Aug 25, 2007

Tankbags: protecting the paint

Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due DiwaliUsing a tankbag but afraid you will scratch the tank? Here's five easy ways to save the paint

Shrink wrap the tank
You will need a roll of shrink wrap and a knife (optional). Basically, just make sure the tank surface is dry (wipe with your hand...) and then wrap the thing with three or four layers of shrink wrap. Be liberal with the cling film. Use the knife to cut a hole for the fuel tank cap. If you're really OCD, wrap some plastic around the flippers (magnetic flaps) just for extra protection. I find the tankbag does not move around much, and no scratches. Best of all, most parking lot miscreants will generally ignore the plasticky mess. Wrap tight so that the film cannot move around for best results

Newspaper and gaffa tape
This is straight forward, but looks pretty ungainly. Works in an emergency scratch prevention situation

Gaffa tape only
Ideally polish the tank to a deep shine (prevents the glue from sticking too firmly). Stick the gaffa tape on a piece of cloth (denim's work fine) to weaken the glue a bit and then cover the places where you think the scratches might appear. May not look clean when you finish, but works like a charm.

The usual way is to use a soft cloth under the tank. But no matter how careful you are, eventually one flipper will drag across the tank, leaving tiny scratches. Cling film, in me experience, works best.

Aug 24, 2007

Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi: Ridden!

Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due DiwaliHaving successfully mooched a nearly new 220, I was off like a shot. Or would have if I hadn't been worried about needing to keep the revs low for purposes of running in. Anyhoo, the motorcycle brought back memories of why I happen to like it a lot, and hate some parts of it. Given that I've been making top ten lists like problogger recommends, I thought I'd make another one.

The bits I love

  • Ride quality
    The ride quality of the 220 is superb. Among my personal favourites on this front in the country right now is the Karizma, and I have a feeling that over time, I'll end up liking the 220 more. It hasn't lost the light, springy feel, but I was surprised at how much the 220 will absorb both riding solo and two-up. After pussyfooting about for a few kilometers, I found myself bashing the bike through potholes with nary a care. And guess what, The Wife did not complain even once... it's good.

  • Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due DiwaliHeadlights
    These are seriously impressive headlamps. I love the spread and brightness of the low beam and the cutting lance of the high beam. In all my years of riding in Mumbai, I haven't seen the wet-black Mumbai roads lit up this good ever. Also like the way the electronics cut the dayflash off if the engine isn't running. Stops fidgety friends from draining the battery it does

  • Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due DiwaliBrakes
    Bajaj have never been shy of providing good brakes and the 220 takes that aspect a whole bunch forward. The front brake is powerful and offers enough feedback to get the front wheel squirming in the wet with no loss of confidence or traction. There aren't any bikes I can say the same about, including the even more powerful (feeling) disc on the Apache RTR 160, which lacks this kind of feel. Initially, the rear disc pads were holding the rear rotor a bit tight. But one circlip and pin removed, pads ejected, ground down a bit to improve pad-rotor clearance (I don't use the rear brake for anything apart from generating a little stability, so pad wear is no issue) and re-inserted have cured the problem in the space of ten minutes. The rear wheel rotates free-ish now. I still don't like the minimal travel on the rear brake pedal, but I'll fix it one way or another shortly

    Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due Diwali
  • Engine
    Unlike the other Pulsars (including the 200, which I deeply like), the 220 has a distinct intake growl that is lovely. Even my earplugs fail entirely to suppress the gruff note, which I've come to like a lot. A small single can only make so much of an evocative note, the airbox, on the other hand, has a lot of vocal abilities... this one's well on its way to releasing the good bits. I also like the performance, although I sometimes wish it had more punch. The Pulsar 220 will knock the bad guy out, no question, I wish instead of a resounding slap, it KO'd using a more dramatic punch

  • Handling
    I know it's fifth on the list, but I love the stable feel of the 220 as well. It's very, very classy in feel and initially, the rear brake was dragging enough to make the bike want to run on a bit, a trait that's settled down after I ground down the rear pads a bit. It's capability in the corners almost makes me want me to summon up all my supernatural powers and just block out the rain while I have the bike
Stuff I didn't find so hot
    Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due Diwali
  • Meters/Electronics/Switchgear

  • The Pulsar 220's digi-meters are a great step forward, but I think they're all right, not gobsmacking. I wish they'd included a clock. I wish they'd sorted the electronics a bit more – I don't like the fact the engine check light comes on when you stall the bike in gear, and that the ignition system has a spot of bother re-starting the bike unless you switch the ignition off and then on, in which case it fires up at a half-touch.

    I believe I've already ranted about the ugly-brown engine kill switch. If I haven't, please insert an appropriate rant here. Why does it have to be that ugly Microsoft Zune-type colour? Why can it not be red like all important things usually are?

    And who the hell turned it upside down? Yesterday, on my way home, I spotted someone I know and waved with the throttle hand. When putting my hand back on the throttle grip, I hit a pothole and ended up killing the engine. It would not have happened if the EKS was the other way round. I know it's a minor gripe, but when you're aiming for perfection and getting close, it's the details that will leave you standing out in the cold

  • Footpegs
    A funny thing happened today. I got my feet wet and while I was standing on the pegs while bobbing gently through a potholed stretch, my foot actually slipped clean off the peg. I felt it going and sat down quickly enough to only graze the toe of my trusty DMS for a half-sec on the road, but it could have been worse. In the dry, I have to say, the footpegs work just great. The ergos (rearset pegs and low-ish bars) are good too

  • Styling
    Yes, I know a lot of you like the bike's looks, but I've never been a fan of the almost identical looks of the Pulsar family. I'm not a marketing whiz, but it does not make sense to me. The styling of the P220, especially the rear-on congruence with the others is mildly disappointing. I think the rest of the 220 is special enough to deserve a more evolved look, don't you? It does have one benefit though. I was worried about someone scratching the bike in the parking lot, but then I realised that if I parked the bike with the headlight to the wall and tail light sticking out, most people didn't even notice that the bike was a 220. In fact, when you're riding, only those who can see the front of the bike do the expected double take

  • Rear mudflap
    I know you cannot see this from the saddle, but the way the this plastic thing vibrates gives me the shivers (as with the entire rear end, this is common to all the new Pulsars). I know it's silly, but I keep thinking the whole black plastic thing is going to fall right off the bike. It also makes me think the bike isn't well built. I know otherwise, but there it is... I think a couple of reinforcing ribs on the underside of the mudflap would have taken care of this

  • Seat release
    This is the most confounding of the lot. I like to clip my bumbag to the seat and strap it down. Works like an ultra secure tail pack. On most bikes that have a helmet lock/seat release under the tail light area, I will usually unlock the seat, strap the thing on and go. I cannot do this on any Pulsar. Because the seat release is a loop of wire under a fairly fidgety side panel (grommets fall off and panels rattle, lock almost never sits right in the first go). The P220 has a split seat, so I was expecting a seat release with the key. Instead, I find that there are TWO loops of wire instead. Aargh! So while I know that there is a precious little bit of space under the pillion seat (could take a rain suit easily), I've no way of using it in any convenient fashion.
As you can see, the cribs are all essentially niggles, which tells me that Bajaj actually got the bike very, very right in the first go. Which is just great. You will also notice that I've not mentioned many parts of the bike entirely... these are parts that work okay and ideally don't earn praise or ire. Here's a short run through.

