Jun 28, 2007

You think you have it bad? Manila Lid Uproar

There is an uproar within the motorcycle community here in Metro Manila. The reason? MMDA’s plan to require all riders to stick (or worse, paint!) their license plate numbers on both sides of their helmets.
Really, it doesn't get much more silly than this... read here

Bam! You've been conned

GR and Hitanshu Gandhi sent me this link. Which seems a bit too similar to this. I just wanted to clarify that no matter what conclusions you draw, I am not Dilip Bam.

Levitate's T-Shirt Sale

Levitate, run by Bullet Rider Meghna Khanna is having a T-Shirt sale. The goodies include an exquisite range of Hand Painted T-Shirts for Women, vintage Motorcycle Printed T-Shirts for men, and Space Walker UV-friendly printed T-Shirts. The sale in on from July 1 to 15, 2007. You can reach Meghna at levitate[dot]meghna[at]gmail[dot]com, or call +91-98453-17776 or +91-94481-45071. The sale is at Levitate's boutique at 100 Ft Boutique Restaurant, 777/i 100 ft Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore.

Jun 27, 2007

Apache RTR 160 Short Film

Here's a short film (too long to be an advert) on the new Apache RTR 160... ready for launch now. If you're wondering about the idle sound at the end. Doctored.

Related posts

Suzuki: March 2008 again!

And then, I read this. It appears that Suzuki, too, is more or less saying the same thing. 125cc scooter now, 150cc bike by March 2008. And if all goes well – Suzuki's plan for getting service/spares in place and the response to Yamaha's R1/MT-01, then the Hayabusa and the Suzuki GSX-R1000 will get launched during 2008 also. Wow!

Yamaha's new 150: What's the story?

I heard a rumour that Mr Ishikawa, the totally cool-dude Yamaha top bloke, put the cat firmly among the pigeons. Apparently, at a meeting set up to review Yamaha's products for 2007, he essentially drew a thick red line through all the plans and told the assembled chaps to start thinking afresh.

As a result, Yamaha is unlikely to launch any new indian-made products during the current year. It also means, the Yamaha will start developing fresh products from scratch, due for launch from next year onwards. Ishikawa asked the team to re-focus. And the clear intention is to leave the gloomy commuter-bike maker image and concentrate on a new image – motorcycles for fun. Ishikawa, it appears, hinted that Yamaha would renew its volume market aspirations at a later date, once it's image had been reestablished.

If true, Ishikawa's sole launches within this calendar year could be the R1 and/or the MT-01. If the above is true, then Yamaha 150/165, due for a reveal at the AutoExpo 2008 and for launch shortly after, could be an all-new machine. Which means all the potential or latent fans of the V-Ixion can go cry into their usual bowls once more. And below in the links, you will read that the new 150 is likely to make 14 bhp. Hogwash. Despite Yamaha's record in India, they're not that stupid. I woulnd't put a 18 bhp, sports-only 165 past Yamaha. And I have a feeling Yamaha'll proudly claim, returns only 35 kpl. And trust me, I'll line up to buy one if I have to.

There were also rumours of a 250cc motorcycle ready for launch. Again, while I have no further information, the 2007 launch scrapping seems permanent, and that means, if Yamaha's second Indian-made motorcycle is to be a 250, that too will be all-new. Which, to me, means that is fantastic news, although it also means we all have to wait a bit.

Related links: Yamaha rides... | Yamaha's 2008 150

Finally! Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi launched!

Here it is, Bajaj finally launched the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi officially in Delhi on June 25. Below is the full press release. Scroll down further for the other press release from the same event, or use the related links for more posts...

Rajeev Bajaj astride the new 220 DTS-Fi PulsarBAJAJ AUTO LAUNCHES THE EXCITING NEW 220 CC PULSAR DTS-FI

Mumbai, June 25 2007: Bajaj Auto, the pioneer in performance biking has further extended the portfolio with the launch of the new 220 cc ‘Pulsar’ DTS-Fi in Delhi today. The new Pulsar DTS-Fi (Digital Twin Spark-Fuel injected) is the first bike from Bajaj Auto with the powerful combination of twin spark plugs and fuel-injection technology and is an ultimate machine for the performance motorcycle enthusiast. The latest offering has set new benchmarks in technology, performance, and styling to address the needs of a growing segment of pro-bikers.

The biggest feature is the fuel injection, which gives the bike that linear power curve, crisp feel and instant throttle response so essential for a power bike. Besides the mesmerizing looks, the motorcycle boasts a highly refined low noise, no vibes 220cc motor that gives a heady 20 BHP & 1.95 kgm of torque. The bike also comes equipped with an Oil cooler, which helps maintain Lube oil viscosity under extreme conditions of stress and ambient temperatures. Helps in cooling the engine internals. The bike will only be available in first-of-its-kind chain of 'Probiking' showrooms. Designed for biking enthusiasts, the showroom offers prospective "probikers" a chance to test-ride the bikes on a specially designed Indoor dynamometer

It’s also features 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 220 cc Pulsar DTS-Fi 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 is the use of split seats for styling and comfort. The split grab rail perfectly compliments the new rear chiseled looks. It is equipped with an electric start as the sole means of engine cranking, dispensing with the kick lever.

Mr. Amit Nandi, General Manager (Marketing), Bajaj Auto Ltd said, “The Bajaj Pulsar 200 DTS-i took biking to a new level, and the new Pulsar DTS-Fi is all set to take it to even greater heights. With the launch of Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi, we have created a new technological benchmark for the bikes in performance category. The bike joins the immensely popular Pulsar family, which is now available in four stylish versions across a range of price and performance points.”

He added, “We are continuously enhancing our product offerings to premium segment and this launch of Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi would further reinforce our focus of offering outstanding technology and performance to pro-bikers.”

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.81280/- ex showroom, New Delhi.

Rajeev Bajaj inaugurated the Bajaj Pro-Biking Showroom in DelhiMore about Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi

The Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi’s is supported with some of these technologically advanced features.

  • Fuel injection technology for best in class fuel economy, with low variability and least tail pipe emissions.
  • A lowered Headlamp/Fairing assembly alongwith a high tail-end, gives the bike an aggressive, ready to pounce stance.
  • An all Stainless Steel exhaust with a Aluminium clad canister for genuine sporty looks and long life.
  • Large 37 mm Front forks for class leading vehicle dynamics.
  • Large 260 mm front disc for strong and predictable stopping power.
  • Large 230 mm rear disc brake, enhancing braking performance and control.
  • A unique Auto filament Switchover feature comes into play incase one of the two Headlamp filaments stops functioning. The headlamp switches over to the other working filament.
  • A unique Battery Energy Conserving feature which regulates the no of continuous cranks.
  • Sleek, Twin row, Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for the tail and brake lamp requiring “Zero Maintenance”.
  • 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 the need for frequent electrolyte topping-up.
  • High capacity ‘O’ ring Drive chain for smooth operation and long life in harsh operating conditions. Along with a small plastic top chain cover makes for clean uncluttered looks, commensurate with the bikes image.
  • Rear end equipped with Nitrox shock absorbers employing optimized spring and damper characteristics, for all riding conditions.
Technical Specifications

EngineType4-stroke, DTS-Fi, Air and Oil cooled

Displacement220 cc

Max Power20 Ps/14.72 kW

Max Torque1.95kgm / 19.12 Nm

SuspensionFrontTelescopic forks 130 mm stroke

RearTriple rate spring, 5 way adjustable, gas charged NitroX shock absorbers

BrakesFront260mm hydraulically operated disc brake

Rear230 mm hydraulically operated disc brake
TyresFront90/90 x 17” Tubeless tyre, shod on aluminium alloy wheels

Rear120/80 x 17” Tubeless tyre, shod on aluminium alloy wheels
Fuel TankFull15 Lts
ElectricalsSystem12V DC

Headlamp55/55W, Projector and Parabolic type with 2 pilot lamps
DimensionsWheelbase1350 mm

Weight150 Kg

Related posts:

Bajaj: Why is it distinctly ahead?

