Jun 29, 2006


Dear readers, I most humbly apologise for not posting more often. I've just received my new iPod 60GB (yes, video) and I've spent most of the past week fiddling.... so sorry. Er... and thank you Daddy!

Hero Honda Glamour FI Launch release

As usual, below I've pasted the full release. First opinions? Hideous. But then, the Glamour always was. I think the seriously messy area above the engine can't really add or take away from that (er... thank god?). The bike certainly looks silly. The rest when I swing a leg over...

Hero Honda Glamour FIHero Honda reinforces technology leadership with India’s first
Fuel Injection motorcycle technology

Hero Honda Glamour FI will feature Honda’s first 125 cc
PGM-FI Engine (Programmed Fuel Injection)

  • Programmed Electronic Fuel Injection (PGM – FI) for the best drivability & lesser gear changes in traffic
  • Real time Mileage indicator (RTMI) for achieving optimum mileage
  • Bank Angle Sensor – Cuts off fuel supply in case of a tip over - an industry first safety feature
  • Lowest Emissions – will meet even the most stringent emission norms of the future
  • No carburetor – less maintenance
  • Starts easily in all weather conditions – even in very low temperatures

Mumbai, June 26th, 2006: Hero Honda Motors Ltd., the ‘World No.1’ two-wheeler company, today announced the launch of India’s first Fuel Injection technology for two-wheelers, with the 125 cc Glamour FI. The new technology eliminates the need for a carburetor, offers the most comfortable drive and the lowest emissions, in addition to a host of other features, which will be available for the first time to Indian two-wheeler riders. The Glamour FI will be launched in 2 variants – Drum Kick at Rs. 49,990/- and the fully loaded Disc Self at Rs. 53,990, ex-showroom Delhi. [roughly Rs 5500 more than the non-FI versions] and will be available in 60 towns at over 180 Hero Honda dealerships throughout the country. Hero Honda plans on extending the Fuel Injection technology to other models gradually.

Glamour FI, based on stylish 125cc motorcycle Glamour, has better fuel efficiency and ease of engine start, due to the effect of PGM-FI. Riders can view the digital real-time fuel economy indicator situated at meter face, to know the bike’s fuel efficiency at any given point of time. Its design is more refined, with its engine integrated with black color and its unique FI logo.

Speaking on this momentous occasion, Mr. Brijmohan Lall, Chairman, Hero Honda Motors said, “The Hero Honda family is elated to have set yet another precedent in the Indian two-wheeler industry. Fuel Injection Technology has till now been used in cars and is being introduced in two wheelers for the very first time in India by Hero Honda, with the help of Honda Motor Company. This is the technology of the future for all two-wheelers and we feel privileged to be the first company to offer this technology in India, with the launch of the Glamour FI.”

According to Mr. Pawan Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Honda Motors, “Today’s launch reiterates Hero Honda’s superior technological edge and pedigree of bringing world class technology to India. Through the years, we have successfully endeavored to deliver the best value proposition to our customers and we will continue to provide them with products that incorporate the most advanced technology, design and fuel-efficiency”.

The Glamour FI has a distinctive PGM - FI feature (Programmed Fuel Injection), a first in two-wheelers. This is an intelligent computer controlled electronic fuel injection system which scans critical engine operating conditions through sensors and provides input to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to inject the accurate amount of fuel as per the requirement. The sensors include - throttle position, engine operating temperature, intake air temperature, manifold absolute air pressure and crank angle.

The RTMI takes input on distance traveled and fuel consumed from the speed sensor and ECU and displays the average mileage for the preceding 10 seconds.

Hero Honda Glamour FIThe Glamour FI has a Bank Angle Sensor, an industry first feature, is an important safety feature which cuts off the fuel supply & ignition if the bike tips over (falls). Apart from these the motorcycle has a FI Malfunction Indicator Lamp which diagnoses any malfunction of sensors and indicates the same to the rider and a LCD Fuel Gauge displays fuel level in the fuel tank which is easy to read and contemporary. Apart from the new FI technology, Hero Honda’s Glamour also showcases new body coloured grab rail and rear view mirrors.

The overall two-wheeler market in India has been growing rapidly, reaching approximately 7,300,000 units in 2005, a 15% increase from 2004. The market is expected to grow further in 2006, up to approximately 8,500,000 units, a 17% increase from 2005

  • Offers improved fuel efficiency & better emission performance
  • Excellent drivability owing to quick throttle response
  • Excellent cold starting ability (no choke operation)
  • Consistent engine performance at varying altitudes and ambience temperature
  • Ability to run the bike at lower speeds on top gear without engine knocking that translates into less gear changes in congested traffic conditions.
  • No starting problems after long storage periods.
[CLAIMED BENEFITS FOR RTMI (Real Time Mileage Indicator)]
  • Enables the rider to know the "Real Time Mileage"
  • Provides an opportunity to adjust riding style to get the optimum mileage
Full Glamour FI specs from Hero Honda:

Hero Honda Glamour FIEngine
Single Cylinder Air Cooled, 4 Stroke Sohc
Valve Train
2 Valve
Bore & Stroke
52.4 X 57.9 mm
Comp. Ratio
Kick Start / Electric Start