  • Mirrors: mostly you see elbows and shoulders in them, but they look classy. I say all right, because not many sportsbikes (which the 220 aims to be) offer life-changing mirrors anyway. Love the fact that fold in.

  • Gearbox: no missed shifts, but sometimes I think a shift shouldn't be this light. Similarly you always find neutral, but the delicate movement needed is a bit to classy for a monkey like me.

  • Backlit switches: add little value, really. Look neat, though. Grips: Never been an outright fan, I think softer rubber (Think Progrip Superbike grips) would have felt classier.

  • Bajaj Pulsar DTS-Fi 220cc due Diwali
  • Tank
  • : Still the same shape, so I do think it should have evolved a bit. Plastic fairing is perpetually rubbing against my knees... which I can live with. But it interferes with the (Cramster Turtle) tankbag's front magnetic flaps... so I can only use four of the six magnets to keep it steady. Also, I find riding with a filled up tankbag makes it easy on the wrists in heavy traffic. Maybe Cramster should make a double-price super-duper special 220-edition bag with only four magnets...

  • Top triple tree: Is all metal, looks nice if a little, I dunno, 'empty.' Will get scratched eventually if your keychain has lots of metal, though.

  • No kick lever: I'm not gonna miss it.

  • Oil cooler: It's there... wish the plumbing wasn't so out there.
Related Posts:

Coke Zero: Zero is more

Coca Cola is launching a new product, called Coke zero. As you can guess, it's Coca Cola that promises the real taste of the original fizzy drink, but with zero sugar. Life as it should be, almost – the actual stuff, but with none of iffy bits. To celebrate, Coke's created a new website called Zero Is More which allows you to direct your own small movie. You get a bunch of black and white movie clips to play with, use the easy voice recorder to create the conversation for the clip and then send it our to your friends.

Aug 22, 2007

Oh deer!

Ooh, scary looking video. Found it here

Superb article on Nicky Hayden

So this was how the day would end for Nicky Hayden, rag-dolling through the rain at 140 miles per hour, his season shattered like his motorcycle, a multimillion-dollar machine depreciating rapidly as it shed chunks of titanium and carbon fiber in the gravel shoulder area where Hayden would eventually skid to a stop.
Superb story on Nicky Hayden. Almost makes me feel sorry for the Kentucky Kid. Read it here...

Aug 20, 2007

Riding Mantra #433.677

"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than
being squeezed out of a tube."
- Hunter S Thompson in Cycle World (1995, Ducati 900SS road rest)

Wearing Kit: You'll get noticed

High res image of Cramster Riding GearA blog regular wrote in to say that he wore full kit recently, and noticed, that he got noticed. Splendors raced him, Auto guys gave way. Pedestrians stared. Some people taunted... I just had to add that there's more. I've had people ask if a race was on. One gentleman complimented me and said my 'costume' was most fetching. School buses, I have come to find, are full of children who're just waiting to throw erasers, pencils, water, spit, paper and chewing gum at you. Still others will chase you down to ask which shop sold you the kit (cue disappointed look when they find that is in the USA). Still others will demand a wheelie or a lift, sometimes both. Being called Dhoom and John Abraham is perhaps the most common thing. I've also noticed girfriends/wives urging husbands to dress more like 'that freak over there.' The superior smirks are also very common. A lot of people (genuinely) want to know how hot you're feeling inside (this is a Mumbai special). Others refuse to believe that I'm only riding to work.

Related links:

Yamaha Gladiator Graffiti: more paint options

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, another version of the Yamaha Gladiator. Which happens to be a nice enough bike. But now you have the Gladiator, Gladiator Type JA, Gladiator Black and the Gladiator Graffiti. Too many?
Yamaha Gladiator Graffiti Editio


Yamaha launched Gladiator on April 06 and the Auto Magazines have rated it as the best in 125cc bike segment. The terrific build, big bike feel, the brilliant handling and performance of Gladiator has been praised by the automotive press and the media. After the successful launch of Gladiator, Yamaha launched Gladiator Black in November 06. The Gladiator Black was awarded the Best Bike in 125cc segment by NDTV/Bike India Magazine.

To take the Gladiator towards newer horizons the Gladiator Graffiti was conceptualized.This concept is based on the visual expression of rap music. In addition, graffiti has been made synonymous with the anti-establishment punk rock movement. It portrays rough, wild, youthful, courageous, rebellious contra-culture image which is very close to a bikers heart to whom this bike is targeted.

In India the Graffiti is a fashion statement among our target customer who is
young, hip, confident, trendy & a cool trendsetter. Gladiator Graffiti is specially designed for him. It comes in two colours patterns Deep Reddish Yellow Cocktail and Deep Red Metallic.

Type Single Cylinder Air Cooled, 4-Stroke SOHC
Displacement 123.7cc
Bore & Stroke 54 × 54 mm
Max. Power 8.0Kw (11 PS) @ 7500rpm
Max Torque 10.4 Nm. (1.06Kgf-m) @6500rpm
Clutch Multiplate Wet Type
Starting Kick Start/Electric Start
Gear Box 5-Speed Constant Mesh
Battery 12V-2.5AH (Kick)/5AH (Self)
Headlight 12V 35/35W Halogen Bulb
Tail Lamp 12V 21/5W
Indicator 12V 10W
Frame Diamond Tubular Type
Front Suspension Telescopic Hydraulic Type
Front Suspension Rectangular Swing Arm with Hydraulic Shock Absorber
Front Break Drum Type (150mm Dia)/Disc Type (240mm Dia)
Rear Break Drum Type (130mm Dia)
Tyre Front 2.75 × 18˝ 4PR, 42P
Tyre Rear 3.00 × 18˝ 6PR, 52P
Kerb Weight 123Kg (Standard Model)/ 127Kg (Deluxe Model)
Max Payload 130Kg
Dimension(L×W×H) 2065mm×730mm×1100mm
Wheel Base 1300mm
Ground Clearance 160mm
Fuel Tank Capacity 13Ltr
Related links:

Aug 17, 2007

Mailbag #14: Unicorn troubles

Caughtilya-Rearset Stamp 1I ride a Honda Unicorn. I do ride my bike fast but prefer to be very safe unlike others my age (I turned 20 just a few days ago). What I wanted to know is that earlier, however hard I rode my bike in the traffic it would return 50 kmpl. But off late (for the last 2,000 km or so) I have been getting 45 kmpl. I don't want to ask you how to get better fuel economy, not at all. In fact, I am not really bothered about the fuel economy, but I was baffled by the drop in mileage especially since I don't think my riding style has changed a lot. How does one analyze things like that when most of the magazines claim 55+ kmpl in the city? Is it possible that there could be something wrong in my bike (suddenly)? The authorized service station is a dreaded place to go to, most of the days they have more bikes to service than they can, so my guess is they just wash it (not even properly sometimes) and give it back. I would also like to point out that my bike has run close to 24000 km in about 22 months, previously I was running MRF Zapper-Q 100/90-18 at the back and very recently shifted to Michelin M45 3.25x18 and I do keep a check on the tyre pressure regularly. And ever since I bought my bike I have been filling up at the Shell stations only, which sell unadulterated petrol, to the best of my knowledge.

Secondly there's this frequent problem with the wheel alignment cropping up, I spoke to a few other Unicorn owners on a popular biking forum and they too seem to have the same problem. The only solution is frequent wheel bend removal and re-alignment. My query is, is it harmful in anyway if the wheel bend is removed and aligned frequently? Like every 3000 km or so.. awaiting an early reply eagerly..

C Hooligan K (no kidding)

On the contrary, I think Honda's service is the best in the business. In Mumbai, at least, they promise and deliver one hour service, without fail. And to the best of my knowledge, they cut no corners.

Bent wheels
I assume you have a spoked wheel Unicorn. Spoked wheels and their bending is a normal thing especially if you ride hard. When riding hard, we tend to go over potholes and stuff at speed, which seems to transfer no shocks to the bike, but it does bend rims. Quality alloy rims, especially the OEM-spec stuff, is better at handling this, and usually will not show any wear from this kind of bashing. Removing the bend itself and realignment is the only way around it, but again, bending this often usually points to a problem with the riding style – not enough mechanical sympathy – than really a problem with the bike. If your rim is bending so often that at every service you have to unbend it, the problem lies with your riding style and you need to reconsider your choices when it comes to broken roads.

Fuel economy
Fuel economy unfortunately is a fairly nebulous thing. It's hard to replicate numbers you've read and harder still to remotely diagnose a ten per cent drop in economy. I'm certain that your tyre change has something to do with it. The Michelin is stickier than the Zapper, that will definitely push down your economy. As far reported figures go, the figures are designed to be comparable across tests, rather than hundred per cent replicable on the street. So a magazine would design a test cycle that can be used on the largest number of machines and produce a representative number. In your case, you see 55+ kpl. Plus you have to consider the rider's weight, ambient temperature and a whole host of other figures (including the fuel load during the test cycle) befre you can replicate that number. You indicate that you ride hard, this will automatically put you in a place that returns lower economy than the test results. Performance testing is one part of road testing, fuel economy test cycles tend to be gentler by design. There's little point in reporting fuel economy off a throttle-wide-open test cycle – no actually rides like that for long.

Shell, I've heard, is good fuel and accurately dispensed too, so that's not a factor. Other reasons could be smaller stuff, like your spark plug gap, chain tension and lubrication, dirt in the air filter... all of which alone make only minor deductions from the economy, but together can add up to 5 kpl.

Hammer and tongs, I think

This is a post about hitting a nail on the head. Almost literally. I was mulling over something yesterday – something that completely escapes me at the present time – but somewhere in one of the tangents lay this thought.

You need to use the right size hammer with the right amount of force for great results. The hammer, come to think of it, may have originally entered this lumbering train of thought via the famous Osho sermon on the F word, where innovation was defined as 'Get a bigger effing hammer.'

Consider this. The task is to take one nail of a given size and make it sit flush in a piece of wood. But here's the thing, there's a whole bunch of people out there and a whole selection of hammers to do this with. As you can guess, everyone uses a different size of hammer, uses a different swing (equals force, roughly) to get the job done.

What I'm hammering on about is that small hammers require larger swings. And big hammers require smaller swings to get the same job done. So when you upgrade to a larger motorcycle, think about this. Tomorrow, some of you will be riding an R1. That's like going from a plastic mallet to a nail gun. With no transition phase. What takes twenty full arm-behind-it swings on your Splendor will take a mere caress on the hair trigger. Swinging heavily with a nail gun will only cause collateral damage, and you could, literally shoot yourself in the foot with it. Be gentle. Respect the machine. The other thing is when you're out on the road, remember that other people aren't lucky enough to have a hammer as large as yours. So give them time to get what you would be able to do in flash.

Further, two people with same hammer will still approach the problem differently, and one approach will always be better. Learn from that approach if you can. Some extremely skilled people out there will get the job done with the oddest of hammers, respect them. Others will keep bashing their thumbs and miss the nail entirely. Give them encouragement, and lots of space.

That's the thought. What's it about? I haven't figured it out, yet. But it seemed to make sense at the time...

Aug 14, 2007

5 things you could tell someone's who honks too much

  1. "Got the horn free with the car/bike, eh? Nice!"

  2. "You're an absolute whiz at honking! Superb! Bravo! Encore! Can you teach me how you do it? Oh, correspondence course?"

  3. "Ever thought of cutting an instrumental album? You're prolific..."

  4. "Thanks! I didn't even have to honk once because of you. Lovely. Hell, I think you honked well enough for everyone in the traffic jam."

  5. "What's the matter? Scared the chap ahead's going to make a house here?"

CVT vs Variomatic: a clarification

A CVT, constantly variable transmission, is not a variomatic. The latter is a simple system. A centrifugal clutch is the heart of the operation. The clutch itself is like a brake drum, but with more shoes. As the engine spins up the clutch, the centrifugal force expands the shoes until they start rubbing against the drum surface. The vehicle moves forward when the shoes generate enough friction to start the drum rotating, which in turn, starts the driven wheel(s) rotating. As you can see, full shoe-drum contact happens after a certain speed and until then, a fair amount of engine power is wasted. The details, as usual, can differ. There's a number of forms the 'shoes' take, including hooked levers and stuff, but the principle is the same. That's the reason your 7 bhp Kinetic Honda DX is no match for your 7 bhp Hero Honda Splendor. In effect, the Kinetic Honda's transmission is a centrifugal clutch, not a variomatic transmission.