Bajaj released the following note that details their future vision, at least the philosophical, or vision-ary constructs on which the product lines or business strategies will be built. As is usual, the full text is below

Bajaj Announces “Distinctly Ahead” Future Vision
  • Presents the New Distinctly Ahead Hamara Bajaj Commercial
  • Launches the Distinctly Ahead 220 Pulsar DTS-Fi
  • Inaugurates the Distinctly Ahead Probiking Showroom in Delhi

June 25, Mumbai: Bajaj Auto today, in the presence of its Managing Director, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, announced its guiding philosophy articulated as “Distinctly Ahead”, by which it would chart its strategy for the future. This vision aims to align the company and all key stakeholders with a clear, purposeful, and unifying direction.

The vision is about being Ahead by being Distinctive. Being “Distinct” in all that the company does - in products and technology, in marketing and communication strategy, in manufacturing models, in distribution and to that extent in each and every function.

Distinctly Ahead comprises of three core values Speed, Innovation and Perfection:

A. Speed
To individualize is to speed. The key to Speed is empowerment. We empower individuals to enable them to unleash their full potential because in the end analysis an organizations capability is directly proportional to the capability of its employees. In a fast changing world, we believe, achieving Speed through empowerment is key to being Distinctly Ahead.

B. Innovation
To un-compromise is to innovate. Innovation is the second pillar of Distinctly Ahead. Today the consumer has to often make compromises, for instance for a motorcycle, either he gets power or he gets mileage or has to compromise between road comfort and road handling. Through Innovation, we eliminate the compromises – he gets the best of both.

To predictivise is to perfect. To achieve Perfection we have moved beyond merely a corrective style or even a preventive one that prevents the repetition of known failures, to predicting the likelihood of unknown ones. As such, Perfection for us goes beyond addressing known failures to eliminating them before they can occur.

Preemption through Insight rather than prevention enables us to deliver Perfection in every aspect of our business.

Mr. Rajiv Bajaj emphasized, ”We believe it is not good enough to be better, it is important to be distinct. That is a filter that we apply to everything we do – be it product development, manufacturing processes or communication development. Our flagship brand Pulsar is the strongest evidence of this philosophy. It is only a differentiated offering that customers see value in and aspire for.”

Communication of Distinctly Ahead
The “Distinctly Ahead” vision is communicated through the all new “Hamara Bajaj” commercial. A break from the past, the communication is fast paced and aggressive and symbolizes all that Bajaj Auto stands for today. With one 220 Pulsar DTS-Fi’s morphing into many other Pulsar 220’s and racing against each other, the visualization and lyrics - “Alag Andaaz, Alag hai khoj, Rakhe Aage, Hamari soch” - clearly conveys that Bajaj sets its own standards and competes only with itself.

Conceptualized by Mr. R. Balki, National Creative Director, Lowe this memorable commercial goes on air on the 27thJune 2007.

The demonstration of the “Distinctly Ahead” ethos of the company was also seen through two unique initiatives today i.e. the inauguration of the Probiking showroom and the launch of the series Pulsar DTS-Fi.

Earlier in the Day, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director inaugurated the seventh Probiking showroom at Vasant Lok New Delhi. With Probiking showrooms at Pune, Vashi-Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkatta and Chennai the company plans to have 55 probiking outlets in key markets across the country.

Mr. Amit Nandi, General Manager (Marketing), conveyed, ”Probiking is a unique initiative that creates the experience of biking within a retail format. Engine cut-sections, dynamometers and the overall layout are all designed to let the biker touch, feel, experience the technology and performance of our flagship products. In the process we hope to carve out a special place in his heart.”

The entire process of buying is state-of-the-art. Interactive computer terminals provide hassle free, self-service transactions wherein the Probiker can print quotations, book test rides and order the bike. The showroom offers prospective “Probikers” a chance to test-ride the bikes on specially designed Dynamometers. Riders will be able to put the bike through ultimate driving conditions and check out parameters such as acceleration time, power, torque, top speed etc, which is not possible on a normal road test. This new “Distinctly Ahead” Probiking showroom will retail the 200 Pulsar DTS-i, the Avenger and the just launched 220 Pulsar DTS-Fi.

Pulsar DTS-Fi

The New 220 Pulsar DTS-Fi is another outstanding demonstration of the “Distinctly Ahead” vision of the company. In his speech Mr. Amit Nandi emphasized, ”A point to be noted is that never has Fuel Injection been married with DTS-i technology whether in India or abroad. This remarkable technological break-through, christened DTS-Fi (Digital Twin Spark – Fuel injection) is something, which Bajaj Auto R & D can be justifiably very proud of.”

This best in Class bike comes with several firsts to its credit - First four stroke engine in the world employing DTS-Fi technology, First in India to use clip-on handlebars, First to employ 'black mask' twin headlamps in a vertical stack configuration, First to employ a hydraulically actuated 230 mm rear disc brake to enhance braking performance and control. These and many other firsts give the Probikers a humdinger of a bike unmatched in technology, features and performance by any other by far.
Related posts:

Superbikes in India: a superb how-to

Here's a good, comprehensive post about buying big bikes in India. From team-bhp. Here's an excerpt

While you can buy a Ferrari F430, Porsche 911 Turbo and even a 4 crore rupee Rolls Royce Phantom off-the-shelf in India, the same simplicity does not apply to a superbike purchase. For some unfathomable reasons, the bike industry has not kept up with its automotive counterparts and the Yamahas and Hondas of the world seem content with selling 100cc economy motorcycles. For the enthusiast, however, this is hardly a deterrent as several grey market options are available. The options also come with their own disadvantages as the grey market is full of uncertainty and disorganization. While superbikes attract an import duty (customs) of 100 (used) or 105% (new), the market is very unpredictable. A correct and well-informed approach will go a long way in ensuring peace-of-mind with your superbike purchase.

Jun 22, 2007

Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi: Owner's Review

I caught new Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi owner, Arpan online and had a bit of a chat with him. As it turns out the lucky dude has just got his hands on his new pride and joy. I badgered him into writing a review at 80 km. Which is very significant, because he was typing while he could have been out riding... congrats, my friend. I've edited the original very mildly, but the thoughts are all his. Remember to congratulate him!

Yeah! I got my Pulsar 220 at 14.45, from Turbhe Pro-biking delivery and service centre. I picked one in silver (Pics at flickr and picasa ) [everyone has so far only seen blue and red bikes, so click away, people]. I booked the bike on June 11, 2007 (my well connected friend helped me and guided me... thank you!)... The bike reached their depot/ delivery centre by night of the 15th. However, delivery was not possible immediately because some minor niggles, like a delay in the arrival of the mirrors and some paperwork problems (this is the first time a P220 is being sold through the Mumbai Probiking outlet). But I must say, the guys at ProBiking Mumbai were very helpful and answered all my queries with honest replies, which I feel is really rare. Thanks to Shabir Motorwala (manager), Rahul and Vinod (the sales guys) and Sharad More (the delivery incharge).

