Feb 23, 2007

Bajaj-Hero Honda offshore battle?

The excerpt below is from here

Madhur Bajaj, executive director, Bajaj Auto has also promised to take the Munjal family on the Honolulu trip if they promised to sit back for at least a month. “Pawan Munjal has always been fleet-footed. When we walk, he runs,” Bajaj said.
Funny story that one. Read the full thing here. It would appear that the Bajaj-HH battle is getting close and heated. And what is better is that no one seems to have lost their bearings or sense of humour yet. At least in public at any rate. May the best one win...

Oh and lest I forget, I got the link either from BikeNomads or BajajPulsar. I can't remember now am posting both links. So sorry.

Rossi on the YZF-R1

Valentino Rossi, while not riding the new M1 has been spending some time on the 2007 R1 it would appear (here). Watch the video. Some nice footage in it. More importantly, you can see one Japanese man and one Italian man, both obviously very good at what they do, not so good at English, have a conversation. Borderline funny, even

Motorsport Update

Well, it looks like the World Supers get underway shortly and my man Noriyuki Haga was on provision pole in qualifying 1.That's good news, I think. I thought I'd post up some information on the WSBKs. You can watch the races live on Zee Sports. Visit this link for more detailed information. For this weekend, the schedule looks like this:

You searched for MOTORSPORT Schedules between 2/22/'07 and 2/28/'07


Time Program
Thu, Feb 22, '07 11:00 PM WSBK 20 Year Anniversary Special
Thu, Feb 22, '07 3:00 AM WSBK Highlights 2006 Brands Hatch
Fri, Feb 23, '07 2:00 AM World Indoor Trials '07, Marseille
Fri, Feb 23, '07 3:00 AM WSBK Highlights 2006 Assen
Sat, Feb 24, '07 12:00 AM WSBK, Losail-Qatar, Superpole
Sat, Feb 24, '07 10:30 AM WSBK, Losail-Qatar, Superpole
Sat, Feb 24, '07 5:30 PM WSBK, Losail-Qatar - Live and Highlight Live
Sun, Feb 25, '07 12:00 AM WSBK, Losail, Qatar, Highlights
Sun, Feb 25, '07 3:00 AM Motorsport: World Outdoor Trials, France
Sun, Feb 25, '07 1:30 PM WSBK, Losail-Qatar Highlights
That's the full monty, right there. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome again to live motorsport for 2007. Now to check that the beer has fridge the fridge has beer...

Feb 22, 2007

Wheelie morality?

wheelie silhouetteAs soon as I wrote about that wheelie on Sunday, I thought to myself, 'And there will be someone who won't understand...'

I was right. Someone just posted a comment saying it was irresponsible. Actually, I beg to differ. And not because I am holier than thou, I pull better wheelies or because I do not practice what I preach.

Responsibility to be perfectly pedantic about this comes from the word 'responsible' which is defined as follows. For the sake for brevity and clarity, I am omitting the contextual meanings that do not apply (which is why the numbers are skewed):

re·spon·si·ble (r?-sp?n's?-b?l) adj.
2. Involving personal accountability or ability to act
without guidance or superior authority
4. Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's
own and therefore answerable for one's behavior.
6. Based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking
Is stunting of public streets irresponsible? Of course. I still stand by that. But was my wheelie irresponsible? Perhaps. Was I showing off? No. Was I checking out the chicks who were checking out my wheelie? No – there were any pedestrians of any gender around at the time.

Were it not for the fact that the front wheel was about three and a half feet off the ground, it was a perfectly normal pass at an intersection.

But that isn't the point. Responsibility for anyone is a personal thing. It is also a moving target. Let me describe that with an example. When you head for Pune from Mumbai nowadays on a bike, you take a brilliant little piece of straight, empty road called the JNPT bypass. It's an access-controlled, tolled road with armco on both sides, infrequent trucks on the outbound side and for the moment, near-perfect tarmac as well. If I were to wheelie down this stretch, riding alone would it be irresponsible? It's not an easy question to answer.

From the legal perspective, there is no law that says all wheels of vehicles plying on Indian roads must always be in contact with the road. Why? Because we have too many potholes, maybe. So, in theory a wheelie isn't illegal. From what I understand, street-wheeliests, when booked, are charged with negligent or rash driving (riding is not a legal term). But logically, an empty road, with no danger to anyone (since there was no one present) is not negligent or rash. It's just a wheelie. Notice, the words negligent/rash both imply an inability to consider how other people would feel/react to your actions. If there was no one present, it annuls itself.

For the moral perspective, is a wheelie wrong? Hell no. That'd be like saying that the warm feeling that comes all over you from eating well, drinking well or having great sex is wrong. Wheelies are one of the return gifts of motorcycling to us riders. They're a sort of thank you from the bike. They're lovely. Especially when well done.

Which does not mean a blanket approval for all wheelies either. Maybe I wasn't clear enough. It wasn't a fast wheelie. It wasn't out-of-control. I didn't swap lanes in the process. I didn't cut anyone off. Hell, I even waited to ensure the intersection was clear before the front wheel came off terra firma. There were no more than four cars at the intersection with me and the traffic from the two other sides (one side closed for construction) was nil. As in, it was deserted. No peds, no cyclists... nothing. There was no one else there. If there was a safer, more considered way to pull it, I'd dearly like to know. Yes, yes, a deserted parking lot would have been better...

What I'm saying is that responsbility is a very personal thing. While I don't think a celebratory wheelie is responsible, I think that particular wheelie was not a bad thing in my book. If I had pulled a 60 kph minger in the middle of heavy traffic, while passing a school bus around the outside, now that would be different. If I did something like that, that would not only be irresponsible, that would be suicidal. I hope I never come to that.

Some anonymous soul clucked his/her tongue at the wheelie. Thanks for that. If I was even slightly out of touch with reality, you've reset that now.

As far as my stand – public road stunters deserve to be behind bars – goes. Let me just clarify that too. It's a broad brush, and I think that is the problem. The people I was raging against when I wrote that are people you have seen. They're the ones who don't give a damn. They don't care who they inconvenience, they have minimal situational awareness and they're accidents waiting to happen.