The CVT, on the other hand, is a far more efficient and far more complex device. As the name suggests, the CVT (which is actually a development of the DAF Variomatic transmission) is like a gearbox with an infinite number of gears. Usually this takes the form of a tapering cone that drives a belt/chain etc. As the engine speeds and vehicle speeds rise and fall, the belt/chain travels up and down the cone for maximum efficiency. From the saddle/driver's seat, a CVT is quite disconcerting because the engine revs right up to somewhere above the torque peak where the engine performance translates best to motion. And as soon as the engine does this, the CVT holds revs constant while the actual speed rises. You have this disconcerting feeling that you're gathering speed with no extra effort as the engine speeds don't rise. Very common on snowmobiles, the damn things will hit a straight at, say 6,500 rpm, and with a constant engine note, the things will gather frightening speed as they thunder down the strip. For more technical detail, look for Audi Multitronic, which I recall had a very clear description.

[Note: I haven't researched this, so this is how I understand it. Correct me if I am wrong please.]


He is a journalist. A regular fourth-estater. The sort who calls up people, follows up on the news and writes pithy phrases about the state of the nation. I'll call him Sameer. She's the same, but a girl. I'll call her Shaheen. Today they are working on a story together and are traveling to an appointment together. Or at least that is the plan. Shaheen waits for Sameer to turn up in her car. I don't whether they planned to take a rick together or get driven down in Shaheen's friend's car.

Mahinder is a cynical, world weary auto rickshaw driver who has seen too much and not received enough. And the final character, Vinay, has a vital job, but not something anyone would aspire to. He drives a garbage truck. It's a battered old truck, gigantic in size, rattly by nature and sometimes he has a drink early in the morning as a pick-me-up that will help him put up with the smell and the routine.

Sameer spots Shaheen's car across the road and tells Mahinder to pull over behind it. Mahinder nods an all right and starts his U-turn. Shaheen, meanwhile, has not spotted the auto and wonders where Sameer is and whether they will be make the appointment on time.

Vinay is enjoying the one luxury he is allowed. The roads this early in the morning are deserted, there are no cops about and he can drive as fast as wants. He floors the pedal.

As Mahinder starts to turn, he notices that a yellow garbage truck is hurtling towards them. A moment later, Sameer and Mahinder realise that the truck is weaving slightly and will not stop in time.

Vinay spots the auto and with an unprintable exclamation, stands on the rusty brake pedal. The din of rattling metal and a angry, growling diesel is replaced by the rending noise of a worn, dusty brake shoe rubbing hard against the walls of its home. The trucks begins to slow.

But not quickly enough. Vinay realises that he is going to hit the rickshaw full tilt and there's little he can do about it now. Mahinder tries a burst of acceleration hoping it will clear the truck's path in time. But this story is about to come to a crashing end.

The truck swerves towards a parked car trying to avoid the rick which has suddenly picked up speed and is heading to that place as well. Damn.

With a rather meek metal on metal sound, the truck hits the autorickshaw. The flimsy metal cage collapses instantly under the onslaught. Mahinder and Sameer hit the car and the truck's momentum begins to flatten the rickshaw been the radiator grille and the car boot.

The trucks wheels climb the autorickshaw and just stop short of the car. The metallic explosion has ended.

Vinay now panics and realises that the people will lynch him if he gets caught and hauled out of the truck. At a complete loss, brain showing a blue screen, he throws the truck in reverse and begins a cruel backtrack that further crushes the autorickshaw. As soon as he is clear, Vinay takes off and the last we see of him is a yellow truck, slightly more mangled hurtling into the morning.

The bystanders are too shocked to react and finally when the police turn up, they realise that Mahinder and Sameer are inside the autorickshaw, dead or alive and while the car is a bit mangled, there seem to be two physically fine people inside.

It takes an hour to get Sameer out. Shaheen's gone into shock and has lost short term memory of the accident, but has only a few scratches to show for it. When Sameer is finally extracted from the wreckage, he appears to have no face left, lots of cuts and bruises and is whisked away to hospital, except that in Mumbai, whisking people anywhere takes its own sweet time. Mahinder died instantly.

Its been three days now.

Shaheen's still not spoken a word. Doctor's say she's too rattled, but will eventually will be all right. Sameer officially has a broken jaw and another fracture . Actually, the doctor's are going to have to reconstruct his face from the eyes down.

No one really knows what happened to Vinay.

Aug 11, 2007

Bajaj DTS-Si: What it cannot do

Could Bajaj make a super-frugal scooter with DTS-Si?
Given that DTS-Si is a tech-idea that works primarily on the engine head, there's no reason why this would not be possible. However, a 'wasteful' variomatic transmission would more or less put paid to all the efficiency benefits gained from the technology and render the application pretty much without major benefits.

Could there be a DTS-Fi-Si?
Well, no. You see, a powerful, high-revving engine is usually optimised to produce big power and big revs. At high revs, you need each cycle to get over quickly so the next one can begin. Which means the engine head is designed for flow lots of mixture (greater volumetric efficiency), rather than produce a super-clean burn on a lean mixture at low flow speeds (greater combustion efficiency). That's why the next DTS-Fi evolution has more chance of being a four-valve head (two intake valves flow more air-fuel mix than one) than a DTS-Fi-Si.

Related links:

Domestic sales: Stats from SIAM

I've always had trouble finding sales numbers. So I decided to post what I've got. Data is courtesy of SIAM. The graphs are OpenOffice. Any mistakes are mine, and mine alone. In case there are errors, I will try to fix the graphs, failing which, I will mark the errors in bold red in the tables below. Please excuse.

SIAM Sales Data: Scooters, domestic, 74cc or lessScooters: Domestic Sales. 74cc or less

April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007
Kinetic 260 508 537 570
TVS 2398 2992 2518 3658

SIAM Sales Data: Scooters, domestic, 75cc to 125ccScooters: Domestic Sales. 75cc to 124cc

April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007
Bajaj 1388 2315 2506 2920
Hero Honda 1291 8136 8842 7861
Honda 42640 48167 46728 44782
Kinetic 2961 2033 2063 2252
TVS 15583 21463 22493 19507

SIAM Sales Data: Motorcycles, domestic, 76cc to 124ccMotorcycles: Domestic Sales. 76cc to 124cc

April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007
Bajaj 66919 62493 56962 66495
Hero Honda 239594 251965 224841 178268
Kinetic 460 242 201 218
TVS 43380 38395 34875 26323
Yamaha 8061 6049 5756 6723

SIAM Sales Data: Motorcycles, domestic, 125cc to 250ccMotorcycles: Domestic Sales. 125cc to 250cc

April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007
Bajaj 59575 67231 66311 49810
Hero Honda 15814 17567 13354 8580
Honda 15685 21336 20744 19906
Suzuki 4279 5012 4569 5080
TVS 4678 3329 5504 8914
Yamaha 2139 1658 2049 2056

SIAM Sales Data: Motorcycles, domestic, 250cc or moreMotorcycles: Domestic Sales. 251cc or more

April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007
Enfield 2507 2624 2610 2631

Aug 10, 2007

Updated | Bajaj DTS-Si: My take

What is swirl?
Swirl, in the sense of combustion, is an effect that is usually engineered to act on the air-fuel mixture as it enters the combustion chamber. By a variety of means, the mixture is made to 'rotate' around the spark plug inside the chamber. Swirl is considered to be a good thing because it leads to turbulence.