People have asked my why I bought a 220 when I already have a 180 DTSi. I justify my decision with the following points: the 220 has alloy wheels, tubeless tyres, rear disc, fuel injection, far better lights, DC electrics, more comfortable seats, digital speedo... this list could go on... you see what I mean?

I am a sucker for new technology (yes, I know, FI, tubeless etc are all available on bikes abroad), but I can (and will) adopt new technology when it becomes available to me :-) and like Vibhu says, never buy a bike for a purpose, buy a bike which you like. And so the silver P220 was bought.

Delivery Day
The service and PDI time at ProBiking - SK Wheels was awesome. They have been trained well and most importantly, they are enthusiastic and take pride in their work. A very comprehensive pre-delivery talk was given... it was more like a Q&A session, actually, and they entertained all my queries from which fuel to use, to what speeds to use while running-in. The bike was kept ready, the paperwork was complete and I could have just signed the papers and left in five minutes. But the Q&A session was so engrossing that we spent more than an hour discussing the bike, joking around and the chaps at the showroom were than happy to oblige.

Riding position & Ergonomics
Commuting from Turbhe to Kandivali East is a tough task with a lot of bottlenecks and the roads are being concretised, dug up etc. I was a but scared, especially since my legs don't reach the ground when I'm astride the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi. However, all my fears vanished into thin air once I hit the road. The riding posture is really good and it is really comfortable. The centre stand didn't scrape at any time, but I was obviously not pushing the bike to the limit. This is a period when you get to know your motorcycle and establish a bond with her.

The Engine is beautiful. The response is amazing and the throttle is light and crisp (heck, it sounds like I just described a good pizza). The really, the engine response is something you must experience. The gearbox felt improved also. There are absolutely no jerks from the clutch, it is progressive just the way I like it. And no false neutrals so far, either :-) The starter motor is very much unlike the other pulsars also.

The lights are not comparable to anything else. A 55 W bulb is standard and I think enough has been written on this subject (projector headlamps etc).


So far, I am over the moon with the bike! I have attached a pic like you asked... althought a rearset position pic would be appropriate too :-) [Note: this review was written on day 1 at 80 km on the digital odometer]

Related posts:

rearset's interview! at bloginterviewer.com

Yesterday, I got a email from mike at bloginterviewer.com. Out of curiosity and of course, knowing that it will add to my online presence, I clicked and filled out an interview form. You can see the results here. There appears to be a way to vote for me. So don't miss out on that, please. Or else I will have to ask you that dreaded question: 'Vote is this?'

It has been about an hour since this post, and look, I'm the top rated blog! Wow. Thanks to all of you. My fifteen minutes seem to be enduring... I also noticed that the categories, motorcycles and India have both been started with this blog. I'll take that as a compliment. I'm the king of the world!

Oh, and whoever suggested my blog to bloginterviewer.com, thanks!

Jun 21, 2007

The first sign of the rains

It happened last night. I came down a dry flyover, which leads to another one. And as I crested the rather sharp, flat top of the second one, the surface went from bone-dry to drizzle wet. I went from throttle-to-the-stop mode to smooth as a teflon-coated, butter-laden, oil-dripping metal ball in a second. The front wheel of the CBZ X-Treme landed with a gentle whiff and the speed came down only a bit.

Then, there came the third flyover, which is a nicely curved one. In the dry, you can keep it pinned, letting the bike lean over just a bit and take the whole thing like a sweeper. In the wet, you have to back off a lot because the expansion joints are all metal – as slippery as that metal ball I just imagined. So I braked for the first of the joints and then it happened. For just a moment, the rear went silent and greasy. I felt it come out in a twitch before tucking back in smoothly. It said, 'The wet season's here, son.' I can't tell you how happy I felt!


Have you seen masterseek? This is a site with a unique search engine that helps you locate businesses, their contacts, their products and services. The global search engine is free and will return focussed results from 45 million companies in 75 countries. You can narrow the search by looking within specific countries and find new avenues for business, new partners. You could also sign your own company up!

Mailbag #7: I don't like driving any more

Caughtilya-Rearset Stamp 1Hey Rearset...

Was thinking about a strange new thing happening in the recent times. Let me give you some background on this.

I am a total auto freak since my childhood. Though I shouldn't say this, but I drove for the first time when I was in 5th standard. This was not on the road, but in the Shivaji Park ground, Dadar. Since then I have always driven and enjoyed driving on the deserted private roads, and inside the building parking lot. Point is, I ALWAYS enjoyed driving. No matter how bad the traffic is.

In the recent past, I have been facing a peculiar problem. I have started to absolutely hate driving. Reason is that, I get very insecure, cranky, tense while driving. Maybe a little afraid too. As a result, I have caught myself making mistakes like those made by aunties who hang on the steering wheel and try to peer over it (you know what I mean ;)

But while on the bike I feel very very secure and free. No issues with tension or anything. The concentration has gone up, and ride quality too. The enjoyment has increased.

I tried to introspect to get why this could be happening. All I could come up with is a couple of lame reasons:

  1. I have shifted from Dad's Fiat - Premier Padmini, to an M800, and then my own Fiat Palio. I kind of enjoyed driving the Palio for the first two years, and its just from this year that such issues have cropped up. Could the more expensive to maintain/repair car be a reason? (And that I pay for the maintenance ;)

  2. Traffic situation has degraded. There is a lot of aggressiveness from before.

  3. I'm turning into a pure biker. ;-)

  4. I'm growing old. :(

Name withheld on request

KTM 990 SuperDukeDear Anon,
That's one of nicest letters I've ever got. Thanks! This is a very difficult question, though. The easy reason, the one why I don't like driving as much as I used to – which wasn't much to start with, I must say – is traffic. And the huge contrast between how a motorcycle handles traffic snarls and how cars do (actually, don't). Part of the frustration could simply be your subconscious telling you (quite rightly), 'What the heck, if you'd taken the bike, you'd already be at office/home, one coffee/beer down and feet up.' Or something on those lines. Aggression can be depressing, but again, you face the same thing on a bike, although you can escape it faster.

You could also be turning into a pure biker, which is actually an awesome thing, and I wouldn't fight it. The fourth reason you quote would actually make you like driving more. Motorcyclists, get better and get younger. 'Older Motorcyclists' is an oxymoron.

When I do get forced into driving, I've so far not had concentration lapses and all in cars, but I can see how easy that would be. Instead of dealing with managing lines, traffic, and controls, in car you have a music system, aircon levels, passengers who can talk freely, ringing cellphones etc to distract you. I, for one, resent these deeply. The purity of the motorcycle experience likes in the fact that I cannot be distracted. That's why my wallet, phone stay in the luggage and not on me. I also resent that in our weather, most of the time, the car is designed to be driven with the aircon running. Even if I wanted to, I cannot switch the damn thing off. On a bike, I'll take on any sort of weather and be part of the place I am going through, its just not the same in a car.

