Dec 21, 2007

Ride preferences

'So what kind of motorcycle rides do you like to do?' asked this chap who'd been a blog regular for a while – but I was meeting him for the first time. The question left me a bit stumped. To be honest, I've never really thought about it. I've been on a few long rides, and I thoroughly enjoyed those. Except for the photography, loo, and refreshment breaks, that is.

I absolutely love commuting, no matter what the weather or traffic is like. I've no problem with the urban crawl either. I have fond memories of the time I rode some motocross bikes to destruction (mine, not the bikes'), and while I am still a bit cowed when the prospect of riding hard in the dirt presents itself, I don't really think I'll ever say no to that. So what is my ideal kind of riding, really?

It's a great question to start planning the new year ahead with, no?

I think the chap simply meant, 'Which kind of touring?' As in, 300 km days strung out in a row, Iron Butt Association style 1,000 km or longer riding day – a test of staying power, if you will, or... what other kind is there? I really don't know the answer.

Personally, touring on motorcycles is not about the number counts that go with it. See the fuel gauge drop to quarter tank, refill and keep at it. In the ideal world, when my head would say enough, say 450 km later, a clean, functional hotel would pop right up on the roadside and that, would be that.

Also personally, I think riding in the night on our roads, especially over long distances is sheer madness. At the best of times, we can't ride risk-free in broad daylight. To do this equipped with a pitiful headlight and against merciless truckers and pathetic road conditions is just too much. I wouldn't. So, while I'd love to a 1,000 km day, it won't be in India anytime soon from whatever I can tell. Let us just say, that my risk appetite is much lower than yours.

Not that a 1,000 km day is all that big a deal either. On a big-inch machine, it's not all that much effort given good roads and good planning. Really, there's nothing to it. And that would be true even in our situation. Big engines make a lot of difference. The difference between doing Goa, 650 km away in ten hours in a Maruti Alto, versus in, say, an Optra diesel or something. The former is tiny, buzzy and far, far more stressful. The latter can, at the same performance/speed level, relax, operating at some measly 30 per cent of its ability. On smaller machines, like ours, though, it's a lot of effort. I know there are those among you who have done it. Repeatedly. And I respect you for that. But it's not my flavour of tea, if you get my drift. When the right bike comes along, I shall join your elite club too. But dragging a small motorcycle into a stressful, near-80 per cent of performance potential all the time, 14-hour riding day is not fun after a while.

But the lion's share of my riding, it has to be said, is commuting. And that's a complex thing to be good at. Working out the complicated dynamic equations that are operating around you, selecting the fastest and safest lines from the scores of options, making those kind of 'right' choices on a continuous basis separates the men from the boys. I've had the privilege of 'demonstrations' from a couple of masters and I swear it's like magic. I think I'm pretty good at it, but in a true master's hand, it's voodoo. Seriously. They always look dead slow. And gaps appear in traffic for them. It's almost as if they can get into the heads of ten or more drivers at a time and literally hand-pick them into giving up generous amounts of space for them. Totally in awe.

But again, is there a kind of ride that I do really lean towards? Well yes, the ones which make me smile when I remember them later.

Wish you lots of those in the coming year!

Riding slower: scary stuff!

So we're riding along on the Blaze, when suddenly, I feel The Wife stiffen in her seat slightly. Very unlike her to do something like that. 'My stomach's beginning to hurt. Ditto the back. Avoid bumps, please?'

Sounded simple enough. After confirming that she didn't want to switch to a cab, we rode on.

At first it seemed simple enough. Cut pace by about 30 per cent, raise attention to the road surface 10 per cent, focus on smoother on-off throttle transitions (very easy on variomatics with lots of slack – like the Blaze) and Uncle Bob's a chocolate smoothie.

How wrong was I!

It was horrible. At my usual pace, my concentration is nearly absolute. Nothing will distract me. No numb bum, rudimentary suspension setup, throttle grip that actually rotates around the throttle... nothing gets in the way. Work around the problems, maximise opportunities and safety. Blow'em away and get home in a stonkingly fast time. And The Wife loves this mode of commuting. Hell, just that morning we took one right hand corner allowing the center stand to scrape firmly all the way around, two up. No sweat. She didn't even blink. When I asked her later if she felt and heard it, she said, 'Yeah, so?'

Just fourteen hours later, I was nearly screwed. One overbridge, where the expansion joints are particularly painful, I was down to 6 kph, leftmost lane, indicator going (no hazards available), hand up in warning to traffic buzzing past at at least ten times that speed. I was four-inches from the edge of the road. And I was scared shitless. This kind of speed differential will give me instant diarrhoea. One of the primary reasons I am scared slightly, by the idea of riding electric two-wheelers on big, public roads in their current (ahem) state.

About halfway down the other side, she spoke again. 'You're freaking me out. Speed up please, and never mind the bumps.' I didn't, of course, but it was clear that I wasn't the only one filled with unease. In any case, she's a bit speed-mad. When she rode a moped back in college, she says, she was not the lady-rider-hanging-around type. She couldn't hack riding like that. Not much has changed, then.

Out the other side, worst of the road behind us, I sped up to within 70 per cent of normal pace. But man, it still sucked. One of the safest things you can do in traffic is ride about ten-fifteen per cent faster. I was about that much slower. Getting overtaken sucks. Not for ego reasons, but because it requires you to relinquish control over the situation. To a complete stranger of unknown attitude, taste and skill. I shudder just thinking about that.

When we parked, The Wife was relieved more than anything else. It was over.

On a cool night, I was sweating more or less like I would on one of my harder rides. The amount of concentration and effort it took to maintain an unnatural pace on a familiar road was a huge big surprise. As was the realisation that car drivers won't hesitate to tailgate or cut you off, especially if you're scooter-mounted. Phew! That was a scare.