Max. Power
6.72 KW/9 bhp @ 7,000 RPM (no change)
Max. Torque
10.35 NM @ 4,000 RPM (no change)

Gear Box
4 Speed Constant Mesh
Multiplate Wet Type

12V- 2.5AH(Kick) / 5AH(Self)
Head Light
35/35 W Halogen Bulb

Double cradle

Telescopic Hydraulic Type
Rectangular Swing Arm With Hydraulic Shock Absorber

240mm Drum Type/ 130mm Disc Type
130mm Drum Type

2.75 X 18" 42 P
3.00 X 18" 6pr, 52 P

Hero Honda Glamour FIDimensions
Kerb Weight
Kerb Wt - 125kg (Standard)/ 129kg (Deluxe)
Wheel Base
Overall Height
Ground Clearance
Tank Capacity
12 Lts./1.5 reserve

Other posts about
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

Jun 24, 2006

CRASH! Almost...

Hey guys, almost had a nasty, nasty crash yesterday. And for the first time, I came within an inch of thrashing someone on the road. I was on a stretch where the outside lane is always full of parked stuff, and two autorickshaws were running parallel in both of the other lanes. At thirty kph. So far, so good. I came up on them on my Yamaha Gladiator, with my headlight running full blast. It being a overcast day, I decided it was best to keep the damn thing running. So after I flashed the chap on top lane twice and got no response, I honked and he stuck a couple of fingers out as a sort of, 'okay dude, come on past then.' He left me a two foot hole to crawl through, so I did just that. Snagging a lower gear, I accelerated through to find there was a chap crossing the road in front of both the ricks. He was, in fact, almost through the mid lane, and about to cross into my path.

I got on the brakes for everything I was worth and even slid further right until my peg was grazing the median stones gently. Honestly, I could not have done more. If we crashed, we crashed.

Meanwhile, the old man panicked and began to backpedal furiously. At which point I understood that I needed to get on the throttle and get out of here. Which I did.

On my right, the outermost auto had braked in the meantime and the middle auto jinked right so that as the man fell to the ground, he skirted around.

Even as I felt that cold snap in the chest you get from situations like these, I was boiling with rage. Why the f would the auto guy ask me to pass him if there was a chap crossing the road? I'd done nothing to provoke him. I'd flashed my headlamp and honked once. Bastard. I really, really wanted to thrash him. However, the brain kicked in and I rode on. And calmed down. Malicious bastard. If I see you again, I'll...er... stop and have a chai to calm down.

Jun 22, 2006

People are strange...

Sometimes you have to stop and think as to how different from 'normal' people you really are. And I have feeling I know why. But before I got into that, and how that relates to motorcycles. Let me make a, er... hypothesis. We tend to classify people into stereotypes. Maybe that specific word, stereotypes, has too many negative connotations. So let me use the word typographies, instead. What I mean is that many first impressions are functions of your experiences with people and how you've built an elaborate experience-based web of patterns. So in time, you tend to associate certain traits, with certain sorts of tendencies or behaviour patterns. To give an example, for instance, (no prejudice intended), say you're about to meet a chap called Anthony Thomas. In my mind, it brings up a picture of a dark skinned malyalee who will probably have a strong mallu accent. Similarly, an Arjab Bhattacharjee would probably be a talkative, slightly sticky, football-crazy Bengali chap and so forth. Again, I mean no offence, and all the names are fictional, but you get what I'm hinting at, right?

So on a motorcycle, it would make sense to assume that other people, car drivers, traffic police, pedestrians etc. are also 'judging' you by their own sets of typographies, right? They're thinking, 'wearing a shirt, tie and trousers... hmmm.. executive. Probably a bit ruthless, so he won't be courteous, will be pushy...' In which case, that's another thing you could use to your advantage, right?

On the other hand, that also means that one of us, wearing full riding kit, in India, would be unclassifiable. That means, they've never seen anything of the sort before, so they don't really have a pigeon hole to slot you into. That means, the pedestrian has no set of guidelines or parameters he can evaluate you against. Which, is scary. Take an example here. A ped is waiting to cross the road. This being India, he hasn't bothered with the subway or the foot overbridge or the zebra crossing. He's just located a convenient place to cross. In the meantime, you're approaching that same place at say, 40 kph. He spots you coming from a distance, and he needs to make a decision as to whether he is going to run across, or wait for you to pass. Here's the problem. He cannot make that decision. He simply doesn't know what you will do. If you were an old man in a tatty helmet on a ratty bike, he'd run across no question. They always slow or stop. If you were a young lad wearing a cool t-shirt, bandana and had your legs hung out in the breeze, he'd wait, knowing that you wouldn't stop. He'd probably get a scare, and honked at, if he ran cross.

You, are the unknown. He could therefore, choose to run across, start and then change his mind, turn and attempt a run back to safety. That could cause a crash. Or, he could stop, and another ped, waiting with him could run across, again causing at least a heart rate flutter if not a crash. Since the data was muddled, their decisions could be drastically different.