But perhaps the real reason why you don't like driving anymore is the oldest car-bike debate one. Freedom. Freedom to make life-death decisions every minute. Freedom from a backup plan that includes crumple zones and airbags to ensure you're around to make the same mistakes repeatedly if you so choose. Freedom from the naive charm of passing through a place and never tasting the air there. Freedom from having to talk to the people, who will almost never talk spontaneously to someone who stepped out of a car. Freedom to lean the right way – into a corner. Freedom to pull a this-is-the-life wheelie (face it, a squealing, tyre-smoking getaway isn't half as thrilling). Freedom to... I could just go on and on.

As some smart alec once said, 'Live Free or Drive.'

Name withheld has added this

Was introspecting about this for a long time. Also was thinking on the lines you had mentioned in ur blog.

There is one more reason. I recently, consciously, changed my driving style. I used to be a very aggressive driver. I was always either accelerating or decelerating at any given time. I have slowed down, and am taking it a lot slower.

This is a major reason for all the frustration of not being able to enjoy the drive. I remember the good old days when I would have some good GNR blasting on the music system, and me driving as fast as I could, with intense concentration. This change of driving style has caused the same music to become a distraction.

This brings me back to one of ur posts on 'natural speed'... I think its not the actual speed, but the natural pace, or the relative speed.

My 0.2 cents...

Buying a new bike: Useful link

Check this site out. Seems to have a pretty detailed checklist of what to look for when you pick up your latest bike from the showroom. Also has some tips on run-in etc.

Yamaha India TV Ad: What's in it?

This ad is being aired on Discover Travel & Living. There seems to be much hullaballo about what it means and all. Well, read this. Also, the models shown seem comfusing to lots of people – thinking very creatively, if you see some of the comments about this at YouTube. Anyway, in order of appearance, the bikes are MT-01 (speedo only), MT-03 (white bike), YZF-R6 (rear-end), MT-01 (headlamp), MT-03 (cornering), R1 (I think, too fast to see), MT-01 (engine detail), YZF-R1, YZF-R6 (cornering, static). This is a corporate advert, no question. But it does feature the two bikes Yamaha India is likely to launch soon.

Ad hosted at YouTube, does not belong to me in any way.

Jun 19, 2007

Rain: only messing with you

Tourmaster Rain SuitIn the rain suit post (wow, that was a long one, eh?) I wrote about how rain is only water, right? Well, I decided I hadn't written enough (fancy that) about it. so here's more.

My first memory of the formative attitude to rain is reading The Dogs Of War by Frederick Forsythe. His protagonist mercenary, Cat Shannon was quite a character. But what got my attention was this piece in the beginning of the book where Forsythe is narrating why Shannon is nearly invisible and a god. Or something like that. The point I loved was where Forsythe/Shannon says that most people are uncomfortable with rain. It interferes with their sensory faculties, takes away their concentration and in that sense, makes them easy targets. To kill or to avoid. That, I think, was the last time I looked at rain as a disturbance. Sure, riding in the dry is properly great, but riding in the wet isn't far off.

Yes rain does add hurdles to your ride. It robs you of traction. But not by much. Clean surfaces can offer up to 80 per cent as much grip as fully dry. Really.

Just now, a novice was complaining about how his bike slips and slides in the rain. Yes, but the nub of what he said was that he hates the rain. You can never do well what you already hate in your heart. No matter how hard you try. And what is hate but an attitude you develop towards something. If you developed it, you can change it.

Try this the next time you're not looking forward to riding in the rain. Just one thing. Take your time doing things. Simple. Don't hurry. Just take your time. Open the throttle like you have time to spare, close it like you have time to spare. Use the brakes like that too. Take lazy lines. Just generally hang about a bit. Give it ten minutes and you'll find yourself going faster than you normally do when you're taut, strung, death-gripped an inch from having a very wet coronary.

The other trick, more dramatic of course, is to find a clean, wet, straight road. Once you ensure that there isn't much traffic to interfere with you, go as fast as you can in a straight line. It's very liberating, when you find that bike doesn't spin up, doesn't misbehave and generally feels not that different from the dry world. Perhaps the greatest danger to you on the wet is your plodding along at 50 per cent of your normal pace when the cagers have only slowed by 15 per cent. I've tried both the approaches, and I love them both as well. So now I do either when I find the space and time for the sheer heck of it.

The best waterproofs on the motorcycle are...

Tourmaster Rain SuitExhibit A
I know a chap I will call SC for the purpose of this post. In a sense, SC has always been locked in a battle with nature. I've known him for about seven years now, the SC's battle for the perfect rainproof gear still goes on.

Exhibit B
I know of a chap who knows a chap (really) who rides around wearing an O'Neill wet suit (you know the surfing type one) because it is the most waterproof kit he can find. Does preclude wearing much else though...

Exhibit C
MB lives in the UK most of the time. According to him, no matter how expensive the rain kit he purchases, by the end of one year (in UK time, one year is actually almost a full year of rainy weather), it's finished.

After watching these three struggle with rain kit, here's my solution. First of all, no wetsuits. That's way too extreme, even for me. Second, expensive rain kit is good only in that it will allow less water in through the collar/cuff etc. I am yet to read about or see genuinely perfect rain kit. Although, truth be told, I do own a Blue Delta winter motorcycle jacket that is actually fully perfect. But I am talking about wear on top of riding kit kind of waterproofs, not membrane equipped kit.

I used to own a Japanese rain coat once, and that split at the seams almost precisely a year later. I've owned expensive nylong rain suits that were coated to waterproofness. The coating eroded in a year. Same result. So here are my suggestions for buying rain suits for motorcycling

  1. Buy plastic
    Yes, really. By plastic I mean material that is already waterproof. Not something that needs treatment to become waterproof. PVC is great. It's sweaty, but so are all rainsuits without exception

  2. Buy cheap
    My current upper limit for a rain suit is Rs 350. That's about enough for a year's worth of utility. In any case, filthy they will become in time, and it's just easier to throw a battered old one away and start the season with a fresh suit. I wear a Prince Luxor, usually purchased from Glory in Four Bungalows Market, Andheri (w), Mumbai

  3. Check the cuff and collar areas
    If the jacket zips so that you can zip the collar into a vertical tube, that's the best. Cuffs should have really tight elastic. It makes it a bitch to get on by the road side, but then it won't slide up or leak

  4. Buy light
    Don't be tempted to buy dark colours. They may mask the grime that accumulates, but riding at night, you are nigh invisible to other road users. Which doesn't affect them much, since they are wearing 2-ton metal suits with crumple zones.

  5. Buy gloves and rain overboots if you can
    Being dry while wearing squelching boots and soaking wet, floppy leather gloves is almost as bad as a wet crotch. So spend some money. Nothing available in India, unfortunately, but Joe Rocket Ballistic waterproof gloves, and waterproof overshoe are very helpful. Unfortunately, the latter are coated nylon. So be gentle while putting them on, or the coating will rip. A great alternative is a DMS boot (remember to buy the ones with the uncut 'tongue' they are ankle deep waterproof for than an hour, until the leather soaks through and the water begins to weep in).

  6. Get tightening straps made
    Now firmly in OCD territory, get four simple straps made. Each has to be a length of nylon, long enough to circle your forearm (two of them) and you calf muscle (the other two). They need to have the soft part of velcro at one end, followed by the rough part and a plastic D-ring, or square ring at the other. Use these as hook and look closures to secure your rain suit at the you forearm, below elbow and calf, a little below the knee. If you wear armoured kit, the straps will not only hold the armour in place in a crash (tried and tested), they will also create a second barrier for any water trying to get in.

