Nov 19, 2008

Pass or fail 2

Remember this post?

Well, I got a letter from the chaps who created it - pasted below - and they've pointed me to another little video. And once more, while it was intended for cyclists, I think it does apply to us as well. Watch it, and leave a comment about whether you passed or failed. I almost passed, I have to admit.

Here's the letter, then
My name is Martin Uttley and I work on behalf of Transport For London (TFL). We were very pleased to see your mention of our DoTheTest video on your website.

As you liked the DoTheTest video campaign we thought you might be interested in our latest cycling awareness videos Whodunnit?

We have posted them up on and on YouTube. We would love to hear what you think of the latest cycling awareness videos from TFL. Thank you so much for your original post and I look forward to hearing your thoughts

Martin, the vids are great. I wish our Governments were doing as much for motocyclists' safety as you chaps are obviously doing. The new series is super. Keep up the good work, all the best and ride safe.

Nov 9, 2008

Hitler motorcycle spoofs on YouTube

Hey, I found both of these spoofs quite hilarious, so I thought I'd post a link here.

Nov 5, 2008

Neat Discovery Channel style video

Nov 3, 2008

Toilet training

Yesterday, something obvious struck me while I was emptying an overfull bladder. Wrinkle your noses all you like, but here's the situation - most men should be able to understand this easily. I'm standing above the pot and I've got my legs split up really wide. Don't know why, but there it is. At this point, let us focus only on the events occurring at the sole of my, say, left foot, although either will do nicely.

The floor of this particular loo is one of the those new-fangled textured jobs where grip is easy to find and the chances of you breaking you head in by falling in the wet are low. But, for some reason, my foot starts slipping outwards. Not being a gymnast, this immediately was a cause of concern. For once, family jewels landing with a sickening thud on the rim of the pristine but unforgiving edge of the toilet bowl is a painful image even to conjure up. And second, landing on the floor in a split would ensure that a tortured groin would put an end to motorcycle adventures for some time to come.

To recover, I tried pushing down on the sole - more weight equals more traction, remember? It worked. But then, reassured, I tried varying where the extra weight was. And in there, lay the light bulb that lit up above my head like a Diwali rocket. I found that if I put my weight on the inside edge of my foot (the arches side), the slide started again. However, the moment I used the outer edge of the foot, the left edge of the sole of the left foot, the slide was arrested with a ferocity I haven't consciously thought of before.

Now, how does that apply? Here goes.

You know that the ideal position for cornering involves you hanging off the inside, weigh on the inside peg, using the outside thigh to lock you into position etc, right? However, weighing the inside peg is the same, in effect, as exerting the pressure from the arch side of the left foot in the toilet situation. As long as traction is good and the demand for it is reasonable, the feeling is of stability. However, the moment, traction is at a premium, like in the wet, more weight on the inside will as usual, reduce lean angle, but will also provoke a slide earlier. Which is why, they tell you to weigh the outside peg in the wet, and in off-camber corners. Both are places where traction is relatively little and the pressure on the outside helps the tyre dig in harder and postpone the slide.

Yeah, yeah, all OCD disclaimers apply. And feel free to disagree, try this etc.

Just don't pee outside the bowl, ok?

Oct 23, 2008

Where have I been?

As I said earlier, it's become harder and harder to find the time to blog. I must apologise to all the regular readers who have inspired me to continue to write here.

Since August 1, 2008, the last real post until these, I've changed jobs, moved to another place and it's even busier than before. However, I'm expecting to end up with an even more pronounced online presence, as you shall see shortly. As an extension of that process, I'm considering integrating the blog, archives and all, into that 'online presence.' I'd deeply appreciate it if you could write back and tell me what you think of that kind of a move. My idea is that once the blog becomes part of my official duties, my freedom to post frequently will become less of an issue. Which means I can write more, and whenever I like. And no one can object, since it is, after all, official work.

I will, of course, endeavour to not let the 'rules' that come with an official blog to alter or curtail the freedoms this blog has enjoyed, or for that matter, the sort of content that I've posted here.

What say you?

Yamaha FZ16: First Ride

So you want to know how the FZ16 is , is it?


As you can see for yourself, the styling of the FZ16 was central to the project. At least that is the official line. They first created the look and the 'fitted' the engineering into the design. No, really. That is why the FZ16 runs those fat tyres, has the faux pivot plate in aluminium colour, the faux aluminiun subframe look sidepanel and all. Like they scaled the R1 down for the R15, they scaled the FZ1N down for the FZ16. Personally, I'm just happy to be looking at an Indian bike that would hold its own anywhere in the world. As is usual with Yamaha, build quality, fit and finish levels are all great and I don't get the feeling that something will rattle loose, soon or later.

This is where the actual engineering began. The FZ16's aircooled engine is significantly different from the R15. Despite much prodding, for instance, Mizuno San, the project leader refused to accept that the R15 and the FZ16 motors shared more than a bare minimum of aggregates.

Creating two significantly different engines for what is effectively the same displacement band is a significant thing. It means that Yamaha is willing to look past economies of scale and parts sharing to create motorcycles that clearly adhere to a pre-defined role. Which is why the FZ16 feels quick of the line. Not quick enough to blow your socks off, mind you, but quick enough for you to notice the performance. I've read that the top-end isn't all that great and that FZ16 is reading from the same chapter on top-end as the Unicorn, but I don't subscribe to the same school. I think the FZ16 is clearly defined as an urban tool with styling and effortless low-rev performance being the two central themes, and this the engine does. That said, it is lighter than the competition, which should fill most performance gaps that the FZ16's peers might expose. The gearbox is a regular Yamaha job - slick and I don't think too many people will complain of the FZ16 being a laggard. In fact, I'd be very surprised if despite the low-rev focus, the FZ16 didn't equal or outperform its immediate competition.

Ride Quality, Handling and Braking
Personally, going into the test drive, I was expecting the storming tyre sizes to cause much trouble. Needless to say, my confidence in Yamaha's engineers was redoubled. Not only does the FZ16 handle well, it seems not to notice the extra rubber at all. I later found one of the reasons while helping some Yamaha staffers transfer a set of spare MRF tubeless radials from one car to another. The weigh nothing. Really, with tyres that light, it's no surprise that the not only does the FZ16 feel grippy, stable and responsive, it feels happy rather than that 'anchored' feeling that overtyred bikes seem to develop.

Ride quality is stiff and sporty, though. Again, personally, I've had the privilege of riding enough bikes to know that while plush ride feels great, stiffer setups encourage you to push harder and explore the envelope more... sometimes at the expense of your back. This is a compromise I have no problem with. You, on the other hand, might. Some riders who had the foresight to lower the preload to the softest settings reported instant, and noticeable ride quality improvements. I found the setup bouncy only over the worst of the roads, where the tyres do seem to bounce up off the surface entirely. In any other situation, the ride quality never comes to the point where you will leap off the motorcycle hurling abuse. I like it, but I think this is a personal choice so you should, ideally, ride an FZ and form your own opinion. Your experience will vary.

The braking is superb. No surprise there. Fat forks offer flex-free feedback-rich braking which the fat tyres respond to really well by mashing the larger contact patch firmly into the ground. I do wish that Yamaha'd put in a set of radially mounted brakes for brag value alone... but the whole wishes-horses thing applies to that line of thought, right?

