
As of 2006, the Bajaj Pulsars arguably form the most popular motorbike product in the newly emerging 150+ cc class of Indian two wheeler market. Bajaj have been regularly making alterations to it to make the motorbike look fresh at all times.

Versions


























2001
The earliest Pulsar implemented an air-cooled, single cylinder, petrol powered, spark-ignited four-stroke engine. The early product offerings under the Pulsar brand name featured a single spark plug to ignite the air-fuel mixture fed from a carburetor, simple spring shock absorbers, round headlamp dome and a short wheelbase of 1235 mm. Both 150 and 180 featured disc brakes as standard equipment - something that was a novelty in Indian motorcycles of early 2000s. On the list of standard features were parking lights and an aircraft-type fuel-filler. The 180 cc Pulsar came with built-in Electric Start (ES) feature and twin tone horns while these two features were optional equipment on the 150 cc..


















2003
The second generation Pulsars featured Bajaj Auto's newly developed DTSi technology . The technology resulted in increased power rating of both the Pulsars by 1 bhp each and a simultaneous increase in the fuel economy as well. This version also sported a new headlamp assembly apart from the usual round headlamp, and the wheelbase also increased by 55mm to make it 1320 mm. The longer wheelbase made the stability of the bike better than its predecessor. Other standard features to be added were twin-horn and a trip-gauge.

2005
In 2005, Bajaj launched another upgrade of the Pulsar. The bike was offered with 17 inch alloy wheels as standard option, and the stance was also lowered by about 12 mm to make it look meaner. It was the first time any bike maker in India had offered 17 inch profile wheels at the rear. The fuel tank now had a capacity of only 15 litres. The power output was now further increased to 13.5 bhp @ 8500 rpm. The rear shock absorbers were now gas-filled Nitrox absorbers.























2006
In December 2006, Bajaj introduced another version of Pulsar, this time even more features were added to offer the customers. The list of new features inclulde: headlamp changed to separate the pilot lamps from the main headlamp; turn indicators feature clear lens glass with amber bulb; new self-cancelling turn indicator switch; a flush, lightweight, LCD screen, which offers a digital read-out of the key vehicle data; non-contact type speed sensor that feeds the wheel's speed data on to the display; non-contact type, backlit switches; a twin-stripe tail light unit that houses an array of light-emitting diodes; the body side panels altered to give a new, sharp, tapering-towards-the-rear look; the old engine's performance has been bettered with increased torque availability, reduced vibration and improved shift feel to the gearbox.






















2007
In July 2007, Bajaj began selling the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi, featuring fuel injection, a digital dash, and modern styling.

Technology

DTSi
DTSi stands for Digital Twin Spark Ignition, a Bajaj Auto trademark. The DTSi idea is a simple one to understand - it involved usage of two spark plugs (instead of the usual choice of one) per engine cylinder.
Bajaj Auto holds an Indian patent for the DTSi technology. The Alfa Romeo Twin-Spark engines, the Rotax motorcycle engines and the more recent Honda iDSI engines use a similar arrangement of two spark-plugs. However very few small capacity engines did eventually implement such a scheme in their production prototypes. This may be the case because the idea was perhaps not observed to yield any significant or noticeable performance benefit that could be justified against the additional investment of an extra spark plug. This may well be the reason behind very few Indian motorcycles offering products based on the multiple-spark-plugs technology. In India, it has often been a subject of debate and curiosity if the multiple-spark-plug idea is of any noticeable utility or not.


















Patent Infringement Allegations
Recently, Bajaj Auto was in the news for accusing TVS Motors, long-standing rivals of patent infringement on the DTSi technology. TVS countered by threatening to sue Bajaj Auto for libel. However, the launch of the controversial product has been set back by a few months, even though it had been earlier proclaimed as being 'ready to roll out' by the company representatives. TVS has also been trying to get the Bajaj patent revoked. Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajeev Bajaj said the company would wait for TVS's Flame to be out in the market to decide on future course of action regarding the patent infringement suit. "We have no overwhelming desire or fondness to go to the court," Bajaj said.
Bajaj Auto mentions on their website that the usage of the twin spark plugs ensures a cleaner burn and less unburnt fuel in the exhaust as well as a higher thermodynamic efficiency. The supporters of this idea also claim that usage of an additional spark plug enables the engine to run a leaner air-fuel mixture leading to improved fuel efficiency. The performance of the DTSi equipped engines at high engine speeds has often been claimed to be on par with, and at times better than their Indian counterparts, despite having lower engine capacities.
This claim might have substance, because, at high speeds, when the stroke-time available for combustion is already very low, an additional spark plug could possibly help in realizing more complete combustion and therefore more torque. However, it should be noted that this particular benefit would be truly realized only at very high engine speeds (well over the typical on-street range of 1000-6000 RPM). In the typical speed range, the time available for combustion happens to be quite sufficient and it may not matter whether the combustion is fired using a single spark plug or two of them. However, the technology is interesting enough to have inspired competitors to have invested USD 2 million to come out with their own version.
Bajaj Auto introduced the DTSi scheme first in their Pulsar engines (with engine cylinder capacities of 150 cc and 180 cc) and then followed up with the Discover engines (with engine cylinder capacities of 125 cc and 135 cc). Bajaj knows that if it goes to court, it will loose and that is the reason they backed down.