  7. Wear the glove under the cuff
    Normally, I wear the glove so that the gauntlet goes over the jacket cuff. But in the rain, especially in traffic (slow speeds), the water runs down the forearm and into the glove. Very annoying if you wearing a waterproof pair (water can't get out, takes forever and a half to dry out). So wear the glove under the cuff and tighten the cuff as much as you can.

  8. It's only water
    At the end of the day, it is only water. So don't think about it too much. Wet crotches only feel so bad because you choose to focus on it so much. Think positive, it makes the rains a heck of a lot easier to live with.

Top 5 places not to ride a motorcycle in the rain

wet wet wetWater
Well, sounds obvious, but it isn't. Never ride through a place covered with water if cannot see the bottom. Or at least, don't be the first. There are two ways around it. I prefer remembering what's below the water in detail, and then re-confirming that when someone else goes through it. The second, if you don't know is to look for a way around, until someone else takes it through the water and then following his wheeltracks exactly.

Manhole covers
Concrete one's aren't so bad, but if the concrete block has a metal band around it or is round, you could be in serious trouble. Metal has no grip whatsoever in the wet. Your only solution is to treat it like you were hydroplaning (which almost totally describes your predicament). Hold on firmly but no death grip please and wait for the metal to pass under. Two particular dangers are one, running half-on/half-off when the metal runs more or less in your direction of travel. Usually, this is a transient, slippery moment but most often it will cause no harm. The other is round manhole covers. You want to hit the metal at ninety degrees. The more perpendicular the intersection of the manhole circumference and you direction of travel is, the less trouble you will have. Speed helps a lot. If you aren't perpendicular, the manhole will catch your wheel (usually rear) and drag it sideways. Uncomfortable moment, can lead to crash.

Painted surfaces
On their own, they aren't so bad. But in the wet, the levels of traction on painted surfaces are much lower than whatever is surrounding it (concrete or tarmac), that can cause problems. You could be just fine until you start spinning up after hitting a painted patch. So pass between the painted stretches on zebra crossings, lane markings and be very cautious of crossing painted continuous white lines when you have to. Again, the more perpendicular you are, the better off you will be.

Rainbow coloured patches
If you can see the colours of the rainbow on the road, it is time to steer clear. The colours suggest that there is some amount of oily substance on the road and that can be enough to have you off. This seems obvious, but again, is easy to skim over. When riding along, watch for a neat row of rainbow patches, then you know something ahead was/is dripping oil, so you need to change lanes. When roads get wet, the rainbow colour is basically the only way to spot oil.

Again, this is an obvious one. But less-used surfaces, especially plaster-type and paver tiles near road edges are susceptible to that slimy green growth. It's fantastically slippery and forget the bike, you'll struggle to get your feet down. So when you're about to take that deep breath and park, watch for algae. Or else.

Pic from amazon.com

Indian motorcycle evolution: xbhp debate

Blog regular first_synn pointed me this discussion at xbhp (who are celebrating four years... congrats guys!). It is an interesting debate. The moot point is this. 'Are motorcycle manufacturers (in India) moving at an evolutionary or revolutionary pace?' Here's my two cents.

Let us first understand the manufacturer's perspective. First, they manufacture motorcycles to make a profit. Period. Please leave your romantic notions at the door. If it wasn't profitable, no one would bother. If I had just one sentence to set up the reality in which we are debating this, that would be it. At the end of the day, it is all about the profit. Market shares, inventories, dealer networks, service initiatives are all crucial so that the profit can be maximised. Second, as is usual in economics, you can make profit in two ways, one is to sell high volume products with low per unit margins (making money on the bulk of the sales) and the other is to sell high margin products with low volumes (making lots of money per unit sale). Since we live in a world where both work, you could also do both.

So, the question are they evolutionary or revolutionary? Depends on how you define it. In my book, a small change like adding a disc brake to a formerly drum braked bike (one of first_synns evolution examples) could be both. Is it a big enough change to represent a revolution? Of course it is. The amout of feel, reliability and sheer braking power it brings to a bike is a revolution! Take the same bike to a racetrack, lap as fast as you can with drum brakes and then take a few fast laps with a disc, you will find the difference is revolutionary. In the market, however, the addition of the disc could just be a marketing ploy, and hence evolutionary. So, the product evolved, but its braking performance underwent a revolution.

But that's a circular way to look at it, right?

Someone else (I'm sorry I can't remember you xbhp id, please leave a comment, and I will update this post) posted that evolution is a small step forward, while revolution is a big leap.

Fair enough. From that perspective, we've had no revolutionary products at all so far. I firmly believe that all technology is only as good as the benefit it provides. So, is fuel injection a revolution? Not really. Our carb-ed bikes were really very good already, so it is a new tech that replaces an old tech, but benefit wise, it is still an evolution. And I could (and I would) argue the same for all the little piddly bits (twin- vs monoshocks etc). Will a multi-cylinder motorcycle represent a revolution? Depends. Will you be happy with a 10 bhp 100cc twin? However, show me a 18 bhp 100cc bike, and I'll say, whoa, that's revolutionary.

I think what I'm trying to say, is that I don't care as much for the details as I do for the big picture. Revolution, to me, is a big shift in stance. Say from a economy-minded plodder to a super-sleek, hi-po machine. What technological aggregates when into it doesn't really matter. If Hero Honda were to launch a proper RC211V-style Unit Link Monoshock mounted on a CD100, would it be a revolutionary product?

First_synn also said something about the bean counter phenomenon, this I agree with. Not enough people in the motorcycle industry are in love with motorcycles in the first place. This does make it harder for people like us to get what we want. One of the first things Ishikawa, the Yamaha head, did when he joined was to ensure that all of Yamaha India rode a bike whenever possible. Also, when a large part of your business is low-margin-high-volume sales, then the bean counter has to be the biggest decision maker. That is just how it is.

Enough! evolutionary or revolutionary? So far, evolutionary. It had to be. You need critical mass for any big event, and the gather of that mass is always evolutionary. Revolution? It's just around the corner...

Amaizing grace

Corn, originally uploaded by Caughtilya.

Yesterday, I was standing below the office and marvelling at just how dirty the CBZ X-Treme had managed to get in one short ride to the office. Then, like a sluggish 10x digital camera, my eyes zoned out and focussed on the thela that was passing by across the road.

Leaving a faint trail of charcoal smoke, the partially open, soaking wet, gunny bag on top was spilling out stalks and stalks of Corn. A warm feeling went through me as I could almost instantly recall the salty tang of coal-fired corn with a dash of lemon-red chilli-black salt masala. Oh, its that time of the year again already, is it? Lovely. Can't wait to sink my teeth into a the soft sweetness of a just-short-of-ripe corn while the masala digs in... ooh... I'm hungry now

Jun 18, 2007

Yamaha to launch R1 and MT-01 in India?

Yamaha YZF-R1The R1 has already been homologated and approved by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), and sales expected to commence once the company receives the first lot of imports from YMI’s parent. Although no time has been specified for the imports, YMI’s CEO & Managing Director, Tomotaka Ishikawa said efforts are being made to introduce the bike at the earliest.

‘The marketing team at Yamaha Motor India had an aggressive target for the R1, but I cut that into half. These bikes are not meant for business but to create an image,’ Ishikawa said. He stopped short of committing any numbers, but said ‘it could be a few dozens.’
Do you what this means?

Humanmetrics: I am an NTEJ

Hrishi sent me this link to a test, so I took it.