I think what I'm trying very hard to do is justify that wheelie I think what I'm trying to clarify is that perspective and information makes a lot of difference. A knife isn't morally wrong. When waved about in a crowd, it's dangerous and the person waving it is irresponsible (cue Indy Jones and smoking gun). When used carefully, it's a master's tool, a thing of pride and joy... Oh crap, I'm so getting flak for this...

Getting proper credit

I got a mail from regular blog visitor and blogger/flickr, Elton Pinto. Check out this post. Not only is it insightful, it's a text book case of giving proper credit, even. Awesome job, dude. And thank you.

This is a follow up to these posts:Copycat on carandbikeforum.com and Prompt response from carandbikeforum.com

Get a grip!

You've heard over and over again that power is nothing without control, right? No? You've never seen a Pirelli ad? Anyway. Power, they say, is nothing without control. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate this is to hand a the keys to a 600 bhp, turbocharged, supercharged, nitroused Hayabusa. You could beat him on your Yamaha RX100, if his control levels were poor enough, right?

But that's a fairly extreme example. I'll take a simpler one. Look at a sword (any fort's arms museum should bring up umpteen fully decorated examples). Forget the blade, length etc and look at the hilt. Notice the girth of the handle. That's the roughly cylindrical part you will grip to swing the sword. You'd be amazed to note that most handles are the same size. And this is true from the Rambo knife to the Katana. Are you getting the picture?

What I'm saying is that there appears to be a universal agreement that cutting instruments which require great control are best handled when the haft is a certain size. And if you notice the manufacturer supplied handlebar grips on your humble bike, you would also notice that they are a similar size. For a reason. So stop wasting money replacing perfectly good grips with those ugly multi-colour foam jobs. The thicker you make your throttle grip, the less finesse you are likely to be able to impart with it. That's why the size of the foam on the handlebar grip is usually a good indication of how squidly a rider is likely to be. I was searching for photos of the aforementioned fat-foam grips. But abroad, even the foam grips are slim...

Now, does that mean the it's a sin to replace manufacturer grips? Hell no. My favourite handlebar grips so far, standing head and shoulders above them all, are Superbike Grips from ProGrip (KRP Delhi, address here). I think they're about Rs 250 a pair. They're slim, just sticky enough for gloved work and feel very, very good. Try a pair, you won't ever go back. As to who should seriously consider these grips? All Pulsar owners. The stock grips are pretty close to being completely crap. They chafe bare hands (I'm told — never ridden that way) and are passable with the gloves on.

Prompt response from carandbikeforum.com

The chaps at carandbikeforum.com have responded with the following letter. I'm quite happy about this....

Hello rearset,

We are extremely sorry if the source link was not posted in our entry on our database. Usually the articles on the site are published from select topics and a due "Source: (link) / name" will be provided at the end of the article. The site takes no credit to the articles that are posted. A link to your blog / removal will be done asap as we receive your next email.

Sincere apologies from our team, which runs a plethora of sites indexing blogging articles. and the posts are automated to an extent. a minor flaw has been identified and the last 60 or so posts have been devoid of the linkbacks.

We're working to resolve it asap.

A blog header advertisement running for 7 days worth 20$ will be awarded to you for our slip ups.

[C&B Support staff]
This is a followup to this post: Copycat on carandbikeforum.com

Feb 21, 2007

Copycat on carandbikeforum.com

Guess what, after the episode where one member for mouthshut.com posted my Honda Shine review (Copycat on MouthShut), my work has been plagiarised/stolen for the second time. For the record, the chaps at mouthshut were very prompt and while I don't know if a d_tanwar got a rap on the knuckles, the post disappeared within hours of my emailing them a note.

This time, my detailed Shine versus Gladiator has appeared verbatim at carandbikeforum. I have emailed the support id at carandbikeforum reporting the theft. If imitation is a form of flattery, please don't flatter me. I don't deserve it.

On the right is a screenshot from the copied post and here is the link to my original post (Yamaha Gladiator versus Honda Shine). I would like to believe that this was just a mistake and whoever posted the article fully intended to put a link to my blog but simply forgot – posting other people's work to the net is hard work. And I have told them that I'm essentially okay with them carrying this content as long as they give me a link and credit for the material.

Which is what I would have done if they had asked me if it was okay to carry that piece in the first place...

Anonymous, who told me about this in the first place. I am grateful. Thank you so much.

Feb 20, 2007

Weekend Plans

curvy road signIt's Wednesday, but I've been busy. What an amazing weekend I had! It started with watching a late show of Eklavya, we woke up late, I went for a short ride from Andheri to Bandra to meet someone and then rounded it off with the superb Roger Waters concert. Amazing! The only thing missing are a few references to a heavenly brew made of barley and hops. Then, it'd go up from amazing to perfect.

Eklavya turned out to be a huge surprise. The Wife, a newly minted Saif Ali Khan fan decided more or less unilaterally that we must go and watch this flick. I grappled with the idea until I realised it was a 100 minute flick... that much I could stand, fuelled by copious quantities of coke and popcorn. The impression was not hampered by a superbly convex ride (didn't get that? click here) on the CBZ X-Treme.

eklavya (2007) posterAs it turns out, the hall we went to, Fun Republic was the low point of the evening and not the film. I've never seen a mall this quiet before and that's including some of the ones I've seen abandoned. Everything was closed and McDonald's helped by serving a perfectly crappy cold coffee. My fault, though – I should have hopped into the Cafe Coffee Day next door and pulled out seven more bucks. A fool and his money are soon fed watery cold coffee apparently.

But enough cribbing. We finally entered the hall and it all went swimmingly from there on. The movie turned out super-crisp, very taut apart from only a couple of scenes. All the actors, especially Saif have done a super job and I enjoyed the Big B on the Big Screen after a Long Time. Sorry for the gratuitous capitalisation, couldn't help it. In short, I'm buying the DVD. Now, I'd like to clarify that the film is good, but not memorable-great. But so few no-singing-no-dancing-no-rain-sequence-no-slutty-vamp are being made toady that any 'different' film is a good thing. The Wife liked the film a hell of a lot more, I think. So it must have been good. She usually knows these things.