What is turbulence?
Swirl is a pretty smooth looking thing (when you see false-colour velocity plots, that is), but like all things smooth, it does not last. As the piston comes up during the compression stroke, it breaks the swirl, officially called decay. When swirl decays, you get a random motion of the mixture called turbulence. Turbulence is good because it removes the opportunity for the air fuel mixture to separate and produce inefficient and variable (across cycles) combustion. Turbulence, and the great mixing of the air and fuel droplets also leads of fast burning, clean burning, and hence efficient flames. In essence, turbulence leads to cleaner, more complete combustion. In the context of engines, turbulence is a great asset at lower revs. Making the mixture swirl takes time, and reduces the amount of mixture you can pump into the chamber. So when revs come up, engine builders prefer smoother flows and higher volumes. In essence, if you wanted a superb high-rev punch in the motor, you'd be working towards greater flow rather than turbulence.

That's a comparison between the torque curves of the Platina and the well, Exceed (DTS-Si). See the massive extra torque available at low revs? That's the swirl effect, so to speak
That's a comparison between the power curves of the Platina and the well, Exceed (DTS-Si). See the extra power available at all revs? No replacement for displacement.
This curve was plotted by mounting the motor on a dyno and turning it over using a measurable force. The lower the force required, the less effort is needed to turn the engine over, meaning that friction losses are lower. The DTS-Si, as you can see, has a much lower curve.

What has Bajaj done?
Bajaj calls their new engine platform DTS-Si. DTS you know, Si is Swirl Induction. The company says DTSi, the Pulsar/Discover technology is evolving. The performance end of the evolution is DTS-Fi, which has debuted on the 220. The efficiency/economy end of that evolution will be held up by the DTS-Si engine.

Now stay with me. The old DTSi engine was simple. If you looked at the piston from the top down and marked the placement of the intake and exhaust valves and the two spark plugs, you would, more or less, get two lines perpendicular to each other. Think high flow, large bore, two quick burning flames. The DTS-Si offsets the valves and plugs. Instead of the two perpendicular lines, the valves and plugs 'alternate' in the four quadrants that the lines have dissected the circle into. The intake charge, therefore, enters the chamber, bounces off the bore wall and yes, swirls around.

Audi direct injection engine, FSI, uses an evolution of this. They inject the fuel directly into the chamber and the intake valve only lets in air. As the air swirls around the chamber, fuel is injected at the right time. At part loads (which is the majority of the time), the air is 'separated' into two layers. The layer around the spark plug is loaded with fuel and the outer layer is effectively 'dry.' When the plug fires, the outer air insulates the burning mixture reducing heat losses to the cylinder walls and reduces some of the overlap losses that happen from mixture escaping into the exhaust manifold while both the valves overlap.

That's the swirl part. Displacing 125cc, the motor is new from the ground up. Bajaj has made it really light (the 125cc motor is 1.5 kg lighter than the 100cc Platina engine and some 6 kg lighter than the 125cc Discover's) and use a number of ideas to reduce friction too. Think light, slippery motor. The motor's no economy-weenie either. While Bajaj do claim a substantial 9.5 bhp (that's more than all the 100cc bikes it will compete with and above or equal to most 125s as well), it also returns 109 kpl under standard test, which is 1 kpl more than the Platina. And Bajaj claim just over 1 kgm as the peak torque at 5,000 rpm which is impressive, especially when you see how far over the Platina torque curve this is, and how much the difference is.

This is a model of regular single-spark combustion

This is a model of DTS-Si combustion

What's the bike like?
The motorcycle will be called Exceed, although the exact spelling has yet to be announced. Xceed? EkSeed? I don't know. Like the engine, the bike will be sleek and light. Bajaj say that the low-end torque (14 kph is possible in top gear, it is said) makes the rideability stunning and all of those riders who like snicking into top gear early are going to be floored by the torque spread. Oh and this is not the Sonic.

This graph shows the evolution of the market share of 125+150cc segment and whatever's below that. Also, right at the bottom are the growth figures for April to July 2007, all together, 100cc and 125-150cc.
What's this mean to you?
When Bajaj said they wanted out of the 100cc game, they meant that they wanted the 100cc customer to have a more juicy alternative. 2 bhp more, more economy and similar price, in my book is juicy. Remains to be seen how more zing the styling will bring. The Exceed will be all new and probably be launched in September, first week would be my guess.

Bajaj say that while they sell 50,000 units of the Platina every month, the product basically breaks even and adds little or nothing to net revenue. Bajaj currently have nothing in what you call the top of the entry-level or bottom of the executive commuter segment and that's a crucial, crucial hole the Exceed will plug. The motorcycle will cost Bajaj roughly the same as the Platina to make, but will sell for approximately Rs 40,000 ex-showroom, which will mean the 6,500 extra bucks are pure profit and some taxes. Bajaj say that Discover 112 sales are pretty low, so any cannibalisation would be more or less ignored. Any upgrades from the Platina, obviously, will be welcome. The Exceed, if it proves popular and takes up substantial Platina sales, could replace the Platina.

Why is this bike significant?
Once more, Bajaj is taking the competition on by moving the playground. If all the claims come good, then once more, Bajaj will gained a couple of bike lengths by cleverly using technology. Swirl is not a new idea. But using it to produce a motorcycle that is defined by its economy is something no other Indian manufacturer has done. If the Exceed is successful, Bajaj will become less sensitive to the fickle entry level market. When sales cross 30,000 units, Bajaj say that the Exceed will also significantly boost market share. As Bajaj say, they are number two despite leading both the 125 and 150 segments (50 per cent market share across the segments!), and this is bike that they hope will fix the rest of the imbalance.

Related posts

Bajaj DTS-Si: The TVC

This is the advertisement for the DTS-Si engine, that will precede the launch of the [Exceed]. Also see: Press release: Bajaj DTS-Si unveiled

Press release: Bajaj DTS-Si unveiled

As you would have read already, Bajaj launched the DTS-Si engine yesterday. Here is the release. Look for more posts on this...