He thought I'd turn out to be an ISTJ. I'm actually
an NTEJ. See a description here

Smoother riding: The make soup method

Soup Ladle from zeiselmostly.comMaking soup these days is a cinch. Put the requisite amout of water in a saucepan (usually four cups or 600 ml), add the soup powder (whole pack) and stir briskly to a boil. Once it starts boiling, stir and simmer for 5-6 minutes and you're all set. Garnish as you like (freshly-ground pepper's a fave with me) and pour into the soup bowls for instant, refreshing consumption.

Yesterday, it was raining through the day. The Wife took a long stroll in the gathering, dripping darkness. When we returned to the house, she asked if I would make some soup for her. She loves the idea of hot soup supped on a cold balcony with a hint of water in the air. So off I went to the kitchen.

>>OCD warning>>> Those who object my OCD, please leave now.
So, while I was stirring briskly, I as usual started daydreaming. And here's what I noticed. Brisk stirring can be done in a number of ways (motorcyclists, brace and stay with me here). You can flick the wrist artfully, letting the relatively fragile thing take the weight of the ladle. Or you can use you who fore/arm, distributing the muscles that need to work for the stirring. However, whatever you do, when you cross a certain speed, the soup becomes turbulent and eventually, will splash right out of the pot.

There's a lesson in this, I think.

Most of the texts, treatises, tomes and bibles on the subject of smoother riding, say slow your hands down. However, they never quite get around to giving good examples. Well, the soup's a good example, I think. You can only stir a soup so briskly in a given pot. If you think of the pot as a motorcycle, the taller the pot – the more forgiving/capable the motorcycle is. However, the artists in the kitchen (read riding gods) understand (instinctively or otherwise) what the briskness limit really is. No matter how sharply you open the throttle, there is a finite speed with which the accelerator cable will stretch, drag the slide up and the let more fuel into the engine. So, while you could open the throttle all the way from shut to wide open in say 0.2 seconds (or some such) it isn't of any use if the carb can only feed the engine in (say) 0.6 seconds. That also means, that you can afford to spend 0.6 seconds opening the throttle all the way.

Why should this matter? Well, for one, when we go fast, we tend to start moving faster on the bike. This is great when the chicane approaches faster and you need to hang off first on one side and then the other. But grabbing, stabbing and pummeling the controls doesn't help. Smoothness suffers, and eventually you'll go slower than what is possible simply because, yes, you were stirring the soup too briskly.

Of course soup's not motorcycles or vice versa. See, if you stir a motorcycle up harder, it usually takes less time. Soup will take 6 minutes no matter how hard you stir the damn thing!

Related posts: Braking: Exercise One - Smoothness | Lazy Fingers | Pro grip!

Image fromwww.zeiselmostly.com

rearset: Why not frontset?

When I started this blog, I'd thought of what to name it and 'Motorcyclist At Large" seemed handy. When I looked it up on Google, I could not find, much to my surprise, another chap who had a blog called that. Which struck me as fortunate, though strange. Anyway, so the blog was born. Then Blogger asked me what I wanted to call myself. That's when I started looking through the mechanical parts of a motorcycle to try and see what fitted me. Or should that be, I fitted what. Here's a list

  • Exhaust: While good ones do produce more power and a glorious noise, at the end of the day, it's a device that handles spent gases. So I ran into a philosophical heavy weather with that.

  • Wheel: Is the centrepiece of the operation in many a sense. But again, philosophically, it suggests an unstable entity and goes round and round in circles

  • Handlebar: Now this was a nice one. It suggests control, modulation of force etc. But at the end of the day it's a bent bar of metal...
After a few days of doing this, I stumbled upon rearset. Which is very nice. Now, to a non-motorcyclist, it seems a bit odd. rearset suggests that the writer is conservative and tends towards the past (as opposed to the future). Which I don't really have a problem with. I am, in many ways, very conservative indeed. On the other hand, as a motorcycle part, it is a fairly simple device in construction terms that is considered pretty important in going faster after your riding skills breach a certain barrier. Philosophically, it couldn't have sat down pat with a louder thump. A device that creates more clearance in cornering, gives a sportier edge to the stock ergonomics, a device that takes what is stock and elevates it to a sportier, more focussed entity. Perfect fit!

Image courtesy: MV Agusta

Hyosung MS3: Coming to India?

Hyosung MS3 Scooter
This is a press release from the UK. Now, you might wonder what it is doing here, but there's (as usual) a good reason. But, first read it... My comments are below the release


Hyosung, the fast-expanding range of motorcycles from South Korea, now includes two ‘luxury’ scooter models with a choice of 125cc and 250cc engines. The new Hyosung MS3-125 is £2,149 and the MS3-250 is £2,649 on the road, and reach dealerships this month.

Designed to appeal not only to town and city commuters, but also to those who want to escape at weekends, both Hyosung MS3 scooters offer sleek and aerodynamic contemporary styling with plenty of practical touches. They have low emissions (Euro-3 compliant), ample power and are easy to ride and handle.

The single cylinder 124cc and 249cc engines both use double overhead camshafts and four valves with water cooling. An electric starter and automatic transmission make for easy riding, while twin front and single rear discs ensure plenty of stopping power. A nine litre fuel tank provides a very good range between fill-ups and a low 700mm seat height and plush seating will comfortably accommodate most riders.

The car-like instruments include analogue speedometer and tachometer dials, LCD odometer, trip meter and clock plus warning lights. Twin halogen headlamps and large LED tail and indicator lights ensure high visibility. A tinted screen offers good wind and weather protection.

Distributed by long-established E. P. Barrus Limited, the company has considerable scooter experience and also markets the PGO and Generic ranges of scooters in the UK. Matthew Gilder, general manager of the Barrus Vehicle Division explains:

“The arrival of the MS3 models takes Hyosung into the scooter market for the first time – a sector that has grown by over 16 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Hyosung is gaining an excellent reputation for quality and reliability – as well as value – and the MS3 broadens the brand’s appeal still further.”

Hyosung motorcycles combine outstanding value for money with advanced technologies and contemporary styling. Every model has a full two year warranty and one year’s roadside assistance.

There are now 16 models in the Hyosung range from 125cc to 650cc, including cruisers, sports and commuter bikes, scooters and a road-legal quad. Prices range from £1,949 to £4,999.

The Hyosung range is available at 74 dealers around the country and on-line at www.hyosung.co.uk.

Additional technical information
Wheels and tyres: 120/70-13 53S (front) and 140/60-14 64S (rear)
L x W x H: 2,126 x 766 x 1,375mm
Wheelbase: 1,451mm
Ground clearance: 125mm
Dry weight: 165kg (250cc) and 160kg (125cc)
Hyosung MS3 ScooterOkay, Hyosung is a technology partner to Kinetic. So is Sym and so is Italjet (in a sense). So far, Kinetic has done some motorcycle business with Hyosung, purchased seven models from Italjet (lock, stock and proverbial barrel included) and is about to launch the first of the Sym scooters. But so far, Hyosung never had a scooter line, so there was no conflict.

And now they do. The MS3s kick off a new business line, that I'm sure Hyosung would like to push into whichever market they can. Can they ignore India, where gearless scooters (as our manufacturers like to call them) are gaining in sales volume with a vengeance? How will Kinetic handle a third line of scooters? Or if they don't want the MS3, how will they deal with Hyosung? Ooh... this is going to be interesting.