So what can you do? Get stereotyped. I, for instance, always appear aggressive. That's face as covered as possible, torso hunched forward and over the bars, but not overtly. Eyes looking at everything with beady, I-don't-care concentration. And inside, I'm focussed, brakes are covered, and all stopping distances are factored in. In fact, the ped could probably change his mind two or three times and I'd still be able to stop with space in hand. <Er... touch wood> I also use the tools available to enhance the impression of aggression. That means flashing headlamps, and as rarely as possible, but honking on occassion etc.

This does two things for me. Since I look so aggro, most people won't cross, get in my way or cause trouble. On the other hand, I reciprocate by being polite. Sure it surprises them. I've stopped to let old ladies past, and they've actually completed long toe to lid looks before deciding to continue waiting. But it mostly works.

It sometimes does backfire of course, especially when the young, cool T-shirt type decides that I'm asking to be raced. In those situations, I just pull over and wait for the nuisance to go away.

I guess I could also adopt a non-aggro, I'm-not-worth-messing-with sort of stereotype. But invariably, it conflicts with the riding kit and the speed with which good riders get through traffic.

To bolster what I'm saying, I remember reading at a Suzuki dirt bike tips website, 'look like a pro.' The contention was that if you ape right, you're probably getting some of it right in the process. The tip was on body positioning and cornering lines, of course. But it works in commuting as well. Be polite and quick, but look aggro, you'll find it easier going.

No, the look is not a license to dodge.

Jun 19, 2006

Thought of the day

I absolutely, totally, irrevocably, undisguisedly, utterly hate cricket.

Nippon Gawky

I'm in Japan. My hotel room overlooks the Tokyo bay and in the distance, a bridge rises mightily like a finger arcing forcefully across the bay connecting the two sides. I draw the curtain, change and go out. My guides are waiting downstairs...

By the time I return, it's past midnight. I've spent the day on the back seat of the bus, kneeling on the back seat, staring kid-candy-shop like at all the bikes parked on pavement everywhere I look. The room service chaps have managed to leave the window ajar, and I can feel a cold thirteen degree draft blowing through the room. Then, riding on the thin breeze comes the familiar, haunting howl of an inline four being caned. Like a pack of wolves, all letting out their pent up sorrows, many more howls join in. My ears follow the sound till it fades and waits till the howls return, going the other way... Two hours later, I find myself sitting on the window ledge. Feeling very, very cold. I'm clad in a yutaka (a japanese around the house robe of sorts) and I've been perched with my legs dangling out into the night, thirteen floors up. I have the same welling of emotion I had the first time head Andre Previn and the Royal Philharmonic playing Mars, The Bringer of War, Gustav Holsts' shattering, powerful composition, from The Planets. I shiver, as much from the cold, as from the motorcycles.

Crap! it's two thirty. I've to pack and be out of the hotel by five thirty am...

When to overtake

As you can tell, I've nothing better to do except thinking about motorcycles. So here's more of my ruminations. Yesterday, while commuting home, for some cosmic reason (I can't put my finger on it), I started noticing the situations in which I was not overtaking cars (even though I probably could have) and others where I was (although at first glance, it wouldn't seem to be a good place to pull one).

Here's what I noticed:

  • Intersections
    They're a good place to overtake cars going the same way. They 'cover' you against other jackasses who're jumping their lights, and they're usually more careful than elsewhere. It's important to be in their mirrors before the intersection, though. Also, most people I've noticed rarely swap lanes mindlessly through intersections. Some very obvious exceptions to this idea, obviously apply

  • Gearshifts
    If you have space and notice the car you're planning to put a move over is either going to change gear (hand moving to lever and other subtle signs), that is also a good time to pass the car. When he engages the clutch, he 'loses' drive for a moment, and the space between him and the car ahead will open up a bit... should you need it, it'll be an escape place.

  • You just made eyecontact with a driver
    That's a really good time to pass. He's noticed you, he knows you're there. Flash and pass. Simple. Wave a thank you.

  • Coming around obstructions
    If you are coming around an obstruction on the road (like a lane blocked off), the widening road is a good place to pass. But care is needed. You need to be at some distance from the car you're planning to pass, but need to be on the throttle earlier than him. You also need to keep an eye peeled for debris in the space you will need to overtake. The distance gives him to notice you. And gives you time to plan an escape, evasion or abort should he be planning to run wide (aggressive drivers usually will).

  • Inside line
    This, done wrong, is a potentially fatal move.
    You've been warned.
    The timing is absolutely crucial. As is the reading of the driver you're passing. First of all, this move is not to be tried on anything longer than a midsize car. They're too long for this. On shorter vehicles, you're capitalising on their laziness. The drivers are usually loath to turn the steering wheel, and will tend to run a bit wide. You pass them just before they actually start turning their front wheels. This is the time when they're either off the gas or better still, on the brakes. This means you, skilled rider and all, can get past quicker.

  • Outside line
    This, done wrong, is a potentially fatal move. You've been warned.
    Again, the timing, reading of the driver you're passing and the amount of space you've got is crucial. First of all, this move is not to be tried on anything longer than a midsize car. They're too long for this. On shorter vehicles, you're capitalising on their laziness and the available space. Don't run into 'enemy' lanes while doing this, mind. Again, what you do is take a wide lane, maintaining about a half lane between you and the driver as you pass him. Make sure he knows you're there and you do have to corner harder than him. However, don't try it if you have less than one full lane on your left. This is the place to go to should the driver run wide. Don't try this on motorcycles, when they have trouble, they always run wide. And be sure that there isn't another Rossi behind and left of you, planning to outside line you as well.