Bajaj Auto unveils revolutionary DTS-Si engine
  • All new Technology offers 100cc Mileage and 125cc Performance
  • All new engine with ‘swirl induction’ technology
  • Technology that will catalyse upgrade of 100cc customers to superior 125cc bike
Pune, 9thAugust 2007: Bajaj Auto, has achieved another breakthrough with the launch of new ‘Digital Twin Spark - Swirl induction’ (DTS-Si) engine. The new 125cc engine with DTS-Si technology will give an amazing mileage of 109 kilometers per liter under ideal test conditions surpassing the mileage of all current 100cc motorcycles. With this breakthrough there is a huge potential and opportunity to upgrade the 100cc customer with a engine which offers the best of both worlds – 100cc mileage and 125cc performance.

Designed and developed completely by Bajaj Auto R&D, the technology promises to revolutionalise the industry with India’s most fuel-efficient two-wheeler engine. Bajaj Auto presented the patented DTS-Si technology at their Corporate Headquarters in Pune today.

Bajaj had first dramatically improved on existing engine technology in 2003 when it launched the DTS-i (Digital Twin Spark-ignition) engine with two Spark plugs located at opposite ends of the combustion chamber (as compared to a single spark plug in conventional 4-stroke engines) to achieve faster and more efficient combustion. The DTS-i technology offered better performance, improved fuel efficiency with lower emissions and helped establish the Bajaj Pulsar and then the Bajaj Discover as leaders in their respective segments.

The DTS-i Engine can be further engineered to deliver either exceptional performance or exceptional mileage. Bajaj Auto worked on the mother DTS-i technology to design the DTS-Si engine to deliver outstanding mileage. The DTS-Si technology gives the highest possible fuel efficiency by introducing ‘Swirl induction’ to the DTS-i engine to create turbulence in order to achieve extremely efficient combustion.

The DTS-Si engine is far superior to the conventional 4-stroke engines, which dominate the 100cc segment at present. With the new DTS-Si engine the consumer now would not have to compromise between power and mileage - he gets the best of both.

Says Mr. Abraham Joseph, Head of R&D, Bajaj Auto Ltd., “We realized that at light loads on DTS-i, an opportunity existed to improve the combustion even further. When burning lean Air-Fuel mixtures through the two spark plugs, the combustion conditions could be further improved by generating high turbulence in the combustion chamber. Once the solution was arrived at, the design and geometry modifications followed.”

Bajaj enjoys a market share of 47% percent in the growing and profitable 125 cc and 150 cc segments, as against a smaller share of 24% percent in the declining but larger 100 cc segment. Says Mr. Amit Nandi, General Manager (Marketing), “Bajaj will offer customers a value proposition much superior to the currently overpriced and underperforming 100cc products with the launch of an all new bike with the DTS-Si engine next month. 100cc customers will upgrade to this 125cc bike that gives superior mileage and superior power.”

The first product, which will be powered by this engine, would be launched in September 2007.

BAJAJ 125 DTS-Si: ENGINE Specifications

Type: Four stroke Natural Air-cooled
No. of cylinders : One
Bore: 54 mm
Stroke: 54.4 mm
Engine displacement : 124.58 cc
Compression ratio: 9.5+/- 0.5 : 1
Maximum Net Power: 9.53 PS( 7.01 kW) at 7000 rpm
[note: Bajaj converts PS direct to Bhp, so that's 9.53 bhp]
Maximum Net Torque: 10.85 Nm at 5000 rpm
Ignition system: Microprocessor controlled Digital CDI, with TRICS incorporated in Carburettor
Ignition Timing: Variable Timing with Multiple maps
Fuel: Unleaded Petrol, 87 RON minimum
Carburetor: Side draught type,
Ucal – Mikuni VM16 with Auto choke/ Keihin FIE PTE16, with Auto choke
Lubrication: Wet sump, forced
Clutch: Wet, mulit disc type.

DTS-i Engine

DIGITAL TWIN SPARK ignition engine has two Spark plugs located at opposite ends of the combustion chamber and hence fast and efficient combustion is obtained. The benefits of this efficient combustion process can be felt in terms of better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

DTS-i Engine can be further tuned to deliver exhilarating performance or exceptional mileage.

DTS-Si Engine

Like DTS-i (which is the mother technology) the engine has 2 spark plugs, but instead of conventionally positioned straight ports, the offset positioning of the ports generate high swirl and turbulence of the air fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. This results in highly efficient combustion that further results in exceptional mileage.

The DTS-Si engine is a patented technology developed by Bajaj Auto R&D.


In a conventional single spark plug equipped combustion chamber, the rate of combustion is slow. The spark plug situated at one end of the combustion chamber, ignites the air-fuel mixture and the ensuing flame front spreads like a slowly inflating balloon. There is an inevitable delay for this inflating balloon to reach the furthest part of the combustion chamber. Thus, the combustion is slow and inefficient.

Digital Twin Spark ignition (DTS-i system)

The Digital Twin Spark – ignition, equipped combustion chamber takes care of the slow rate of combustion in a simple but novel way. The cylinder head is equipped with two spark plugs, instead of the conventional single spark plug. By generating two sparks at either ends of the combustion chamber, (approximately 90° to the valve axis) the Air-Fuel mixture gets ignited such that, there are 2 flame fronts created and therefore a reduction in flame travel of the order of 40% is achieved. A fast rate of combustion is achieved leading to a fast rate of pressure rise. The obvious outcome of this is more torque, better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Digital Twin Spark – Swirl induction (DTS-Si system)

The Digital Twin Spark - ignition or DTS- i is the mother technology for the latest Digital Twin Spark – Swirl induction or DTS-Si technology.

Thanks to DTS- i, a fast rate of combustion and therefore the resulting fast rate of pressure rise is harnessed, by optimally positioning this pressure, to deliver maximum possible work and hence obtain more torque, better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

When burning lean Air-Fuel mixtures, the two plugs provide rapid combustion, but at light loads, opportunity exists to improve the combustion further.

Combustion efficiency in lean Air-Fuel mixture conditions can be further improved by generating high turbulence in the combustion chamber.

Combustion chambers having low turbulence give rise to propagation of a flame front, which is akin to that of a gradually expanding balloon. This results in a slower rate of combustion and thus slower rate of pressure rise. End result is lower efficiency.

When high turbulence is generated and combustion takes place, the surface of the ballooning flame front fragments itself, with projection like fingers, which increases its surface area, thereby improving combustion further.

The straight ports used in conventional engines have limitations in generating high swirl values due to their geometry. One of the ways to generate more swirl is to have a port configuration that promotes this phenomena. An offset port configuration was arrived upon and optimised to generate the required swirl numbers.