What I learnt about going slower than normal

  • Avoid it like the plague. It is a huge hazard

  • Head for the lane that offers the least speed differential between you and the rest

  • If that's the left-most lane, ride in the left tyre track of the car ahead. The chap behind should see this tail lamp, and yours. Check the left side mirror often and try, somehow, to not leave enough space for annoyed motorcyclists to squeeze ahead from the left. Force them to use the space on your right. Gives you more control over the situation

  • Aggressive looking motorcyclists who are getting held up will sometimes retaliate, be prepared. If you're the aggressive sort, brake hard when you're cut off. Aggression at that moment will cause an impact. If you hit his rear wheel – he will usually lose most of his gyroscopic stability, you will usually only lose directional control momentarily – he is far more likely to fall than you. Which is gratifying, but you will be singled out later as the cause of the fracas, because you will still be on your bike, rubber side down. That's my theory of it. Haven't tried it. Don't intend to

  • Focus. Everytime you stop, remember to tell yourself to focus, that helps

  • Breathe

  • Use your hands. The slower you go, the more people will accede to your hand gestures rather than a blinking indicator

  • Think about whether an alternate route will allow you to go slower but will not have as much traffic, that might be the solution to all of the above problems

  • Check you mirrors twice as often. Things appear in them at a phenomenal pace when you're slow

Dec 19, 2007

Riding Skull, heh heh

How cool is that! I wish it has interchangeable
lenses for the eyes, though... would love to wear
one of these to an Iron Maiden concert, or something
like that, what say?

Bargain basement: FirstGear "Mesh-Tex 2" Mesh Jacket

FirstGear Mesh-Tex2 Jacket from newenough.comWhoa! newenough is offering the aforementioned jacket for a princely sum of $24. According to our friends at, that's Rs 950. Which, is a fantastic deal. Here's what paul at newenough has to say about the jacket

The Mesh Tex 2 jacket, now a couple seasons old, is finally on final closeout status. We were able to secure a number of men’s size small and medium jackets that you see here. Take advantage of the savings while our inventory remains. We’ve sold hundreds of these jackets over the last five or so seasons and have had terrific feedback. The jacket is ideal for those wanting a comfortable jacket for really hot weather. The mesh material used allows the wind to blow right through, so these jackets will provide a measure of protection without cooking you in the hot summer weather. The windproof lining will extend the comfort range of a garment like this making it useful all day—even when morning temps are cool. You can start your morning ride using the liner to provide a wind break, then when the temps warm up, remove the lining and pack it away for the afternoon. Many folks have commented that they like the tighter weave of the fabric used in this design (as opposed to the looser weave found in other styles), since it has a bit more of a tailored look.
There is a catch. Newenough, for some unexplained reason, will no longer ship to any address except your credit card billing address. Which is just stupid. And painful. But that's how it is. Which means you aunt cannot come back with this jacket, unless she orders it in the first place. If that works for you, you can get this jacket in your hands for less than $50. Which is a stunning deal. No aunts with credit cards? Shipping to India will cost you, let's see, $42, which means roughly $67 on your step. Which is still great value. Hurry, this is a end of the line kind of sale, and only medium and small jackets in some colours are left.

Oh and also check out the Oxtar boot section. Since the rebranding (now TCX) , the boots are on a phenomenal sale too. Just remember, that when they ship them to India, the invoice must clear say 'Motorcycle Sport Boot' or else the customs guys will say Mining Boot and slap a hefty duty on it.

Dec 17, 2007

RiderMania 2008: Royal Enfield announces dates

RiderMania 2008 logo, Royal Enfield MotorcyclesRoyal Enfield announces dates and venue for the 2008 edition of RiderMania!

Fuel up for Royal Enfield Rider Mania 08 (January 18th, 19th)

Its that time of the year again when Royal Enfield bikes and bikers will thump towards a new destination. This time the destination is Hyderabad. The city where distinct cultural and linguistic traditions of north and south India meet. Its the time to reunite with old friends, meet new ones, share stories, rev up your machines and keep the passion alive.

Hosted by the Wanderers MC based at Hyderabad, the Rider Mania 2008 promises a weekend to remember with over 500 Royal Enfield riders. Where you feel the brotherhood and the hottest number is a Royal Enfield. Highlights include beer guzzling, arm wrestling, bike events and lots more! You will also get a chance to show-off your custom-designed bikes. Or you can simply sit around a bonfire and swap biker stories with kindred souls.

So head out to Ramoji Film City on your invitation card (Royal Enfield Bike). Only one person or couple per bike. Register in advance to avoid disappointment. For more details log on to, contact sachin or get in touch with your nearest Royal Enfield dealer.

Royal Enfield encourages all riders to wear helmets and protective gear while riding
Related links

Dec 15, 2007

Lights out!: Mumbai Unplug

My lights will be off today, from 1930 to 2030 hours. And yours? Here's a message from the same sort of thing that Sydney did (see the video below). And click the pic to go to the Mumbai Unplug website.

There are those among my friends who believe that doing this once has no real long term impacts, and that they are anyway extremely careful about power usage. Well, me too. I use as little electricity as possible, but I think switching off lights for an hour, without stopping to consider the magnitude of the benefits is extremely doable.

In fact, I would like to urge even non-mumbaikars to participate. It's about global warming, right?

Here's the release that the Batti Bandh guys have put up at the website
Batti Bandh bares all

Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh outlined the Batti Bandh 2007 POA in a press conference with the Mayor, WWF and Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh founders

"Mumbai city uses an average of 550 megawatts of electricity on a Saturday between 7:30pm-8:30pm. Let's see how much electricity we consume on December 15 between 7:30-8:30pm," said Dr Shubha Raul, the Mayor of Mumbai. With that innocuous statement, Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh kicked off the last leg of its Batti Bandh 2007 campaign.

The press conference held at Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh had the Mayor, the four Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh founders (Keith Menon, Neil Quraishy, Shiladitya Chakraborty and Rustom Warden; seated r-l) and Moses Pereira, director, Communications, WWF, outlining the reasons for the movement and the intended plan of action for Batti Bandh 2007 that urges all Mumbaikars to switch off all electrical appliances between 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm on Saturday, December 15.

