Feb 25, 2008

We're Noobs 4: Craig Jones, Chilled out!

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Feb 24, 2008

Updated: Joe Rocket India Store: Open

Joe Rocket India ShowroomThe Joe Rocket store is now open. You can visit it at

Performance Racing/Zubinn Design
Tullaskar Iron & Steel Works
Plot #8, Road #5
Gopi Tank Cross Road
Behind Raja Rani Travels
Shivaji Park
Mumbai 400019

Directions (map added below):
If coming from Hinduja Hospital side, down Cadell Road, the take the left at the small signal BEFORE Shivaji Park actually begins... Look for Yes Bank at signal corner. Take the second left and look for Leena Mogre Gym sign on the right side two buildings down from the turn

If coming from town side, take the road past Shivaji Park. Right after the Barista signal at the end of the park take the small right turns that comes up. Follow the road, take first left, right immediately after that and then first left again. look for Leena Mogre Gym sign on the right side two buildings down from the turn

Joe Rocket India ShowroomItems to look out for:
I think the two best jackets for Indian conditions in the shop are the Phoenix and the Atomic, both roughly Rs 7,000 (VAT extra). Look at the long cuff gloves and avoid the short cuff ones. I recommend the Highside (Rs 3000 pair). Cheaper gloves are there too. They have Alter Ego pants (Rs8600+VAT), but you might want to wait for the new Phoenix mesh pants that are due shortly. There is an inaugural discount of 10 percent on many jackets...

Joe Rocket India ShowroomWhat else is there?
The store also carried Laser exhausts, Powerbronze screens, underlighter kits, crash bobbins, KBC, Joe Rocket (Rs 13,000) and Sparx helmets, Joe Rocket sport and street boots (Rs 13,000) , tank pads, Joe Rocket casual apparel (team shirts, caps and beanies) and some more stuff

Map to Joe Rocket India mumbai store

Map courtesy: Google Maps
Link to live map : here

Feb 22, 2008

MCN Video: What to do if you damage your helmet

Video: A Day out in Devon

Nice, cheeky little video!

Feb 21, 2008

KBC & Sparx Helmets: Press Release

Here's the official word from KBC on their Indian operation. It means I as a bit off o the prices front...

We would like to announce the launch of one of the world’s fastest growing helmet manufacturers to India. KBC Helmets USA and SparX will be introduced to the mass consumers for the first time in India.

KBC will introduce full face (Street ware), moto-cross helmets (MX ware) under both the SparX and KBC brands. All of our helmets comply or exceed Dot and/or SNELL standards. Our helmets will cater to the needs of racing bike enthusiasts, cruisers and all riders who appreciate quality helmets. We are positioned as a world class quality product at affordable prices. KBC will be one of the first international helmet brands to foray full fledged into the Indian market.

As a US Company, KBC Helmets has always emphasized safety first. Hence our motto "Ride Hard, Ride Long, Ride Safe."

What we want the people of India to know is that we are here for the long run, and to show them that after sales service is a priority. This will help our branding as well as building the trust between the consumers and our products. We want to educate people on how important it is to be wearing proper safety gear (not just helmets), especially on these newly introduced superbikes, such as the Yamaha R1 and Kawasaki ZX10Rs. We know that the mass consumers don't understand yet the difference between a helmet to cover your head, and a helmet to PROTECT your head. With the help from blogs such as yours, we know this is something that will change in the near future.

Some of the features of our KBC helmet include:

It is fitted with a Savoy Suede lining on the cheeks for maximum comfort, along with Snell and DOT approvals for Safety. Made of a Tri-Composite (Kevlar, Fiberglass, and Poly Carbonate), it is one of the safest helmets out there. It has a Quick Release Visor Mechanism, for switching out the visors, interior lining is fully removal to hand wash and air dry, and vents in the front, top and back for good airflow. The brim on the top of the visor is so that rain will be carried to the side if you are riding under harsh weather conditions, and the golf ball dimples on the side of the visor is for aerodynamics. The visor is also Anti-UV, anti-Fog, and Anti-scratch. KBC helmets range anywhere from about Rs 3600 to about Rs.11, 500.