  • Turn-offs and driveways
    I generally tend to put off overtakes when I spot places where cars/bikes could be joining my traffic stream. Unless I can clearly see that they're clear for a fair distance. I'll take up an overtake ready position, but I usually won't pass until I can see down that road/driveway. That means being in the powerband, ready to go. The moment you spot that the road is clear, vrooom. It's done.

  • Stopped traffic
    Filtering, splitting lanes, or moving between stopped traffic is one of our privileges. That means no abusing it also. I find that I never filter if traffic is moving, unless I make eye contact with the driver. I'm quite happy to pass when the others are stationary, though. You do have to watch out though. Stopped cars means people can open doors in your path. You have to watch the heads in the cars, and ensure that you don't do a mirror high-five as you pass. The Scorpio, for instance, has mirrors at the exact same height as most Indian motorcycles. And never filter more than 5 kph faster than the traffic. No matter how much the chap behind you is honking.

  • Bad patches
    If you're willing to bash through bad patches, they make great places to overtake. Especially, if two lanes are well-kept, and one is cratered. Obviously, this has more than little to do with your mechanical insensitivity and your off-road ability. Most of the traffic will queue up to take the better road, leaving the bad patch open for you. Beware of auto rickshaws, which generally forget that other people exist when they see a bad patch and make haphazard and drastic course changes.

  • Curving undivided roads
    I'm very heavily dependent on sightlines on these sort of roads. There's a stretch of Cadell Road (between Hinduja and Shivaji Park), which makes a great example. This stretch has a long, but not sharp curve with poor sightlines. I tend, therefore, to never bother with top lane here. However, I'm sure that if I could see oncoming traffic properly, I could safely pull out, overtake and pull back in without a second thought.

  • Off throttle moments
    When do drivers come off the throttle? Those are all, as long as other hazards are low, good places to pass. That means, weather (rain, consequently low traction), other motorcyclists (aiming for the same move) can mean an abort.

  • Compulsive lane changers
    I don't overtake these driver and/or riders. I simply pull up parallel at the next intersection and then accelerate away. No point, too unpredictable.

  • Aggressive drivers/riders
    Again, I'd rather stop for a soda, fill fuel, visit the ATM... whatever... than take them on. Since they're usually quick (and reckless), just slowing down for a bit is enough to have them disappear. If not, take a different route home. You don't want to be there when they do finally crash.
Enough, eh?

Other overtaking related posts: How to overtake, Parallel attack

Jun 17, 2006

Down and out

And then one time, I was at my mechanic's delightfully un-motorcycle shop, talking shop. It was located in one of Delhi's urban villages. It had two dingy rooms crammed full of mobike parts, RD350s and people milling about fretting about their prides and joys.

I'd just finished an elaborate tale of a friend who got his pants caught in his bike's sidestand and toppled over midsentence and how no one present ever got over it. Especially because no one tried to. He'd get ragged about it every single time we'd be together and so forth...

Anyway, tale over, laughs still rolling, I got on my RD, flicked the sidestand up and swung the kick starter down with the vehemence that comes from a combination of 'my bike's the fastest of this lot' and 'I'm off' and a bit of 'I'm a swashbuckling hero' It tilted the RD to the right. And the ground happened to slope away from the bike right about there. There was a moment when the laughter just stopped like somebody'd hit a pause button, or taken a sledgehammer to the speakers.

And then it returned. I didn't join in.

Distant memories

Yesterday, I had some free time and decided to return to my favourite Internet pub, Google. I asked for my usual poison, 'Motorcycle Safety Tips.' The bartender slapped it down with a smile in 0.00000263557 seconds having browsed a list of 4,888,997,654,3321 cocktail recipes.

My first sip took me to sportrider.com's safety pages. Which is a pretty comprehensive site, in terms of the amount of safety related articles on it. It confirmed some of the rules I commute by. See this article. You will read the article, of course, so I won't rehash/regurgitate/return to the same old stuff they've already said.

However, I did notice one thing. While I was doing most of the things the article points out already, I saw yesterday that I was riding close to cars. And I haven't always. I find that from a given point in time, my safety margins aren't constant. Often they grow smaller and smaller until suddenly, I have a moment. Thank god, they're never big ones , but it will something like a car turning into my lane while I'm in it, or a surprised honk from a car driver who obviously didn't see me. This results in a 'oh shit' and a consequent rise in safety margins. And the sinusoidal curve of sorts repeats.

Which means no matter how hard I try, I can't really make it a constant. If I could, I'd actually be riding like a god. So far, I'm still human. There's always hope, I guess...

Rider Error 2

'In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slideout and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.'

-Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of
Countermeasures, Volume 1: Technical Report, Hurt, H.H., Ouellet, J.V. and
Thom, D.R., Traffic Safety Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles,

Notice the words overbraking, and running wide on a curve. Due to excess speed or under cornering. Then note, that both overspeeding and undercornering are riding skill, rider perception and situational awareness related issues. Not tyres, brakes, motorcycle or any such convenient external factor. That means most motorcycle accidents originated in the riders brain. To put it more precisely, because the motorcyclist was either not paying attention, not paying enough attention, or simply, didn't have the skills needed to deal with the situation. It was the rider's fault.