"It's a complete voluntary citizens' initiative. No streetlights will be switched off and all essential transport services will be on. We don't want to inconvenience the citizens, we just want them to be aware about the serious issue of global warming," says Keith Menon.

The movement has received a lot of support from corporates, citizens and media alike. They've already had four successful events which focused on citizen engagement towards awareness. However the December 15 event is what the group of four, along with many volunteers, has been striving for.

So far, the Marine Drive landmark, The Hilton Towers, has promised to switch off its façade lights on December 15. Essar is accommodating Batti Bandh on their Founders' Day conference which happens to be on December 15 too. As a part of their event, they will be switching off lights from 8:30pm-9:30 pm. Bank of Rajasthan will unplug all branches across India for Batti Bandh. Restaurants along Colaba causeway like Café Mondegar, Hard Rock Café and Shiro at Lower Parel have also pledged to "switch off". Perfetti India and Mentos have created an ad campaign centered around Batti Bandh. Dr Raul also expressed delight at the idea of having a community hour that Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh has proposed. "Earlier during power cuts, we had had children coming down their buildings and having a good time," she said. Keeping its date with the past, Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh has lined up several events all over the city. There will be music bands playing at Carter Road, Marine Drive and Bandstand. At Kalamboli, Panvel and Navi Mumbai Dhol players along with 50-100 rickshawwallas will hold a peace rally. Bombay Catholic Sabha is holding another peace rally from Sahar to the Airport in Andheri. Residents of Raheja Hillside building in Powai are planning an antakshri competition during the Batti Bandh hour. "You don't have to wonder about what to do in the absence of electricity. Have a community hour," says Neil Quraishy.

Modelled on the Sydeny Earth Hour 60 held in March 2007 (that had 2.2 million citizens of the city switch off lights), Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh is an initiative taken in order to educate the masses and make them aware of their contribution to the deteriorating environmental conditions of not only Mumbai but India and the world. "Unlike Earth Hour 60, which was initiated by organisations like Leo Burnett and WWF, Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh is a citizens' initiative," said Keith.

WWF has also supported the Mumbai Unplug / Batti Bandh initiative. "We encourage young citizens to come forward with such ideas and support its implementation," said Moses Pereira of WWF. For more information and updates on other performances happening across the city on December 15, v isit
Take a stand. Unplug.

For more information, contact:
Keith Menon
Phone: +91-9819769933
Rustom Warden
Phone: +91-9820806355
Neil Quraishy
Phone: +91-9820353067
Shiladitya Chakraborty
Phone: +91-9833229449
Email: info [at] mumbaiunplug [dot]com
SMS Unplug to 56363

Scorpions Humanity Tour: Sting in the tale

Mumbai Scorpions Show, Humanity Tour Ticket ScanWe'll never be(at) Bangalore at this. Went to the Scorpions show last night. Thoroughly enjoyed the music, despite knowing nothing more than the handful of ultra-famous hits. Never even know that Humanity: Hour 1 was out in Jan 2007. You know, the hits I mean, Still Loving You, Rock You Like a Hurricane and so forth. Absolutely gobsmacked by the sheer energy the band shows on the stage. And the drummer, James Kottak , is just superb! What a character.

It was very sweet of the organiser/sponsor to allow the Rs 1,000 guys come into the Rs 1,500 section soon after the show began... no point holding them back, since the back of the front-end was empty anyway.

And yes, as usual, saw some lovely snapshots.

  • An old couple, grey hair and all, passionately singing along. They knew every single lyric. I think they even knew the extempore bits

  • A mid-40s exec type with a bald pate and tie, air-guitaring endlessly, recklessly through all of the guitar solos with a blissful smile on this face, eyes screwed shut behind frameless glasses

  • A young teen with long hair headbanging with the violent grace of a typhoon. Letting loose ear-splitting whistles between songs and for someone so young, obviously in love with the Scorpions and thrilled at hearing them live

  • The faint smell of grass mingled with regular tobacco...

  • A sea of camera-phones, from Rs 2000 entry-level phones to giant Blackberrys clicking away

  • Another sea of cellphones, screens ablaze waving in place of the lighters, matchsticks and candles of yore

  • The thrill of feeling the bass-end of a drum solo ruffling the fabric of your clothes and physically thumping your very being

  • No rock mamas, at least not obnoxious ones

  • Tens of cellphones held up, allowing many fans to vicariously listen in to the concert

  • Rasta hat and Doors Tee at a Scorpions show?

  • The bass guitar riffs played by Pawel Mąciwoda of Metallica numbers sounded ominous and great!
And just a word about Spaz & Brad (can't find any links... anyone know some? Post a comment, please), two young Bandra Boys with acoustic guitars who opened the show and absolutely rocked. When they walked on to the stage, I was sure they were going to get boo-ed of the stage. No such thing! They were damn, damn good. Good enough for me to keep an eye out for their next performance. Rock on dudes!

And another word about the two utterly superfluous Channel [V] 'personalities' who appeared to be playing the roles of comperes. Irritating. Useless. Got boo-ed off the stage repeatedly. And bad, well-used, rotten, humourless jokes too. Typical.

Do have a couple of bones to pick also, of course. The Scorpions show is a bit short. The band only started playing at 2020 hours, 20 minutes behind schedule, and we literally twiddled our thumbs for, like, forty minutes between Spaz/Brad and the big show. And by 2210, even the encores were done. Too short, I thought. Then again, the most expensive ticket was half the price of the Roger Waters show.

The sound wasn't all that great either. The first two singles you couldn't hear the vocals, which some sound guy fixed later on. But even afterwards, the speakers weren't fully clear. If you were at Roger Waters and heard the sound there, you'd instantly know the difference. If that one was a 9.5 on 10, Scorpions show sound would barely make a 7.

