Reminiscent of the early Japanese bikes, BOB HICKMAN says Kymco Pulsar 125 is full of surprises – and pleasant ones, at that.
A QUESTION was posed, how would I fancy testing a diminutive 125cc motorcycle that was being imported by Masco who are based just on the outskirts of Shrewsbury? It took a little bit of thinking about and then I thought this is almost turning the clock back 35 years to when I actually purchased a brand new Honda 125cc and I did thousands of miles on that bike and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Over the years a whole range of motorcycles have appeared in my garage and disappeared and currently I am the proud owner of a 1084cc Honda Pan European that has all the bells and whistles, i.e. it has traction control, anti-lock brakes, heated grips, it is a wonderful comfortable motorcycle that I thoroughly enjoy riding. So it was with a degree of trepidation that I set out on the Pan to find the Atcham Business Park and the importers of Kymco Motor Cycles. The plan to leave the Pan there and to collect the all-new 2010 Pulsar 125cc motorcycle and try it out for a week.
I had never heard of Kymco and I was astounded to realise that they are in the top ten motorcycle sales in the UK; they are Korea’s largest motorcycle producing company and have been producing motorcycles for many, many years. As an aside I was in Korea last year on holiday and saw thousands and thousands of motorcycles, scooters and didn’t really appreciate the logo of who produced them but now I certainly do.
First glance at the little 125cc and it is so reminiscent of the early Japanese bikes but what is quite outstanding with the Pulsar is the quality of the materials that have been utilised. The little Pulsar has a stunning blue metallic finish with oodles of chrome and polished alloy. When you look closely and look at the fittings that have been utilised you can instantly see there is a quality to them, this is not a cheap Chinese import that is going to let you down as soon as you try and ride it. This is a quality product with a Capital Q.
The Pulsar is directed at the commuter and the learner market, it produces what you may image to be a diminutive 10bhp at 8,500 RPM, but let that not be a negative factor. The horse power is important because it means learner riders who are restricted to a maximum of 14 bhp will delight in this bike.
The engine is a 4-stroke, air-cooled, with an electronic CDi ignition system, the clutch is a wet multi-disc and the gearbox is a 5-speed.
Kymco have equipped the bike with a front disc brake that is hydraulically operated, and a drum brake at the rear. The front forks are conventional telescopic hydraulic with adequate damping, the shock absorbers at the back are adjustable thus allowing for different weight of riders.
Kymco have taken a strange option with the wheel configuration, 18” front and 16” rear with narrow tyres, but let’s not forget this is only a 125cc motorcycle. Kymco have equipped the bike with 5-spoke alloy wheels that look quite nice and will certainly clean much easier. They have fitted the machine with both a side and centre stand although the side stand does have a mind of its own, it had a very strong spring and when you kick it down if you are not careful it will fling back up, so you do need to be very cautious in operating the side stand on this bike.
It is good to see that incorporated within the speedometer is a trip meter although a big negative mark for the importers and I think a penny pinching exercise, the speedo is in kilometres with a red sticker to tell you the mph’s and I found this to be most disconcerting and a bit of a nuisance to be able to work out what speed I was doing.
The machine is fitted as standard with a rear carrier which is a useful if you have to commute, you can fasten your haversack on the back quite comfortably, and I was pleased to see a steering lock is incorporated as in this day and age it is essential for a motorcycle to have this fitted.
A digital gear display is incorporated in the instrument panel and on a bike of this size and with low power, it is always useful to know what gear you are in at any given time.
The bike’s performance, handling and braking characteristics were very good, I am 6ft and 14 stone and I expected to be disappointed in the diminutive amount of power that the Pulsar was producing but it surprised me. Once I got used to the sheer light weight and lack of machine beneath me, having stepped off the big Pan European, it took a few miles to settle down to get used to the characteristics of the bike, it needed obviously to be revved but rev it would.
I concede that the engine was new and was not properly bedded in but it performed lustily and defied the factor that it only had 10 bhp. It easily kept up with the traffic flow on the major roads, when it came to hills and inclines yes then you appreciate that you are down on power but by dropping it down a few gears and being prepared to allow the engine to rev I found the performance to be quite adequate. I did manage to see an indicated 70 mph on the speedometer on one particular nice long down dual carriageway section and this for a bike of this size is excellent.
The brakes were absolutely superb, the forks didn’t bottom out under front braking, the bike itself just sat down, and the rear brake was not too powerful that a new novice rider could lock the back wheel up if he wasn’t careful. The electric start coupled to a kick start performed perfectly and on a cold morning the bike just needed a hint of choke, but after a few minutes it was possible to put the choke completely off and the engine settled down into a comforting tick-over.
Kymco are suggesting that anything up to 100mpg should be obtainable, certainly my period with the machine revealed consumption in excess of 80 mpg so the 100-mpg should be obtainable. During my time with the Kymco I tried to use the bike as a commuter vehicle, I did a lot around town, but, I used it extensively to travel back and forwards to the Severn Valley Railway so I really was using the engine’s performance, making the engine work, and so 80 mpg I feel is excellent.
One of the big features that the Pulsar has going for it is the on the road price, £1,399 is a very, very good price to pay. It undercuts some of the Japanese opposition by £1000 and when you add in to the equation that Kymco are so confident in their product that they are giving you a 2-year warranty on this bike then if you are in the market place and are just setting out on your motor cycling career, then you really do need to go and find a dealer.
The nearest dealer can be obtained by either ringing 01743 761107 or you could visit the Kymco website at www.kymco.co.uk and find out where it is and go and have a look and like me I think you will be pleasantly surprised.