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Hero XPulse 200 – Not Every Journey Has To Be Heart-Stopping

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Regular readers of this humble website might remember how I – perhaps foolishly, or is the word inadvisedly? – rode a Hero XPulse 200 3,000 km over New Year 2022/2023 in order to prove something or other: right now the reason escapes me, although what is not in doubt is my surprise, however, misplaced, that the machine took everything I could throw at it and came out the other side with flying colours.

Now, that I undertook a journey that the Xpulse 200 was not necessarily designed for – but which still acquitted itself perfectly in the execution thereof – is certainly a testament to the quality of the product. But what it didn’t tell me was what it is like to live with one on a day-to-day basis which is what I recently had the chance to discover. Practical, certainly: frugal, definitely: but interesting enough to maintain interest or merely to be seen as a means of transport and nothing else? Hmmm, not sure about that.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

In this job, we get to ride the latest and greatest, the fastest and the most dynamic. If there is a problem, it is that we don’t always get to use them in the arenas for which they were designed. Now, experience dictates that we can extrapolate a bike’s qualities from a short ride and, let’s face it, we are pretty certain that the modern motorcycle, in whatever form it takes, will perform faultlessly, no matter how far out of its comfort zone it might be when we are riding it.

It would be lovely to have an adventure bike and spend five days bashing through the undergrowth and across the mountains. It would be incredible to have a sports bike and have the use of a track for a day or two to really get to understand the depths of its ability (always more than our own personal depths!). But that’s just not possible, certainly in terms of adventure bikes, touring bikes or sports bikes. Sadly, life in all its mundanity gets in the way.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

But, now, supply us with an inexpensive, basic motorcycle that is designed primarily for the urban environment and, all of a sudden, here is something we can work with without too much trouble. Yes, the Xpulse 200 has some off-road ability built in but, let’s face it, it exists as a practical urban workhorse and, let me tell you, at this, it excels.

As an interesting counterpoint to the XPulse, a Suzuki GSX-S1000 was also in the garage at the same time and, let me tell you, for all the qualities of the Suzuki – and they are many – the Hero had it licked when riding around town. Long travel and supple suspension made any trip, no matter how short or long, nothing to be worried about. The lack of power meant that wet, greasy roads held no fears of the sickening slide and crunch and the frugality just has to be experienced to be believed. Not only that but, in everyday use and no matter the distance, the Hero was very little – if at all – slower than the Suzuki. I timed a journey to Centurion from Johannesburg on both bikes and the Hero arrived mere minutes later than the infinitely faster Suzuki.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

I mentioned the frugality but it bears repeating: this thing seems to make its own petrol! Often, the fuel gauge would have one bar left when I parked it up, only for it to read two or three bars when I set off again. I just never seem to need to put petrol in it and, even when I did, it took suspiciously little to fill it up!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

In short, it is very hard to find an argument against the Hero as an everyday practical mode of transport. Exciting it might not be but, then, you aren’t buying it for that. The Suzuki is exciting but often for all the wrong reasons, especially with the state of the roads, not to mention the standard of driving you encounter all the time. I’m not knocking the Suzuki, you understand: I’m just saying that it has its place and, I’m really sorry to say, it’s not in the city.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

The Hero does what it does without fireworks but that’s perfectly acceptable: you’re not buying a R300,000, 150+bhp performance machine. The important thing to recognise here is that the Hero does what it does supremely well, without fuss or complaint and has enough character and ability to excel out on the open road – or dirt trail – if that’s where the road takes you. You might not get a heart-stopping thrill riding it but, to be honest, thrills are not what we are needing every time we swing a leg over a motorcycle: it’s enough to simply be on two wheels and appreciate the freedom that it gives us without having to give thanks and have a brandy or two at the end of every journey to recover.

The more I ride it, the more the Hero grows on me and it was already very well ensconced in my affections. You might think you need the biggest, best and fastest bike in your garage but you also need a slice of realism and, at the price of the XPulse 200, you can have your cake and eat it as well.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Hero XPulse 200

For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the link below…

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Harry has been obsessing about motorbikes for over 45 years, riding them for 38 years and writing and talking about them for 13 years. In that time, he has ridden everything from an Aprilia to a Zundapp, from the 1920s to the 2020s. His favourites are the ones that didn’t break down and leave him stranded. While he loves the convenience of modern bikes, he likes nothing better than getting his hands dirty keeping old bikes running, just as long as it’s not by the roadside! Old enough to know better and young enough not to care, he knows you don’t stop riding when you get old, you get old when you stop riding.
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