All in all, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable evening. Thanks to all the sponsors and organisers who made it possible. I want more. Between The Wife and I, we'd love to hear (in no particular order, and no reference to bands that aren't together anymore either), Guns N'Roses, Bon Jovi, Coldplay, Stereophonics, Robbie Williams, Santana, Metallica (ideally with the SF Symphony Orchestra), Sting... oh crap, that's an endless list, isn't it?

Related links

Dec 11, 2007

One year ago: Motorcycle deaths...

But the minority, and these chaps invariably make the news, are just youngsters out to have some fun. Fun being 'lane-cutting,' 'Dhoom 2 stunting,' and so forth. Between the motorcycle illiterate journalists who report these sad and depressing events and the reckless and unfortunate victims of the accident itself, it is we, the serious Indian motorcyclists who are being maligned. Which parent in their right minds, would read these reports and then let their precious 18-year old out on a bike? I would, but I'm nuts. Read more...
Holy cow! Nothing has changed at all! Just yesterday I saw a TV program claiming that the MT-01 had a titanium frame, 167 bhp, by-wire throttle... followed shortly by an extensive segment on stunting on the street. And after gratuitous shots of wheelies and burnouts and short 2-second admonition saying don't do this on your new R1.

Motorcycle Helmets: The Indian Standard: IS4151

I just went out and purchased the Indian Helmet Standard (IS 4151) for Rs 260 from the sales counter at the BIS office in Andheri (East). And I read it twice and here is a summay of what it says.

So, what does the Indian helmet standard say, then?
It begins with a definition of what a helmet is. And it is more or less in agreement with this post. It also defines some inherent performance standards for these components. To give a quick, more or less complete list. The shell may not be metallic. The protective padding is defined as being of expanded polystyrene or any material of similar properties. I read one study that used PU foam for some helmet crash sims and then found that EPS did a far superior job. The retention system definition, surprisingly, has no mention of there being an adjustability requirement. All metal parts are required to be inherently non-corrosive. The chin bar is always referred to (and not just in IS 4151) as the lower face cover and at no point, will it be tested for protective ability or strength.

Measurement references
Now to some detail. But before that you need to grasp these um, planes which are used for measurement references. First, the basic plane. This is a horizontal surface that will pass through your ears and the lower edge of the eye sockets. The reference plane is another imaginary horizontal surface that runs parallel to, and above, the basic one at a given distance. This distance (always in mm) is a function of the size of your head. The bigger your head is, the farther the reference plane is from the basic plane. And finally, there is the vertical axis, a line perpendicular to the basic and ref planes that is exactly in the center of the head, that means equally distant from front, rear, left and right of the head.

Shell design/construction
The shell shape is predefined. To roughly put it, the shell must cover your head from just above the eyebrows. The horizontal lower edge will move downwards at an angle to cover your ears. After the ears, the shell can, in theory, curve back up and needs to cover the back of your head only up to the reference plane and not any further below. The shape is defined as convex and smooth, without any proturbances more than 5mm above the surface. Any rivets and stuff have to have rounded heads and stick out 2mm or less.

There is a further requirement, which I do not fully comprehend, but assume is about the ability to turn your head without restriction that says a 100 mm diameter cylinder placed perpendicular to your neck (think can of coke held to the nape of your neck so that the aluminium coloured top (or bottom) touches your neck) should not touch any part of the shell. There are some minimal requirements given for ventilation and detailed regs for visibility. The upward visibility is supposed to be uninterrupted at an upward angle of 7 degrees from the ref plane while the downward visibility is 45 degrees downward from the basic plane. The side to side visibility has two requirements. If a plane ran through the vertical axis so that it touched the front and rear of the head and divided the head symmetrically in half, the angle of visibility is 105 degrees on each side from both the ref and basic planes (which is where the angle measurement is taken).

The protective padding is again supposed to cover the same minimum area as the shell. There is only one proviso, the padding should not impair the hearing beyond a defined standard. I will get the visor standards soon (IS 9974) so hold on for that.

Finally, the chin strap is required to be a 2 cm wide, skin-friendly, pretty strong piece of work. The fastening mechanism also has corrosion and load bearing requirements. Further, there should be no way the mechanism can open unless a deliberate action is made.

Pre-test helmet conditioning
Before the actual crash performance testing happens, the helmets are exposed four situations. The first is called solvent conditioning. Where strips of cloth soaked in 70 per cent octane and 20 percent toluene are applied to the helmet. Regions 50 mm from the chin strap mountings are wet for 7.5 seconds (±2.5 seconds), while the rest of the shell gets the same treatment for 12.5 (±2.5 seconds). The helmet is then sat for half hour. When that time is up, the tests must be conducted within five minutes.

A second helmet receives what is called ambient conditioning. That's 25 degrees C (±5) and 65 per cent relative humidity (±5 percent) for four hours minimum.

The third lid is heated to 50 degrees C (±2) for 4-6 hours

The fourth lid is sat in -20 degrees C (±2) for 4-6 hours

And a fifth is first exposed to UV rays from a xenon-filled quartz lamp,125w for 48 hours at a range of 25mm followed by 4-6 hours being sprayed with water at 1 litre per minute

Crash performance instrumentation
Now, the all important crash requirement. The measurement of acceleration is made by tri-directional accelerometer mounted near the center of gravity of the headform (that's the dummy head that's put inside the helmet (yes, there is an IS document for that too). During the crash tests, the recorded acceleration may not exceed 300g at any time. 150g levels are allowed for a maximum sustained interval of 5 milliseconds. The curve, usually a bell-curve that slopes steeply up and then comes down a little more gently with a few small spikes, the entire action sequence taking about 20 milli seconds.

The tests are done on this schedule. All four lids are subjected to the impact tests (that's four impacts on four lids). The worst performance lid is then used for the penetration resistance test. So, if the highest peak gs were recorded in the cold lid, say, a new lid is frozen over and then tested for penetration resistance. Two ambient lids are also tested for rigidity, and finally one ambient lid is used to check the strength and efficacy of the retention system.

The sound tests require that no more than 10dB is lost over 250 to 2000 Hz.