Moral of the story:

Previous Rider Error Link: Here

Jun 16, 2006

Great politically motivated offer!

Hey chaps, I rolled into office today and for the very first time, my gaze came to rest on a political billboard that's gone up across the road. It contains all the usual stuff, plus three 'If you elect me' promises. Here's my favourite one:

Free tickets for the blind and the handicapped for Mumbai Darshan and Boat Rides

Jun 15, 2006

Fuel injected Motorcycles in India: What it means

I've now heard that there are at least two fuel injected motorcycles in India's near future. The Glamour F1, will be a fuel-injected version of the Hero Honda Glamour 125, while the Pulsar DTS-Fi will be the other, probably a 225cc motorcycle. The former is supposed to be launched anytime now (Economic Times report from the Hero Honda 05-06 results announcement). The latter, everyone already knows, is due Diwali.

I checked out what the advent of fuel injection will mean to us. In cars, when they moved over to fuel injection we saw, roughly, a 10 per cent rise in fuel economy and a 15 per cent rise in performance. But here is the thing. I am told that that figure can vary widely (big surprise, eh?). The chap I spoke to said the improvement is dependent on what the state of the carburetted model was. How well it was tuned, what sort of carburettor it used. He said, 'you can almost take it for granted that motorcycles that show the largest gains in the power/economy were the worst tuned ones on the market. The motorcycle that shows almost no numerically quantifiable difference was already running a superb carb setup.'

He went on to add, that if the carburetted motorcycle was already very well tuned, then what fuel injection will bring to the table is the opportunity for the manufacturer to alter power delivery. By that, the implication is maybe a wider powerband, fewer compromises needed between the top-end-mid-range-low-end power balance of a motorcycle. It means motorcycles like the Shine, could in theory, make power at the top-end without sacrificing the low/mid grunt. The words he used were 'modulate' and 'versatile.'

Will the Glamour F1 be an earthshaker? I'm thinking no. 125cc is too small, too general purpose to evince any great rise in interest or performance or both. The fuel injection kit is also rumoured to cost as much as Rs 10,000 per unit, which is steep no matter how you slice that pie.

Jun 14, 2006

Riding Mantra #266.88

'The more we study the more we discover our ignorance'
-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Riding Mantra #266.87

'Familiar acts are beautiful through love'
-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Corporate Con: TVS Apache 2

TVS ApacheThey're not thinking, I tell you. We all know that ads which alienate certain stereotypes of people leave a bad taste behind. And once that happens, many of us won't ever regard that product as highly as we would otherwise... oh you didn't know that? What do you mean? You mean I'm wrong? How dare you! Etc.

Sigh. I digress. Point is, the TVS Apache ad is full of slick footage of young, hip people, a good-looking motorcycle, great stunts and action shots. So why spoil it by making these hip-sters mock various types of people? Why make enemies? And if you must, why overdo it to the point where my first reaction to the ad is to hit the switch channel button on the remote, rather than, 'nice stoppie!'

Take the original Pulsar wheelie ad for instance. It mocked no one. It was a straight-forward, dramatic advertisement that said very clearly: Enjoy this. The second one mocked a bike, but only the one that was no longer going to be around. The message was, 'the new one better.' By the time the airport runway+parachute ad came along the rubber band was stretched to the limit, but the point is, people remember those ads. They still want the first ad's video for keeps. How many of you want to cherish and treasure the Apache ad, then? Is it really now or never, then?

Creativity rating: 2/10
Relevancy rating: 0/10
Danger to public rating: 5/10
Overall ad rating: 0/10

The earlier Apache link is here

Leechy Leech!

If I Chinese, I'd stalt a copycat company too. By doing that, I'd copy the philosophy that drives millions and millions of my country peoples. And then copy their ploducts as well. I'd start a FMCG giant called Wreck It & Then Kiss'er, tailor-ed on the lines of a British FMCG giant. Ovviously, I cannot tell you which one. Among my first products will be a household toiret creaner called HerPick. Then a household creaner called LiesAll. I make mirrions of dorrars. I become leech!

Jun 12, 2006

Objects in rear view mirror appear too often?

I was taking an autorickshaw to work today (once more had my bike swiped by colleagues), when I noticed that my driver was painfully slow, utterly careful bordering on paranoid, and probably spent as much time looking forward as he did looking behind... Set me thinking...

How often do I check my mirrors? I discovered that I don't have a set schedule. When I'm riding faster than traffic, I don't usually check that often. When I'm slower I look every time I can. When I'm on the highway, I check everytime I plan a status change (brakes, throttle, overtake, corner...)

But more importantly, I noticed that our man was still missing stuff that was very obviously in his mirrors. So, when you do look in the motorcycle's rear view, you look, but do you really see? If yes, how do you make the process more efficient, take up less time?

I find that I naturally tend to 'catalogue' what's behind. Sometimes I drive myself to distraction wondering where the aggressively driven silver Indica I spotted went... or some such. Also, when I take a second look in my mirrors, the time gap 'happens' when I'm ready to just take a quick 'update.' I note more or less what's changed. Where a specific car is, where a vehicle has gone, on the same lines... I hardly ever need to re-catalog from scratch.