The SparX helmets have different features which include:

The SparX helmets are much lighter, as they are ECE and DOT approved, and not SNELL. There are actually only 3 other helmets in the world with the same safety standards that are lighter than the SparX helmets. The full face helmet, with the Che Guevarra graphics is a huge hit in the US, and had a great response at the Expo. Made of Thermo-Plast and polycarboante, it also has a removable lining and an easy to release visor for switching out the visors. It even has vents on the shield so that no fog is built up inside the helmet. SparX is a subdivision of KBC and has just launched in the US a few months ago. We are happy to share this product with the evolving Indian market. The entire SparX range is from about Rs 3600-5600

Indian consumers would be able to purchase these helmets in various price ranges depending on their tastes.

Market: The Indian helmet market is a dynamic industry which has seen many changes in the past two years. The organized helmet market in India is presently worth US$ 10 million and is witnessing growth rates of 40% annually. We have also seen wide changes with the consumption habits of consumers shifting from low end to high end helmets. We have also seen changes in terms of imported helmets from foreign manufacturers finding its presence in the Indian market.

The motorcycle market is also witnessing changes with the introduction of high end motorcycles introduced by Indian manufacturers as well as the proposed entry of super bikes into India by major motorcycle brands such as Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, and Honda.

Distributor Network: We are happy to announce that KBC and SparX would be collaborating with Vega Auto Accessories for distributing its product range in India. Vega Helmets is one of the leading manufacturers of motorcycle crash helmets in India. At present the collaboration is in terms of distribution of KBC and SparX helmet and would explore further collaboration opportunities in the future.

About KBC Helmets Inc:

KBC Helmets is one of the leading brand and private label manufacturers in world. With a turnover of over $70 million, KBC sells it products in US, Europe, Latin America, Australia and Asia Pac through its wide network of distributors and dealers. KBC sells helmets and other accessories for providing pleasurable biking experience and emphasizing on safety and quality.

KBC manufactures its fine quality products in its own high tech manufacturing facilities, maintaining quality control and supply. In house R&D and designing facilities help us deliver superior designs and products to cater to the needs of its customers.
Related links

Yamaha Gladiator SS/RS: Official words

Yamaha Gladiator RS
Old news, I know, but here's the official press release

Race –bred Yamaha technology revs up into Sports Biking Gladiator Type SS (Stylish & Sporty) & Type RS (Racing Sports) Launched

February 15, 2008: Bike major Yamaha has made sport biking more accessible in India with Gladiator Type SS and Type RS. This full size dynamic sporty machine is one of the best in the fiercely competitive 125 cc segment. Power packed with 28 new features, this 4-stroke, 11 bhp and 5-speed bike is a unique combination of sports biking and style. Developed with the true Yamaha DNA, the Gladiator will kick start a new sports biking lifestyle in the Indian market. Its 28 newly developed features, add values of superb performance, new styling, greater handling and comfort.

Yamaha’s race-bred technology delivers an enhanced ride, agile cornering and precise braking. The result is enjoyable sport biking experience unmatched by any other bike in the category. Added to this, the new Gladiator Type SS and RS have been designed for substantial improvement in running performance, overall sporty design and product reliability with added advantages of practical functionality, fuel economy and cost effectiveness.

Describing Gladiator as a next generation bike, Mr. T. Maeda – Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, Yamaha Motor India says, “The Gladiator Type SS and Type RS have been designed to be true to the Yamaha DNA. In its category, it is the only machine that can deliver a sport biking experience which is intrinsic to Yamaha brand. Catering to the young, evolving lifestyle market, Gladiator Type SS and Type RS will target young students or young executives who seek a solid machine with good overall product balance and distinctive style. The Type SS and Type RS is a strong product and we are confident it will drive our sales to the fifth gear".