The mounted visor's fully open angle is also required to meet a standard. At the fully open position, a line passing through the top and bottom edges of the visor (through the center of the visor) should make a 5 degree included angle to a horizontal plane that sits tangential to the top of the lid.

If the lid has peak, there's a test for that too

The final requirement is a printed document that comes with a lid that informs the junta that the helmet must fit closely and that the chin strap should be fastened snug against the jaw. And that the helmet is designed to absorb one impact, and one impact only. After said impact, you need to get a new one. And finally, for greatest crash performance, you should not alter the lid. While no details are given, Shoei et al, say no re-painting, no holes drilled in the shell.

Finally, there is no weight requirement in the Indian standard and the manufacturer only needs to display the shell's weight to the nearest 20 grams.

So, to the tests, then

Impact absorption testing
The format is pretty simple. The helmet is mounted on a headform and dropped on to a immovable surface (called anvil, officially). The fall is solely under gravitational force, but is guided so that a pre-selected impact point makes first contact. The headform, as you know, has the accelerometer inside that does the measuring.

The impact points are called B, X and P. Each is actually a set of two points. B is on the crown on the helmet, usually where the logo of the manufacturer is. There will be two impacts here, the points separated by 15mm (±5). P is as the rear of the helmet where the basic plane would meet the rear of the shell. Same 15 mm (±5) req exists. X is on the side of the helmet. Enigmatically described as 45 degrees rearwards and upwards. On the diagram, it appears to be about 12-13 mm below the reference plane, on the plane that would bisect the helmet front to rear into half exactly.

Two kinds of anvils are employed. The flat anvil offer the helmet the opportunity to spread the impact better and is usually the anvil that is used for the first impact. In real life though, the thing is a cylinder with the impact face defined as having a 130 mm (±3) diameter. The other is the hemispherical or rounded anvil, which concentrates the impact and makes the lids job tougher. This thing supposed to have a rounded face of 50 mm (±2) diameter.

The height through which the helmet drops is defined by the impact velocity. The flat anvil speed is 7 m/s, roughly 25 kph. The rounded one goes even slower, 18 kph. Remember this the speed of your head (inside the helmet) hitting the ground, not the motorcycle's crash speed.

The sequence of tests of also defined.

First the ambient lid is tested at points B (crown set). The helmet is first smashed up on the flat anvil and then on the rounded one at the second B point. Repeat for points X. Then any one of the conditioned lids is tested (flat followed by anvil) for performance at P, more or less the only time the rear of the lid is tested under the Indian standard. The other lids, then, are subjected to the same impact test at B and X in sequence (hot, cold and then UV/water).

Penetration resistance test
From the data recorded in the previous test, the worst performance is noted and a lid is conditioned to that situation and used for penetration resistance. Okay, the standard is a bit vague on how the selection of the impact point is to be made, but one has to assume that the impact takes place at B, X or P wherever the highest gs were recorded, but that's just my guess. The helmeted headform is mounted in the test rig so that the test point is horizontal. A metal punch (300 gm, 0.5 mm radius at point, 60 degree cone, 45-50 hardness on Rockwell scale) is placed 45 mm above, vertically, the impact point. A drop hammer (think heavy cylinder, 3 kg) is dropped from 1 metre on the cone. Two tests are made, 75 mm from each other and from any previous impact test location. The cone should not come more than 5mm closer to the headform at any time, measured vertically.

Rigidity testing
For the rigidity test, the helmet is mounted between two vertical plates and basically squeezed. The initial load is 30 N. Then, it is jacked up by 100 N every two minutes until you reach 630 N. The 630N is held for 2 min, and then the distance between the two plates is measured and compared to the initial distance. Then the load is backed down to 30N again for five minutes and the distance is measured again. This is done on the sides of the helmet as well as front-rear. The diff in measurements should be less than 40 mm at full force (630 N) and 15 mm after the force is backed down to 30N again.

Retention system strength check
The retention system is checked by mounting the helmeted headform (chinstrap fastened and tightened; though there is no requirement that the chin strap actually be adjustable) vertically, suspended from the shell. The headform is preloaded to weigh 15 (±0.5) kg. A 10 kg mass is attached to headform and allowed to fall 750 mm. The point at which is the force is applied should not move more than 35 mm. After two minutes, the preloaded point of force application (yeah, I don't know what they mean either) should not have moved more than 25 mm. Actual damage to the retention system is considered acceptable if the helmet can be taken off easily (foreign standards elaborate on this saying that a paramedical staffer with basic tools should be able to get the lid off - cut the strap is the meaning).

Sound attenuation test
The sound test is done with a meter mounted inside a helmeted headform at the left or the right ear location. The location should be uninterrupted for 12 m radius without any acoustic materials, as in open ground. A horn is sounded (90-115 dB, ambient sound should be 10 dB or less) 2 metres from the helmet, mounted rigidly 1.2 m off the ground on a stand. The sound level is measured at the sound meter location with and without the helmet covering it. 10 dB loss or less is acceptable.

Helmet peak test
The peak of the helmet is tested by putting it in the rigidity test setup with a load of 120 N to hold in place. By means of a small hook and light strong thread, 115 kg is suspended from the peak. But not directly. The thread runs perpendicular to the attachment peak (horizontally) over the pulley and then comes the suspended weight. A 1 kg mass is added gently and left for 2 min. Then the vertical displacement of the 115 kg mass is measured. The peak should not break or detach. And the mass movement should be between 6 and 32 mm.

Is it a good standard then?
Actually, yes. Adopted in 1993, the IS 4151 was based closely on the ECE 22.03 (sorry unable to find a link to the document), which is the 2003 European standard. Since then, the ECE 22.05 came out in 2005, which is probably the toughest helmet standard in the world today. And which I will detail in another, equally tedious post. The 22.05 regulation has been adopted across Europe and from whatever I can tell in places as far and wide as Japan and New Zealand (correct me if I am wrong, please). As you can guess, the ECE 22.05 is pretty comprehensive, and leaves the Indian standard far behind. But I must say that I was more than impressed by the Indian standard and was not actually expecting it to be this, um, current.