Incorporated in the new engine, this results in a swirling motion of the incoming charge, which decays itself into turbulence as the piston moves in the Induction and Compression strokes. This results in the Air-Fuel mixture being more thoroughly mixed and spread around the combustion chamber. Sparks provided by the twin spark plugs ignite this highly turbulent and compressed Air-Fuel mixture, leading to a flame front with high surface area, resulting in a rapid rise of pressure due to rapid combustion. The values of turbulence achieved now, are substantially higher than that of a straight port cylinder head, such as in Pulsar. A combination of DTS-i and Swirl induction thus provides extremely rapid combustion, resulting in high efficiency.

5 drivers you don't want to deal with

Garbage/MCD truck drivers
It varies from city to city but these are uniformly the worst drivers in Mumbai. Give a two-year-old a salad fork and he is only a hazard to himself. Give a frustrated, underpaid, overworked municipal employee a two-tonne truck and it's a rampage. They are always running at high speed, always cutting off other people and in general avoided on pain of death. No, the stink in the wake isn't the biggest problem with these. In fact, come to think of it, riding in the stink might just be the safest thing you could do as far as these chaps go

BARC Buses
It does sound very specific, but they are really that bad. They drive big grey buses ferrying staff to and from work and the drivers think they are Gods to the man. And drive with god-like speed, intimidation and are really nasty

Less said the better. Their ageing rattletraps don't have much power so they like to keep going, momentum being their best friend. So they won't stop for anyone, swerve instead of braking. Accidents are usually serious, so best avoided where possible. The other kind of auto driver doesn't like speed at all. So they sit on top lane at a princely 25 kph and hope everyone else will miss them... even if by a few inches

I think I've written about them before. Ultra slow when the Sahib's in the back and all budding Alonso's when the boss's gotten off. Fortunately, you can spot them in both states from a mile away

Aggro aunties
There's more than a few about. They drive believing that all male drivers are chauvinists and need a female vigilante. They're the car borne equivalents of er... Judge Dredd. They will honk, punish, and if you're really lucky, they'll even show you a finger now and then, and no motherly index finger wagging either

Red Box, Bandra: Good food... iffy music

A few friends and I went to Red Box on Waterfield Road in Bandra for a bite one night. Just wanted to let you guys know that it's quite nice. We had a Squid Marengo starter (bacon and squid combo) which turned out to be delicious. As did The Wife's Lemon Thyme Chicken and my spare ribs. They serve Indian Bud too. It's a cheery, bright and inevitable noisy place with the oddest music. I couldn't escape the feeling that I was having dinner in a discotheque. Which should give you an idea of the volume and selection being played at the establishment. That said, I plan to return soon and give the menu another going over.

Battle at Kruger from YouTube

Stunning vid I found today. 08:23 long, lions attack a buffalo herd.
Buffalos don't take it lying down. Also starring, an alligator/croc!

Aug 8, 2007

Gaurav Jani: Congratulations!

Gaurav Jani, Riding Solo To the Top Of The WorldIt seems that after a year long delay, the National Film Awards have finally been announced. And Gaurav Jani, who made the superb 'Riding Solo...' has won the top award for non-feature films. Awesome, and congratulations Gaurav!

Related links

Aug 7, 2007

Shwarma: try this one

The Wife and I were heading home when she spotted a doner kebab maker at Hotel Sanman. [I don't know if the phone number in the link is the right one... but it sounds right] Having pulled over after the Shivaji Park petrol pump, I walked back to the man and asked what the damage would be like. He said, 'Fifty bucks. But you wont regret it.' So I ordered and watched in amazement as our man loaded a lavish amount of sizzling chicken into the nicely warm pita bread, with an appropriate slathering of hummus added in. Whoa! When we bit into the shwarma...
best effing one I have had since the ones at Arabian Nights in Priya, Delhi. And those are more fond memory than an actual taste. And it is gigantic too! You gotta try it...

Update: Since this post, the chap at Sanman has evidently been fired. Sigh.

Budweiser in India

Budweiser Indian Pint

The first time I had Bud(weiser) I was at Delhi's TGIF and it sucked. Big Time. It tasted more or less like diluted water and I was left wondering at what Bud Light would be like – as in would I be able to taste it at all? So when a colleague told me that Bud was in India, I was wondering if it had made Anheuser-Busch wiser or not? Well, it has. I've just downed my fifth (I think) pint of Bud in the last four days, and I think I like it. I still don't think it topples my favourites (in order) – Kalyani Black Label, London Pilsner, Royal Challenge and Kingfisher – off their respective pedestals, but it is nice. It has a nice flavour, tastes like beer should and yes, I'm going to be drinking some more soon. Other faves? Corona (minus lime), Heineken (original German import only), Carlsberg, Stella (you can call her by her first name if you know her well enough) and Modelo Negro Especial (strange but true).

No, I haven't had Chillingtons, Guinness and other stalwart brands yet... but there's always tomorrow, right?

Life changing machines

Honda Goldwing Interstate 1981

The bike made it to Texas, and then to Alaska, and then back and forth across the states four times. We saw the California coast, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Canadian Maritimes, the whole spine of the Rocky Mountains...... we rode in awe-inspiring thunderstorms, in mountain snows, in desert heat so fierce it melted the adhesive holding on our boot soles.
Superb, short, crisp post about a life changing motorcycle. See the full post here.

Aug 6, 2007

More OCD: Armour float

Sometimes I don't sit down at the dining table for dinner. Sometimes food tastes better when had in front of the telly while slouching in the lounger. Given my rather diminished (and rapidly diminishing further) hand-mouth coordination, The Wife prefers to spread out a couple of sheets of newspaper on the lounger before allowing me to put down a plate of food on it. Sensible, right? Consider this. How would it be if I went and placed the newspaper on one corner of the lounger and the food at the other, exposed end? Stupid, right? Welcome to the deeply obsessive world of armour float.

At least two of you have recently purchased armoured riding kit. Congratulations. Now to the nitty-gritties. The armour in the shoulder and forearm is supposed to protect you from impact energy and after that help you keep your skin on if the abrasion resistant material of the jacket wears through. But here's the thing. If your jacket is a bit loose, the armour can float. And don't be smug if you jacket is snug (er... sorry). If the tension straps on your forearm are in elastic material, eventually they will grow slack as well.

The problem is that when you do hit the ground, armour float removes the guarantee that the armour will be in its place (that's why the newspaper on the lounger analogy). Also, floating armour, if it moves while being pressed between your weight and the road, will also burn your skin (yes, it happens. You get up, have no external damage to report, and then when you take the jacket off, you have burns on the forearm).

What I do, is preempt this by having my own nylon tension straps made. Essentially simple lengths of nylon that you can hook and loop with velcro on your knee armour and forearm armour. If the shoulder armour doesn't fit, you're in trouble, for it's hard to secure. Remember not to use a metal ring on the nylon straps (metal can distort, bend and puncture skin, while plastic will either grind or shatter away). I've had two crashes with the straps on and the armour hasn't moved one little bit. So I think it works. It's fiddly to put on and take off, I admit, but it works.