Black Friday (2004) posterAnd while I'm on the subject (or not), let me also say that I saw Black Friday also. With similar results. Different. I liked it. Too graphic in some parts – I have no objections with ugly reality, but splicing that footage in just because it looks shockingly good is not art. That said, the only other criticism I can level at the film is the sequence when 'Badshah Khan' is shunted from Mumbai to Delhi to Rampur to Jaipur to Rampur to Calcutta to Rampur... you see? It's even difficult to read, let alone watch. There it drags just a little bit. The chase where the cops are after this indefatigable criminal is just hilarious. And I must say, Kay Kay Menon, Pawan Malhotra are both tremendous, and I think credit is also due to the whole cast of smaller players, who all do a commendable job of being in-character. Another DVD I probably would not mind buying. But I can't guarantee I'd watch it again, though.

wheelie silhouetteAnyway, so we returned home and woke up late and I left for my meeting. This is where the crowning moment of the weekend happened. Passing the SNDT intersection, I coaxed the CBZX up on one wheel, and it was a perfect wheelie. As in perfect. It was controlled, without stress, required no physical effort on my part and it landed with a whisper. Even the hieght was exactly between 'wuss' and 'loon.' PERFECT. I haven't decided whether it was a sign of a great end to a great weekend (I was going to Waters, remember?) or just a happy moment. In either case, that sun-bathed slow-motion moment was special and so I thought I should let you know.

More weekends like that one please... ideally with Saturdays thrown in...

Rider Error 3

"Most motorcycle accidents involve a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment or recreation, and the accident is likely to happen in a very short time close to the trip origin"

-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,

You are far more likely to have a crash riding to your milkwala than you are on your 200 km ride out with friends. Psychologically, I am given to understand that the basis of this is letting your guard down. When your brain thinks, 'Oh we're just about home/going around the corner,' it compromises the levels of alertness and/or concentration with which you are riding. This makes you slower to react to hazards and increases your chances of a crash.

There are two known ways to fix it. Wear kit and minimise the damage. Or be more careful. Ideally, do both at the same time.

The next Rider Error post is here

Feb 19, 2007

Lovely Vespa Clock

I saw this clock today at gizmodo and feel deeply in love with its elegant period-correct simplicity. So I thought I'd post about it. The manufacturer, napastyle.com claims to Celebrate the Flavour Of Life, and if this clock is any indication, I'd have to agree. The product information says

1946 Vespa Clock

It's go time! Celebrating the retro-cool of our all-time favorite two-wheeler, this racy Vespa clock is modeled after the headlight of its very first scooter, introduced in 1946. It features the original signature green metal casing and chrome bezel with the lens replaced with an apropos analog clock. Takes one AA battery (not included). Imported. 4" diam., 6 1/2" long.

Item # 4375 | Price: $178.00
Lovely, eh?

Monday Photo: Dusk

Dusk, originally uploaded by Caughtilya.

Dusk at Kala Dungar in Kutchh

Roger Waters: Concert Review

What a concert! I've been to a few events like this (Ian Anderson, Deep Purple and many smaller bands) and I've never even seen one that came close. I can't begin to describe just how good the Dark Side Of The Moon concert was. But I'm going to anyway, right?


  • Israeli chick muscles into the front row using only the word 'Please' and pure willpower. Also drags two of here equally petite friends with her

  • Standing next to me, I put up with about twenty minutes of her before I leave the front row to go stand in the back of the Rs 3000 enclosure. For three reasons. 1. The front row is a busy, frenzied place to stand in. You can't hear much of the music, you can see all the action on the stage, a fascination that wears rather quick when you have rock mama screaming her aging lungs out in your left ear. It' also hot, sweaty, and apart from the emotional aspect, not unlike travelling in a Mumbai train or bus. 2. Israeli Chick shaved her upper arms about three days ago. Stubble is troubling me. 3. Rock Mama has taken to keeping her left arm on my right shoulder. She uses it to boost here up when she wants to scream, 'I LOVE YOU ROGER' in my ear at three minute intervals. She's also leading Roger Waters on the lyrics by about three stanzas. I gotta get out

  • The back of the 3000 is an empty place. I could lie down here if I wanted to. And the sound is just awesome. It's loud, clear, articulate and perfect. The band plays from 1930 to 2145. They never miss a beat, a tone, a chord. It's perfect. Brilliant

  • The selection played is awesome too. The crowd sings along the entire time. The further front you are, the harder it is to make you what's coming from the stage and what's coming from the crowd

  • I checked out the concert tour review at brain-damage. They play to a plan. And frankly, I have no problem with that. The show is in three parts. SPOILER WARNING the song list is (please highlight with your mouse to see the list). First half: In The Flesh, Mother, Set The Controls For the Heart Of The Sun, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Southampton Dock, The Fletcher Memorial Home, Perfect Sense parts 1 and 2, Leaving Beirut, Sheep. Second half: Dark Side of the Moon. Encore: Another Brick In The Wall (Pt 2), Vera, Bring the Boys back Home, Comfortably Numb.

  • The graphics in the background, the present and achingly correct background trio of lovely ladies, the pyrotechnics (more than a few firebomb explosions, and couple of instances of burning flames on stage). It all just works. The Dark Side Of The Moon Tour is a visual and audio extravaganza. I loved it. I'd go back for more in an instant.

  • The band finishes playing their second set and go off stage. A fifteen year old girl and her friend are crying into each others arms wondering how could a 'Pink Floyd' concert be complete without Another Brick... and Comfortably Numb...

  • The audience is so loud that after a point, Waters' vocalist gives and lets us sing Another Brick...

  • A 65+ year old gent carefully places his glass of Pepsi on the uneven floor to dance gently to Comfortably Numb

  • I get the goose bumps, literally, as the twin guitar solos power up. I also get them again during the C'Numb riffs. I realise why I'm so in love in Pink Floyd's music. And realise that sometimes Electric Guitars can sound more powerful than threats and gunshots

  • The loos were surprisingly clean

  • If you have a chance to go, go. Even if you don't know who Pink Floyd is. And think Eminem is the god of music.