On the other hand, enforcement and compliance are another issue altogether. Let me work on that and I am working towards returning with a post on how easy/difficult it is to get approval and details of the process. So, if you're still awake after this massive post (2374 words at this point), watch out for that.

Related links in this series:

Other links on helmets

Dec 8, 2007

We're noobs 2: Urban Freestyle Trials

Holy cow! Just check this video out! Heads-up from here

Related link

Dec 7, 2007

Motorcycle Riding Kit shops in Singapore or Malaysia

This is from a BikeNomads (site | yahoogroup) thread (I don't have permission to reproduce this... BN moderators please email if you want me take this off... sorry!). I thought this information might be useful. In response to a query about places to purchase riding kit in Singapore and Malaysia, BNer Srikeerthi KS said:

In Singapore
This place (wikimapia link below) has a good collection of riding gear. Have purchased from there a couple of times. There are a few other shops in the vicinity too. This is very near to Sim Lim Square (Rochor Canal Road). I forgot the name of the shop. Don't forget to
bargain and in case you tell him you are taking it out of Singapore you can get off with the GST (he doesnt add it).

In Malaysia
This place (wikimapia link below) has a decent place to buy
in KL. Ask for the rear entrance of the complex as going from the front entrance to the rear would be confusing (its like a maze inside this Pertamas complex). This is near to Masjid India area which anyone in KL would know about (even saying Pertamas/Sogo complex is enough to a taxi driver). Once you enter from the rear you have few shops on the left and the right side. There are a few shops on the first floor above it also which produce riding gear (custom/leathers)

Dec 5, 2007

We want big bikes, but not thaat big...

Yamaha 2008 YZF-R1What the hell do you guys want? One minute we're crying about only having piddly, silly, econo-effing-mising appliances masquerading as motorcycles, the next minute we're lamenting the fact that the latest and the greatest – now available – isn't really what we were whining about in the first place. That we're modest people, of modest means and that we've no greatness except for the realisation that we are, in fact, modest. So all we're asking is some modest middle-of-the-road 600cc single or twin; who said anything about a 1000cc inline four? Goddammit!

I was so deliriously happy last night, I went out got a beer, chilled it properly and savoured it slowly while dreaming about a million things. Things like the next increment and how much closer it would bring me to my dream bike. Things like the fact that I'm ecstatic for the five riding buddies of mine who're going to be able to afford the R1 (with or without finance) and are going to get to ride perfectly legal, up-to-the-minute machinery. Five people who's dreams have come good yesterday. Things like the realisation that 10.5 lakhs may sound like a lot, but it does mean that Yamaha can bring the R1 into India for as little as Rs 5 lakh. So as and when the government reduces the hefty duties it levies, the R1 can become more and more affordable. One day, the gently rising curve of my income will inevitably cross the gently falling curve of the R1... and what a delicious little wait that will turn out to be. Things like the fact that the new R1s will grow old. And when they do, their fast-moving fad-conscious owners (there will be those kind of owners too, it goes without saying) will move on, vacating the still-new saddles for people like me. Things like the fact that the R1, and its surprising sales (wanna bet?) will lure Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and KTMs and they will come running in as well. That within a year or two, the CBU operation will be lucrative and a steady revenue stream will subsidise, support and complement the volume game. Then, my dream garage will take a step closer to reality. Then, I might seriously think about a KTM SuperDuke or 990SM for a second motorcycle.

Yesterday, December 4, 2007, the Indian market crossed a milestone. A milestone similar to the one the RD350 represented. Face it. Since the RD350, we (those who've been intimate with the beast)'ve scoffed at every other machine – too tame, too slow, not sexy enough, haven't we? Same's true of the R1. The RD350 was a big step up in power. This one, by comparison, is absolutely huge. If the RD350 was a four-storey building set in a hutment cluster, the R1 is a 50-storey tall condo full of penthouses. Yes, I know, you just want the spacious 1 bedroom-hall-kitchen on the second floor.

Okay look, let me calm down a bit and put it in a more um, calm perspective.

First of all, this is for those who think they can't (and will never be able to) afford it. Oh come on, its Rs 10.5 lakh not Rs 6 crore. That's Honda Civic, not Ferrari F430 money. Are you convinced that your economic worth to your employer will not even equal one measly Honda Civic. Ever? Is that even realistic? And besides, its one of the absolute best sportsbikes in existence. It's never gonna be cheap. Could you reasonably demand a Lamborghini for Civic money?

Second, we all figure out what our priorities really are in time. And far be it from me to judge you. But if your priority isn't owning a big bike, that's fine and let's leave it at that. No further discussion, then, is needed at all.

Third, do you really think a 400cc single is all you need? How would you know – have you ridden one? Okay maybe you have. When I bought the only four-cylinder motorcycle I've owned, I was in awe. It was huge, fast, capable and frankly, a bit scary. For two whole days I pussy-footed around with it thinking, who the eff needs more power than this. On the third day, I 'acclimatised' and rode it normally. The way I would ride any other Indian machine in the given situation. That evening, it was clear that the bike was going to last less than six months in my garage. In three days, I had begun to outgrown that machine. In six months, I enjoyed riding it, but it was no longer a challenge. A 400cc single? You'll outgrow it in a year. I will almost guarantee that.

You still want a 400cc single? That's easy, you'll probably get one or two before the next year is out. You want an enjoyable 600cc twin? Give it a year more than the 400cc single. They're coming – they have to. But to write mean little things about the one manufacturer who's actually offering you the option of buying their fastest, flagship motorcycle? And to be clear, it does not matter why Yamaha has chosen to bring the bikes in as long as they do it as seriously as they would handle a normal Indian product launch – with service, warranty and spares. The rest doesn't matter. As of yesterday, as soon as I can scrape together the money I can live my dream. Instantly. That's a huge, big deal. As of yesterday, anyone with a dream and a pocket deep enough to finance it no longer has to resort to a quasi-legal import, or wait desperately hoping for someone to open a window and let some light in.

