We waste no time in caking the Xpulse in a layer of dirt as we welcome it with open arms into our long-term fleet.
The Hero Xpulse has long been a fan favourite in our long-term fleet, even in its 2-valve guise. So when we rode the greatly improved 4-valve version a few months ago, there were already discussions about where the long-termer would end up once it eventually entered our fleet. At the end of the day, the chips landed my way, and off I went to pick it up from the dealership.
STEAMROLLER: Plush suspension flattens almost anything you throw at it.
The ride home involved picking up a pillion, which solved a long-standing conundrum in my mind. For years now, I’ve heard everyone and their uncle praise the superbly plush ride quality of the Xpulse. But alas, my slender build has never worked the bike’s suspension hard enough to actually enjoy this, which means I’ve always been the outlier who’s never found the ride quality outstanding. Throwing a passenger on-board suddenly transformed this humble dual-sport into a steamroller. Bumps, speedbreakers, potholes – nothing fazes this motorcycle once its suspension is in its working range. The way it shrugs off road imperfections and simply flattens everything in your path is truly mind-boggling. And it does all this while still maintaining great body control, not letting things get too wallowy.
KEEP IT LIGHT: Very light and manageable, easy to ride off road.
A few days later, I managed to take it into its natural habitat and continue enjoying the benefits of that suspension travel. This time around, it turned into a scalpel of sorts, neatly carving out a flat-track style oval on the blank canvas of a bumpy dried-up lake bed. The lightness and manageability of the Xpulse is greatly appreciated by someone like me who is often daunted by the thought of taking a big, heavy adventure bike off-road.
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?: Rear number plate fell off somewhere along the way.
And since this particular style of off-roading doesn’t require you to stand up on the pegs, the long narrow seat felt great to anchor myself on, and the leverage offered by the wide handlebar was more than welcome on a bike with a 21-inch front wheel (I also rode an Impulse back to back, and the flickability offered by its smaller 19-inch wheel was apparent). The rubber wrapping the Xpulse’s wheels is also one of the highlights, with enough grip to keep you safe and entertained on the road, while being very predictable and progressive off-road.
BEND OVER: Handlebar is a little too low for standing-up riding position.
Getting to this lake-bed did involve standing up on the pegs, and this is when the bike’s riding position comes across as a little less than perfect. Even with my not-so-tall frame, the handlebars seem a little too low to feel natural when standing up. On the upside, the fuel tank fits neatly between your legs when standing, letting you grip the bike well with your thighs. And between the suspension doing its thing and you using your legs as de facto shock absorbers, the Xpulse can take on the roughest that our wilderness has to offer. Despite its inherent lightness, the Xpulse seems keen on shedding a few more grams, because somewhere along the way, it dropped its rear number plate. With a replacement now installed, the bike has been handed over to Rishaad – a far more seasoned off-road rider – who I’m sure will still be just as entertained by this likeable little motorcycle.