Features and other stuff
Full LCD instruments, baby! But all is not well in that department. Internationally, Kawasaki came in for all-round notoriety for the all-LCD revcounter on their Ninjas from two generations ago because of readability issues. On the other hand, Ducati are currently running a slick, large race-spec all-LCD instrument cluster on the 1098, 848 etc. So it can be done. Yamaha haven't cracked it, I must admit. The tacho readout is cluttered by lots of design elements and the effect is that gathering info off the LCD meters takes some getting used to. Only the speedo is easy to read and the surfeit of carbon fibre, orange and white stickers makes the otherwise sleek instrument cluster a bit, how shall I put it, overdone. I do also have to point out that there's a few random stickers (like 'Monocross' on the side panel that add no value whatsoever to the motorcycle's style and could easily have been skipped.

As you can probably tell, I'm as impressed with the FZ16 as I was with the R15. But, there's a catch. The FZ16 is expensive compared to the 150s it wants to beat and the question is, is that extra money worth paying. This is something you must decide for yourself. I would have no hesitation paying the Rs 6000-odd extra for the solid feel, international looks and the general competence of the motorcycle. But would you? Tell me, leave a comment.

Image from Yamaha India

Aug 1, 2008

Kinetic Flyte: An owner's opinion

Here's some feedback Nomad has on the Kinetic Flyte. I thought it was interesting...

I got sick and tired waiting for a multi cylinder bike over 250cc so i went ahead and got myself a flyte last week. Nice scoot overall.

Done about 200kms and there are a few things I noticed that could have been done better.

1:Pass light switch is missing. Its a pain in the butt to turn on the light switch and back again. I dont see it lasting very long the way I use it.

2.Seat could have been a bit longer.Its a very tight fit with a heavy person behind me

3.Pickup not that good for a 125. Or maybe I feel that way because the scoot's so silent and vibe free.

4.Disk brake not available even as an optional extra.

5.Doesnt have a halogen bulb.(Kinetic, how can you be so cheap?!)

6.No engine kill switch.

7.Ground clearance is very low. The scoot scrapes its belly on bike-breakers 2 up.

8.Horn sounds like it came straight off an electric cycle.Not that it matters much because I hardly use it anyway.

9.Gray color not available.(I have a soft spot for gray!)

10.Mirrors not to my liking. Its weird moving the entire thing instead of just the mirror itself.

11.No rear brake lock like on the other scoots.Quite annoying at traffic signals and potentially dangerous when parked on a slope.

12.The petrol lock should have been separate from the bike lock. My dad always open the petrol tank when he means to lock the scoot. Its also too fiddly. I don't see it lasting too long. On the day I bought it, my dad almost broke the key in the keyhole because the lock wouldn't work :) But now we're used to it. It shouldn't be a case of getting used to something like that.The problem shouldn't even exist in the first place!

13.There should have been a mudguard for the front wheel. It throws an enormous amount of muck everywhere! I don't know how but some mud ended up on the lower front part of the seat and needless to say on my pants! But to be fair, I rode the scoot through some pretty deep water really fast.

14.Flimsy rear footrests. They just flap around when closed and dont look too sturdy.

Now on to the good stuff.

I had a Kinetic Honda prior to this and with the quality of service that I received, I made up my mind never to go for another kinetic. ever. That changed the moment I test rode the flyte. Its that good.

2.Its smooth! That could be because all other bikes/scooters I've had/have are 2 stroke and not really the smoothest either.

3.Readily available. One of the reason I went for the flyte is because the other scoots I shortlisted , access has a 45 day waiting period and the dio has a 30 day waiting period.I'm very impatient and dont want to wait 30 to 45 days for a friggin scoot!

4.I love the underseat lighting. And the huge space under the seat. Yes, a full face helmet does go in but no way in hell will the seat close. Unless I chop off 2 inches from the top of the helmet...

5.Even though it lacks disc up front, the brakes are quite good.

6. Ride quality is very good. Keep in mind that my benchmark is the old Kinetic Honda ZX. But still, compared to some bikes I've ridden, the damping is pretty good.

7.Acceleration is ok. Could have been better on account of the fact that its a 125cc. Midrange and top speed are quite good. I saw a speedo indicated 90. Yes, I'm aware that the company claimed top speed is 80. Did they mean on the speedo or true speed?

8.Quality is quite good overall.

9.Mileage:I'm sure it must be good but I havent checked. To be honest, its not really a priority for me. I'd gladly sacrifice mileage for more performance.

Overall, I'm a happy camper. This is going to be my daily ride till something serious comes along from the manufacturers.

(This is my first purchase after 12 years of waiting for something better/fasterquicker to come. And here I am, still waiting......)

Jul 21, 2008

Yamaha R15: 17 bhp's too little, surely

So, it would appear that most of you were expecting the R15 to make in excess of 20 bhp. 54 per cent, to be precise. Hmm...

I did some checking, and here's what I found.

Fact 1: It's not impossible
Yes, a 150cc engine can easily make as much as 24 bhp. But there are specific conditions under which this can happen. Producing big power means burning big amounts of fuel, producing large amounts of exhaust gases and since the bangs are bigger, literally, making a heck of a lot more noise. Which means, you, the customer has to be willing to live with a rackety, polluting motorcycle. Which you may well think is fine, but the Government doesn't. India happens to have some of tightest norms in the business, especially noise norms, which means big bangs, much as we like them, are not on menu. In fact, the R15's motor, incredibly similar to the Indonesian V-Ixion's actually makes about 1 bhp less. Blame goes squarely to the norms.

Fact 2: You probably won't like it
While we all love to harp on and on about horsepower, the truth is bhp is not all its cracked up to be. Yes, that's a pretty strong statement, but hold on a minute and lemme explain.

First of all, horsepower doesn't exist, except as a mathematical function of torque. Dynos measure torque. Not horsepower. The dyno's computer calculates the horsepower and plots the curve we so love.

Second, it is torque that really thrills you. Despite all the claims to the contrary, not more than a fraction of a percent of enthusiast buyers actually use the full potential of their motorcycle. By that I mean riding up to the redline, repeatedly, daily, purely for the enjoyment of it. Which is the sole riding mode in which horsepower comes out to play. The rest of the time, all you're enjoying is the torque curve, playing with the peak and enjoying the satisfying surge that comes with opening the throttle.

Third, and most importantly, a 25 bhp 150cc, almost by definition must make its significant torque far up high in the rev band. Which means it will require a right thrashing to produce any sort of performance. Any time you want the bike to pick up its skirts and run hard, you're going to have to suspend all mechanical sympathy and whip the poor thing. No one can ride like that day after day. Even racers can't ride like that – it is simply too stressful!

But here's the thing. Would I have been happier if the motorcycle were making 25 bhp? You bet your, um, you know.

But I understand that it isn't possible, and from what the engine designer folks (and not just at Yamaha) are telling me, a genuine 25 bhp 150 wouldn't be a pocket rocket, it would be a ticking bomb. When you light the fuse, it would explode. And there'd be nothing in it before or after the event. Big explosions like that are fun. But too many of them, strung in a row get stressful, and eventually, you simply don't want any more. I was also checking on google and I found a couple of people who were upgrading their 19-odd bhp CBR150Rs to 25-odd bhp. But the interesting thing is that both were talking about having to install a 195cc kit to make the power reasonably useful.

All right, now I'm waiting for your comments.

Jul 19, 2008

Buy the best, pay more...

Here's this awesome quote on the Arai website. Neatly says everything I try to explain when someone asks me why my helmet costs nearly Rs 20,000

What to pay?
"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money...that is all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the things it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better. There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell for a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only, are this man's lawful prey"
John Ruskin(1819-1900), Economist

Jul 17, 2008

The Vardenchi Blog

Vardenchi Blog ScreenshotHello, hello, it seems my friend Akshai just started his blog about his bikes, the famous Vardenchis. Here's the link...

Why is this blog so slow to update?