On the other hand, these are fairly hi-po engines. Look at the spec – dohc, four-valves, liquid cooling, all-disc braking... maybe I'm just making too much of this whole thing.

Images & Text courtesy: Hyosung UK

Change the world

You can't change the world, you can only change yourself. Yes, like you, I've heard that whole school of rot, er... thought.However, back in school, the one thing the teachers were perpetually on our cases about was to find solutions. They nearly always cried in comical unison, 'We'll show you a billion people [no doubt, referring to our population] who know all the problems. We need the 23 of you to be the solution finders.'

So much for that, eh? I chucked all of that and landed happily in the middle of this rather mental party, and it's been rocking. But as is usual, I digress. But hang on, I've been doing some research.

The other day, I rode the CBZ X-Treme back to my house from the office. I have a new commute route now, that includes a couple of rather frightening traffic snarls. Riding with beautiful efficiency (even if I do say so myself), a decent to good speed, I reached home in forty minutes. Which I thought was a classy, unbeatable time for a fast, safe commute.

When I told The Wife about the awesome commute, she first smiled indulgently. Then, she totally smashed my euphoria. 'Forty minutes!' she said, 'What's so great about that, it only takes us forty-five minutes when we ride down together.' It dawned on me, then, that she was absolutely correct (as usual). When she's with me, my riding style changes, I double all safety precautions, I will not take half the overtaking opportunities I can spot because we are riding two up and so forth [limitations on the dynamic ability on the bike with greater rearward bias etc]. If I analyse the riding style two up, it probably should take twice as long to get there.

But all of that precaution, which adds a massive measure of safety, tots up to an added five minutes. Which, no matter how busy you are, is a small slice of time. So here's my solution. Do these five things on your next commute. Trust me, they will halve your exposure to traffic hazards and add no more than five minutes to your commute.

  • Drive in one lane. Change lanes when needed, but not within 200 metres of an intersection/toll booth

  • No honking, flash lights if you must. Honk only if you think the car ahead cannot see you. And honk only to let him know you're there.

  • Ride so that you can see the wheels of the car ahead of you at the very minimum. Do not ride so close to the vehicle ahead that you cannot see over/around/through/under it.

  • If someone wants your lane so badly he's willing to cut you off, let him have it

  • Smile at people in other cars, on bikes. Wave thank yous to people who help you out. Yes, even you (like me) full-face lid wearers. It helps. People, somehow, read your body language and even if your face is obscured, they can usually tell the difference between the WTF-stare and a thank-you-smile.

Jun 16, 2007


Sony Ericsson w300i

Lady: 'Sir, I am calling from BPL Mob...'
rearset: 'I already paid. Today, online, not ten minutes ago.'
Lady: 'No sir, this isn't about your bill.'
rearset: 'Oh. In that case, I am not interested.'
Lady:'{giggling almost uncontrollably}
Lady: 'All right sir, have a nice day!'

Jun 15, 2007

Milestone 500

500 posts!When I started writing this blog in January/February 2006, I hadn't imagined that I would get this addicted to it. I hadn't imagined that keeping the >May(15) count in the sidebar ahead of the date on the calendar would become such a compulsion. I had not imagined that I would be gusting up to three posts daily. It's been quite a trip. And I don't think it's anywhere close to the end yet.

But that pales in front of the fact that all of you turn up without fail, to read my pithy phrases. That is just amazing. I'm a fairly sparing user of the cellular phone. But since I started writing this blog, my Rs 499 monthly GPRS connection has been stressed. Anytime I am away from my usual computer, I find myself flipping open my Sony w300i, logging into Google and eagerly wondering what you've said about the post since I last checked the mailbox. So as I write my 500th post, I promise you more readable content that won't bore you (much). In return I ask that you write me more comments/mails and let me know your thoughts.

I would also like to thank the blog regulars for coming back so often. That's you (in no particular order at all), Anonymous, Hrishi, Praveen T, nj, Nyctophobia, firstsynn, THE BATFAN, TheSlayer, Arpan, GR, Vibhu, Navendu, Yugesh, sunspot, sac, Sameer, OkayBye!, --xh--, hafeexius (you haven't written lately... all ok?), madhukar, Nigel Faria, Aditya Bhelke, Sriku, Nikhil, Utpal Das, Alden S, Sankoobaba, Srikeerthi, Glifford, Julian Paul, Hitanshu Gandhi, Neo, Maltesh Ashrit, Satadal Payeng, Sandeep Murali, powerslave, rohan rao, mrajshekhar, kautilya, archeriostichaos, Ravi Kumar, Yogesh Sarkar, Satyen Poojari, Rado, niji, Srikant-da 1 and only, unni, khini, Revhard, Shamik Banerjee, Prathap S, tburman, Sneh, Suhaas, Sandeep, SPROTOR, Abhishek Tyagi, Nikhil, Lakshmi Prasad, road-yo... oh god, how many of you are out there? I am grateful that all of you choose to spend your time at the blog. Wow, I'm snowed.


Can't believe it.

Anyway, what I really started out to say, is write more, say more. And thanks a million.

Jun 14, 2007

Formula One: Ready for the 2009 Indian GP?

Reuters is reporting that India has been awarded a F1 date for 2009. While the announcement has not come from Bernie Ecclestone, Suresh Kalmadi has announced this, according to the report. Read the details here. Earlier, media reports had said that Vijay Mallya was aiming to host a Monaco-style road race around the Delhi in 2009, with intention of the 2009 event being an exhibition, with a more formal, competitive event coming later. It seems, now, however, that not only are we going to get a full-spec F1 track, we are effectively going to see a fifty per cent growth in the number of race tracks in India. From two to three. However, jokes aside, this one will not be in a handkerchief sized lot somewhere in South India.

Here's my question, what will it be called, this track near Delhi:

  1. Indian-polis Motor Speedway

  2. Rajiv/Indira Gandhi International Raceway and Automotive Amusement Park

  3. Indian Olympic Committee International Racetrack

  4. Your suggestions are also welcome, friends...

Jun 13, 2007

Morning Fall: One of the awesomest short films I've seen yet

I found this film here, and thought it was utterly brilliant. Google Video hosts this one and they have a film summary that reads
A mysterious man wakes up on the side of the road, injured and confused, the morning after a motorcycle crash - but where will he end up when he can't find his way home?
The film was directed my Edward McGinty and from what I can tell, won the Best Live Action Short Film award at Malibu 2007. Info is skimpy, but here is the IMDB link and I'm sorry to say that this is all I've been able to find out. Anyone know more? Please post a comment.

UPDATE: If the video doesn't play from Google Video, here's another link

For the one who thought I was visiting too much of YouTube, here's some Google Video for a change... heh heh

Royal Enfield: Full injection?

Royal Enfield LB500 Lean Burn Machismo 500Brit mobike paper MCN reports that Royal Enfield could finally be ready to meet Euro 3 norms, and end up upgrading their engines to run fuel injection. What a fun! Read the rest here... The bike is reportedly going on sale in Spring 2008. So India launch definitely by... um... December 2010? No, no, I'm just kidding. Indian norms are set to get tight too. If the unit gearbox Enfield prove popular, the next wave of massaged Bullets could feature the unit construction motor, fuel injection across the board. I wouldn't complain. But, then, I'm not a Bullet buyer. Bull lovers, penny for your thoughts?

