- Rene Descartes
Nov 22, 2006
- Rene Descartes
Okay, today's officially not a good day. Like I've said somewhere before (reply to a comment?), I was given to believe that the Pulsar DTS-Fi was a December launch. However, that, I'm now being told is not true. Never was. No cigar.
To put a fine point on it, my source was adamant that the bike was ready to launch and due for a end-2006 calendar launch. Which, I might add, would be consistent with Bajaj's promise of many launches in the calendar year. A promise that they made at the Auto Expo 2006 and a promise that is well nigh broken for now, with the Sonic definitely not being launched this calendar year, and it appears doubtful whether it will even make the financial year.
However, I spoke to someone else in Bajaj today and this person, who is as credible as the other chap insists that the DTS-Fi was never scheduled for a calendar 2006 launch. It was, and is, scheduled for a March 2007 commercial debut, and so far, that's on target and if there is a change, that would mean a later launch, April or June 2007. Eh?
If that be the case, was the pre-launch preview ride for our fair country's motoring journalists in June this year truly a flash in the pan brought on by the fear that the HH Glamour FI might have stolen the DTS-Fi's BFG - fuel injection? Or is Bajaj in such a strong market position that it can play these games, literally at will and not suffer? And afford to do a touch and try on products almost a year before they're due for launch? Or sit on market ready products and decide strategically appropriate launch dates? Or could Bajaj be waiting to one-up the now-more-or-less-official Karizma upgrade which is expected at the end of this fiscal? Both of the latter things it appeared to do calmly with the new 'Phantom' Pulsar 150..
In either case, I am certain that many fans of Bajaj, the Pulsar and those who've already sold their previous bikes and are ready with cash for the 220 are beginning to get very itch at the best and very, very pissed off at the worst. Which isn't a good thing for a manufacturer in a fickle marketplace...
Cloudy: What you doing here?
rearset: I am just standing here, looking at my bike...
C: Exacly, why don't you go to the office already?
r: Actually, I stand here everyday for five minutes thinking about the ride here.
C: Er... what?
r: Well, I like to re-run the ride in my head. It helps me spot any mistakes I made today, so I can work towards not repeating them from here on. It also helps me 'catalog' any new changes in the route – diversions, new potholes, new digs etc. And finally, it also helps me spot hazards and hazardous spots which I haven't already... and so forth.
C: That's too much thinking...
r: Is there any such think?
Yeehaa! I get to do my own mailbag. rearset's first mailbag. Yippee! etc.
It's always nice to hear that your work is appreciated. As far as your comment on Indian magazines goes, I think they're doing okay. I believe they're as honest as possible most of the time. Stay in touch
Helmet is a must... Awesome ad
Couldn't resist sending this to you.
I've seen that ad somewhere, and yes, I do think it's a terrific one. If I had a hi-res file, I'd put it up on various notice boards in the office and around... Thanks for that!
Check out this post on parking problems. Been there, been done, eh?
Parking at Owner's Risk
Nov 20, 2006
Someone had written in to ask with some astonishment that I had recommended Gaurav Jani’s film as a must watch having watched only forty minutes. Well, he was right, I was wrong. I should never have stopped at forty minutes and I should have called it a must have from the off. Here’s why.
I’ve now been in front of the moving picture camera more than a couple of time, and I’ve been behind a few times as well. I’ve learnt to grudgingly respect those who wield it, bow to those who control it and learnt to stay away from this time-consuming, irritatingly brief and utterly exhausting medium. Much easier to write I say.
If Gaurav (I don’t know him, but after the film, that line of distinction has blurred a bit, I think) was to write a book about his travels to Changthang, it’d be easy. Wrap a notebook, a few pencils, a few pens, the tent and a camera and off you go. You need to input to write down your thoughts and this would be easy. In a month, you’d have enough material to write about. Ladakh is the gorgeous-est place on Earth, all photos would be printable and heart-stopping. And everyone who has ever been there and loved it would want two copies. Sold!
But a one man film unit is another proposition all together. Gaurav had to record the footage, the sound, setup the shots, compose the frames and ride the 10,000-odd kilometres to Changthang and back, all on his own. That is superhuman.