So, many of you are wondering if I've either converted the blog into a collection of press releases, a collection of videos, or worse, just abandoned the whole damn thing. The truth is that the last one may actually be nearer to the truth. You see, the times they are a changing. My plate at office is being loaded with more and more and more stuff almost daily, The Wife wants all the attention when I am home – a fully justified claim, I might add, and after all of that, any time left over, is time left for me to read, sleep, listen to music, watch M*A*S*H episodes or The Long Kiss Goodnight... you get the picture. Seems like everyday there's four blog posts flying through my head. But my hands and eyes are busy with something else at the time. I really haven't any idea what to do about this. I love blogging, don't get me wrong, but this is what the situation is like.

Years ago, in a job far away, we learnt something about time management. I remember little but one thing stands out. They said that before you add something to your schedule, see if there's space for it. If there isn't, prioritise and eliminate something that's less important, and add the new one. Or just forget the new one, since it isn't important enough at all. I did that. My schedule is full. And I still want to blog. Screwed.

Jul 15, 2008

Hindsight: What did you learn?

In hindsight, maybe I wouldn't have done that...

How many times have you said that to yourself? It's always nearly the same. Heart beat elevated, adrenaline going nuts and in the middle of this 'oh-shit' sort of feeling, you realise that what you just did (or didn't) could have been a big one. From splaying your feet too wide on a wet bathroom floor, to a knife slipping a bit while chopping onions, or in the case of this blog's central subject, something that happened while you were out on the motorcycle.

The thing is, we don't introspect enough. No, sometimes even I, king of OCD as I am, I don't. I forget. Either to introspect, or to remember the lesson hidden in that moment.

Many of us, for instance, ride way too close to the vehicle travelling ahead of us. I know I've done it, until it was pointed out by my boss one time, a long, long time ago. And in daily riding, you might point out, it may not actually be feasible. All valid arguments, I grant. But the whole thing collapses to a shivering heap when the car ahead of you brakes hard, you react and then a patch of wet tarmac appears magically from between the car's axles. Bam! You've just had an Oh-shit moment. If you're lucky, one ding, one scratch and one apology. If you aren't, hospital ceiling, food through the tube, friendly doodles on white plaster, a crooked smile, and month and months before you can lean into a corner again.

In either case, how much time before you go out and make the same mistake again?

Note: No I am fine. This post was not inspired by a personal, er, 'tragedy' of any sort

Jun 30, 2008

Thunderbird Twinspark: A little late but...

Royal Enfield premieres the Thunderbird Twinspark; unveils the engines
of future growth

With the launch of the Thunderbird Twinspark 350cc, Royal Enfield has
engineered a progressive refinement in the art of motorcycling. Blending
the imperial with the practical, the new Thunderbird is Royal Enfield's
first - amongst a series of models - to feature the evolutionary Unit
Construction Engine.

The Unit construction engine (UCE) marks a dramatic shift in the
traditional Royal Enfield engine architecture. While the traditional
Royal Enfield engine is distinguished by an external clutch and gearbox;
in the UCE, both these elements are integrated within a common crankcase
space. Therefore, this new Royal Enfield engine is more compact and
offer benefits of reduced transmission losses, reduced friction, lower
maintenance and higher reliability. This platform literally is the
'engine of future growth'.

Addressing the enthused gathering, R.L. Ravichandran, CEO, Royal
Enfield, said, "With the launch of Thunderbird Twinspark 350cc, Royal
Enfield is absolutely primed for the entry of the UCE in the domestic
markets. By 2010, India will have other such twinspark models including
the Machismo, Electra and the Bullet 350. For the international markets,
we are currently test marketing the Bullet Electra EFI and in November
this year, the UCE 500 EFI, will be unveiled at auto shows in Cologne
and Birmingham. Not only will the new model be comparatively more
powerful, technically advanced and environment friendly but it will also
sport an authentic classic look that reflects original British
motorcycle styling. With the 500cc version of the UCE that powers the
Bullet Electra EFI, Royal Enfield becomes the first two-wheeler
manufacturer in India to produce and sell a Euro-III compliant motorcycle."

Speaking on the occasion, Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors said,
"We have been working on twinspark technology for our type of motorcycle
architecture since the late-90's and have found it suitable for
mass-production with our new engine platform. All the factors which have
made the Thunderbird the favorite that it already is have been retained
or improved in the new Thunderbird. The new Thunderbird incorporates
hydraulic tappets - which is a first in India and new lean-burn
combustion technology with two spark plugs which gives class-leading
power, torque and fuel-efficiency. Moreover, the long-stroke and engine
construction ensure that the distinctive beat and cruising
characteristic are further enhanced. Add to this the twin benefits of
improved performance and engine efficiency and you have a package that
is hard to beat in terms of pure riding pleasure and visual delight.
Undoubtedly, the Thunderbird Twinspark goes beyond the envelope of
ordinary commuting to present itself as a real motorcycle."

You've got the look!
The styling and appeal of the Thunderbird Twinspark epitomise a
'practical cruiser', chiselled to offer ride delight. Its a motorcycle
that does more than just look good on an open highway or under the
brazen tones of starry floodlights.

Let's start with the purposeful 19" front-wheel that enables the
Thunderbird Twinspark to glide over any surface. The slim-line metal
mudguard is the first splash of paint that greets the eye. A genuine
ergonomic high-rise pull back handlebar puts the control in the hands of
the lucky rider. The space between the handle and ultra comfortable seat
is engaged with a beautiful teardrop fuel tank sporting the Royal
Enfield logo as a dimensional graphic. The battery is lodged below the
seat and is flanked on either side with triangular panels tapering
around air-filters. The seat, which embosoms a graceful pillion
backrest, is not only visually inviting but also comfortably snug. The
chromed headlight is as accentuating as the urbane twin-pod instrument
cluster intact with odometer, speedometer, RPM meter, fuel gauge,
resettable trip meter, and tell-tale lights for neutral, high beam, turn
signal indicators, etc. Hydraulic pushrods accord a radical singularity
to the new Thunderbird; since valve clearance is automatically adjusted
rather than manually fine-tuned, the vehicle maintains optimal valve
timing in all situations. Moreover, features like the auto decompressor,
CV carburetor; powerful disc brakes, the all new 6-plate low effort
clutch and the highest payload for any Indian motorcycle (160 kg)
distinguish the new Thunderbird as the easiest Royal Enfield to ride.

Due to its prodigious 28Nm torque, legendary Royal Enfield solidity and
tenaciously agile dynamic behavior, the new Thunderbird can take on
anything the Indian roads will throw at it it the smooth tarmac of
the golden quadrilateral or the notorious potholes of battered roads,
the pyretic plains of Rajasthan or even the freezing desolate mountains
of Ladakh.

The Thunderbird Twinspark 350cc will always be more prepared than her
rider. You bet, its got what it takes!

Honda launches CBF Stunner

A new Sporty Bike by Honda

Introduces first-of-its-kind features in the mass market segment -
Integrated front body cowl, Sporty split seats, Wider Tubeless tyres &
Sporty foot step holder

High performance Honda engine with 5 speed transmission

Bike to hit the market in third week of July

New Delhi, June 30, 2008: Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.
(HMSI), the 100% owned 2-wheeler subsidiary of the Honda Motor Company,
Japan – the world's largest manufacturer of 2-wheelers, today unveiled
its latest offering "CBF Stunner" in the Indian motorcycle segment.
Targeted at youth, CBF Stunner's sharp and sporty look will
revolutionize the motorcycle market in the country.

HMSI, after the success of its 2 Motorcycles - Unicorn and Shine is all
set to charm the Indian youth with its high performance, sporty, stylish
motorcycle at an affordable price.