On the other hand, I have consciously made an effort to see what's happening. I caught myself looking over my shoulder just before overtakes, and then continue with the manouvre only to discover that I hadn't, in fact, spotted another car/motorbike about to do the same. In effect, I was looking over as a courtesy, and not really trying to spot hazards.

Since then, I've fixed that. I now actively scan (to use a MSF term) for other users. And at night, I remember that there will be a few morons who won't run lights because they think it'll pinch'em when the electricity bill arrives.

I also heard from a colleague who likes to adjust one mirror wide (big view) and one mirror narrow (closer, narrow field) so that he can jink out on the narrow side in traffic if needed. I don't necessarily agree. I'd rather set both mirrors wide, know exactly what's up behind and take a detailed lifesaver check before pulling out. There's always that much time...

And you?

Jun 10, 2006

Screams in the night

The Wife and I were returning from a dinner at a friend's place in town (Mumbai). We were in a cab (I'd planned on having some beer) and on the Marine Drive we spotted the usual side. A bunch of two-strokers, all with rider and pillion, parked by the road side, very obviously waiting for 'action.'

A few minutes later, our cab was passed by a thrumming silver Hayabusa worn ably by a rider in a full-face imported helmet. We were awash in the comfortable hum issuing for his pipes for a while, before he spotted a gap on top lane and smoothly pulled away from us. He wasn't riding hard, or like he was out for a scratch. It was a, 'Honey, I'll just go all the way down the Marine Drive and come back in a jiffy... it's a nice night to be out...' sort of ride he was out on.

Then, from behind I heard the sounds of an expansion chambered RX100 coming up on us. As we tuned in to a sound that threatened to tear the silence of the Mumbai night to shreds, the jagged wails split into three. Two passed our cab from the cab, one from the right. It was them, all right. Shirts aflap, feet stuck defiantly outwards off the pegs, sort of Charlie Chaplin style and a very palpable catch Busa or die evident in their body language. The speed at which they passed our cab shook up the cabbie somewhat, I think.

They rapidly dwindled into small winking tail lamps, darting left and right between cars, screaming to a seemingly fiery concussion with the Hayabusa.

Meanwhile, the Hayabusa rider smoothly tucked in right next to the median, close to a car and just waited for the chaps to have their climax and get on with it. The three strokers screamed right past the Busa and continued to hurl their sounds into the night as they kept going.

The humid blanket of the night returned to sit comfortably along the Queen's Necklace. Then, the Hayabusa rider pulled out from behind the car, passed it smoothly, and the last I saw him, he was accelerating firmly, but smoothly up to his cruise speed on the now empty road ahead.

I turned and remarked to The Wife, 'he's riding really well.'
She said, 'But he's wearing Bermudas!'

Jun 6, 2006

Launch prospects

Hey y'all. I thaught I'd put a list together about who all're planning to launch stuff for us motorcyclists, and when... so here it is

ET reported that Bajaj has put back the launches of the Blade and Kristal scooters to early 2007. The new Pulsars and the DTS-Fi are expected diwali-ish. If true, that means a broken promise. Bajaj were very proud that all the displays were for a calendar 2006 launch.

Hero Honda
Made a surprise announcement at their results announcements that they had eight launches up their sleeve. Including a fuel-injected Glamour next month. To be called the Glamour F1, the motorcycle is due in June. The rains is not a great time to be launching stuff, conventional wisdom says, but a higher price outlay may not allow the Glamour F1 very great sales in the first place. Could the Karizma replacement/upgrade be in there?

Should have something for launch around the festive season. I'm hoping it isn't another sticker change for all the bikes, but something more substantial. I'd be gutted if they just put in a electric starter in the Shine and said enough. But If my luck holds, we'll get a refined 100cc entry level bike. Hmph.

The Heat and Zeus might net electric starters by September or so. After that, I'm hoping for another launch, maybe a 1000cc volume player. Hopefully they'll get it more right than the 125s

There's always hope, eh?

One motorcycle called the Stryker is supposedly ready. This will be based on the Velocity, so I have no hopes for it. On the other hand, there should be two scooter launches. The Euro, which will be a regular 135/150cc Nova/Activa competitor and another one. A Kinetic or a Sym? We'll see soon enough, right?

Are said to be working on a more powerful, more sporty 150cc version of the Apache, and a 180 as well. The former should be out just before Diwali, if all goes well for TVS, with meeting the production demand for the current Apache. 180 by March 2007?

Should be launching one more product before the year is out. Not counting the expected launches of the CBUs, that is. Yamaha seems bullish on the R1 and if they can figure out a way to quickly homologate the bikes, we could have the bike on sale by December. The other launch is likely to be a 125 or a 150, more likely to be the former, but serious about performance, rather than pleasing the largest cross-section of society

Royal Enfield
Have been quiet for a while, because they've been readying the unit gearbox motor. The integration of the gearbox will release more power and in the process more fuel economy. We're hoping the first of those types hit the road by December this year.

There could be more launches in the year. ET reported a possible 24 launches before the year is out. Amen to that. Just hope they're not all dollar signs masquerading as pedestrian motorcycles...