  • I've been to a 'Pink Floyd' concert. In Mumbai! Wow! It's all downhill from here...
  • If the audience knows the songs really well, and won't be quiet, don't bother trying to get to the stage. It sounds a lot better behind, towards the center of the space

  • Stay away from obvious Rock Mamas

  • Not all corporate lounges are good places to be. This one was on the right side of the concert, far away from the action. The right side stereo speaker was only used for the Lunatic's laugh...

  • Food's terrifyingly expensive and frighteningly tasteless.
    And you can't bring your own. So eat decently and drink up before you turn up

  • Standing in queues (forty minutes upwards) is not the smartest way to get in. I found that each entry counter had four rows of people. And the long queue chaps were all only entering in the first row. I just sauntered into the fourth row and got in

  • Cheer are loudly as you can. Especially if Rock Mama is listening.

  • No matter what the ticket says, carry a decent compact camera. Else you'll be shooting useless 'Free At Last' Pig shots with your cellphone. Which sucks (see above)

Roger Waters: Curtain Raiser

Hello people, this is rearset, reporting live from the Roger Waters' Dark Side Of The Moon concert in Mumbai. It's twenty minutes to show time and this is a short post. But typing on a cellphone means that I can only manage a short post in any case. I am standing second row from the stage and am feeling quite lucky. On my right is a Rock Mama. She's forty years old, a lawyer (which is the reason she can't wear a baseball cap, apparently), and has a few loose connections to reality, I think. Rock Mama is upset. And near-orgasmic too. Everytime a member of band as much as does a 'plink' on the keyboard (it's still fifteen minutes to time...), she has a screaming, jumping, 'I love you Roger!' climax. In my ear. She's upset, as I said, because they took away her smokes in the entry queue. And because the chap is front of her was obviously smoking pot. And she didn't wanna get high till later (my addition). She's been bumming smokes like there's no tomorrow and has already earned the ire of a bunch twenty-something girls who are determined to ration their tobacco.

A cheer goes up from the crowd. It seems a couple of Mumbai Police (somehow Mumbai's finest doesn't ring right to me) chaps are on stage, completing a final inspection. The crowd is (j)cheering them. Then a nice moment happens, when the senior cop, obviously a chap not without a sense of humour, raises his arm and waves a happy acknowledgement.

Rock Mama's been yelling again, but I'm ignoring her. And now, the band members are coming on stage.... hold on, it's about to hit the fans...

[This post was supposed to be live. But some techno-eff-up ensured that I have to post it next morning... darn]

Feb 17, 2007

Press release: 'Ghost Rider' Bus vroom's……..on the Bombay – Pune highway!

Sorry, but I just had to blog this... heh heh!

Mumbai, February 17, 2007 : Continuing their tradition of promoting their films with truly innovative marketing ideas…Sony Pictures Releasing Of India Ltd which is releasing the action and special effects blockbuster 'Ghost Rider' starring Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes on February 23 rd…has now unveiled the Ghost Rider Bus!

This innovative and unique Outdoor concept involves a huge Volvo Bus which operates on the Mumbai Pune route. It is so creatively painted… that when the wheels of the bus turn, it looks as if the wheels of Ghost Rider Hellcycle Bike painted on it are the ones that are actually turning! [This is why I had to blog this. What an idea! Amazing, outstanding, etc.]

This Ghost Rider Bus is so startling and eye-catching that heads immediately turn and traffic invariably slows down to take a look at and fully admire this large canvas piece of automobile art!

Speaking about their tradition of film marketing innovations, Harshavardhan Gangurde – Manager Marketing , Sony Pictures Releasing India, says "The 'Spiderman' Train from Churchgate to Borivali and 'The Da Vince Code' Art Frame Hoardings are two of our earlier marketing innovations which created a huge buzz! This time round we felt there was a unique thematic fit between this huge Volvo Bus and the Ghost Rider Hellcycle which is so creatively p resented on it… .both being larger than life."

So if you're headed down the Mumbai-Pune Highway…don't be startled if you suddenly see this remarkable piece of automobile art on wheels pull up alongside and vroom…past you!

About Sony Pictures Releasing Of India Limited:
Sony Pictures Releasing of India Limited is a part of Sony Pictures Releasing International, which in turn is a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at www.sonypictures.com.

Bajaj Kristal: The Riding Impression

I rode the new Bajaj Kristal as well. Here's the riding impression. That's very nice. Please don't mistake the brevity of the riding impression as a sign of sarcasm. It's true. The Kristal is very nice. It also happens to have a lot of truly useful features. Thank you.

Bajaj Pulsar 200: The Review

As promised, here is the Pulsar 200 riding impression. Please remember that since I managed to mooch a ride on the 220 first, all best yet or worst yet comments include the 220.

Overall, I wasn't quite expecting to like the bike this much. I know I've really liked the first gen Pulsar 180 and more or less felt at home on most of the Pulsar series bikes I've ridden, but I truly, geniunely believe that the Pulsar 200 is a new peak for Bajaj. And I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that despite being a technological tour-de-force (not to mention a no-show), the 220 DTS-Fi is actually not the superior motorcycle of the two. I think it's that good.

Now to the details, the niggles and the nitty-gritties.

  • Slickest Pulsar engine yet. I don't think even the 220 will beat the refinement of the 200. There's this calm, creamy-smooth thing it does that no other Pulsar manages. Whatever little noise the motor makes (it still isn't a Unicorn-smooth sounding motor, mind you), gets quickly drowned out by the wind as the speeds build up

  • The gearbox is damn good too. Unless you're in a hurry. If you're to-the-throttle-stop-hard on a charge, the gears don't fall quite as nicely, though. However, I am happy to report that in ever other condition, from lolling about like a drunk rag doll to charging about briskly, gears slot in positively, there's no notchiness in the shifts, no effort is needed and even neutral is easy to find.

  • On the open road, more than once I wished Bajaj had put in a six speed gearbox on this bike. The calm but impressive performance gives the bike what journalists like to call long legs. A sixth gear with a highly overdrive-type ratio would have allowed it to cruise at near-110 kph speeds and would have been the perfect cherry on this rather tasty cake.

  • I like the fact that Bajaj has finally taken to nixing the kick starter from the bike. This shows that they believe their starter motors are now up to the mark and will not fail on one hand. It also is a step forward and will soon become another of those things that separate commuters from more pleasure oriented motorcycles.