Now, by the standard of the average film critic, is this film a tour de force? I don’t care. I think the film is above all, honest, spontaneous, real, entertaining, revealing and most importantly human. Gaurav Jani captures the very essence of his journey in a very personal, very candid fashion while collecting miles of jaw-droppingly good-looking footage. You could not ask for more, really. If I were Jani, I’d retire quoting this as my magnum opus and it’d be perfect.
Getting material of this quality for Rs 600 is a steal. So do the deed, get to dirttrackproductions.com. I guarantee the results. Either you’ll relive your trip the Ladakh in the space of 94 minutes in full colour, or you’ll ride to Leh at the first opportunity.
A phrase I shall always remember is when I met Venu Srinivasan for the only time I have ever. I quizzed him about the four-speed gearbox on the TVS Victor GLX. He told me, with the everpresent smile that the bike didn’t need it. Too tongue-tied to respond, I thought to myself then that the bike would not pick up steam in the market.
The exact nature of the thought came to me a few days later, when it crystallised into a blog-worthy sound byte. Here it is.
Motorcycles are all about what riders want, not about what riders need.
There’s two ways to understand that. Let me take the more literal path first. What do riders (us) need. We need protection from spills and rains. So we need a BMW C1. Flop. We need just enough power to get from home to office. So we need a Hero Honda Splendor. Which motorcyclist dreams of one? The other is (was) TVS’ way of understanding it. Why have a five-speed gearbox when you could make do with four? When do you ever shift into fourth in city traffic? Etc.
But since then, TVS learnt that want is the cornerstone of motorcycle success, not need. Do you actually believe that everyone who rides a litre-four needs 190 bhp? Or the noise from the race pipe? Or six degrees of just-so suspension?
Enter the Apache. Fixed a lot of the flaws of the Fiero, add a few wants – like sexy looks. Forgot a few more, like a committed riding position, like clip-ons… did better than any 150cc TVS that went before it.
But here’s the reason why I brought this up. I think Bajaj, who have been delivering what is wanted by riders, has suddenly reverted to the needs platform. Which is one of the reasons why I think the Pulsar 150, 180 and 220 are excellent motorcycle, but I do not think they are as desirable as the first DTSi 180 or the first-gen P180.
We never needed the extra kick of the 180, but we wanted it. We wanted the 220 to be a bigger kick. Personally, I wanted it adorned with all manner of not-needed stuff. Like an outsize front disk, with a supercool radial mount calliper. Instead of a normal pair of footpegs, I wanted a genuine set of rearsets. Instead of the fast, civil 20 bhp, I wanted a top-endy, revving 25 bhp machine that woke up at 5000 rpm and kept you awake late into the night. You get my drift?
I think if we were to look back into motorcycle history, we’d find that motorcycles that satisfied our wants were always the great ones. The ones that satisfied our needs weren’t. Some of need bikes were great, so they sold in huge numbers, but never formed any emotional ties with their riders.
And I think any manufacturer, globally, who loses sight of the want-need perspective can’t excite riders.
Nov 15, 2006
Gaurav Jani's acclaimed, multi-award winning, one-man effort, documentary, Riding Solo To the Top Of The World is now available on DVD at Dirt Track Productions now. At Rs 600, including shipping, the DVD seems well worth the effort. I watched about forty minutes of it, and while there is a bit extra drama now and then, it seems like a superhuman effort. Jani's got it just right in most places, with stunning shots. In short, the film is a feat. A must watch.
There isn't anything the slightest bit funny about war. But if the war is one of those metaphorical ones, all is fair, even some fun. And, if you look around, two motorcycle manufacturers are at war in India. While I'm hardly the most politically (or otherwise) correct bloke around, I'm not going to name them. However, I am going to suggest that the war could be fun.
Just last month, one of them launched a motorcycle that promises a lot and wears a very big, very prestigious name on the tank. But personally, I think that in the process of the relaunch, a lot of the essence of the original has been lost. Not in the least, the exact displacement. A number that would have allowed this motorcycle to make a lot more power than its peers and stand head and shoulders above.
And last week, I had the opportunity to ride its biggest rival. Some would say, nemesis. It turns out to be the competing motorcycle's equal. If I were to relaunch it, I'd have raised the engine to the exact same displacement as the rivals predecessor. Which would, as I've said, allowed it to make a lot more power than its peers and stand... etc.