Fourth, where will you ride a 1000cc, 180 bhp rocket in our roads? By that logic, half the cars sold in India are wildly over-speced. And they're flying out the showrooms at a pace that defies all logic. It's a motorcycle, not a screwdriver. A screwdriver is pretty pointless if you don't have screws, or have the wrong kind (I strictly mean the metal ones). But the bike, almost any bike, is more than a tool. It doesn't have to run at peak power all the time, you know. The throttle goes both ways, as they say. A motorcycle is more than the sum of its parts. Its something you fall in love with. And love does not require the engine to be running at peak rpm, or the speedo to be showing the top speed figure. Love is a little bit irrational.

You're writing off a whole stack of motorcycles, each of which are acknowledged as the best motorcycles EVER. Without even riding them. Is that even fair to yourself? Besides, who said we don't have roads. We don't have roads everywhere all the time, that I will agree with. But none whatsoever? Have you looked hard enough? What about tomorrow? Like we said about the bikes some time ago, the roads are coming too. As are the racetracks.

Fifth, assuming that Yamaha, for instance, listens to you dudes, and stops selling these ludicrously over-priced motorcycles in India. You return, instantly, to the same dark ages you have been complaining about. I refuse to believe that is what you want. You've been hankering for progress, someone stands up and says here's a hundred years' worth. You're going to say no thanks, you wanted only three years of it?

Sixth, ... I could go on and on... but I just needed to get these thoughts off my chest.

Clip not the wings of your dreams today, because you fear for their survival tomorrow. For tomorrow may never come.

No offence is intended towards any particular persons. Apologies to all who got offended.

Related links:

Dec 4, 2007

Yamaha R1 and MT-01: The official word

2008 Yamaha R1 in India with Yamaha CEO tomotaka IshikawaThe release does not say much, but then again, today is a landmark in our motorcycle history. So whether they say it or not, I'm drinking beer today. Cheers mates! Oh and more details are here

Yamaha hits the top gear in India Showcases ‘Art of Engineering’ through its world class flagship models YZF - R1 and MT01

New Delhi, December 4, 2007: Yamaha Motor India Pvt. Ltd. (YMI), a 100% subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Company Japan, one of world’s leading bike manufacturers, has rolled out two of its flagship models, the Super Sports YZF - R1 and the Torque Sports MT01 in the Indian market. With the ride of these two legendary machines into the country, the Japanese bike major is all set to provide Indian riders a chance to experience true ‘Art of Engineering’, which lies at the heart of Yamaha’s creations. Yamaha’s latest offerings combine technological superiority with artistic brilliance, to bring to life motorcycles that not only excite but astound.

2008 Yamaha R1 in India with Yamaha CEO tomotaka IshikawaYMI is the first two wheeler company to introduce this genre of super sports and torque sports performance bike in India. YZF - R1 and MT01 have gained immense popularity globally and have been instrumental in successfully demonstrating the technology superiority of Yamaha worldwide. The introduction of these machines, illustrates company’s aim of enriching Indian bikers riding experience and elevating the current biking paradigm.

“The rising number of big bikes enthusiasts coupled with increasing income levels makes India one of the most important markets for Yamaha”, says Tomotaka Ishikawa, CEO & MD, Yamaha Motor India. He adds, “With YZF - R1 and MT01, we aim to enrich Indian biker’s riding experience by adding a lifestyle quotient that would establish Yamaha’s credential as a technology superior and cool brand. The company is committed to provide international quality and lifestyle attributes of Yamaha brand to Indian consumers.

Signifying the launch of YZF - R1 and MT01 models as the first step towards the establishment of Global Yamaha image in India, Mr. Ishikawa further added that “the company is all geared to the challenge, to rebuild Yamaha brand in India and with the launch of YZF - R1 and MT01, Yamaha unleashes its strategic intent to offer superior product in India in times to comes, which would appeal to the Indian motorcycling trends.

The company is looking at refining the motorcycling culture in India by bringing in technologically advanced and visually appealing machines. Yamaha believes that building motorcycles is both a technological and an artistic endeavor. It pursues a level of performance that transcends mere specifications. The goal is to produce technologically superior motorcycles that should have a deep and intangible emotional appeal. Creating such machines is the essence of Yamaha-ism. It is what defines the company and this is what we call the “Art of Engineering"

About Yamaha Motor India Private Limited:

Yamaha made its initial foray into India in 1985. Subsequently in 1996, it entered into a 50:50 joint venture with the Escorts Group. However, in August 2001, Yamaha acquired its remaining stake as well, bringing the Indian operations under its complete control as a 100% subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, Japan.

Yamaha Motor India operates from its state-of-the-art-manufacturing units at Faridabad in Haryana and Surajpur in Uttar Pradesh and produces motorcycles both for domestic and export markets. With a strong workforce of 2000 employees, Yamaha Motor India is highly customer-driven and has a countrywide network of over 400 dealers.

The company pioneered the volume bike segment with the launch of its 100 cc 2-stroke motorcycle RX 100. Since then, it has introduced an entire range of 2-stroke and 4-stroke bikes in India. Presently, its product portfolio includes Crux, Alba, G5 and Gladiator.