With increased choices, today's Indian youth is actively on a look out
for brands that have a high 'style & attitude' quotient. 'CBF Stunner'
inspired by CBR 1000 from Europe aptly fits into the category with its
design, high performance and style. The bike with its 'high-on-style'
features promises to provide its customers an ultimate experience of a
true Honda bike.

HMSI has since inception developed products that have set new benchmarks
in technology, performance, and styling to address the diversified needs
of its customers. Honda's all round quality has been a source of
enjoyment for its customers and the new offering CBF Stunner with its
style and performance is aimed at providing desired pleasure to young
Indian customer.

CBF Stunner will be available in three variants viz. Self Disc Alloy,
Self Drum Alloy & Kick Drum Alloy. Self Drum Alloy & Self Disc Alloy
will be available in four colours Sports Red, Pearl Sports Yellow, Space
Silver Metallic and Black while Kick Drum Alloy will be available in two
colours Sports Red & Black.

CBF Stunner would be available in the Indian market from third week of
July. The ex-showroom price of CBF Stunner in INR is as follows:

Cities || Kick Drum Alloy || Self Drum Alloy || Self Disc Alloy
Delhi || 47,070 || 49,820 || 51,655
Pune || 48,720 || 51,525 || 53,390
Bangalore || 48,395 || 51,545 || 52,980
Kolkata || 48,410 || 51,160 || 52,990

Salient features of CBF Stunner

Integrated Front Body Cowl:
An integrated front body cowl & voluminous fuel tank makes stunner look
muscular & sporty. It also enhances aero dynamism, thus providing an
unhindered moving stance to the rider.

Sporty Split Seat & Two Panel Sporty Rear Cowl
First of its kind in this category, sporty split seat not only adds to
the riding comfort but also enhances the overall appeal. Two panel sharp
rear cowl makes it look sporty.

Sporty Foot Step Holders
Sporty foot step holders reflecting Honda's racing bike DNA are
positioned in a way to give rider a sporty riding posture.


High Performance Honda Engine with 5 Speed Transmission
A new advanced and high performance 11 bhp Honda engine with 5 speed
transmission ensures an absolutely sensational ride. It gives an
excellent power at all speed ranges and provides superior initial
acceleration & overtaking pick up.

Wider Tubeless Tyres with Black Alloy Wheels.
First Time in its category, Tubeless tyres in front as well rear. This
enhances performance, better cornering & chances of sudden deflation of
tyres on punctures are reduced. 100/90 Wider tubeless tyre in rear adds
to the appeal. The 17" Black alloy wheels adds on to the sports
character of the bike.

Diamond Frame with Rectangular Box type Swing Arm
It adapts light weight diamond frame proven with high reliability on
Indian roads. The tough and flexible frame provides good stability in
harsh and daily use conditions. It is also equipped with harder and
stronger rectangular box type swing arm which helps in achieving high
stability, sporty performance and constant ground touch feeling.

240mm Front Disc Brake
Efficient Hydraulic 240mm front disc brake provides efficient braking
performance in all weather conditions and ensures stability at high speeds.

The riding posture of the bike is sporty yet comfortable. The shoulders
and elbows are more inclined than the competition to give the rider a
perfect sporty posture. The folding step placed slightly backwards
provides sporty posture. Pillion's leg position is nearer to rider's
bottom which is more comfortable.

The bike has small storage space under the seat which can be used for
storing small items such as gloves. The stylish console with trip meter
also provides convenience of keeping a track on the distance traveled
and mileage.

Present at launch were Mr. Kenji Kawaguchi, Operating Officer General
Manager, Planning Division Honda Motorcycle R&D Centre Japan, Mr. Shinji
Aoyama, President & CEO, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt Ltd, Mr.
Nobuhiko Takizawa, President, Honda R&D (India), Mr. Atsuhiko Takahashi,
Large Project Leader (CBF Stunner) Honda Motorcycle R&D Centre Japan,
Mr. Yuji Mizumoto, Assistant LPL, Honda Motorcycle R&D Centre, Japan
alongwith Mr. N K Rattan Head Sales & Marketing, Honda Motorcycle &
Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.

Excepts from Company officials-

Mr. S Aoyama, President & CEO, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt
Ltd., "Honda believes and practices the philosophy of 3 joys that is
being demonstrated through our "I enjoy" campaign to deliver utmost
customer satisfaction. HMSI is committed to provide unique experience
through its innovative products and quality in every aspect of business.
The new bike being unveiled today is one of the steps to provide
exciting products at an affordable price. The bike is a reflection of
Honda's worldwide sports bikes and we hope that Indian youngster can now
enjoy Honda's sports DNA. In India we will continue to bring exciting
products and be a full line company by 2010 starting with 100cc
motorcycles and fun bikes."

Mr. Kenji Kawaguchi, Operating Officer General Manager, Planning
Division Honda Motorcycle R&D centre, Japan, "Honda is today the world's
largest motorcycle manufacturer and one of the leading automakers. India
is an important market for Honda Motor Co. Honda is committed to the
Indian market and will go all out in providing exciting products to the
Indian market. Honda has always been in forefront in strengthening
technologies for environment conservation, safety riding and enhancing
product attributes. The newer technologies like Honda's Programmed Fuel
injection – PGM-F1 and ABS (Antilock Brake System) will soon be
installed on all Honda Motorcycles worldwide soon."

Mr. N.K Rattan, Head Sales & Marketing, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India
Pvt Ltd., "CBF Stunner is Honda's answer to Youngsters desire to own a
affordable sports bike. This new bike carries Honda's Sports DNA with
Sharp, Muscular style & high performance 11 bhp Honda engine that Indian
youth expect from Honda. This bike will be available at all dealers by
third week of July for sales. Along with this new bike, HMSI's all model
sales shall touch 10 lac units in 2008-09."

Jun 12, 2008

Official specs for the Yamaha YZF-R15

Yamaha R15. 1995mm x 670mm x 1070mm. 1290mm wheelbase. 120 kg dry. 131 kg wet. 149.8cc. 10.4:1 compression. Liquid cooled 4 valve SOHC. 12 litre fuel tank. 6 speed gearbox. Steel deltabox frame. 80/90-17 tubeless front tyre. 100/80-17 tubeless rear. Monoshock rear. 17ps/8500 rpm. 15nm/7500 rpm. 140 kph top speed (60 kg rider, prone). Rs 97500 exshowroom. On sale now

Jun 9, 2008

Yamaha R15: Out on 12th!

How much power does the Yamaha R15 make?

Jun 4, 2008

They never learn

Came over the crest of a flyover as usual. Streetlights never work here and good headlights and a thorough familiarity with the road surface here are a great asset. On that night, it was invaluable. God'd been going nuts with his new camera for a while now and the repeated flashes could only mean one thing. A developing rain storm. And as we started climbing the flyover, the pitter patter began to turn into the surprisingly violent roar that's heavy rain. Through the roar of heavy drops on vinyl – yellow roof over my head – I heard the distinctive skreee-scrawshhhhhh that means a biker is down. We came over the crest into a rash of red tail lights as traffic braked hard for what looked like a snarl. I've seen snarls here before, they last a kilometre. Even as I began to dread the forty minutes it would take to get through, I saw the anonymous tail lamp of a Hero Honda Splendor leaning over like a MotoGP god. And then it was down, rider flapping uselessly along behind the bike, as both slid inevitable forward, down the slope.

For the umpteenth time, the first rains brought down temperatures, tempers and a heck of a lot of bikers. The rash of tail lamps, you see was created by at least four bikers who were down. Two Pulsars, one Thunderbird and another Splendor, apart from the one I saw tipping over. My autorickshaw driver was very much into rubber necking, but I heckled him into gently negotiating the fallen bikes – all the bikers were yelling about, 'Who the f**k dropped oil?' and seemed just a little worse for the wear – tatty shirt elbows and holed knees but nothing serious.

