Jan 31, 2006

Two-stroke mania returns

Yesterday, a friend/colleague told me about a Yamaha RX135 5-speed, 2001 model, mint condition, for sale around Rs 14,000. Jesus, an old two-stroke, piddly 135cc and all, is still so attractive! I called a mechanic friend to ask if he knew of any old two-strokes that were up for sale. He said, a bike like that should only set me back about Rs 8-10,000. And he'd see what he could dig up.

Not having much money in the wallet - home loans, creditors and all - I decided to do a mental motorcycle, er... mentally for the time being and see what developed.

If I could get a well-kept RX100 or TVS Suzuki Shogun for about Rs 8K, and spend another Rs 12K-odd, I'd get a smashingly fast, pocket rocket, no?

It would go something like this. I bring the bike to the mechanic (grease under the finger nails isn't me. I'd rather be on it, than under it). He takes the block-piston off, and spends a couple of days porting and polishing the head to improve gas flow. This is assuming that the 8000-buck RX has a essentially okay engine to start with, of course.

Meantime, I call K&N up and arrange for a performance filter to be shipped, find a larger venturi carburettor for the RX, buy a bunch of upsize jets and finally, one call to either Kaulson Racing Products in Delhi or Proton in Chennai for an expansion chamber. Failing that, a more expensive alternative would be to call Vivek at TecTrac Racing for one of his own race-tested expansion chambers. Woo hoo!

With the engine ready, it would take us a couple of days to set up the new exhaust, intake, jetting and all. Aim would be a bike that may not like traffic (say 30-50 kph), but is hard to keep on the ground past 70-80 kph. I think a realistic top speed would be in the region of 120 kph, although more is always welcome.

If my calculations are right, this all should take about Rs 7000 bucks. Correct me if I am wrong.

Then, you sort a set of tyres. If I have the dosh, I could splurge on a Rs 4500 set of super-sticky Pirellis (officially available in India). Or stick with a more rational Rs 2000 set of MRF Nylogrip Zappers. And basically add a shiny, new thousand buck paintjob and you're sorted. And super-quick as well.

But there is more (there's always more, isn't it?). I also thought about putting in Bajaj Discover 17-inch alloy wheels with a front disc (essential for a bike that fast, no?), uprated coils, motocross-style quick throttle (bigger cam at the handlebar grip)....

With my head swimming with the visions of premix-contrailed, gratuitous speed, I hurried over to the computer to draw up a list of names, addresses and numbers of all of the people I referred to above. Time to send some juicy, persuasive emails, I say.

Then the wife walked into the room. She saw my look of furious concentration and twinkling anticipation. In that instant, she knew what sort of thing I was cooking up and reminded me, 'You told me me have no money right now...'


Jan 28, 2006

Auto Expo Photos

Bajaj Sonic DTSiBajaj Pulsar 180 DTSi new version
Both new Bajaj PulsarsSuzuki Zeus
Yamaha Gladiator 1Yamaha Gladiator 2
Bajaj Pulsar DTS-FiBajaj Blade DTSi
Other posts about
Bajaj Pulsar (220) DTS-Fi: Basic information Detailed specs and photos
All the 125s: Table
Yamaha Gladiator: Images Launch Expo photos Expo text Compared to the Shine
Suzuki Heat: Expo text Expo photos Zeus Ride Report
Honda Shine: Mumbai launch TVC criticism Launch Compared to the Gladiator
TVS Victor Edge/GLX: Launch

Two Wheels at Auto Expo 2006

Oh boy, did Bajaj put the monkey on everyone's back or what. I went to the Expo expecting to see either a lot of launch-ready bikes. Or none.

I got both! Yamaha and Suzuki both lay waste acres and acres of prime exhibition real estate with all manner of exciting machinery. Each one labeled 'Reference Exhibit.' Which translates loosely to 'You can see, drool, dream and eventually beg, but you are not getting any.'

Suzuki went on to show the Heat and Zeus (in pic) twins as launch prospects during the show. And Yamaha put two rather over-the-top Gladiator monikered things on their stand as well.

Here's the problem. The Heat and Zeus look too anonymous from the word go and I doubt that exceptional quality is going to pull in the customers. Because quality aside, they offer nothing new. More importantly, I can imagine customers not buying a model due to low quality (perception or reality), but I cannot imagine people flocking to a product only for its exceptional quality. I could be wrong, though, what do you think?

The Gladiators were supposed to be concepts, showing two directions Yamaha could take. And they were interesting too, but Bajaj literally yanked the rug right out from under their sidetands.

On the Bajaj stand was a Pulsar, due June 2006 (guessing), which sported fuel injection, projector lamps, twin discs (front and rear), tubeless tyres on alloy rims, split seat and grab rail, evolved styling... Jesus, I think I asked the chap manning the stand over and over whether they were sure they were going to launch it. I even recall one very worried looking Yamaha official reading the spec sheet next to the stand. Heh heh!

While Bajaj's men at the stall refused to say what capacity the bike will be, I believe it should be a 225cc or so, not the 250 everyone really wants. The Pulsar engine platform, I think, won't allow that big a capacity jump.

Then again, Rajiv Bajaj was clear that they were only letting out information that they wanted to, so there could be more to the DTS-Fi than meets the eye. I sure am hoping there is, of course.

Not content with blowing the socks of everyone within 200 m of the bike, Bajaj also showed their slashy new Pulsar 180 (expect a launch 150cc also, say April? Guesstimate.).

The Sonic will be another superb addition to the range. It looks modern, stylish and with a 125cc engine, it will be fast enough to excite.

Ditto the Blade scooter.

These, remember, are all set for a 2006 calendar year launch. My word, they've been busy.

And more power to them, I say.

Photos posted

Other posts about
Bajaj Pulsar (220) DTS-Fi: Basic information Detailed specs and photos
All the 125s: Table
Yamaha Gladiator: Images Launch Expo photos Expo text Compared to the Shine
Suzuki Heat: Expo text Expo photos Zeus Ride Report
Honda Shine: Mumbai launch TVC criticism Launch Compared to the Gladiator
TVS Victor Edge/GLX: Launch

User's manual

Now that I have finished fiddling (for the time being) with options, fonts and AdSense, I thought it was time to put in a second post, just to see what that felt like.

So far so good, actually.

The link above is for James Davies' Master Strategy Group website. In there, you will find a link to Tips & Techniques (feel free to browse elsewhere as well). Back in my software days, this website alone kept me awake through almost two years of drowsy afternoons. And come to think of it, alive in the commutes as well. Davies' site now contains almost 200 ideas of riding safer. Each is painstakingly detailed, when required with complex models (you can read around the models should you choose to) and every last one of them will have a light bulb go off in your head, 'why didn't I think if that?'

If you're learning, experienced or a track demon, I think the site will still offer you ways to improve your skills still further.


I suppose one begins a Blog with a note of introduction, right?
What? There are no rules? Scary.

I am a life long, fanatic motorcyclist who rides in India. The story so far is that I've chucked what looked like a crisp, successful career in software for motorcycles and I am now neck deep in the exploding Indian motorcycle market.

The purpose of writing a blog is to create a space for thoughts I don't have time or medium for in the normal course of my work. I suspect that Rearset will largely revolve around motorcycles and people who love them, but you never know.