  • The panels at the front of the tank are a superb addition to the Pulsar package. The 200 is my favourite looking of the Phantom-ed Pulsars and I have a feeling that if I parked the Pulsar 999 DTS-Fi... er... next to the 200, I would completely forget about the bigger machines looks. The 200, in the flesh looks muscular, feline and most impressive. Especially in the blue with the dark powertrain and chassis bits. Very nice. I like. I like lots.

  • The 200 also has the advantage of sharing most of the engine (actual stroke apart) and chassis (thinner front fork spec, rear drum brake, 5mm less wheelbase and 5 kg lighter overall) with the 220. This gives it great poise and strength. Both of which are obvious in corners. Despite the fairly large wheelbase, the 200 turns very quickly, is a stable cornering platform and very neutral in behaviour. It won't bite unless you're plain dumb. I am also happy to have sampled three memorable corner carvers in such a short span on time – the CBZ X-Treme, the P200 and P220.

  • Ride quality is exactly the same as the P220. The 200 feels very light on its feet and appears to be able to dance over the road's worst spots. The springs work quickly to damp out the worst of the road and it feels quite plush. Karizmas are still plusher, but the P200, most crucially, returns a wealth of feedback. Which means when the road starts to worsen, you can safely hold on to your pace for longer.

  • The brakes are just phenomenal. The front brake, effectively, is the same spec as the P220, but somehow, the set on the bike I rode left a much bigger impression. I usually figure these kind of things easily, but this time, I have no clue why. They felt strong, friendly and utterly trustworthy. As I said, it's just another 260mm rotor with the two-caliper on it. But it's damn good.

  • The tubeless tyres are a stellar addition to the package as well. They're practically weightless in feel and I love how they felt in corners and on bad roads. If I could, I retrofit all Pulsars with these babies. Can't wait to see what the P200 will become if I could replace the MRF jobs with proper sticky as gum Pirelli/Michelin/Bridgestones.

  • Unfortunately, Bajaj persists in 'equalising' all the Pulsars so as a P200 owner you will have to put up with the fact that all the bikes (150, 180, 200 and 220) have more or less the same features. That sucks. I want my bike to be more individual. The 200 logo is practically hidden under the split grab rail, so chances are, not many people will have the time to notice that my Pulsar (as opposed to theirs) is a 200, before I disappear on them. That also sucks.

  • Someone asked about backlit switches in a comment on the blog. Well, the 200 has them. They're a value-add to the novice motorcycle buyer but as all experienced riders know, we never have the need/time to look at the switches. As such, it's a gizmoid of questionable value-add, but certainly a thing that will impress people. Oh well.

  • The new indicators switches do not have push-to-cancel. That's stupid and a backward step. I will beg, grovel and plead that Bajaj returns to the push-to-cancel switch set. I don't even care if they can't give me auto-cancel, but push-to-cancel is a must.

  • Ergos are great. The P200 has a normal bar as opposed to the clip-ons on the 220. The position, I think, is even more sporty than the 180 and I loved it. On a three-hour ride, I never felt cramped for space, or uncomfortable. Great.

  • Price? I am told the P200 is roughly Rs 6500 more than the P180. Which means The Black must fear the P200. I can't see any reason for anyone to buy the P180 anymore. It is also about Rs 15000 less than the P220. Which is a whopping difference. I'm undecided on whether that price differential is justifiable. Please leave me a note in the comments as to whether you think the price diff is something you can justify if you were in the market and buying a 200/220. Appreciate it.
Other posts on the 200: Press Release | Full specs

Multicultural Homogeneity

The British were pioneers at many things. Some were pleasant and enjoyable, like motorcycles, others not so much, like imperialism. At the very zenith of their motorcycling days, they had performance and handling, but they missed many other things – like oil-tight engines, the ability to make more power after they hit the 'plateau,' and the ability to consistently imbue their machines with soul.

The Italians, on the other hand, understood that last bit rather well. Right from the Cucciolo days, most motorcycles from the boot-shaped nation had smashing good looks and soul. Nothing else, on the other hand, was guaranteed. When the engines worked, they turned out great. When the chassis worked, it became a transcendental piece of art. But they were hit and miss affairs.

The Germans, in their thorough, mechanical way, worked out the formulas, got it all just right and produced some masterful machinery. DKWs, BMWs and NSUs all had great mechanicals, and no reputations for chasses that could not keep up. Strangely, while the marques are remembered for their performance, no one I've read recently seems to idolize them in the way they would recall MV Agustas, Gileras, Triumphs etc.

But the world was different then. Nations were at war, we didn't (and couldn't) speak to each other as easily, as amicably or as often as we do now, and motorcycle development was almost never a collaborative effort.

When the Japanese happened on the motorcycle scene, their precision oriented culture and approach helped them in many ways. Not least of these were their amazingly oil-tight motors. And while they had the Brits confounded on that front, they also quickly moved forward, adding revs, cylinders and more and more power to the motorcycling equation. They understood complicated engines and made them reliable but had basically no clue about styling or chassis design.

Fast forward a few years and look again. Everybody learned from each other and began to fix their own weak points. The Brits gave up. The Italians began to make more sorted motorcycles, until the point where they would hit the electricals plateau. Ducatis, for years, would be famous for soul searing looks, scintillating handling, commendable performance and the ability to completely shatter its riders with menopausal electricals. The Germans grew mechanically step by step, but still had a way to go with styling and soul. And the Japanese figured out the art of cheap, fast, reliable motorcycles that also handled really well. Culturally, the world was opening up and more and more avenues of cross-cultural communication were speeding up motorcycle development.

And today, this is how it stands. I was just reading a five month old issue of Sport Rider (an American performance oriented motorcycle mag) which featured a comparison between the Yamaha YZF-R1LE, the Ducati 999S and the MV Agusta F4 1000S – two super-expensive, exotic Italian motorcycles. The magazine clocked the slowest lap times on the R1, but the Yamaha won the test. Why? Because it was only marginally slower. It was actually streetable as well. And it happened to be about ten per cent cheaper. Note that the Yamaha was not rated any poorer than the Italians on styling this time round. Note that the Italians weren't criticised for having dodgy electricals or any such. Both parties have learnt a lot from each other. Hell, Yamaha was almost open about the fact that the MV F4 was a big style inspiration. And come to think of it, the brands now span the globe. Who knows which part of the globe a bike was designed in? Japanese designs have become Indian bikes. Japanese bikes have been styled in Italy or UK...