Model name YZF-R1

Overall length 2060mm
Overall width 720mm
Overall height 1110mm
Seat height 835mm
Wheelbase 1415mm
Minimum ground clearance 135mm
Dry(without oil and fuel) 177kg

Maximum speed (crouched) 285km/h
Minimum turning radius 3.4m

Engine Performance
Engine type Liquid cooled 4-stroke DOHC4-valve
Cylinder arrangement Forward-inclined parallel 4-cylinder
Displacement 998cm3
Bore & stroke 77.0 X 53.6mm
Compression ratio 12.7 : 1
Maximum horse power 177.5 bhp @ 12,500 rpm
Maximum torque 112.7 Nm @ 10,000 rpm
Starting system type Electric starter
Lubrication system Wet sump
Radiator capacity(including all routes) 2.51L
Engine oil capacity 3.83L

Air filter type Paper
Fuel tank capacity 18L

Ignition system type T.C.I.
Spark plug model CR9EK
Battery voltage/capacity 12V, 8.6AH(10H)

Primary reduction ratio 65/43 1.512
Secondary reduction system Chain drive
Secondary reduction ratio 45/17 2.647
Clutch type Wet,multiple-disc coil spring

Gear ratio
Transmission type Constant mesh 6-speed
Gear ratio-1st gear 38/15 2.533
Gear ratio-2nd gear 33/16 2.063
Gear ratio-3rd gear 37/21 1.762
Gear ratio-4th gear 35/23 1.522
Gear ratio-5th gear 30/22 1.364
Gear ratio-6th gear 33/26 1.269

Frame type Diamond
Tire size(Front) 120/70ZR17MC(58W)
Tire size(Rear) 190/50ZR17MC(73W)

Disc effective diameter(Front) 283mm
Disc effective diameter(Rear) 186mm

Suspension type(Front) Telescopic fork
Suspension type(Rear) Swingarm

Shock absorber
Shock absorber assembly type(Front) Coil spring/oil damper
Shock absorber assembly type(Rear) Coil spring/gas-oil damper
Wheel travel(Front) 120mm
Wheel travel(Rear) 130mm

Bulbs(voltage/wattagex quantity)
Headlight bulb type Halogen bulb
Headlight 12V, 55W ×4
Auxiliary light 12V, W5W ×2
Brake/tail light LED, 12V 2.3W/0.2W
Turn signal light(Front) 12V, R10W ×2
Turn signal light(Rear) 12V, R10W ×2

Speedometer LCD Digital
Tachometer Analog
Odometer LCD Digital
Trip meter LCD Digital
Water temperature meter LCD Digital
Clock LCD Digital

2008 Yamaha Mt-01 in India with Yamaha CEO tomotaka IshikawaModel name MT01

Overall length 2185mm
Overall width 800mm
Overall height 1105mm
Seat height 825mm
Wheelbase 1525mm
Minimum ground clearance 145mm
Dry(without oil and fuel) 243kg

Maximum speed (crouched) 210km/h
Minimum turning radius 3.2m

Engine Performance
Engine type Air cooled 4-stroke,OHV
Cylinder arrangement V-type 2-cylinder
Displacement 1670cm3
Bore & stroke 97×113mm
Compression ratio 8.4:1
Maximum horse power 88.9 bhp @ 4,750 rpm
Maximum torque 150.3 Nm @ 3,750 rpm
Starting system type Electric starter
Lubrication system Dry sump
Engine oil capacity 5.0ℓ

Air filter type Oil-coated paper element
Fuel tank capacity 15.0 L

Ignition system type TCI
Spark plug model DPR7EA9/X22EPR-U9
Battery voltage/capacity 12V, 12AH

Primary reduction system Gear
Primary reduction ratio 71/48 1.479
Secondary reduction system Chain
Secondary reduction ratio 39/17 2.294
Clutch type Wet,multiple-disc

Gear ratio
Transmission type Constant mesh 5-speed
Gear ratio-1st gear 38/16 2.375
Gear ratio-2nd gear 30/19 1.579
Gear ratio-3rd gear 29/25 1.160
Gear ratio-4th gear 24/25 0.960
Gear ratio-5th gear 24/30 0.800

Frame type Double cradle
Tire size(Front) 120/70 ZR17 M/C (58W)
Tire size(Rear) 190/50 ZR17 M/C (73W)

Effective radius of disc(Front) 283.0mm
Effective radius of disc(Rear) 238.4mm

Suspension type(Front) Telescopic fork
Suspension type(Rear) Swingarm(link.suspension)
Shock absorber
Shock absorber assembly type(Front) Coil spring/oil damper
Shock absorber assembly type(Rear) Coil spring/gas-oil damper

Bulbs(voltage/wattagex quantity)
Headlight bulb type Halogen bulb
Headlight 12V, Lo;51W ×1 / Hi;55W ×1
Auxiliary light 12V, 5W ×3
Brake/tail light 12V, 2.0/0.2W LED
Turn signal light(Front) 12V, 10W ×2
Turn signal light(Rear) 12V, 10W ×2

Speedometer Digital
Tachometer Analog
Odometer Digital
Trip meter Digital
Clock Liquid crystal Digital

Related links:

Updated: 2008 Yamaha R1 and MT-01: Launched!

Yamaha 2008 YZF-R1

As you read this (1220 hours by my watch), Yamaha has just launched the R1 (and maybe the MT-01) in India. Here's what I've learnt. The 2008 R1 and the 2008 MT-01 are both on sale now. Price being quoted is Rs 10.5 lakh ex-showroom. At the moment, sales will be only in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Bangalore. This is probably because of the size and kind of showroom that Yamaha wanted to have in place for these bikes. Mumbai bikers are going to have a spot of trouble, because it might be one of the last of the big cities to finalise the showroom thanks to excessive land costs. Yamaha is saying that people in Mumbai should consider booking the motorcycle from its Ahmedabad dealer, Planet Yamaha. Yamaha says that supply is no problem. So while motorcycles will arrive in CBU batches, there is no number cap so you should get an R1 if your book one.

The Bangalore dealer is Orion Motors (518 Bhovappa layout, Hosur Road), Delhi Scooters (A31 A Ring Road Rajouri Garden, 011 - 25411667). I don't know why the Chennai dealer is... sorry.

ADDED: More details are here

All images courtesy: Yamaha Motor Europe

Related links:

Neat NHTSA Motorcycle Safety Campaign

These pics are part of the campaign the American NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are running called Share the Road. Some of the images are pretty good, no? I really like the last one and the middle left one.