Oil? How would you trace the drops of oil left behind by literally thousands of trucks, SUVs and cars since what, August last year?

Further down the road, I got the rick to slow down to a slippery 35 kph, buzzing nervously along the pavement on the extreme left of the road. And I spotted at least another six bikes with bent stuff on them, parked on the side. Riders on the phones, 'Er... Honey, I'll be late... No, I fell off the bike... oil... f**ckers!'

It happens every single year, so you think they'd figure it out and learn. The first rains, wash up the oil and dirt on the road, before they wash it off. That means that first wet hour is properly lethal. Like riding on ice. On walking on a freshly polished floor wearing silk moccasins. As slippery as a freshly caught fish... The hour where it's probably safer to just leave the bike parked safely and take a four-wheeled thing home. But, no, they never learn.

I'm at Alltop has added my RSS feed to this page. I've always wondered if there wasn't a, um, more elegant way to look up the latest news from my favourite motorcycle blogs. Google Reader is efficient, but it needed something more... well, when I saw the page, I knew it was exactly what I needed. And I'm happy to report that my blog has also been added to that list.

Jun 2, 2008

TVS set to make a racket in the scooter market

In keeping with its intention to introduce seasonal limited editions every year, and in an effort to ring in the spirit of tennis in India, TVS Motor Company has signed up a one year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) as the official licensee for Wimbledon Tournaments. As part of this association, TVS Motor Company will bring out two excitingly designed, limited edition scooters, which are inspired by the contemporary, classic and sporty imagery of 'the spirit of Wimbledon'.

The TVS Scooty Wimbledon Collection, namely, Wimbledon Class and Wimbledon Xtreme will be launched to coincide with the Wimbledon season, beginning June. While the former is a classic rendition of the Wimbledon colours, pristine white with purple and green flow-strokes, the latter is an exciting red bike with 'never-before' graffiti art that captures the sheer excitement of tennis!

"At TVS, we constantly study the leading style and fashion trends in India and abroad to assist the development of our themes every season. We observed that there is a growing trend of sports and fitness consciousness amongst young girls that is being reflected in fashion trends. They tend to identify with the tennis stars, who continue a long legacy of being style and fashion icons" said S Srinivas, General Manager Marketing, TVS Motor Company.

"The TVS Scooty Wimbledon Collection, comprising of 10,000 scooters is being brought out as a tribute to women with sporty attitude. Buyers of the Scooty Pep+ Wimbledon collection will get a complementary Scooty-Wimbledon sweatshirt and a sporty sling bag. Being a limited edition, the Wimbledon collection will retail at a premium of Rs.1599 over regular colors. " he added.

The Wimbledon Collection endorses the fact that Scooty Pep+ is a brand that is known for style innovations and remains the most exciting two-wheeler brand for young girls. Each color in its repertoire allows the girl to express her unique style and personality. Girls can choose from Perky Pink, or Mystic Mauve or from our range of 99 colours that are customized just for her!
Heh heh, sorry, but I just had to post that. Although I should think TVS should be ringing up sales, or doing what it takes to ring up sales, rather than ring in the spirit of Wimbledon or tennis in India... damn I've already forgotten what TVS is ringing in... see what I mean?

Launch news: Bajaj & TVS

Was just reading the latest from Bajaj and TVS, both of whom are reporting growth in sales. More to the point, Bajaj has confirmed that it will launch the first of its four 125cc motorcycles in September, while TVS confirms that the RTR FI should (finally) come out this month. Also due shortly is an updated Enfield Thunderbird and the YZF-R15. TVS is also launching something else... the post above should give you a heads-up on that...

May 28, 2008


Kawasaki ZephyrMan! It isn't mine. This is a publicly posted private message to a private individual who happens to have been possessed by this lovely Kawasaki Zephyr. Thanks to all of those of you who thought this was mine and congratulated me, and promptly demanded a ride as well. Dream on, buddies... just like me...

2009 Yamaha V-Max: First details at MCN!

Yamaha V-Max ConceptMotorcycle News, the British motorcycle newspaper that knows more than anyone else about the two-wheelers coming in the next decade, have pulled off a coup by getting the details of the V-Max, which was due for an unveil on June 4 as a 2009 model for Yamaha.

The pics on this post are courtesy Yamaha and of the VMAX concept. MCN has the picture here, if you'd like to see it and are saying that the bike is a 1800cc V4 making 200 bhp, which should probably make it the fastest quartermiler again, just like the old one.

Yamaha V-Max Concept

May 27, 2008

Ducati comes to India

Ducati has landed in India. So should we, really, be celebrating?

This is a question I've faced in the recent days from a number of people. And why not. A product range, spanning the stratospheric Rs 15-50 lakh price range, is nothing to be scoffed at. Even as a motorcycle enthusiast, you have to wonder if you should be investing Rs 50 lakh in a depreciating, if gorgeous asset or in property/stocks or something. More to the point still, is a Ducati 1098R, arguably the fastest, trickest Ducati money can buy right now (Desmosedici RR is formally out of production and all of that sort of thing), is a Ducati 1098R really worth, um, let's see, three R1s? Or for the that matter, two 848s and change?

But we'll come back to that in a bit. First of all, have a beer on me. That Ducati is here, with a full range, with plans for showrooms in all major cities and with the full intention of staying on is a good thing. Ducati, you have to remember is no doddering, floundering Italian company any more. Their last year was their best year so far, so on the face of it, they are in a position where they could relax, sit back, knock back some classy Chianti and congratulate themselves. They also happened to knock the entire Japanese clique off their MotoGP feet in 2007 and the tiny company (one way or another) has made it a habit of keeping everyone else embarrased in the World Superbikes paddock.

So what we have here is a significant event. Now, you could argue that Bentley/Lamborghini launching in India is insignificant. After all, how many people can really afford Rs 2 Crore cars. And I'd have to agree. Ducati is a pretty similar company in profile, actually. Not only are they a specialist manufacturer - despite the Multistrada and other oddities, they are firmly a sportsbike maker, they are also certified exotica. If the Yamaha R1 was the two-wheeled equivalent of a Nissan GT-R, the Ducati 1098, would actually be the Ferrari F430. That's sexy, exotic, powerful and not completely devoid of quirks.

But the heart of the matter is that while Lamborghini, Bentley etc are already here, Ducati is the first exotic bike maker that thinks 110 per cent duties, all manner of bureaucratic hurdles etc are all worth tackling to enter our market. They might only sell 50 bikes this year, but they are confident that those numbers will rise. Slowly, maybe, but steadily. And if Ducati thinks so, believe me, they are hardly likely to be alone in the room. You can bet your hard-earned rupee that everyone else in the room is paying attention as well. More of the same will follow, especially if Ducati pull of a coup by selling off all of their bikes before the year is out. I believe that may not be impossible. Every single exotic brand you can think of is running well ahead of their targets and I cannot see why Ducati should be any different. And yes, it is a luxury good. So just like you don't expect to use a Bentley or Patek Phillipe in daily use, Ducati owners will also use their bikes sparingly.

Again, I must remind you that when you look at the prices and shake your head, remember that Ducati is actually simply charging you government duties. If you consider the US prices for Ducati and add 114 per cent plus the dollar-rupee conversion, you'll pretty much land on Ducati's Indian price list. Which is about as fair as it can be, until duties come down, right?