The Gladiator showcases benchmark 125cc styling, refinement and a free-revving 11 bhp engine with Yamaha Throttle Position Sensor (YTPS) technology that delivers stupendous standing acceleration. 5 speed close ratio transmission allows the rider to make the most of a wide power band to experience excellent performance in both around-turn and high-speed riding. Aerodynamic racy under cowl, sporty tachometer, wind tunnel designed front cowl, lightweight aluminium wheels and powered front disc brakes gives it a dynamic yet sophisticated demeanor.
The Bike will deliver mileage of 67 km per litre on actual city road conditions. The Gladiator Type SS will be offered in 2 colours, Yellow and Red and Type RS in Blue colour. The bike will be priced at Rs.46, 350 onwards ex-showroom. With the Yamaha signature all over, the Gladiator is an extremely well built, practical, stylish and promises to be the best bike in its class.

The company recently rolled out two of its flagship models the Super Sports YZF - R1 and the Torque Sports MT01 in the Indian market.

Feb 18, 2008

Elephanta Festival 2008: Not such a good'un

Mumbai SunsetThe Wife and I made out annual gentle ferry trip to the Elephanta Festival on Friday. On the menu were two lovely hour-long ferry rides, an unexpectedly close look at the massive, imposing INS Virat, the lovely bass horn of a container ship heading out of Mumbai, a kuchipudi performance by Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant and a table performance by Pandit Zakir Hussein.

Let me get the bad eggs out of the way first. Dr Jatant, no doubt well respected in the dancing community was a bit off-colour. A dancer having trouble standing on one foot in one the numerous mudras required is in deep trouble and so she was. The Wife, who knows these things, said her expressions and all were great, but the choreography overall was far from great and personally, there were at least two times I nearly fell asleep. And at the end, there were two things that really irked me. The metal plate was duly brought to as the penultimate 'item' on the agenda, which duly received a huge applause from the gathered audience and once more, I begged to differ – the footwork was far from impressive. And I won't even go into the final item, which involved a lion's face being drawn with red powder on a wet canvas with the dancer's feet. If there was any dancing involved in that part of the performance, it escaped me totally. An impressive lion did emerge, but I couldn't spot any kuchipudi in its execution. Then again, I don't know anything about dance, I think.

Pandit Zakir Hussain, as you already know, is a man of considerable talent, charm and articulation. That much was evident in the way he rapidly shepherded an audience distracted by the (usually horrible and terrifyingly expensive) food on offer in the break into rapt admiration as he opened with a serious bit. And then, horror of horrors, the performance rapidly tailed off into an impressive performance, but of all the usuals that between the wife and I, we have seen at least eight times now. The sounds of the mice, deer and elephant, the nagaras atop Red Ford, the radha-krishna argument, pink panther and so forth. We'd come to listen to a serious performance. Unfortunately that was not to be.

We were wondering later as to what had happened. When I heard the man for the first time, it was a Spic-Macay thing at school and we'd been given exactly this. As a class six student, it sounded fantastic. But in a serious music festival? I understand the need and desire to make classical music more accessible to the general, ignorant public. But all the time? Is it an assumption that everyone in the audience is incapable of appreciating the finer points of a serious teen taal play? Or is the man jaded from having tried to get people to appreciate serious music and has decided if the audience is always dumb, the music must be dumbed down too. Are his brothers, Faisal and Toufiq and maybe a handful of other confidants the only ones left who have the privilege of hearing Pandit Zakir Hussein at his serious, masterful best?

His table playing, without a doubt, is beyond anything I have ever seen. His fingers, perpetually blurred out, excellent articulation, all-embracing charm are absolutely brilliant. But, I remember, at the same place listening to Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia a couple of years ago. Another man, of excellent disposition, extremely gracious and likeable. But the flute played serious notes, embraced and enthralled everyone, without dumbing any of it down. A sweeter note ne'er was heard. So here I am, wishing to hear Pandit Hussain play seriously once.

The ferry ride, both ways, was lovely. Almost an end in itself. On the way back, we managed to secure the best place in the house, on the top deck, for'ard of the wheel house, on an expansive wooden box that, I imagine, housed the lifeboat. In a quiet voice, The Wife and I sang in hushed voices to each other. For that hour, everything was right in the world.

Then the lazy walk to Cafe Mondegar, a bit of Budweiser to mark a good night out in town... Ah, we'll do this again next year.