It would also have been quite funny. I'm not sure that either of the manufacturers (who I've carefully shrouded in mystery so no one can guess their identity) are laughing. But I certainly thought it would raise more than its fair share of laughter. And give us fourth estaters more grist for the mills (to use a cliche).
Unfortunately, between the cold confines of engineering and the unrelieved landscape of business/competition, a sense of humour has been lost. Or at least, is needed. After all, they're both making mountains of money, what's a little fun on the side, eh?
At this point, I would I have liked to bring in a precedent. Something on the lines of how a great, popular Honda had ram-air but its upgrade didn't. Then Yamaha launched its bike in the same segment... with ram air. The Yamaha was much quicker and faster, won all the hearts, made huge sales and the Yamaha engineers laughed their way into the setting sun.
But here's the thing, I can't find a single example of this. If you know one, tell me about it. As it stands, it seems motorcycle engineering is a tough, serious business where few people have the time or the inclination to indulge in – what to call it – friendly jostling?
Mystified by the advertisement, I called up a number of Yamaha dealers and one company man to find out what the Type JA Gladiator was. I shouldn't have, now I am even more confused. But here is what I've got.
- The Gladiator Type JA has a monstrously ugly name
- The Gladiator Type JA has snake graphics
- The Gladiator Type JA has snake design seats
- The Gladiator Type JA has a black look
- The Gladiator Type JA has the same Yamaha logo as M1 (don't ask)
- The Gladiator Type JA has alloy wheels in black
- The Gladiator Type JA has alloy wheels in silver
- The Gladiator Type JA has spoke wheels, alloys are optional
- The Gladiator Type JA has company alloys, not cheap Chinese ones
- The Gladiator Type JA is not a limited edition
- The Gladiator Type JA is priced like a limited edition
- The Gladiator Type JA is Rs 53287 on road Pune
- The Gladiator Type JA is Rs 56378 on road Pune with alloys
- The Gladiator Type JA is otherwise a stock bike
- The Gladiator Type JA has clear lens indicators
- The Gladiator Type JA is no big deal, really
- The Gladiator Type JA is freakishly expensive
- The Gladiator Type JA is... why would anyone buy one?
- The Gladiator Type JA is... who would ride a bike with John's name on the tank... oh, you would? Really?
- The Gladiator Type JA. is. Enough.
Nov 9, 2006
Nov 8, 2006
The new Pulsar 150 from Bajaj is out. The big news is that the engine has been bored out by 1mm, so that it now displaces the same volume as the rest of the 150cc bikes - 149cc. Except for the Apache, which is still 147cc. In the process, the Pulsar boosts its power output to 14.2 bhp, just a bit more than the CBZ X-Treme and its torque peak to 1.3 kgm, again a bit more than the CBZ X-treme. Given that weigh is identical (kerb weight for both is 143 kg), the Pulsar should be the performance leader of the 150cc segment.
Powertrain modifications include the gearbox and clutch from the 180 (I'm told all the gearing is the same apart from the final reduction). Riding the bike, you won't notice the gearbox at all, which is a huge compliment. On the other hand, you will notice the clutch, which is lighter than before, completely judder free and very friendly.
Visually, take the pic of the Phantom 180 on the right and imagine a silver engine, and you have the 150 down pat. Obviously, no orange colour. Yes, that includes the digital speedo, all the switches and all the bits.
I rode the bike, and it felt good. It's become quieter, smoother and more effective. Just what an upgrade should do, eh?
Bajaj says the price will rise, ET reports a rise of Rs 2,200. It's a big figure all right, but somehow I don't think that's going to stop all the 40,000-odd people buying Pulsars from doing just that.
Nov 6, 2006
Sorry about this whole bunch of cross-posted stuff, but these queries needed to be answered... and I thought they contained questions that new riders might want to read about...
- If you remember long bike back you said in every accident you either do or you don't do something due to which a crash happens. Well, when I crashed on the highway I ran the over the scene again and again to find out what I'd done to have caused it. Another rider cut lanes and came right in my way. I realised that I was riding along [parallel to] him... Big mistake – he couldn't see me and hence the crash happened...