Update: Since I wrote the above paragraph I found out that the Ducati 1098 (biposto) is US$14,999, which works out to about Rs 6.5 Lakh, so 114 per cent duties still pegs it at roughly Rs 15 lakh. Ducati's official tag is about Rs 25 lakh (ex-showroom, but includes VAT) for the bike... so that paragraph is not valid. Ducati is obviously aiming for the only business model that can sustain itself in the absence of bidg sales volumes – big margins. Hold on, more confusion. This site has the 1098 pegged at £11,250, which, still, is about Rs 9.5 lakh, and that's about Rs 20 lakh.... Oh dear.

Obviously, most of you, and that includes me, will not be able to afford these prices, but look at it this way. If you use a needle to make a hole in the wall, only a little of anything can cross the wall. But if you take a 70mm howitzer to the wall, many other things can also cross over. As in, if you have bikes between Rs 15-50 lakh on sale, someone is sure to realise that a gap in product offerings between Rs 95,000 to Rs 15,00,000 is an unusually large hole in a booming market. A gap like that cannot remain ignored for long.

And finally, is a Ducati 1098R really worth three R1s. Maybe if you lived right next to Monza and were dating the circuit security chief's daughter. You couldn't drive a Ferrari to work everyday even if you wanted to. A GT-R on the other hand, is very useable, if a little harder to live with than a Corolla. Which is what the R1 would turn out to be. So, if you have the cash for the 1098R, I suggest you buy an 848 (sporty, fast but not really a prima donna) or a hypermotard (fun, fast-ish, up for it, real) instead. Not only will you save a bunch of cash, you'll be far happier with them.

If there's any ambiguity left, I'll tell you this. I've looked up my family tree and there ain't no uncles lolling about in the branches, waiting to drop into graves, leaving me tons of cash to buy the 1098R with. Despite which, I'm off to buy a Bud to celebrate... Exorbitant, exotic and all of that, but atleast I can exercise my freedom to buy a Ducati when/if I had the money...

Images courtesy:

May 26, 2008

Big screen Sundays

Just heard the most interesting radio advert I've ever had the pleasure of allowing my ears to tune into. For the record, I hate radio. Well, no, actually, I'd love to listen, but I cannot handle the utterly banal chatter that the RJs seem to specialise in. Add the inane callers and the amout of time they take away from music (not to mention the Bollywood-jhankar beat fixation) and radio, basically, sucks.

However, today, on Radio 1 (I think), the ad went something like, 'Why do you need to go out to watch MotoGP?' Er... MotoGP? Well, yes, the good folks at Sports Bar are showing MotoGP live in the Andheri place on a big screen. There's some contest which will send three people to a race at some point, but more importantly, here's to the first attempt to make MotoGP a mainstream social event. Now, to dig out that yellow 46 shirt and spend Sunday productively...

TVS Flame: Oh no, what happened?

TVS Flame 125 image from

Finally, I got to ride the TVS Flame, and I must say, that it is as much a 'triumph' of marketing as it is a blip on the otherwise unblemished radar of TVS R&D. Everytime I look at the bike, I find that the looks are the best part of the bike. Which, as you can imagine, is a dangerous place for a new product in a highly competitive market to be in. Handling is good and all that, but that engine, and its ability to not go anywhere while making an utter racket deflates all the possiblities. The Flame feels best ridden at 40 kph in top gear (which is fourth, unfortunately, not fifth). Uh oh. At the moment, in my personal 125cc ratings, the Honda Shine and the Yamaha Gladiator remain the motorcycles to purchase. Sorry, TVS, better luck next time. Aag lagegi? No, actually, I'd beg to differ.

May 24, 2008

New poll: Exactly when do you wear your helmet, then?

When do you wear your helmet?

Poll results: What kit do you own?

So there's 11 of you riding around without a lid, eh? Tch, tch...

Anyway, I am very happy with what I see in this poll. In a market like ours, I believe that owning riding kit points to mature riders, who understand motorcycles and what risks they bring to our lives. More than half of you not only own helmets, but have riding jackets and gloves. Word of advice, think seriously about knee protection. It's a complicated joint, one that we need badly everyday and one that usually gets a knock or two no matter how you crash.

Now to more interesting matters, when do you use the stuff you own? Will post that poll separately in a bit...

May 23, 2008


The innovative new British helmet rating system is moving forward. Actually, it isn't as much innovative as it is overdue. In any case, they recently out this missive...
Thank you for registering your interest in SHARP - the new safety rating for motorcycle helmets in the UK.

Sorry we have been so quiet since SHARP was announced in November last year. We've been very busy testing helmets and the first ratings will be announced very soon. Ratings will include helmets from AGV, Airoh, Arai, Arashi, Bell, Box, HJC, KBC, Lazer, Nitro, Nolan, Premier, Roof, RST, Shark, Shoei, Suomy, Takachi, Urban, X-Lite and Vemar.

We recently added the SHARP presentational video (right-click to download 10Mb video) to our website, which you may find of interest. We've also introduced a 'news' page and added the 'search' tools we hope you'll use when considering your next helmet purchase.

We will keep you informed of all the SHARP news as it happens.

Best regards,
The SHARP Team

May 6, 2008

Yamaha introduces Alba with Electric Start

New Yamaha launched...

New Delhi, May 6, 2008: India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd. has announced the launch of all new Yamaha Alba106 cc with electric start and stylish and trendy graphics, thus offering robustness and solidity to its existing product range.

The unique design of Yamaha Alba 106 blends youthful style and modernism with thoughtful decency. Giving it a sturdy, macho image are the new aerodynamic cowl, well sculptured tank, well-built side and rear panel. While the exciting graphics with the smooth flowing design give the bike its stylish, super cool looks.

Since the bike has been designed for daily commuting, special emphasis has been given on shaping it for the maximum comfort of the rider. That is why, Yamaha Alba 106 boasts of broad seat for comfortable riding of the pillion rider too. The ideal ergonomics of seat, handlebar, and knee recess on the petrol tank are all designed for comfortable riding by giving the right posture to the rider.

Keeping the Indian driving conditions in consideration, Alba 106 has perfectly spaced gear ratio for driving in congested conditions without changing gears repeatedly.

At the heart of the machine is the Yamaha’s ever reliable 106cc engine, which gives good combination of low end torque and mileage leading to less strain on the engine and therefore longer life. Other features include the innovatively designed indicators and tail light and easy to read instrument consol including fuel meter.

"The launch of new Alba with electric start is in line with Yamaha’s true commitment to provide world class products to its customers. A lot of emphasis has been laid on shaping Alba for maximum comfort of the rider and its premium features will give consumers a new thrill in biking pleasure.

Alba delivers comfort, style and solidity, which will make it the right choice for the discerning customers, “said Mr. Takahiro Maeda Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Executive Vice President.

The Yamaha Alba 106, billed as the family bike comes in two colours - Deep Red Metallic K and Yamaha Black at Rs. 37,500 (Ex-showroom-All India).
Alba 106 is a low maintenance bike with high fuel efficiency that enhances its value-for-money appeal manifold.

About India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd.
Yamaha made its initial foray into India in 1985. Subsequently, it entered into a 50:50 joint venture with the Escorts Group in 1996. However, in August 2001, Yamaha acquired its remaining stake becoming a 100% subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, Japan (YMC). In 2008, YMC entered into an agreement with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. to become a joint investor in the motorcycle manufacturing company "India Yamaha Motor Private Limited (IYM)".

IYM operates from its state-of-the-art-manufacturing units at Surajpur in Uttar Pradesh and Faridabad in Haryana and produces motorcycles both for domestic and export markets. With a strong workforce of more than 2000 employees, IYM is highly customer-driven and has a countrywide network of over 400 dealers. Presently, its product portfolio includes Gladiator Type SS & RS (125 cc), YZF-R1 (998 cc) and MT01 (1670 cc), Crux (106 cc), Alba (106 cc), G5 (106 cc). IYM is also planning to launch 150 cc liquid-cooled YZF-R15 and 150cc air-cooled FZ in 2008

Better Late Than Early!