Here's what I said last year

One Tree Music Festival 2008: A good'un

Went to listen to Joe Bonamassa and the Rob Cray Band at the One Tree festival on Saturday night. I know nothing of blues/jazz, mind you, so this was purely experimental. But man, live performances rock. Especially if the chaps belting them out are good. Joe Bonamassa, I'm told, plays a very rock-ish version of the blues, and I loved his set. His two songs on the acoustic guitar were just superb! I never knew there was so much sound in that guitar. Fantastic!

Rob Cray, of course, is a legend. And his performance was superb too. Including the witty banter, the wild solos and the lovely, lovely support of Jimmy Q on the organ/keyboards. The solos and the one time when the rest of the band took a break and Cray and Q were jammming were just superb. Loved it.

The sigh of a million air guitars being strummed along, more than a few people dancing to beat, a few people unable to contain their alcohol and the striking smell of grass/hash were just a backdrop to the music.

Finally, the award for the most real estate needed to enjoy music goes to the gentleman in the red sweatshirt, later red t-shirt. While everyone made do with about a square foot or maybe too, our man, went wild. His flailing air guitar, intermittent nagin dance and swinging blind steps rapidly cleared up a fifty square foot hole in the audience, and many were tuned into the music, but looking at him. Then, my friend tells me, he'd seen the chap before. It was the same at the Bandra Fest. Good on ya, mate! Keep the air guitar flailing!

The next day we turned up to hear Goldspot and Joe Feliciano. The Wife remembers her dad playing Feliciano in the house on the old turntable. As it turns out, Goldspot was the weakest link in the One Tree chain. While the Friday single was all right (on TVs right now), the rest was um, passable. On its own, it probably would have been all right, but in the company the band got to keep, they were in way over their heads.

Which beings me to Jose Feliciano. The man's a bloody genius, I say. Lovely guitar work, great songs, great presence and the vibe of a benevolent, sweet old man. I loved the music, loved his chattering with the audience and especially loved his version of 'Light My Fire.' Went there, bought the CD, clapped till the hands hurt and loved it all.

Will be there next year for sure.

Feb 15, 2008

Fuel prices around the world

Keep The Rubber Side Down has published an interesting list of fuel prices around the world. Well, I converted it into our currency and units and look, we're not the most expensive place on earth to buy fuel in! Heads up from Bikes In The Fast Lane

Country Price per US gallon Price Rs/Litre Percent of US average
Norway 8.67 91.61 279.00%
Netherlands 8.52 90.03 274.00%
Belgium 8.36 88.34 270.00%
Germany 8.06 85.17 260.00%
UK 7.91 83.58 255.00%
Italy 7.68 81.15 248.00%
France 7.46 78.83 240.00%
Spain 7.34 77.56 237.00%
Poland 6.55 69.21 211.00%
Japan 5.19 54.84 167.00%
India 4.73 50 152.63%
Brazil** 4.14 43.75 134.00%
USA 3.1 32.76 100.00%
Russia 3.03 32.02 98.00%
Kazakhstan 2.73 28.85 88.00%
Mexico* 2.46 25.99 79.00%
China 2.27 23.99 73.00%
Nigeria 2.23 23.56 72.00%
Saudi Arabia 0.45 4.76 15.00%
Iran 0.42 4.44 13.00%
Venezuela* 0.11 1.16 4.00%

* All prices from November 2007, except Mexico and Venezuela in August 2007

MBI 2008 Awards: Your vote is needed

The chaps at Motorcycle Bloggers International have prepared the final list of candidates for the 2008 award. As a member, I've already voted and now, it is your turn. Please click here to vote now.

Feb 12, 2008

Helmet Visors: What's that stuff written on them?

AGVIf you look carefully at the shield on your AGV/KBC/Sparx/Shoei, you will see a small piece of text that reads "EXCEEDS VESC-8." The other day, after months of procrastination, I finally got around to figuring what that cryptic thing means. VESC was an American Vehicle Safety organisation, and the VESC-8 is a standard they created that sets the norm for protective eye gear. While the organisation itself is defunct now, its standard has been adopted more or less everywhere.

