Driven #13: Hero Impulse

The relationship between Hero and Honda that lasted for 26 long years and made the joint-venture a global leader in two-wheelers came to an end in 2010 when the companies mutually decided to part ways. To get it going in the short-term, Hero has apparently salvaged a few models and power-train from Honda and the recently-launched Impulse is one such model derived straight out of the Japanese major’s global lineup. On a long-term though, Hero has recently entered into a strategic partnership with Erik Buell Racing of USA that will give the company the technical and design inputs for launching next-gen high-end bikes.

As the pictures might suggest, the Impulse isn’t any other motorcycle. It is the first time a two-wheeler manufacturer in India has launched an, hold your breath, off-roading motorcycle. Who said off-roading is confined to four wheels? With the Impulse, Hero is out to prove that a good set of two wheels is equally good for having fun off-road. Does Hero succeed in this one-of-a-kind attempt? This post tries to answer that question.


Let’s be honest here. The Impulse grabs eyeballs instantly wherever it goes but we aren’t too sure that it attracts people at first sight. It has too many weird design elements to do so. Things like the gaping front mud-guard, the long front forks and the high-set exhaust aren’t something that we are used to seeing in motorcycles. Combine that with the short wheelbase and the high ground clearance and the Impulse’s proportions doesn’t look perfect. But there is a reason for these imperfections and you get a first hint of that with those broad, deep-treaded Ceat tires. The front-end with its V-shaped headlight and fairing looks cool while the spoke wheels are refreshing to the eyes. The LED taillight cluster could have been shaped better though. The brushed aluminum grab-rails, scoops in the side fairing and the bright colors adds to the visual appeal of the Impulse.

The build quality is good for most parts and the bike feels robust. But certain bits like the rubber beading behind the pillion seat, the messy routing of the wires and the downright cheap ‘Mode’ and ‘Reset’ switches in the instrument console leaves a lot to be desired. The console itself isn’t eye-catchy except when lit at night. But the analog tachometer and digital speedometer works flawlessly and the presence of twin trip meters and service due indicator in the console adds to the practicality. Given its off-roading intentions, Hero should have definitely given a ‘distance to empty’ indicator in the Impulse which would have been a great help during those off-road excursions. Overall, the Impulse drew positive feedback and the fact that Hero has managed to attract so much attention with its 150-cc motorcycle that isn’t priced astronomically is a victory in itself for the company.


Turn the bike on and the silky smooth engine that we have experienced and loved in the Honda Unicorn beckons us. As it has always been, this 150-cc, 4-stroke Honda-derived engine is supremely refined and silent. Though 13.2 PS of maximum power and 13.4 Nm of maximum torque doesn't look like figures to boast of for a 'transroader' as Hero Moto calls it, the way in which the power was delivered made all the difference. Though we would have liked a more powerful engine, the Impulse never really left us wanting for more even in the brief off-roading stint that we subjected it to. The muted rumble of the engine didn't go well with the macho looks of the bike though. A deep and throaty groan would have suited it better. Shifting gears is a breezy job thanks to the super soft clutch that the bike comes with.

Step on the Impulse and the first thing that you notice is the high seating position. In fact, you sit so tall that it takes some time getting used to. But once you are accustomed, the commanding view of the road ahead and the upright posture makes you feel very comfortable. Coupled with a superb ride quality courtesy the off-road oriented shocks up front and the Nitrox mono-shocks at the rear, the Impulse has to be among the best in India, when it comes to rider comfort. Bumps, potholes and small speed-breakers don't bother the Impulse and it just glides past with even the bigger road undulations being handled with minimal fuss. Be it sand, stone, rock or water, the Impulse greets the terrain with elan and comes out of conditions that will leave most other motorcycles grounded. Tires are grippy and makes their presence felt off the road. Handling is satisfactory and the Impulse doesn't give you much surprises.

These days when ABS has started to feature in quite a few motorcycles, the absence of a disc brake at the rear is a glaring omission by Hero.


* Engine Type: 4-stroke, Air Cooled
* No of Cylinders: 1
* Displacement: 149.2 cc
* Maximum Power: 13.2 PS @ 7500 RPM
* Maximum Torque: 13.4 Nm @ 5000 RPM
* Transmission Type: 5-speed, 1Down 4Up
* Tires: 90/90 R19 (Front), 110/90 R17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 240mm Disc (Front), 110mm Internal Expanding Drum (Rear)


* Value for Money
* Very practical on our roads
* Off-roading capabilities
* A trend-setting motorcycle


* Weird styling elements
* Limited power output for an off-roader
* Lack of rear disc brake


Kudos to Hero for opening up a new segment of motorcycling in India, one that promises to be practical and fun at the same time. On our far from perfect roads, the Impulse will leave the competition dead while off the road, it just doesn't have any competition at all. That makes the Impulse the perfect steed for our weekly routine of 5 days of hard work and 2 days of unlimited fun. Yes, the Impulse does have its own set of limitations but with an on-road Chennai price of INR 76,086, it is a superb value offering that can't be beaten.

1 comment:

  1. I too own an Impulse and here are my views

    The bike comfort is quite good with the front fork and back suspension. I have a thumbs up for Hero to come out with an off road bike. Hats off Hero

    Good ground clearance and helps ride in the traffic without knocking off other bikes mirrors so nice in traffic. Also can cross medians in emergency which other bikes can't do.

    Things not really good or have to be improved:
    1 ) Front disc brake doesn't lock completely when apply brake.
    2 ) Also the brake and clutch levers need to have a bit more of distance from the grip as if you use only two figures to use the clutch or brake the lever touches the other fingers limiting the braking. Prefer it to have the dog leg levers that will have a better clearance.
    3 ) For a 149Kg bike the bottom end power is very less. I tried riding it on the beach and in the first gear the engine was about to stall due to lack of power.
    4 ) As the height of the bike is high the wheel base has to be increased by atleast 4 inches to improve braking. In 60 Kms if you brake the bike drags about 5 feet and stops.
    5 ) Engine heats up a lot compared to the Yamaha Fz16 I have. Not sure if its with only my bike so you can't ride the bike with slippers in the neighbor hood as it burns the right leg.
    6 ) Light brightness seems to be less compared to other bikes.
    7 )For the 150cc bike Hero need to provide some performance parts to improve the bottom end power as bike lovers will not worry on mileage, but pure fun.