So what does the future hold? The next frontier for the Japanese is a reliable, precise, quantifiable way to inject soul into their motorcycles. The Italians have to figure out how to make' em cheaper. The Germans have still to make serious progress beyond their mechanically appealing monsters (the new GX line of singles is a good sign, though).

Globally, cultures are converging until everyone seems to be on the same page. Will that happen to motorcycles as well? It's very likely, I think. Is the impending homogeneity a good thing? I'm not sure. But there is hope.

Countries like China and India have both been fairly wary about 'exporting' their culture (please keep all Manchurian and Tandoori examples out of this). Two of the most populous nations on Earth will storm this growing cultural unity. Ditto their motorcycles. In the years to come, our motorcycles will grow. In size, in stature, in capability and they will spread out. What do you think will we teach the world?

How to get slow drivers out of your way

  1. Park the bike, jog up to their window and ask politely

  2. Get the Hummer/Caterpillar and drive right over them

  3. Use a Silenced Subsonic Superfrag Rail Gun. Substitute with 30mm Howitzer where applicable

  4. Call in air support and laser tag the cager as the target

  5. Flash your Hella 3000s right into his rear view mirrors. If mirror melts from the heat, pay the poor sod off

  6. Overtake, or if safe, undertake

  7. Change your way

However, do not use the horn. The horn was added only as a way of telling people that you-are-here and by extension a warning that said look-out-coming-through. The current day horn, even ones that produce the same effect as a sonic boom or a nuclear explosion, will not encourage a slow cager to get out of your way. You're just wasting your time. And my ears.

Feb 13, 2007

Karizma R: The conversation

Like the chaps at BikeNomads said – I gotta post this... hilarious!

Conversation between me and a HH showroom guy.
(The new Karizma-R has arrived at
City-Motors, Pune )
Me : Can you tell me the differences between this and the older Karizma?
HH guy : Black engine sir, ek guard lagaaya hai, spring red hai (stupid engine
Me : FI?
HH guy: Woh kya hai?
Me: Kuch nahi, Any major upgrades ?
HH guy: Tank pe sticker dekho. 'R'
Me: What does that mean?
HH guy: mmmmmm


Bajaj Pulsar 200: Press Release

Hey y'all. Here is the official launch press release. Looks like the 200 gets the credit for launching almost everything. So the 220, when it comes (soon, I hear), will get credit primarily for the fuel injection system, the rear disc and the headlamp set. Fair enough, I say. Just launch that one too, ok?

Bajaj Auto expands the Pulsar Range
Launches the exciting new 200 cc Pulsar DTS-i

Mumbai, February 13 2007: Bajaj Auto, the pioneer in performance biking has further extended the portfolio with the launch of the new 200 cc ‘Pulsar’ DTS-i in New Delhi today. The latest offering has set new benchmarks in technology, performance, and styling to address the needs of a growing segment of pro-bikers.

The new Pulsar has many firsts to its credit. It comes equipped with an Oil cooler, which helps control engine oil temperatures at sustained high speeds and rpms, thus ensuring more stable engine oil viscosity. The 200cc DTS-i engine generates 18 Ps of raw pulsating power to provide riding excitement to performance hungry bikers. This makes the Pulsar 200 the most sporty and stylish powerhouse on two wheels to pace the Indian roads.

It’s also the first bike in India to feature both front and rear tubeless tyres, which besides offering superior stability are safer than conventional tube types and in sync with the offerings abroad for similar applications. The rear tyre is the broadest in its category to ensure better road grip and stability.

The new digital console is an advanced version of the latest Pulsar family. Apart from the Digital Odometer, Digital Speedo Meter, Digital Fuel Gauge and two Digital Trip Meters, the console on the 200 cc Pulsar DTS-i has indicators for Air filter condition, Engine temperature, Battery voltage and Oil level, all of which contribute to enhancing rider info for trouble-free riding.

Another first is the use of split seats for styling and comfort. The split grab rail perfectly compliments the new rear chiseled looks. It is also the first Indian bike to have electric start as the sole means of engine cranking, dispensing with the kick lever.

Speaking on the launch Mr. S.Sridhar, VP (Sales & Marketing-2 wh), Bajaj Auto Ltd said, “This launch is in line with our strategy of enhancing our product portfolio to offer riding excitement to pro-bikers. Our entire focus and effort is to deliver outstanding technology and performance. The new Pulsar has now raised the bar in the motorcycle industry with superior technology and features such as the engine oil cooler, digital console etc.”

He added, “We are already market leaders by far in the performance segment and launch of Pulsar 200 DTSi would further reinforce our position in this important segment. The bike joins the immensely popular 150 cc and the 180cc Pulsar DTS-i to extend the Pulsar DTS-i range across a range of price and performance points. ”

The bike would be available at exclusive Probiking showrooms at select locations across the country. Performance biking now also comes at an attractive price of Rs.65,497 ex showroom, New Delhi.

More about Pulsar 200 DTSi
The Bajaj Pulsar 200 DTS-i’s higher sportier stance with greater chassis rear inclination is supported with some of these technologically advanced features.

  • A lowered Headlamp/Fairing assembly alongwith a high tail-end, giving it an aggressive, ready to pounce stance.

  • An all Stainless Steel silencer with a Aluminium muffler can for genuine sporty looks and long life.

  • Large 33 mm Front forks for muscular looks and to take care of the extra suspension and braking loads.

  • Large 260 mm front disc for strong and predictable stopping power.

  • A unique Auto Switchover feature comes into play incase one of the two Headlamp filaments stops functioning.

  • A unique Battery Energy Conserving feature ensures a fixed delay after 3 continuous cranks.

  • All new ‘Blue tinged’ bulbs for the main headlamp and parking lamps. These emit strong ‘White’ light for a distinctive look.

  • Sleek, Twin row, Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for the tail and brake lamp ensures “Zero Maintenance”. and a long battery life.