Jun 11, 2007

Riding Mantra: #261.47

'Panic doesn't come from being in a marginal situation.
Panic comes from not knowing where the margins are'
-Lee Parks, Total Control

Line up!

Take a piece of paper and pen. And try this. Draw two vertical lines, one on each side of the paper. No, the width doesn't matter. Now, try drawing a set of ten parallel lines from one vertical line to the other (any direction you prefer). But, you may focus only one centimetre ahead of the tip of the pen. As in your eyes can only lead the pen by one centimetre. Look carefully at the result and have yourself a good laugh.

Now, take another sheet, do the same thing. But this time. focus on the point on the second vertical line you're making a beeline for and then draw a line. You should notice two things. First, your lines are amazingly straight and nearly parallel all the time. Second, you tend to draw this line a heck of a lot faster than you did the first time round. That's faster and more accurate. Do I have your attention?

Of course, I have a point.

The point is two fold. On the straight, this serves to show that you would probably go faster (without actually noticing it; may be illegal in some territories) if you looked further ahead. The explanation usually is that looking further ahead, widens you viewing area and tends to slow down the blurring scenery. This means you can not only see more, you understand more of what you are seeing... and go faster because your brain can process the information and you feel safe going faster. Look at the tip of your front fender, and you'll be terrified of the speed before you cross 20 kph. In a corner, your lines will get better once you start looking straight at the exit. Of course, blind corners and sweepers will require a different approach and you will need to look as far through the corner as possible. The further you look, the faster and more accurately you could potentially go.

Jun 9, 2007

Triumph Rocket III: The making of the move

Check out this funny video from Triumph about making their rather ludicrous Rocket III. Wish all manufacturers look upon themselves with this much humour... And, come to think of it, us. I wish we could take ourselves less seriously too...

This video has appeared in lots of places on the net before. I didn't make the vid, and I certainly didn't steal it. I'm only pasting the embed link from YouTube. Okay?

Jun 8, 2007

Lovely Kawasaki Ad

Lovely Kawasaki advert I came across at Old Guy’s Place

Jun 7, 2007

Mailbag #6: How to lean more

Caughtilya-Rearset Stamp 1I wanted a little help on leaning. I love to lean, but am pretty scared to lean further since I don't know what's the limit my bike can take. Are there any feelers/warnings at the limit, beyond which the bike slides? If you could point out an article/site where I can find out more about this, I will owe you a dinner at your favourite POWAI poptates ;-)
-Name witheld (If you like, I can publish it... just email me)

Hmmm... sounds familiar. That pretty much sounds like me on my first motorcycle.It had cool looking but utterly useless TVS AT100 knobblies and I had the first question. Here's what happened. I read the latest issue of whatever mag was the latest and greatest back then and went out and threw the AT100s down in total disgust and asked the MRF chap to rustle up a pair of fresh and sticky Zappers. That, in no time at all, improved my confidence levels. So my friend, the first thing I would is, check the equipment. Tyres ok? Chassis straight? What you're looking for is a straight chassis, neutral feel and ideally if you really tune in, some vibration from the front and rear contact patches. This last bit is a bit of a black art and varies from tyre to tyre. Zappers are pretty decent at this, though.

Tony Elias at Mugello | Courtesy Honda motorcyclesThe second chapter in this epic happened when I met a chap I'll call Sethi. Sethi was highly regarded at my mechanics over-chai-bravado as a rally rider. Sethi liked to say things like, 'I love dirt on the road. Then I can slide it.' Well, one day, I discovered that not only did Sethi stay in the neighbourhood right behind mine, he was heading home at the same time. His rally-ready RX100 was way faster than my ride, so he said, 'I'm sorry but I won't wait for you... I'm in a hurry... just keep up as much as you can...'

That did it. Something in me (hindsight, this is) snapped. That day, for the first time, I threw my worries about lean angles, clearances, slides and crashed into thin air and followed his lines exactly. It worked, until I passed him on the inside at some corner along the way. Then it worked really well. In one fell swoop, I destroyed the banter at the over-the-chai-bravado, Sethi's reputation and my fear of angles. Well, the geometrical ones still get me...

But this isn't about me.

What I'm saying is that a lot of the lean angle business is a fine dance between balance, trust and faith. If you can already lean it in and feel good, you can try scaring yourself a little bit. Lean it a bit more, until the fear is replaced by confidence, and then lean it in a bit further again. If you're on a relatively recent motorcycle, your tyres most certainly can handle it. Just remember one thing, lean angles require commitment. The harder you lean, the less grip you have to play with in terms of braking, acceleration and line corrections. As in, don't do this if you aren't sure what lies ahead and how you plan to react to it. If your tyres are fairly new, well-inflated and generally look good, you can trust them. Then comes faith. You have to believe that more lean will not hurt you. Again, the more you lean it in, the more subtle your throttle work has to become. At the edge of the tread, you will usually feel the tyre suddenly go just slightly greasy, that's usually a good sign to stop leaning further and double the care you are taking with the throttle. Another great sign is your peg feeler scraping. That's what it does. It scrapes and lets you know that this much is enough. Obviously, all the usual admonitions about deserted roads, clean tarmac etc apply.

But that's the theory.

Practically speaking, sit down, close your eyes and focus on finding a corner that makes you feel confident, one that allows fairly serious lean and one that's easy to get to. Turn three after you leave Udaipur on NH6 is not convenient. Drag a friend and all your motorcycle kit to this corner one fine morning. Go early. And start riding. Focus only on that one corner. Take a few runs like you normally would and try and get an idea of the sort of speeds you are carrying. Say you usually take the turn at 60 kph. Now, while your friends keeps a watch – for you and for traffic, raise that barrier. This is not easy to do. Your brain will probably be screaming like an angry witch, but you have to make it listen to your plan. Raise the speed by whatever increments you are comfortable with. Say you decide to raise it by 3 kph. Sounds paltry, but will be bloody scary. Make a few runs at 3 kph, until the poor brain calms down and accepts it. One good way to test it to see if you are a little short of breath after you exit the corner. If yes, you are still tense at lean. Practice at this speed until you can breath mid-corner normally. Then raise it again. Do this until your friend throws a right tantrum, you run out of energy or your pegs drag, whichever comes first. This much improvement can happen in a space of a few hundred words, but may takes weeks in real life, so keep at it. And remember to have fun while you're at it. If it isn't fun, it isn't worth it. Remember to return another day for a few more sessions. Once you can drag the pegs at will, you are ready for the next step – hanging off and adding more speed.

Normally, I would recommend going to a track for this. And you do have some options now. But since all the tracks in our country are way down south and you are in Mumbai, I'm going to suggest public road practice, but take a friend along. His job is to help if you crash and to stop you from trying 3 kph more while there's a truck headed your way from the other side. Tell him to pay attention to his duties. He should stop you from cornering at the very hint of traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians.

If you've only practiced on a left-hander, you might do yourself a favour and do the same practice at a right-hander as well. Most of us favour one side and bikes look bad with mismatched wear of feeler bolts, heh heh.

But most importantly, if I were you, I'd wait for the rains to go away first.

For more on the subject, look for tips to help you go faster through corners and for the moment, ignore the usual bits about selecting better lines. All the best lines are designed to limit lean angles.

The writer of the mail is not a novice and the practice advice is based on the fact that he already knows the basics of riding. If you are completely new to motorcycling, this is probably not the right(est) way for you to start learning the art.

Image courtesy: Honda Motorcycles