- In the post Commuting Lesson # 2.2 Positioning (View) you wrote a point on corners that I didnt get. Do you mean to say that if I am on the left of a car I must not try to go around it and over take it from the right?
No. The point was not to open the throttle until you could confirm that your path was clear. So, If you were riding exactly behind, say, the left tail lamp of the car and decided to overtake it from the right side, I suggest you don't open the throttle until you have established that the path you intend to take is free of slow moving vehicles, obstructions etc.
- And the next point on pillars now seriously when you are riding how do you know if you're coming in the pillar space of the car behind you?
By observing when you're in the car, that's how. Do it often enough and you will get a feel for it. It sounds impossible, but it does work. Next time you sit in a car, see what part of the view is blocked. And the next time you check your mirrors, cross-reference that data. Et voila!
- Do you think keep your head lamp on even during the day is a better idea? Also is the point relevant in cities and traffic?
Yes, I happen to think they really help. However, Indian road rules don't allow it. So usually, a cop will ask you to switch them off. However, I've had considerable success with running pilot lamps all the time. I always run low-beam on highways though.
- If I am in lane two of a highway and there is a car on lane three and I am going to overtake it do I need to honk or give signals to the driver on lane three?
Think of it this way. You need to be seen. That means other road users need to understand what your position is and what you intend to do. All the time. That means riding where they can see you, wearing stuff they cannot miss and yes, when push comes to shove, honking and indicating to people who have no apparent interest in the maneuver you intend to execute.
- Often I am faced with the problem where is this idiot talking on the phone is nicely walking across the road or a bunch of stupid females running across and giggle. Now when they come too close to comfort and say you are at 30-40-50 its almost impossible to stop right? So there are three options that I can think of
- You move right or left but It's difficult to judge which side they will go plus on highways I am afraid to do this as there could be car behind which could kill you.
- Brake hard and try to stop but since you're braking and already trying to control your bike when you hit them you are sure to fall and get injured...
- Don't brake only roll the acclerator closed so you're in full control as you hit them... (sorry, but if people are dumb enough to put their and my lives on risk for a bloody phone call then I'd rather save mine)
These hypothetical questions can never be answered straight, but let me attempt a reasonable answer. First, If you cannot stop in time, you're going too fast. Second, switching on the headlight at this point usually freezes them in place so you can figure out how to get around them. Third, if you're thinking there could be a car, you're not watching you mirrors enough. You should know. Third, if you cannot do anything else, don't hit them. Crash alone. It always hurts less. And you're less likely to get thrashed half to death by the inevitable crowd that will gather. Fourth, hitting them is never, ever an option.
- Lastly when is the right time as in after how many months of riding can one start experimenting with his bike I mean learning stunts like wheelies and stoppies etc. Not stupid enough to do these on the highways or main roads but when your on that empty lane in ur colony where nothing ever moves its tempting to try things other riders can so what say on that?
That's your own boat, dude. Float it when you think you are ready. Stunting hurts. That much has been established beyond doubt. And not just the rider. It will damage your motorcycle too. Beyond that, feel free. If you are on a suitably deserted road, so much the better. Have a friend along when you try though. To clap, or to call the doctor.
- You can now email me. Send queries, photos, anecdotes or hate mail to rearsetblog[at]gmail[dot]com
Nov 4, 2006
Crossposting from a comment again:
Can you tell me where in our vast country can we get decent (I am not talking about the high quality stuff) riding gear which includes everything for about say 10 to 12000. Well I really do want to get the stuff but its hard to find ... Was at newenough and found these affordable if I can find somebody in US to do the pick up for me.
Would take the liner for the jacket seeing the kind of rains we get in India. However I dont think the over pants would be water proof.
Though the jacket can be worn everyday I am not so sure about the overpants. Can you tell me if these things require any special wash care ... What is this mesh gear all about anyway. Isnt this normal textile ... Whats the mesh made of. Could you tell me if similar gear is available in India at near the same range ... Jacket for about Rs. 3k (4 with a waterproof liner) and overpants (I want overpants as cant wear the same trousers to office everyday :) for about Rs. 3.5k. Would spend another 1k on a decent pair of gloves probably
What say you ... Please let me know ..
Hey found this while at it ...