  • Backlit, Non-Contact type, Soft-touch Handlebar Switches.

  • Self-canceling Indicators that switch off when the turn has been completed and the handlebar comes to a ‘straight ahead’ position with a pre-set automatic switch off function, even if the turn has not been undertaken.

  • Smooth, positive, virtually friction-free gearshift feel with new shifter assembly, an integrated over-shift preventor, and shift forks with rollers mated to a change drum.

  • A Low Maintenance Battery with a unique venting valve, drastically reducing electrolyte loss and therefore reducing frequency of routine maintenance.

  • Black paint theme carried over to the front fork legs, the rear shock absorbers, and the swing arm, in addition to the engine, for deadly looks.

  • High performance exposed ‘O’ ring Drive chain for running in dusty conditions, providing for clean uncluttered looks and commensurate with the bikes image.

I already posted the full specs here. No pics, because I haven't got any. Riding impression tomorrow or day after (it's a bit busy at the office these days). Promise.

Feb 12, 2007


Clock, originally uploaded by Caughtilya.

An old clock's insides from the Bombay Docks.

Fresh pics uploaded at Flickr...

Feb 10, 2007

Karamchand Returns

He's back. Tonight! 2100. SET. Saturdays. Can't wait.
More info here

Play more games, people!

We all know that sight is our greatest asset. The more we can see from the saddle, the easier it is for us to rider safely, ride faster etc. So here's a research study after my own heart. Take that tic tac toe. More power to you, MGS, UT, Doom, Quake, GoW etc.

Video games that contain high levels of action, such as Unreal Tournament, can actually improve your vision.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter—a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

In essence, playing video game improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart.

The full report is here. The study was conducted by Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green (in pic, Photo: University of Rochester)

And keep'em teeth shiny too!

Vision aside, the greatest asset for a motorcyclist, physically, is a set of sparkling teeth, visible in a beaming smile when you take the lid off, right?

For us, Tinifity has created the world's first Titanium toothbrush. Sounds like metal on teeth, right? But the inventor says it really works. Here's a quote

With so many options when it comes to toothbrushes, it's easy to assume that we are making the right choice to maximize our oral health. But are you confident that your toothbrush is effectively impacting your oral health? Do you have a desire to have a healthy smile that can make a lasting impression? Are you constantly looking for the right tools to ensure proper care of your teeth? If so, why is your toothbrush not giving you what you need? The answer is that over 100 years little improvements have been made to the basic and most critical components of the everyday nylon toothbrushes.

  • Lasts more than 10 times the life span of leading toothbrushes
  • Repels moisture and resists bacteria
  • Removes plaque more effectively
  • Remains Hygienic
  • Two Year life expectancy

The traditional nylon bristles wear out much too rapidly rendering the brush ineffective. The TiFinity™ Toothbrush will stay in brand new condition over the life span of more than 10 nylon brushes. This is due to the amazing properties of the bristles which are made of titanium alloy. These super elastic memory filaments of the bristle material constantly rebound instantly during brushing allowing for better penetration of the bristles in to the hard to reach areas between teeth and under gums!

Sounds amazing, right?

Well, just so you know, I intend to acquire one of these 50 dollar jobs as soon as I can. That'll be the fifth piece of titanium I own, counting the two toe and two heel sliders on my motorcycle boots. Yee... Ha?

Back your blog up

Er... that's supposed to be sung to the tune of Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up.

I found the link here. And I tried it. It all works as advertised.

What you do is use FireFox's excellent DownThemAll (DTA) extension to download your entire blog. The URL you use is


to get all your posts downloaded as a single file.


creates an XML file and


should get you all the comments as well – this did not work for me.

Also you can use the Tools>DownThemAll... link to go to the Make Your Selection dialog in DTA and select a variety of options, including all the photos that appear on your blog. Word of advice. Clear your history and load only the blog before you do this, it will make you life a heck of a lot simpler.

Feb 3, 2007

Dani Pedrosa, Moto GP Champion 2007

If that were to happen, this would be the song playing the background as the chaps at the TV station played back glorious slow mo footage from his season's worth of glory. Apologies to Freddy, Queen and anyone offended by the idea of Dani winning the title.

I've paid my dues
Time after time
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I've made a few (And Hayden forgave me)
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face (My head's a bit low... can't help it)
But I've come through

Wee are the champions my friends
And we'll keep on fighting till the end
Wee are the champions
Wee are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause wee are the champions of the world

I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls
Honda, and my light weight brought me fame and fortuen and everything that goes with it
I thank you all

But it's been no bed of roses (Was not in my contract)
No pleasure cruise (Was not in my contract either)
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race (as in anyone over four feet)
And I ain't gonna lose

Wee are the champions my friends
And we'll keep on fighting till the end
Wee are the champions
Wee are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause wee are the champions of the world
Image: Honda Racing

Feb 2, 2007

Riding Mantra: #350.00

'Now my blog's displacement is the same as the RD's'
-rearset's hint

I, Bike Maker: The Not To Do List

If I were a bike manufacturer, these are the things I wouldn't do.
  • Choke on the carb
    No matter how well fuelled the bike is, when I need to use the choke, I don't want to crick my back reaching down and hunting for a small tab hidden on top of the carb. And I wouldn't wish it on my customers either.

  • Drum front brakes
    Unsafe. At all speeds.

  • Bright low fuel light
    Stand on the street corner and check out the new Pulsars. My empirical observation says 80 per cent brap around with the light steadily glowing... heh heh. I'd put the light in, remove the fuel guage, but leave it bright enough to say please, not or else.

  • No engine kill switch
    The 2 bucks saved in not putting the engine kill switch is just mindless. Utter nonsense.

  • No bar ends
    This is another cost saving shortcut. Most evident on bikes like the Shine. Which do vibrate enough to be noticeable and/or uncomfortable.

  • Hide the seat release
    A simple turn-key is the best way to do it. No under the side panel and look for a small loop of wire for me, please.

  • Hard mounted footpegs
    I wouldn't wish fixed footpegs on any serious rider. They're a hazard to anyone with skill. Which is kind of upside down, no? Folding footpegs. Always.