I am unable to source the document itself, but I chanced upon a study [pdf]that compares various helmet standards and therein I found that VESC-8 fires a 44.2 gm metal dart at the protective eye gear (visor) from a height of 4.27 metres. If the dart penetrates the shield, it fails the test. SNELL, meanwhile, fire 1 gram, 5mm dia led pellets at a shield at 500 kph (true!). The pellets are allowed to leave bumps in the visor but if one penetrates... failed. Similarly, the ECE 22.05 and DOT also have some sort of performance criteria for a helmet shield, which can lead to an entire helmet flunking certification if the shield alone fails.

Which brings me to the Indian visor standard. It irks me that IS 9973 is officially the 'Specification for Visor for Scooter Helmets" but that aside it does have all the right stuff in it. There are two performance tests and a bunch of optical tests. The first performance tests sees the shield mouted horizontally. A 50 gram 'steel sphericals ball' is dropped on the sheid from a metre hieght. The shield is supposed to neither shatter, nor come unhinged. The second test uses a sewing machine needle backed by a 50 gram weight. This too is dropped from a metre high, and again is expected to not penetrate the shield. Unlike the helmets, there is no heat/cold requirement. Also,the visor is expected to be visually perfect and come with a tag that tells you to keep it clean. Finally, it may carry an ISI mark (not to be confused with the IS 4151 for the helmet itself) on it.

In India, AGV, Sparx and KBC are the only helmets that come with VESC-8 spec shields.

Feb 11, 2008

Sparx helmets: Other reviews

Sorry y'all about the continued helmet posts. I'm rather enjoying it, actually {snigger}. That said, this post sort of happened, when I found these two videos.

This review is from helmetharbor.com. They post a fair number of helmet reviews at their youtube channel

This is from webbikeworld.com

And here's a completely unrelated (to this) but helmet related link. Thanks Srikeerthi!

Mailbag #17: I have a good helmet, and a bad one...

Sparx Hornet S-07Just dropped my helmet :( have a dent on it now. Planning to use it for commutes, and buy a new one for trips. Have a budget of Rs 2000. I guess I can only get an AGV in that price, right? Any advice?

My advice is to make a will. But before I explain that rather macabre piece of advice, let me give you a little background. You already know how a helmet is constructed. Now, if a helmet were to fall, say off the seat of your bike with no one in it, usually the damage will be minimal. Since there is nothing inside to compress the EPS liner, the helmet should be all right. Let us say, still useable, but retires a year early. However, if the fall was bad enough to dent the shell, then the dent itself will have either broken or compressed the EPS. That's not good. From here on out, that helmet is just a souvenir. That's part one.

Part two is the fact that I've seen your Vemar lid. And frankly, it isn't in minty shape. There are scratches all over it, the visor isn't all that clear either. So in any case, you should be thinking about replacing it soon. The question of differentiating the risk in a commute and on a long ride doesn't actually arise. Most accidents, whether you like it or not, are urban phenomena. You're far more likely to have a big one five km from your home/office that 300 km from the nearest dhaba. So the only reason to have a better lid on a longer ride is either comfort (since you will in it for a longer stretch of time) or fashion. Which is it?

Okay, enough sarcasm. My friend, get a hammer and chisel and make hole in the top the helmet – if that's what you need to see to throw it away. If you're planning to store it as memorabilia, remember to use loads of shrink wrap to pack the lid. Otherwise the foam will stink, and spiders like to live inside them.

About the budget, live a little. Stretch it just a bit. You should be able to snag a Sparx for Rs 2500 onwards. They're fit-finish and comfort levels are far, far superior to the AGV Pacific. The price includes a spare visor, the interiors are removable, its a comfortable helmet and it meets ECE 22.05, which is tighter than ISI. If you have trouble stretching the budget, try thinking of it this way. It's for your head. You get only one in a lifetime. Without it, you're no use to anyone. Again, I suggest you upgrade to a better helmet. If you don't want to, of course, you still have the AGV option. It won't compare in comfort or finish or design to the Sparx, but its a solid lid.

Whatever you end up buying, wear it whenever you ride. Stop thinking of it as optional in all situations, and don't give yourself the silly option of an inferior lid on one kind of ride and a better one for some other. Any half-serious crash will cost way, way more than the money you 'splurge' on your helmet. And it will feel even worse if you were wearing a lid you knew was inferior at the time, when a perfectly good one was wasting away on a shelf at home. Which might have saved you all the trouble.