I am currently reading a book by Mark Gardiner called Riding Man and totally in love with the book. The basic story is of a Gardiner, who decides fairly late in life, that he must go racing at the Isle of Man, and what happens from then on. In there lay a superb piece of riding advice that bears serious pondering.

In the book, the scene is the Gardiner is hanging about somewhere when a grizzled old ex-racer gives him a stunning piece of advice about riding the TT. Before I unveil the nugget though, let me just touch upon why the advice is stunning.

The piece of advice relates to the Isle of Man TT, a race that takes place on public road. A place you and I come out to anoint everyday with our wheels.

'Be late everywhere.'

That in essence is the piece of advice. Let us dig into that, now.

The idea being offered is that it is safer to ride the TT by performing the required actions a bit later than you would at a racetrack. What actions? Turning into a corner, apexing the corner, getting back on the gas and so forth.

When you enter a corner on the street, being late is good. Selecting a turn in point later usually offers you the biggest safety-related advantage you can really ask for – a better sightline. Turning in later will allow you to see deeper into the corner. A racetrack has no oncoming traffic, rarely has dirty tarmac and you are never in danger of crashing into something you didn't see – like a parked truck in the night. On the street, turning in late allows you to commit more to corners because you can see more. Or, it allows you to keep your normal pace, but maintain a greater safety envelope.

Apex late. A late apex creates a shallower exit line. That means you run less wide out of the corner on the throttle. Which again reduces the chances of running off the road – if it were a one-way street, or running into the oncoming lane – far more likely and inherently dangerous.

Open the throttle later. Riding fast on the street isn't harmful per se, racing is. And now that you aren't racing, you can afford to get on the throttle later. Again, you might lose a couple of feet of acceleration on the corner exit, but those fractions you waited might just allow you to spot another hazard as you look to where you are headed next.

Being late is of the greatest use when you are riding a road you don't really know that well. Running late allows you to read corners better, keep greater safety margins at hand in an unfamiliar environment and frankly, try it and you will realise that you don't actually lose much in terms of time. On the other hand, a later turn-in produces greater lean angles – makes the ride more exciting, but reduces the amount of time you spend leaned over – at a lower traction level. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes and the more things I spot that promote a quick, safer ride.

And apologies for not posting for nearly a month. I was out of the loop for a long while and it's taken me time to get back to posting here. Let us hope that this post sees us return to normal pace.

Apr 14, 2008

I must be doing something right!

Hello, hello, hello, people. I've been busy at work and the blog, obviously, has suffered from my absence. Apologies. And some more, because I'm not sure how often I will be able to post in the coming days either.

But in the meantime, look what happened!

That's a link from NY Times! Dude, that is a link from the hallowed New York Times. God, I'm so excited. Stuff like that just doesn't happen... and so forth! Here's the post where the link appeared.

Track day notice: Coimbatore, India

My favourite track day outfit has finalised dates for their next one...

Dates confirmed: may 10th/11th

Venue: Kari motor speedway, Coimbatore

As always, we bring you exclusive motorcycle only dedicated track days.

The goal of our track days are around a few key things.

1. To be safe and respect the sport and the riders
2. To learn more every time you come to the track
3. To have fun while riding and importantly off the track also

We will be running the track days by dividing the riders into three categories

People who have not ridden the track before or those who want to learn
in less aggressive way

People who have ridden before at Kari and who know the rules, more
aggressive but still being safe

the name says it all. Only superbikes in this class

Cost per head for both days : 2000Rs. This includes track time, with
medical and marshals.

Stay, fuel, parts, up and down transport of yourself and the bike is
not included in the above.

Important for signing up for track days
A change in policy is that I need the money upfront. Two modes of
payment: cash or money transfer. Please sms me and I will send you the
account number for a money transfer, else please send DD to my
name/address. Please let me know who is sending the DD else I have no
way of knowing who sent it.

Anand Dharmaraj, A-1, A-Block, AECS Layout, Brookefields, Bangalore- 560037
Phone : 9880018662

Mar 26, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

I could not help but use the words from that Tom Jones/Catatonia song to open this post. Blog reader JOSH's been out riding and it was lovely, although it didn't go to plan...

I just did a 1200 mile ride to Memphis and a few surrounding places over the weekend when the weather looked really promising. The minute I left Atlanta though, it took a turn, so here's...

...Ten reasons why 1200 miles should never be completed in three sub-10 degree days.
  1. A negative windchill factor makes the 'thrill' of the isolated twisting back roads being remembered as 'chill'

  2. It's not longer the red nosed reindeer, people now call me the bluenose idiot

  3. Blue fingers linger... long, long after that 3 hour soak in the hot tub

  4. If you talk to the guy on the K1200 at the gas station, he thinks you're gonna steal his heated jacket, his bike with heated grips and leave him with the crappy mesh jacket you're wearing

  5. Purple skies can be seen in summer too

  6. Cold weather makes you think hot chocolate isn't all that hot, until your mouth tells you so

  7. Moving in the saddle to relieve your numb backside has the wind reaching places it ought not to

  8. So what if Elvis lived in Memphis Tennessee, he's dead and a few more hours out there would have see me on my way to meet the king

  9. 700 motorcycles in a museum in Birmingham, halfway to Memphis doesn't make it any warmer

  10. It's impossible to wipe a leaky nose at 90mph with a really snug lid and gloves on

The Top 10: rearset on braking:

Have seen all the posts at my blog on the subject of braking? Don't worry about it. Neither have I. No, wait, I must have... I wrote the lot. Anyhoo, browsing through the 800-odd posts, I came with the top 10 posts I've written that talk extensively about braking technique and practice.

Mar 25, 2008

Why make a silly mistake?

Okay, this is a bit of a rant, so bear with me.

I am more than a little surprised by this. In the recent past, I've had the pleasure of meeting three people who read this blog on a regular basis. One of them asked me a question about helmets which I posted here not so long ago. You know, the one about dropping a lid and 'denting' it.

Recently, I met this chap again for a drink at a lounge bar close to both our houses. The second member of the reader troika joined us there. Since Gentleman 2 turned up in an auto and that's how he went back, so how many drinks he had does not, in the least, concern me. What does concern me is that Gentleman Number 1, who lives ten minutes away, took the precaution of carrying the selfsame dented lid to the bar, and here's where it becomes a the equivalent of sand in a swimsuit... he rode back home when we were done bantering about bikes.

The third gentleman and I also met at a watering hole, and yes, we watered. I, again, was off the motorcycle for obvious reasons and cabbed it home. Gentleman 3 person rode home, wearing a helmet. And I must – I'm OCD remember – point out that this lid is the exactly the sort of item that we like to laugh at – an imitation hard hat.

Now, I know from this person's photographs that he is in possession of a fine helmet and from what I've heard from him, and read about him, sound judgement as well. On the face of it, the former was obviously missing, and the latter chose not to make an appearance. The watering hole and the cab stand are, at this watering hole, separated by a yawning gap. So the gentleman thoughtfully offered to let me ride pillion to the cab stand. Ah but you see, I've not got my kit. That's condition one and it means I cannot get on a motorcycle, in either seat. Besides, not only am I well-watered (far from inebriated, I must freely admit though), you're three drinks down as well. Forget me riding pillion, you shouldn't be riding either. You, my friend, should have left the bike at your place and cabbed it as well. If nothing else, the walk to the cab stand would have been very pleasant. And it would have given us another twenty minutes to prolong the lovely bike banter.

