That must've been a difficult shot to take!
That must've been a difficult shot to take!Shot by Abhishek Benny

Hero Xpulse 200 4V vs BMW R 1250 GS | A series of unique tests

We pit the most affordable and one of the most expensive ADVs against each other for a series of fun tests

Now in the last few years ADVs have been all the buzz in the two-wheeler market and for good reason. As much as our country may have developed, we can’t really say the same for our roads. That’s where ADVs come into play. Bikes with a big front wheel and enough ground clearance to ensure that no matter what the condition of the roads, your pace doesn’t reduce. Thankfully in India, we have a range of ADVs of all shapes and sizes. To prove just how capable these bikes are in our conditions we conducted an interesting experiment. We got two bikes from opposite ends of the spectrum, the most affordable, and the most expensive. Representing the budget end is the Hero Xpulse 200 4V while on the pricey side is the big daddy of all ADVs, the BMW R 1250 GS. Now wait a minute, I don’t need to be admitted to a psychiatric ward just yet, hear me out. The Hero Xpulse 200 and the BMW R 1250 GS represent the two ends of the spectrum of the types of ADVs you can get in the country and we’re going to put them through a series of challenges. This isn’t a comparison to help you decide which you should choose but merely a fun series of tests with a lot of laughs to be had. And to do all the crazy things that I have planned and that I clearly am not capable of pulling off myself, I got stunt god Hrishi Mandke on board to help out. We’ve conducted five different tests that encompass most things a rider would do with a bike such as this. These tests involve jumps, slides, wheelies, rock crossings and finally a road test. So let’s get right into how these bikes performed.

It's all about the airtime

Passing the test with flying colors!
Passing the test with flying colors!Shot by Abhishek Benny

Now a jump test is very crucial when testing adventure bikes. Apart from looking cool while jumping a motorcycle, it is a crucial skill to be able to navigate the tricky inconsistent terrain that you encounter when riding a bike off-road. To be able to jump a bike successfully you need to have a well-sorted chassis that can absorb the landing without unsettling the bike or the rider. In that regard, the R 1250 GS with its sophisticated, proprietary Telelever and Paralever suspension setup does feel a lot more planted and stable while landing and this is despite its gargantuan dimensions. But with the correct rider, case in point Hrishi Mandke, the Xpulse 200 will take to air just as easily and in fact is easier to get more altitude with, considering its lightness. Nevertheless, both bikes passed this test with flying colours, see what I did there?

Going sideways

Going sideways on a motorcycle is just as fun!
Going sideways on a motorcycle is just as fun!Shot by Abhishek Benny

A slide test is the next most important test when testing an ADV’s capabilities. The benefits of sliding are multifold. It feels great to do, you can kick up a proper dust storm but most importantly it is a skill that allows you to tackle even the tightest trails and even helps you mix it up in terms of what terrain you ride on. Knowing how to slide and how to control your slide comes in handy when you want to navigate tricky and tight corners or when you want to change direction very quickly. In this test, the BMW R 1250 GS definitely came out ahead just because of the sheer amount of power on tap. Load the front end, give a handful of twist on the throttle and let mayhem ensue. The Xpulse 200 4V can’t exactly power slide but dab the rear brake and you can definitely coax a slide or two out of the Hero as well.

Right side up!

The Hero Xpulse 200 4V pops its front wheel easily
The Hero Xpulse 200 4V pops its front wheel easilyShot by Abhishek Benny

Who doesn’t love a good ol’ wheelie? Apart from it being great for Instagram, it is also an invaluable skill to have while riding off-road. Being able to control a wheel when landing a jump or intentionally lifting the front wheel is great for navigating certain obstacles or for climbing certain objects on the trail. Now the location where we were shooting, as you can see, was mostly sandy. Meaning, that the GS with its stock rubber setup wasn’t getting enough traction to pop a wheelie. So what aptly named #MadMandke did was jump and carry a wheelie. The Xpulse on the other hand could effortlessly pop its front wheel and keep it up for long durations. Hrishi also said that the light nature meant he could manoeuvre it better.

Rock on

Rocks, boulders, and gravel are all things that you are bound to come across while riding offroad. Heck, you even find these things while riding on the road. How a bike tackles these has a lot to do with the chassis setup of the bike. Its wheels, suspension, weight distribution and so on. You need the bike to feel stable to confidently go over such sections and even pick up the momentum. Both bikes performed extremely well over rocky sections but the GS with its better weight distribution and sharper and more precise throttle did feel a little more confidence-inspiring to ride.

Road Test

Both motorcycles also need to be just as capable on the road
Both motorcycles also need to be just as capable on the roadShot by Abhishek Benny

The road test was divided into two different tests. One was the highway test and the other was riding both bikes in the twisties. Now obviously the BMW R 1250 GS absolutely creamed the Xpulse 200 4V on the highway test. This is purely down to all the extra power and kit that the Bavarian has to offer over the Xpulse. Features such as cruise control, the ability to sit at 120kmph-plus all day without breaking a sweat and the throne-like seat are really hard to beat. That said the Hero Xpulse 200 4V with its four-valve head did hold its own and you really are getting a lot of bang for your buck with this bike.

The joys of leaning a big motorcycle!
The joys of leaning a big motorcycle!Shot by Abhishek Benny

In terms of riding in the twisties, both bikes have distinct characteristics — the GS is large and does take some wrestling to go from side to side, whereas the Xpulse despite having a 21-incher on the front can be flicked around like a cycle. So it all boils down to what you like. All right that was extremely fun. And we’ve proven absolutely nothing. We already knew both of these bikes are extremely capable in their own right and both can do everything the other bike can but to different degrees.

The point of this story is to prove that just because you might not have the means to get that swanky big ADV doesn’t mean you can’t experience the pleasures of riding an ADV around town. You have SOLID options such as the Xpulse and the Himalayan and you can always work your way up to that GS or Multistrada. Even if you do own a GS or a Tiger but are afraid to take it off-road, training on something such as the Xpulse will be really beneficial considering you get to master the art of riding off-road before taking a very expensive fall. In terms of the price disparity when you pay nearly 20 times the cost of the Xpulse to get something like the GS or a TIger, you do get what you pay for. You get a far more sophisticated suspension setup, a host of electronic rider aids, and bucketloads more power but that doesn’t make the smaller bike any less capable. The point is that ADVs are perfect for the terrain our country has to offer and you now have a plethora of options to choose from at both ends of the financial spectrum. But do yourself a favour and go get an ADV because there’s just way too much fun to be had.

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