August 2, 2021

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Hero Xpulse 200 Rally Kit review, test ride

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The Xpulse 200 is a great value-for-money off-roader, but for Rs 38,000 more, Hero will sell you a fully road-legal Rally Kit that ramps up the bike’s off-road abilities. This includes a longer travel, rebound and compression adjustable front fork, a preload and rebound adjustable monoshock and Maxxis off-road knobbies. You also get a handlebar riser, a longer gear lever to accommodate bulky off-road boots, a tall rally-style seat and a longer side stand. That’s proper off-road kit for not a lot of money, but is it for everyone? 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The changes that the Rally Kit brings about are apparent from the moment you climb onto the bike. With the taller suspension and seat, you’re perched a massive 933mm high, in comparison to the 823mm on the stock bike. If you use the stock seat with the Rally Kit suspension, the height is 882mm, while the rally seat on the stock suspension sits at 878mm – both tall combinations that will take some getting used to.

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Rally seat is not only much taller and completely flat, but also a little more comfortable.

Being 6 feet tall, I usually never worry about getting my feet down when coming to a halt, but with this bike I had to be careful of where I came to a stop and make sure I got it right. This was even more necessary off-road, as I found out the hard way. And soon after, I discovered that, at 158kg with the kit (stock is 157kg), this bike is nowhere close to being as light as the 105-odd kilo 250cc dirt bikes available from Kawasaki or Suzuki. Then again, it is about five times lighter on the pocket and road legal too. 

The Maxxis knobbies go against everything you expect a tyre to do on tarmac. They never feel settled and it’s like you’re constantly riding on a flat tyre. Cornering is a nervous experience as well and then there’s also the loud droning tyre noise on tarmac. 

Just to prove how they hate being on tarmac, our tyres have done just over 700km and are already showing signs of wear. As you’ll see in the spec table, the performance suffers too, but surprisingly, the braking distance actually reduced in our tests! 

DIRTY DANCING

But none of this matters because the Rally Kit helps you experience what a serious off-road setup feels like in the dirt. You’ll soon realise that the trick with these tyres is to let the handlebar move about and figure itself out. This can be an unusual sensation at first, but once you get the hang of it, you start to realise that this is a very capable motorcycle to ride in the dirt. Honestly, these tyres had more grip than someone at my skill level would know what to do with them.

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Maxxis off-road knobbies take plenty of getting used to, but are very capable in the dirt.

The suspension is very comfortable on the road, but it really comes into its own once you pick up speed. Bumps, jumps and ruts are dealt with a damping composure that’s noticeably better than the stock suspension and the bike flies through them in a completely unflustered manner. But if you just want to tackle tricky trails at a low speed, you won’t feel the benefit of this suspension as much.

KIT UP?

By now, you should be able to figure if the Rally Kit is for you. If you’re looking at aggressive off road riding, or considering a debut in competitive rallying, there isn’t anything else like it at this price. However, the components are also available individually, and you should definitely consider some of those options if you own an Xpulse. For example, tall riders can make the bike much more comfortable with just the seat and the handlebar riser, for a total of Rs 2,850.

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If you then feel the stock suspension isn’t as capable as you’d like, you can go for the suspension, at Rs 18,000 for the fork and Rs 7,500 for the shock. As for the tyres, which are priced at Rs 10,000 for the pair, we’d only recommend them if your time on tarmac is minimal to nonexistent. 

Overall, the Rally Kit completely changes the experience the motorcycle provides, and it offers unmatched value for money.

 

Also see:

2020 Hero Xpulse review, test ride

Hero Xpulse 200 long term review, first report

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