I'm sorry, I gotta run, so excuse any spelling/grammar mistakes. Will fix 'em tomorrow...

Jun 5, 2006

Suzuki Zeus Ride Report

Girls, Suzuki Zeus and Suzuki India Md Katsumi Takata
I finally managed to snag a ride on the new Suzuki Zeus. In a word? Okay.

The good news

  • The engine's a beaut in behaviour terms, between 2500 and 5500 rpm, it's
    a brilliant, creamy, effortless performer. Outside of that? Look in the bad news
  • The powertrain is very refined. No vibes, no snatches, no snags, no jerks
    Just pure, liquid energy coursing its way to the rear wheel
  • The gearbox shifts positively, and is very slick. Slightly notchy still, but my bike had just about 40 km on the clock when I rolled out of the showroom
  • Grips and vibe dampers are both of exceptional quality
  • Feels very stable on the brakes. Brakes well, with feel. Pricol master
    cylinder looks good too
  • Mirrors are good, stay vibe free, more or less and are very adjustable for
    a superb rear view
  • Seat appears to be comfy. My ride lasted a bit more than an hour. No aches
  • Key is a nice one. Very similar to a Hayabusa key, they tell me
  • Fairly 'thumpy' (likeable) exhaust note
  • Meters looks very clean, very readable. Very er... businesslike
  • Short, even stubby tank is a nice one to hug. Feels good. Tucking ankles all the way in along the leading edge of well-bulged sidepanels feels good
  • Fairing looks good on it own. The four-screw fly screen looks great. Is a little lost on the black bike, though
  • Decal quality is very high
  • Street oriented quick turning sort of handling package. No comment on high speed stability and cornering ability yet
The bad news
  • The engine seems to have little or no zest below 2500 and runs very obviously out of breath just past 7000 rpm. I understand that the torque peak is an unprecedented 4000 rpm and all, but running out of breath almost before stuff like the Bajaj Discover has even peaked!
  • No alloys
  • No electric starter model yet
  • Front-end feels a bit bouncy when riding single (no comments on two up riding, none done)
  • Switchgear, while comprehensive, feels below par. Especially detest, even abhor, the pass switch, feels spongy and unresponsive. Most of the time, I could not tell if the headlight came on or not. That sucks.
  • The gear indicator looks gizmo-ey, and isn't of any use whatsoever. Especially with a gearbox this slick and well-tuned
  • Neutral can be obstinate if you've already stopped. Very easy to get if you're still rolling, though
  • Engine cowl is useless. In black, it's just too hidden to actually add/subtract from the Zeus' looks
  • Sidepanels are screw type... slightly unsafe
  • Indicators look a bit big, and too stodgy square. Could have been a sleeker shape
  • Ride quality overall is a bit on the bouncy side. I'd say Disco and Gladiator definitely ride better than this. Shine is even, I think
I'm not impressed. It isn't a poor bike by any standard, but the most attractive part of the Suzuki Zeus (and Heat) appears to be the engine. Especially in heavy to light traffic. On the open road, I can't help but think that the bike will be nowhere. Further, there are better overall packages on sale right now, and the Zeus, unlike the Heat does not even enjoy a price advantage. To make matters worse, while some parts are of noticeably higher quality than the competition, others feel below par (the chain tensioners at the end of the swingarm are HORRIFYINGLY shoddy). A bit of mish-mash really.

Outlook: I don't see Suzuki making a significant dent in the 125cc market with these motorcycles. The Heat looks very, very rural and not one city type will get caught dead on one. On the other hand, the Zeus is very anonymous to look at and I don't think quality (that too in fits and starts) alone will be enough. Er.. so sorry.

My picks in the 125? Still Disco and Gladiator.

Other posts about
All the 125s: Table
Hero Honda Glamour FI: Release
Yamaha Gladiator: Images Launch Expo photos Expo text Compared to the Shine
Suzuki Heat: Expo text Expo photos
Honda Shine: Mumbai launch TVC criticism Launch Compared to the Gladiator
TVS Victor Edge/GLX: Launch

Jun 2, 2006

Riding Mantra #012.98

'Smoothness, above all else'
-Originally a 555 cig ad. Better applied to motorcycles, tho

200+ bhp Desmosedici RR for the street!

Ducati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiHoly Mother of God will get more than a few invocations this week, given that Ducati have taken the wraps of the Desmosedici RR. Their 200+ bhp street bike, which will get its first standing ovation at the Mugello MotoGP weekend. What can I say, welcome to the world and all of that. Hope to see you soon.

As is usual, here is the full release:

The Ducati Desmosedici RR production prototype is launched at Mugello on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix. Available from July 2007, this first true MotoGP replica motorcycle can already be reserved from the official Ducati dealer network.

Ducati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiScarperia del Mugello (Italy), June 1st 2006 – Ducati has chosen the magical atmosphere of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello to launch the Desmosedici RR production prototype. The dream of a true GP replica has finally come true and the Desmosedici RR will be the first-ever road-going motorcycle to offer such a stunning wealth of performance and technology that comes directly from Ducati’s experience in MotoGP. The RR derives from the Ducati Corse Grand Prix racing Desmosedici GP6, the same bike with which Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau are competing with in the 2006 MotoGP World Championship. The Mugello launch is the perfect occasion to reveal the shape and the technical characteristics with which the bike will go to market, confirming the high technological features of this exclusive and esoteric machine.