  • Completely removable gas tank caps
    Are a bloody pain at the pump. Hinged ones for me, always.

  • Straight brake and clutch levers
    At our price levels, reach-adjustable levers are too much to expected. Doglegs are not an unreasonable demand.

  • Sidestand that open out exactly under the footpegs
    If you are wearing half-decent riding kit, you can't reach down to flip them up while seated on the bike. This bugs me no end, because I'm always in riding boots and pants. The armous over the knee/shin and the boots shin plate ensures that I can never reach the sidestand. The RD had a nice flickable outrigger...

  • Indicators without push-cancel
    They make so much sense that I'd be stupid to try and solve a problem that does not exist and work around them

  • Pass switch
    I estimate that I find myself flashing my lights at pedestrians, jaywalkers, cagers et all at about three or four times per kilometer. It works ninety per cent of the time. Cost two bucks

  • One way handlebar lock
    Any bike today that comes with a lock that does either of these two things - 1) locks only on one direction (left or right) or 2) has a separate key slots for locking and ignition is not modern enough
If you were a bike manufacturer, what would you not do?

Feb 1, 2007

The Theory of Natural Speed

2007 Yamaha R1 speedometerThis thought occurred to me years ago and has slowly been solidifying in my head. Now, I'm convinced that it applies on the street, although it may not apply on track. And you'll see why shortly.

My first bike had a top speed in the lower eighties. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about that was, er... actually two things. First, when I'd drag it kicking and screaming to its top speed on the top lane, it'd feel good in a frenetic sort of way. I'd come up on a Maruti 800 and flash him. He'd gently depress his pedal and raise his speed by 3 kph. And slowly leave me in his wake. Aaargh.

The other thing was that it was very tiring. The first time my dad let me drive his Maruti 800 out on the highway alone, I settled into a 110 kph cruise. My first highway drive was fast by dad's standards, but I never felt rushed, or like I was speeding. It was a comfortable place to be. On the bike, everything was slower than I wanted. It didn't gain speed as quickly as I wanted it to, and it was slow whacked wide open as well. Longer trips – I once rode it to Ghaziabad from Kalkaji and back, and another time, I logged 75 km in Gurgaon itself – turned out to be extremely tiring. Simply because I was mentally dragging the bike around. We weren't in sync.

My second bike was faster. 100 kph top whack fast. This turned out to be less tiring. Which is how my theory began. My third bike was an RD and the longest I ever went on it was a night blast around Delhi that burned a full tank of gas. I got off the bike feeling fresh as the proverbial daisy. I didn't even notice it.

Now, you could say that perhaps the first two bikes had poorer ergos or whatever, but it goes beyond that. Good ergonomics, well designed seats and all only prevent backache, numb bum/fingers etc. You'll still get tired if you're mentally not taking the same steps as your bike.

Which brings me to natural speed. Or as I pompously call it, rearset's Theory of Natural Speed. I'm beginning to believe that all of us have a 'natural speed.' It's a bit hard to define but stay with me. All of us have a speed at which our brain is most comfortable. At this speed, it all just falls into place. Your mind isn't being rushed into decisions, it isn't lazing around either. While this speed varies with the conditions, we're going to focus on the open road.

A friend rode his Yamaha FJR1300 to his hometown about 350 km from Bombay. I asked him what speeds he went at and he said, 'about 130-140 kph.' Now, this chap owns a sport touring motorcycle and the road is a fairly clear one. As in, in his place, you could be going 180-200 kph in places without breaking a sweat. But our man didn't. Then I asked him about his other trips, and again he said, 'I go up to 160-170 now and then, but usually, I find myself chugging along at 130-140 kph only.' The legality of this is not the point here. The point is, the cruise speed is fairly constant. Across bikes. He told me that he'd toured on a Yamaha Road Star (1400cc V-Four cruiser), a Honda Fireblade (1000cc sportsbike) among others, and on all, he did more or less that pace. I think he's found his natural speed.

I believe my natural speed is actually a bit higher, but I'm yet to put in a sustained stint on a bike that will do that kind of pace. But whenever I was open-roading the RD, I'd gust up to 155 kph (my highest on it) and then back off and rumble along at a steady 120 kph. No stress, no worries. Just a pocket of calm, authoritative speed.

Now, why is this important? I think you can't hold on to a bike whose natural speed (or sweet spot as the journos like to call it) doesn't include your natural speed in it. If my natural speed is 150 kph, I won't be happy with an RD. Not for long at any rate. If my natural speed is 120 kph, and my spanking new R6 sits at say, 7500 rpm when doing that in top gear (slightly below the actual powerband), the R6 isn't going to remain with me for long either. The rest (and I think this part is secondary to natural speed) is about the actual personality. If both a cruiser and a sportsbike matched your natural speed, the one you picked would be based on your kind of riding. As in there is a sporty, aggressive 120 kph, and there is a sedate, chilled out 120 kph as well.

Unfortunately, most of the time we have with a bike before buying it is spent in front of a desk, haggling. Which makes it rather difficult to find out if the bike matches your stride until much later. And for the life of me, I can't think of a way to change that. Which isn't good, until you realise that buying and selling seventeen motorcycles to find the perfect one is quite an entertaining way to find it. If not the perfect way to find your perfect motorcycle.

Do you think I'm on to something here, then?

rearset makes print!

Guess what. The latest issue of Jam (Just Another Magazine) has published this post from this blog. Yay! If you're looking with more than mild bewilderment at the pic above, it's the article on the far right titled 'Stemming the toll.' Here's the link

More praise for Gaurav Jani

Gaurav Jani, Riding Solo To the Top Of The Worldwebbikeworld has reviewed Riding Solo, here's an excerpt

Now you may think that this would result in an amateurish attempt at video, especially since Jani admits right up front that he's never used a professional videocam before. But the result is camera work that ranks among the most breathtaking I've ever seen, and it's not just because of the incredibly deep beauty of the scenery "at the top of the world", but also because Jani has a true knack for the art of film, capturing shot after shot with perfect exposure, focus and, most important of all, intuitively artistic scene composition.
This is where the review is | And here are my posts on the film Screening Full Review Early Review | Click here to see the video at 60 kph Riding Solo Teaser | Buy this film

What The Duck 141