ExhausTEC
ExhausTEC stands for Exhaust Torque Expansion Chamber, a Bajaj Auto trademark. The technology involves use of a small chamber connected to the exhaust pipe of the engine to modify the back-pressure and the swirl characteristics, with an aim to improve the low-end performance of the bikes. This was attempted in response to the issue of a reported lack of low-end response in Bajaj's single-cylinder four-stroke engines. The ExhausTEC technology is claimed to be highly effective in improving the overall engine response, especially the low-end torque characteristics. This enhanced performance is claimed to come at no loss of top-end performance or engine smoothness.

Fuel injection

Fuel injection technology worldwide
As opposed to the carburetor, the fuel injection mechanism usually improves the engine startability, offers a brisker torque response to throttle changes and diagnostics features. It is possible to establish accurate closed-loop control of air-fuel ratio by using the fuel injection mechanism (as an actuator) and utilizing feedback information from an exhaust oxygen sensor (as a sensor). These two components require sophisticated manufacturing practices and therefore a closed-loop fuel injection system forms a costly proposition. It was discovered in late 1970s that accurate closed-loop control of air-fuel mixture encourages efficient destruction of exhaust pollutants in a three-way catalytic converters thereby enabling a gasoline engine to produce substantially low exhaust emission quantities as demanded by the emission standards worldwide. It is for this reason that microprocessor based fuel injection technology has been implemented widely in gasoline powered four-wheelers since early 1980s. In early 1990s, several global two-wheeler OEMs also began downsizing and adapting the fuel injection technology for use in two-wheelers; the most notable efforts[10] have perhaps been those from Honda.

Fuel injection technology in India
In India, all four wheelers since late 1990s feature microprocessor based closed-loop fuel injection technology in place of traditional carburetor to meet the Bharat emission standards imposed by the Government of India.[11] Indian two-wheeler companies have been little sluggish in comparison, however since early 2000s, they too have initiated developing the fuel injection technology to meet the emission standards of the future (early 2010s) and for customer appeal of a high-end technology.
The relatively late entry of fuel injection technology in Indian two-wheelers is mainly attributed to the higher cost sensitiveness of the Indian two-wheeler market in comparison with the Indian four-wheeler market.
It is for these reasons, introductions of fuel-injected motorcycles such as Glamour FI, Pulsar 220 into Indian market are often considered as bold, aggressive moves. The often prohibitively higher cost that fuel-injection warrants limits the application to the 'premium' segment of the motorcycle market, as is exemplified by the rather slow sales of the Glamour FI.
However, the early fuel injected two-wheelers in India are not expected to implement the aforesaid closed-loop control of air-fuel ratio in view of the consequent cost implications. Rather they are likely to implement the less costly option of "open-loop" or feed-forward regulation of air-fuel ratio thereby avoiding usage of (costly) exhaust oxygen sensor. Automotive experts argue that such a scheme, in comparison with the aforesaid closed-loop scheme, is often significantly less effective in reducing exhaust pollutants. As a result, the early fuel injected Indian two-wheelers are not likely to be significantly more environment-friendly than their carburetted counterparts. However, these fuel-injected two-wheelers are expected to outdo their carburetted counterparts in the areas of pickup, mileage, durability, dashboard diagnostics and the customer appeal of a high-end technology.

Criticisms

Due to the shape of the fuel tank, youngsters often refer the Bajaj Pulsar as "The Nut Crusher". Unfortunately, even in the upcoming model, the Pulsar DTS-Fi 220 cc, the manufacturers have not changed the design of the tank. It is to be noted, however, that the problem occurs mainly due to new riders not being accustomed to the increased stopping power of the disc-brakes, as well as the higher speeds involved while 'upgrading' from lower-capacity (100cc) 'commuter' motorcycles. Taller riders often find it difficult to 'tuck in', due to the lack of knee recesses.

The infamous front fork failure in some of the later Pulsar 200 models raise concerns over component quality, though the faulty forks were later called back and replaced inconspicuously by the manufacturer.
Pulsar gearboxes on older models were notorious for false neutrals. The earliest models suffered from oil starvation problems with the clutch plates, which were rectified in later models. The gearbox problems, however, persisted until the 2007 models were introduced.

The earlier models also had a non-progressive clutch, which required some fine control on the user's part for a 'clean' take-off. While it made the Pulsar the 'Wheelie King' of the segment, on-track performance suffered. It was also rather jerky in bumper-to-bumper traffic as a result.

2006 Model
The new design Pulsar also faces numerous defects. The LED Tail Lights, Electronic Fuel gauge and Auto Start malfunctions frequently. However Bajaj seems to be quick in removing the defects and most of the sensor related issues are being sorted out by simply providing free replacements of those sensors.Also the faulty fork on first batch of Pulsar 200 were instantly replaced with newly designed forks.

Pulsar Videos & Commercials:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j78EvI0Af7I (Pulsar 200 TV Commerical)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j78EvI0Af7I (Pulsar 220 TV Commercial)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcl6gnEuYHw (Pulsar 150 TV Commerical)

Source: Wikipedia

1 comments:

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