Great Escape: The Motorcycle Chase

Blog regular Uday S sent a link to this vid. This is the famous motorcycle chase from the iconic Great Escape featuring the stud-ly Steve McQueen. Yes, just for the record, The Wife hates him ever since I made her sit through Bullitt. Oh well..

Aug 4, 2007

Sentence fiction

I was going fast, crossing another horizon with every frame... and then, in hindsight, I spotted the fatal whiff of sand on that last apex

That's fiction, of course. Inspired by One Sentence which sometimes has some brilliant stuff.

10 things that are making your helmet useless

  1. Neck Brace for motorcyclists by BMWBadly fitted helmets
    Forget the head/ear aches that badly fitting helmets can cause. If your helmet is flopping around on your nogging, it isn't going to be much use in a crash. The snug fit ensures that as little of the impact force as possible is transferred to your head when you hit something solid. A loose lid, then is like, useless.

  2. Hang it on the mirror
    Yes, it's the most casual thing to do at the end of the ride... even, road testers do it. But leaving you helmet perched on your rear view mirror is slowly compressing your impact absorbing layer of polystrene (the thermocol-like stuff) and reducing the impact-absorbing ability of your helmet

  3. Leave it perched on the seat/tank
    Do this often enough, and the helmet will land on the road with that sickening hollow sound that means your helmet just died. Keep wearing it and one day you will too.

  4. Stickers
    Oh yeah, we all want cool stickers on our lids. Even I do. But, stick non-helmet safe stickers on the shell and you're asking for it. Adhesives can react and cause the shell to delaminate destruct shatter explore spoil. Still insist on stickers? Use the rubber strip at the bottom, the plastic of the vents or the sides/top of the faceshield so that your vision is not restricted.

  5. Nolan N102 HelmetLeave it on the helmet lock and ride
    A helmet lock (that black rubbery thing with nuts that break off) is only meant to keep you lid safe when parked. During a ride, the shocks from the road will eventually break the jaw part of your full face helmet clean off. Or at least weaken it. So don't do that.

  6. Carelessly knock it against doors, walls and stuff
    You'd be surprised how easy this is to do. But, remember, a helmet is designed to absorb one giant bash. Many minor bashes erode that ability and one day, when you need it, it won't have that capability.

  7. Time
    Yes, like many other things, helmets age. Father Time shows little respect for the best of things and helmets certainly are not hard wearing. A glossy, well kept helmet will still be useless in five years time (Shoei recommends changing lids after five years). Our Indian ones? Two years, tops.

  8. Shoei X-Eleven Kagayama Blue ReplicaRiding with the straps not tightened and/or fastened
    This is just sheer reckless behaviour. If you were in the army, would you go into battle with your bullet proof jacket stuffed into your backpack? Wearing an unfastened helmet is the same. And wearing a fastened helmet with a very loose strap is also exactly the same thing. If you can pull your chin strap over your chin, it is too loose. And if the helmet comes off when you crash, you're in for a rough ride.

  9. Dirty helmets
    A dirty helmet is just stupid. Cleaning the helmet gives you a chance to examine the state of the lid. Accumulated muck can hide scars, react and render the shell useless and worse, dirty brown is a background colour and hide from an inattentive car driver. All of these are bad things. Don't do this to yourself.

  10. Not wearing it
    This is obvious. But if you have a crash when your helmet is worn around your elbow, mirror, helmet lock or even backwards on top of your head... Goodbye, nice knowing you.
Okay I accept I went slightly overboard with the helmet pics... sorry. And anyone who chooses not to wear one and knows what they're doing... please keep your comments to yourself – I'm not asking you to wear one.

Related links:

Aug 2, 2007

11 things to remember when sending your bike off on a train

  1. Drain it dry
    Well, that's the rule. You can usually sneak engine oil past the railway chaps if you want. Don't sneak fuel though. If it catches fire, or spills out, forget the losses others will bear, you'll lose your bike. Remember to turn the fuel petcock off. And remember to carry an empty, dry bottle with you so you can get fuel once you get out the other side. Don't be silly enough to carry petrol in your luggage. It isn't worth the convenience.

  2. Remove all loose ends and fiddly bits
    This is actually a painfully tedious process, but usually worth the while. All bits that stick out need to be carried separately (or packed securely with the bike in a less vulnerable place) for best results. Remove indicators, mirrors, tail lamp lenses if it sticks out (like Bullets, RXs etc).

  3. Disconnect that battery
    Personally, I like to remove the battery from the electrical system and then unplug the spark plug cap as well. I don't know why I do this, but it seems to make sense. If your battery is totally full to the brim, also consider draining the fluid level in the cells closer to the lower line – reduces chances of overflow or spillage

  4. Remove all papers
    I'm not sure if the railways need you to store a set of papers on the bike, but I don't like the idea of having a full set of papers stored on the bike that someone could get to/use. If needed, keep a dirty, faded old xerox (will pass inspection, but can't be copied). Ensure you have the originals with you. If you've borrowed someone else's bike, keep an original authority letter with you as well. You will need xeroxes of the papers to book the bike though.

  5. Tie up the side stand
    If you're worried about the bike being stood on the side stand and then loaded with stuff on top, take a bit of rope and wind the sidestand up so it takes some time and effort to undo it. Ensure your main stand isn't bent, cracked or broken.

  6. Add a seat cover
    A cheap, ideally padded rexine seatcover (feel free to pick shag carpets styles, polka or leopard dots... indulge your most rustic fantasies) should cover the seat. Anyone carelessly slashing the seat will only damage a cheap cover.

  7. Book early
    Get to the station with plenty of time in hand, and be prepared to grease a few palms to ensure the bike is taken care of. The railway loaders don't give a shit. Until the shit's worth some money to them, that is.

  8. Pack well
    Cover all painted surfaces – they will get scratched. I'm OCD, so I like to apply masking tape, and wrap in hay and gunny sacks or bubble wrap if I am feeling flush with cash.

  9. Theft protection
    While I haven't heard of theft cases in transit, removing the gear lever (one nut), clutch lever (one nut) and the brake lever (one nut) can be a serious deterrent. You will have to reassemble all the bits when you're ready to ride, of course.

  10. Pick the right train
    If it only stops at your destination station for two minutes, chances are you won't get your bike out in time at the destination. It will probably go back and forth and you'll face days of delays. So pay if you have to and book it on a train that stops for a decent time at your destination station.

  11. Pick the right destination
    The safest bet is a train that ends at your destination. They have to clear out the luggage bogey at the end station, so you'll definitely find your bike at the other side. It might be buried under a mountain of mango crates or something even smellier, but it will be there.
And here is a superb write-up about transporting the bike around India