Jan 20, 2007

Intensity: that's what we don't get any more

Yamaha RD350B 1973 from yamaha-france.comToday, I realize that we have steadily been anesthetized. That we've buried the wealth of experiences that we had gathered. And never returned to the grave. We've forgotten the joy of unbridled acceleration. We've lost the feeling of treading on the very edge, just about in control. We no longer recall the smell of motorcycles. And we've lost our ability to hear them as well. And not just because they've lost their voices.

I rode home on a Honda Shine today - I didn't feel a thing. With me, a colleague rode an RD350 exactly halfway. Sometimes he was ahead, and sometimes, out of politeness (or respect for my seniority), he'd let me pass. Sometimes I'd feel the warm scent of freshly burnt premix wafting deliciously around me, sometimes I'd hear two pistons hammering away just a few feet away. All the time unlocking unused, dusty chests of memories. Of hard rides. Of near misses. Of adrenaline. Of fear. And of unwavering intensity.

It wasn't a light ride. There was traffic and we were both making time through it. While the Shine slipped through traffic like an assassin's blade, the RD350 attacked it full and frontal. Like it feared no one. Like an absolute. Like it held no fear of what it was and what people and their laws thought of it. Naked and proud.

It's voice jabbing this way and that. The tearing wave of sound that leapt over buses, screamed under them, wrapped itself around air-conditioned cars... it was everywhere. And then, in a flash, gone. Leaving behind only a sepia contrail of nostalgia. Curling in the shocked wind for a moment.

Many heads that turned wondered what memory awoke fleetingly in their minds. But they forgot the smell before they could remember. The source, by then, a shrieking fury disappearing rapidly in the distance. A meaningless smoky shape spearing towards a dark horizon that lies just beyond the last streetlight. A flash of daylight in the gathering night, already gone.

We've gotten used to congratulating ourselves on our little toys. We've forgotten the time when bikes would literally wrench your arms out of their little sockets. When we feared our steeds. When eye-opening performance was dearer than fuel. But today I smelt it again. I tasted it. I bathed in it. I felt it.

Yamaha RD350B from bsmotoring.comHere's the only other RD350 post I've ever put up.
Image from bsmotoring.com


Nyctophobia said...

its quite like something i was going to write about except that i don't have a real world experience to back it up, mostly memories and theories...

Anonymous said...

A RD is a RD...cant beat the shit out of it...everything else is a plastic crap..

Anonymous said...

A 28-30 bhp RD, intense? You're kidding me Rearset! ;-)) These days an RD = wallowy chassis, soggy suspension, crap brakes, thin tyres, peeling paint and sorry engines. Let the RDs of this world rust in peace, man. Bring me the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi.

aditya said...

yaar you were on a Shine and your friend was on an RD what did you expect.

you should compare something like the pulsar 220 and rd. or karizma or something which has a semblance of power.

rearset said...

The reason why I wrote is that exactly. The intensity of motorcycling is missing. And not just from the ultra-dull Shine (!). The Karizma and the 220 (I've spent enough time on both, in case you plan to ask) both aren't even half as intense as an RD. If you were a motorcycle newbie (as in never before ridden, but knew how to...er...) you'd be frightened sick of the RD. You'd only notice the speed of the Kari and P220, in comparison. Get it?

Anonymous said...

nice write up.. an RD runnin somewhere close to its 30bhp will scare u shitless on indian roads , more so with its slippery stock tyres and bad brakes ( good actually , just never set rite ) . the young punks no longer have respect..pulsars and karizmas are mopeds in comparison . lifeless , plasticy gizmos . the only thing close to an RD is a nicely ported RX . these bikes have three things that no pulsar/zmas can boast of .
when in tune : they sound rite . they move rite . and they smell rite .

Anonymous said...


I own a RD350. There was once a wannabe rider who had the New Karizma and tried to come close to me.... Well the rest was only SMOKE. Its ported to 45 bhp. It scares the shit out of me. Hell I cannot take it past 140k's mate. These people with Pulsars barely stand a chance.