The body design and the aerodynamics faithfully reflect the Desmosedici GP6. The colour scheme, the fittings, the materials used in its construction as well as the technical features of the powerful four-cylinder desmodromic engine built by the Borgo Panigale factory engineers, leave no doubts whatsoever: the Desmosedici RR is the ultimate expression of the most extreme MotoGP racing machine today. The project is currently in the industrialization phase and, as previously announced, it will be a limited edition motorcycle, with approximately 400 bikes being produced a year. The RR is scheduled to arrive in the market in July 2007, while from June 2nd 2006 it will be possible to reserve the bike through the official Ducati dealer network, with Ducati 999R owners receiving priority. ...

Full specs as released:Versions
TechDucati Desmosedici RR
Type4 cylinder L-configuration [90 deg V4], Desmodromic valve actuation, 4 titanium valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
PowerMore than 200 bhp@13,500 rpm
FuelingMagneti Marelli electronic fuel injection, 4 injectors with 12-holes each
Exhaust4-2-1 vertical
Gears6-speed, cassette type
ClutchHydraulic dry multi-plate slipper clutch
BodyCarbon fibre
FrameSteel trellis frame, carbon fiber regisella subframe, swingarm in aluminum alloy
Front suspensionOhlins USD 43 mm, fully adjustable, Tin coated
Front wheelSuper light magnesium Marchesni 7-spoke
Rear suspensionOhlins monoshock, low and high-speed compression adjustable
Rear wheelSuper light magnesium Marchesni 7-spoke
TyresBespoke Bridgestones
Front brakeWet race spec GP6 brakes. Radial mount, remote adjuster, Brembo monobloc 4 piston 34mm calipers, semi-floater 320mm twin discs
Rear brake240mm floating disc, 2-piston calipers
InstrumentsElectronic LCD dash, tacho, speedo, trip/odometer, warning lights, indicators, oil pressire, fuel status, clock, air temperature, battery status, immobiliser, adjustable shift light, lap timer

ColorsFull red Ducati-spec, or red-white Corse spec
VariantsMonoposto [single seat] only
Price for publicEuro 55,000 cim

Ducati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: DucatiDucati Desmosedici RR; Image courtesy: Ducati


Ducati Victorinox goodies

Ducati Victorinox Corse multitoolDucati and Victorinox have tied up to make these absolutely gorgeous multi-tools. And since there aren't any electrics (at least I can't see any), there shall be no failures. In the pic is one of the Corse editions, while the rest are black ones, with classic Ducati logos. Watch out for the spring-loaded sidestand function, it might cause your pride and joy to take a tumble and scratch the stainless blade, ok? As usual, here is the full release:


KÜNZI S.p.A., official licensee for the entire Victorinox Ducati line, presents the first “Tools collection”. Produced by Victorinox, specially for Ducati.

Ducati and Victorinox are two names with a great common history: the same passion for mechanics, the same experience with the transformation from simple metal to objects for human appreciation and the same constant research for the highest level of performance.

Perfect for motorcycling, for free time, for daily adventures, for sports, for collectors, for everyone - no matter who you are, the Ducati Victorinox are dedicated to you.

The design of the Ducati Classic line was based on historic images and logos of the Borgo Panigale factory. The line has the following 4 models:

  • V-DU01 - Ducati Wing 15 features (91 mm)
  • V-DU02 - Ducati DisTec 15 features (91 mm)
  • V-DU03 - Ducati Classic 35 features (91 mm)
  • V-DU04 - Ducati Chicco 9 features (58 mm)

The design of the Ducati Corse line was based on the Ducati racing team logos and colours. The line has the following 2 models:

  • V-DC01 - Ducati Corse 10 features (58 mm)
  • V-DC02 - Ducati Corse 15 features (91 mm)
The new Victorinox- Ducati products will be presented in Milan at “Outliving” (Via Agnello 8) on Thursday, May 25th at 18:30. The Ducati 999 n° 21 that Troy Bayliss, from the Ducati Xerox Team, currently rides in the World Superbike Championship will be on display at the event.


Jun 1, 2006

Corporate Con: Fa Deo Spray TVC

Fa pink deo from malincho.comMost of the adventurous ones among us, realised fairly early that school staircases allowed a certain kind of colour guessing game. But it never lasted, you'd either end up in the principals office, fall out of grace with all the girls in the school or worst, get swatted so hard in public that you'd go colour blind with instant effect.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the new Fa Deo Spray pink or black TVC. Story line: two chaps are wondering if it's pink or black. Then a chick comes out to play tennis. Various shots suggest that the game (no, not tennis) is on. Until she comes close to the guys to retrieve a stuck (tennis) ball. At which they both breath in like Vicks recommends and say, 'pink.' And the girl repartees, 'black tomorrow.' Voice over: Fa Deo Spray...

This is the sort of demeaning, unimaginative, even obscene ads that point to a creativity crisis. And that someone, somewhere either went unpunished, was not brought up well, or has issues. Or all of that. Shame on whoever is responsible for this. Disgraceful.