It strikes me as strange that two motorcyclists, both seriously into two wheels and both deeply in love with our countersteered world would make such an obvious error in judgement. As far as I can tell, both ride safely and within their limits. Both are aware enough to either already (or aspire to) own good riding kit. Both are good men, nice to chat with, knowledgeable about motorcycling and have clear logical and rational thought processes. And yet.

I don't know if Gentleman 2 cabbed it home because he planned to drink, or it just turned out that way. But the point is, that this is a serious, even potentially fatal mistake. One that shouldn't be taken lightly. That alcohol impairs your judgement and slows your reaction time is known beyond any hint of a doubt. That alcohol in your bloodstream causes other problems is public knowledge too.

Statistically, you should already know that it close to your origin or destination that you are more likely to crash. You should also know that short, routine rides figure in far greater numbers in all manner of crash stats than the odd long tour (related links: 1 | 2| 3).

But more important is the fact that the chap driving blissfully while yakking away on his handphone doesn't care. When he hits you, the damage is the same. But if there's alcohol in your blood, it becomes your fault (see this. Look at point #7 in the Claims section). If you die, your family loses all hope of getting any aid from insurance. If you live, the car driver, who was probably at fault skips away scot free because you tippled.

A long time ago, I was a lot more militant about motorcycle safety. Oh yeah, I mean that in the past tense. I used to tell everyone to be careful, to wear helmets and so forth. I used to insist, insist and when I could, I would force people into line.

I don't do that no more. It isn't worth my time and effort. I like you, and if something were to happen to you, I'd be sorry – no matter who was at fault. But I will only try to ensure that you have all the information you need to make your own decisions. I will hope that you make the right decision.

But at the end of the day, it's your life. You can strive to preserve and enrich it. Or you can throw it away.

Jhansi Rani Laxmibai's ride to be commemorated by women scooter riders

Bipasha Basu from kineticI'm sorry, but I just had to post this... It's kind of funny, you have to admit.

Jhansi Rani Laxmibai's ride to be commemorated by women scooter riders

Chennai, March 25, 2008: 150 years ago, Jhansi Rani Laxmibai, at the young age of 22, undertook a 24 hour, 100 mile horseback ride from Jhansi to Kalpi, in a daring escape from the British forces who had laid siege to Jhansi. Rani Laxmibai's courage has earned her an unforgettable place in India's history, serving as inspiration to freedom fighters. Her legacy of valour continues to inspire India's young women to believe in themselves and strive for achievement.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of her daring escape, a group of women riders will re-enact her 100 mile journey from Jhansi to Kalpi, on scooters. The rally is being organized by Kinetic Motor Company, and the will be completed on the latest 125cc sensational scooter for women – the Kinetic SYM Flyte. The adventurous and exciting ride will happen on April 04, 2008 from Jhansi to Kalpi and training will be provided by popular Bikeguru Dilip Bam, who has decades of experience in two wheeler
adventure rides.

Announcing the unique initiative, Ms. Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Managing Director, Kinetic Motor Company said," It is my belief that today's Indian women are strong, independent and can do anything that a man can do. Rani Laxmi Bai is my personal heroine, and am sure she is for millions of other girls too. To honor the memory of her achievement, we are organizing this unique rally taking enthusiastic women to reenact Rani Laxmi Bai's journey on Kinetic-SYM "Flyte"

Advanced 125cc scooter Kinetic SYM Flyte is the new hot favorite among India's women who are looking for a set of wheels as cool as themselves. With several convenience features, a smooth 125cc engine and technology such as telescopic front suspension, front fueling and more. The Flyte, which has won two "Scooter of the Year" awards, has been brought to India by pioneering scooter manufacturer Kinetic Motor Company in association with Taiwan's $1.1 billion automotive giant SYM.

For more details, visit

Motorcycle Ballet

Sorry to do two video posts one after the other, but you have got to see this video. The skill and coordination on display is fantastic. Wish I could ride like that... Originally spotted here

Dainese Air Bag Video: What do you think of this?

What do you think of this?
Would you wear one of these (cost, for the moment, no bar?).

Mar 20, 2008

Cramster Boots: First impressions & details

Cramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
Cramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
Cramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
Cramster Motorcycle Riding Boots

Cramster Motorcycle Riding BootsCramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
Just to give you an idea of the size. That's my crash scuffed DMS Boot with the new Cramster (tall) model Size reference 2
Cramster Motorcycle Riding BootsCramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
I artifically lightened the pic, which is why it looks odd. The two flaps can almost be operated independently. I use the zipper halfway when I need to tuck my riding pants in to allow adjustability Same as pic on the left. But with the flaps open. Note that the zipper does not lock (like a trouser-fly zipper)
Cramster Motorcycle Riding BootsCramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
That's the toe slider. It's kind a big and pinches a bit at the trailing edge. But loosening that screw helped. Planning to loctite the screw down in that position. Problem solvedThat's the toe slider assembly. The boot has a 'dock' stitched in with a brass (no rust) hole to screw into. Two tabs hold the slider in position and prevent you from mounting it back to front. I do wish the rear tab was a bit longer. It would have held the rear edge of the slider just a bit away from the boot and prevented it from pinching. No matter, I just cut away the offending material with a knife. Perfect!
Cramster Motorcycle Riding BootsCramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
Calf slider. Also screws in like the toe slider. But no tabs on the back, so a lose screw will allow/cause rotationThat's the shin protection. The material feels like rubber, but the padding isn't especially thick – allows movement but won't protect all that much, then
Cramster Motorcycle Riding BootsCramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
That's a detail of the toe slider mountingThat's the shift pad. It is an extra layer of leather (on both boots, so Bullet riders can be happy). But leather wears. So eventually there will be a discoloured, slightly worn spot here
Cramster Motorcycle Riding BootsCramster Motorcycle Riding Boots
A rubber heel cup rounds out the back of the shoe. Rubber feels better than the plastic cups that are the norm. The plastic ones cause your feet to slide around when you're resting on your heels – like at your office deskToe Slider detail

Now that you know the shoe (Previous post)intimately, let me tell you how it felt. And felt, come to think of it, is what the lining material seems to be. Cramster's official spokesman said that the boot was designed to be warm and water resistant with touring riders in mind. So the felt is warm, but not comfortably so. A liner-less boot is supposedly coming up soon, and will be lighter and cooler.

I got a size 44, which fits perfectly (allowing space for a thicker sock when I return to Leh or some such). So the sizing is pretty spot on. In feel, the boot feels most unlike a sport motorcycle boot. A full-on sport boot restricts movement somewhat, but in true touring fashion, the Cramster boot has no plastic hinderances, so it feels pretty much like a normal boot would. The sole is thicker than my all-out sport boots, but return a fair amount of feel.

Here's the thing. A friend of mine spent a full day locating a pair of tall boots and finally got a pair made from Nashik. Which look, um, all right (He's reading this... gotta be careful) and he paid Rs 5,000 for them. These boots had they been on sale back then, would have been perfect. At Rs 4,600 from the tall boot, this is actually great value.

Downsides? Yes there are a few.
  • The toe slider's mouted a bit tall. I'm worried that when the time comes, the sole will grind down first, and the plastic toe slider later.
  • The outer ankle bone is unprotected, although the inner one had a hard pad over it.
  • I wish the shifter pad was moulded rubber or plastic
  • If the toe slider mounting were bigger, it would have given the toe area more strength in a crash.
  • The toe slider need not be this thick, really.
  • A half zipper instead of a full length one, will give the top of boot more flexibility in fit terms
  • Toe slider mounting should be lower. The bottom of the toe slider should clear the sole only by 5 mm or so
  • Um, colours?