Better for the wet weather as it is water resistant. Do let me know whether these jackets suit the hot Indian weather conditions. Also I find that this jacket comes with Triple Density Armour which was not included in the jacket mentioned in the previous comment, though it did have some armour. Both retail for the same price though. Which one would be better keeping the weather too in mind
The BATFAN - 13 November, 2006 16:56
To answer your questions:
- Cheaper alternative in India
At the moment there isn't a cheaper alternative. But see the post link in point 10 and scroll down to the comments...
- Cheapest way to get it
Order it and send it to someone in the US who will have to carry it back.
- Waterproof overpants
Too bulky and too hot to actually use in our weather. You'll be much better off with a mesh overpant and wear a el cheapo Rs 300 PVC rain suit on top.
Again, stick to mesh or vented jackets. Anything else is just too hot, and you won't use it after a while. If can afford it, check out the Tour Master Flex Convertible Mesh/Textile Jacket, I rather like the idea.
- What is mesh
It's a sieve like material, usually built from Nylon or other durable, abrasion resistant fabrics. Allows air to pass right through.
- Decent gloves
I recommend picking a pair from newenough.com's closeout section. I 'm on my third pair of Joe Rocket Razor Mesh/Leather Street Gloves
- Wash care
Usually, these things are hand wash, and you cannot hang them up to dry. Otherwise normal.
- Other place to buy it
I've checked. Newenough is the cheapest. I've also used their website over and over. Reliable.
- Overpants: Everyday?
I wear them everyday. I have Joe Rocket Phoenix 2.0 Mesh Pants that smell nauseatingly sweaty because I use them all the time. Sounds Yucky, but they're cool and will offer more protection than denim when it's time to take a tumble.
Try finding an army surplus store and buy a pair of cheap (Rs 200-350) DMS boots. They're work out quite well.
- More information
See this post
Nov 3, 2006
-He who may not be named here
When I travelled to Goa recently, I felt the urge to carry my fairly bulky Lonely Planet India guidebook. Short of ripping out the section on Goa (there's an idea), I had no option. I also happen to own a bunch of Outlook Traveller guides. Which are printed on art paper, and are really, really heavy (d-uh!). So what to do?
Compulsive-obsessive behaviour ensured that I'd done loads of research about the place. I had in fact, copy-pasted a 39 K text file (I kid you not) which history, places to see, places to eat etc. The question was how to carry this info. That is when I found this site.
If you don't want to read his fairly long version, here's what you do. Go to this site (http://tinyurl.com/6uebo) and upload your text file. Also type in a name (if you type in book, the split file will be book-
After a moment's delay, you'll get a link to download a zip file. This file will have a whole bunch of serialised text files which contain xml/xhtml (I'm not a techie) that link up to each other in sequence.
Copy all the files into your iPod's notes folder (I think you're supposed to exit iTunes before you use your iPod as a hard disk) and you're done. While travelling, now you can access your full guide book without any weight penalty.
In actual use, I found this quite handy and perhaps the only irritant is having to scroll backwards to exit the guidebook. As in, if you're on page 40 of the guidebook, you will have go backwards (all the way to page 1) to exit it. Music will play in the background, but you can't adjust volume etc while reading. Since the backlight remains on while you read and the hard disk spins up when you change pages, the iPod does consume a bit more battery than usual when you're reading.
This process also allows you to store ebooks on your iPod for reading. Same advantages and pitfalls apply.
I found that mycitymate.com offers free guidebooks for many European cities.
Nov 2, 2006
Not sure if this is applicable here, but it is definitely related to breaking. Well , as you know it's been quite a downpour here in Chennai and I managed to take my first bad fall from a bike. I was coming down a flyover and skidded going towards the left of the road as I had to stop (And STOP I did :(. Reduced the gears and stopped by applying brakes as soon as I realized I have lost control. Well nothing serious happened. The single Crash Bar (Knee Guard) got bent and the front headlight fairing got a small scratch along with the loss of a RVM. Well got the RVM and crash guard fixed the next day as am not comfortable driving without a proper rear view. Only wanted to know do such kinds of accident have any bad effect on the engine. Though I don't think it took a major shock as my leg was still caught between the bike and the road along with the bent knee guard. Uh ... I know its ugly for you but sorry I am just learning ... Oh and I learned one thing ... Always wear shoes along with the helmet while riding. The minor scratches I got on my right foot still feel hell. Do let me know if this would do any wrong to my Gladiator. And guess what I was just bringing it back from the first service that day and it shiny and bright...
The BATFAN; cross posted from here
There's a few things in here that I think need to be straightened out.
- Motorcycles and crashing go together like salty nibble-food and beer
- If you are falling, please let the bike get damaged. You can repair metal. Flesh and bones, sometimes don't quite repair quite as easily, which is terrible news. And to take the example to an extreme, you can buy another bike should you write it off. Can't say the same about the rider, though
- Crash guards are useless. (Please save your comments, I've been through this discussion so many times, that I'm physically exhausted about this. There is no research to support the presumption that crash guards work to help the rider. They were intended as safeguards for the engine)
- Crashes can damage all metal parts that suffer the impact. But if the engine didn't actually hit the ground, the chances of something inside breaking are fairly remote
- Don't stop at the shoes. Wear proper protective gear. Many studies (most recently, MAIDS) prove that properly used protective gear reduces the severity of injuries in almost all accident scenarios
- Ride more cautiously when visibility (both who can see you and what you can see) or traction (for you and for other drivers and riders) are scarce.
Have you seen this man? D_Tanwar is a member of mouthshut.com and has posted a review of the Honda Shine at the website. Which is admirable. Except for the fact that the post is an exact copy of my Shine review post. Which is theft.
I'm not blaming the website, of course. I have a couple of friends who were regular reviewers for a while (and still are, I think), and personally, I think mouthshut (and its ilk) are a great idea.
Below is a screenshot of his post. And here is the link to my Shine post.
Mixed feelings, really: I write well enough to get copied. But not well enough to get credit for it, apparently.
Oh yeah, photo and screenshot courtesy mouthshut.com. Blog post idea courtesy: d_tanwar
This is a screenshot of the soon to be announced Vardenchi.com website, showcasing the awesome looking choppers from the Mumbai based company. This particular bike is the same one featured in last month's BSMotoring
Nov 1, 2006
Yeah, yeah I heard it too. Bajaj is indeed saying that they intend to exit the 100cc segment. I also hear that this landmark statement came from none other than Rajiv Bajaj himself. A man who is known to keep his word. I did some googling and found that more than a few people had called it a tactical exit. Which, while a close approximate, isn't really the exact nail-on-head term for this sudden twist in the tale.
What, in effect, is happening is something I read in one of our auto mags a couple of years ago. I think it was a comparison test, where the journalist says something on the lines of – attacking a market leader with a product proposition similar to his most popular product only strengthens the leader's position and works against the challenging brand.
In simpler words, Bajaj has now understood that Hero Honda's number 1 position hinges on the sales of the 100cc executive/commuter motorcycles. And that dethroning HH is simply a matter of taking over those numbers. And further, the most likely way of doing that is to stop playing price games with similar displacement machines. And instead, throw a googly at HH by starting the product range at 125cc, offering competitively priced, higher-displacement machines in the entry and executive segments. I read in the newspaper reports that Bajaj is preparing a from-scratch low-cost 125cc platform to bring this statement into reality. A great idea.
In the process of reading this material, I also happened on a confidential-till-end-2005 report (thanks google). The report also brings out another interesting perspective, which I think is relevant here. Especially given the two stories Economic Times carried today (see the story related to Hero Honda's royalty and technology payments taking over number three slot in the expenses column).
We already know that as raw material costs rise and price competition intensifies, margins are under pressure. But look, Bajaj sells 35,000 or more Pulsars every month, and hence, in the sale mix are higher margin products than can offset some of the price pressures, stabilising the margins. Guess who can't say the same about their product mix.
More to the point, Bajaj is also able to respond to market needs/competition by quickly upgrading, changing or re-packaging products when (and if) needed. Again, guess who can't do that, thanks to a technology-restricitive tie-up. On the other hand, offering a 125cc segment to the 100cc customer at the same cost seems like a brilliant idea. But what if they're unwilling to accept bigger displacement (say, because they link cubes to kpl as a inverse proportion relationship?). Uh oh.
This is a beautiful strategy game being played at the very highest levels. We're fortunate to have a ring side seat. May the best side win, I say