Related links

Feb 8, 2008

Joe Rocket is coming to India!

Joe Rocket LogoJoe Rocket is coming to India. I visited the store, which is under construction right now, and was impressed with the kit on display. While the final prices are not out yet, whatever indicative prices I heard, seemed on the ball. And if you're thinking jacket store, forget it. This is the real deal.

From a full race suit, motorycle jackets, motorycle pants, motorycle gloves, lids (yes, JR now makes helmets too), motorycle boots, the store has everything on sale. Prices start Rs 5,000 onwards, estimated. Final word within a day or two. There will also JR branded armour (including back protectors) and some JR motorcycle bags.

Further, the store is not just a kit store. They will also carry the KBC and Sparx helmet ranges. For those with bigger bikes, there will also be official exhausts, visor screens, crash bobbins, underlighters, tail tidies and other bits.

I know that big motorycle kit brands like Alpinestars, Axo and so forth are already here. But here's the thing. I am not in a position to shell out Rs 10,000 or more for a jacket, or for that matter, Rs 5,000 for a glove. There's no denying the safety factor and all of that, but at the end of day, I'm still no rich enough to be a premium kit customer. I'm firmly VFM. The only luxury I will happily spring for are lids and boots.

At 10k a jacket kind of rates, I'd never be able to afford my dream R1, right? JR stuff is still a heck of a lot cheaper, of similar quality and style. The possibility that I could walk in to a store, swipe a card and walk away with a new pair of gloves, pants... without blowing up the credit card is just sweet. Stay tuned.

Update: Joe Rocket India Store: Open

Feb 7, 2008

Motorcycle Helmets: the standards thing

I had a most horrifying discussion with an industry colleague at the Auto Expo. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to bring it up here. This colleague works in the helmet business and is in the position to know these things. But first a little background.

The American DOT (Department of Transport) standard, any many other standards in the world, follow what is known as the honour system. Which says, more or less, that I, the manufacturer am a responsible entity and I will ensure that my products meet the standard. That means, every helmet that says it meets or exceeds DOT standards does so. Not that DOT tests them, but that the manufacturer, verifiably, has the ethical wherewithall to ensure this is true.

Are you beginning to be scared already?

Now, in Europe or the US, I wouldn't have a problem with this. They value human life far, far more than we do at the moment, and helmets, at the end of the day, are life-or-death devices, so no one messes around.

I asked this chap how the IS:4151 was enforced in India. He smiled. It seems (please correct me if this information is wrong) that all you really need to put an ISI sticker on your helmet is the ability to prove that you can prove your helmet can pass the standard. Get it? You only need to show that you have the apparatus, as described in the standard, that can put helmets to the test. You might need to test a helmet or two to convince the BIS that the apparatus works, ditto the lid, but that's more or less it. Continuous product testing, random sampling and all are left to internal devices. The BIS, according to the source, does not actually test helmets, and random sample checks are few and far between.


Further, if I were out there buying a new lid, I'd try, as hell, to get a Snell M2005 spec helmet. There's a list at the Snell website, so identifying the models shouldn't be hard. Why? Because Snell, first of all, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to testing and certifying safe helmets. Second, its a voluntary thing. Lid makers pay Snell to test their products and then purchase the certification stickers from Snell to put on their lids. Third, Snell re-tests random samples to ensure that the lids continue to meet the Snell standard. Perhaps the only thing you can hold against the Snell standard is that as of 2005, the ECE22.05, the European standard, is actually tighter in terms of permissible peak impact force than Snell's M2005 (275g versus 300g).

In India, almost all of the KBC lids that have just gone on sale pass the M2005 tests. The Wife needs a new lid. Hmm...

Related links in this series:

Other links on helmets

Feb 4, 2008

Why rearset's blog's been down

He might as well have been wearing a T-shirt that said, 'I'm clueless.'
What say Kj, make one? Gift item only, heh heh.

He was apologising, all right, but he clearly had no clue what for. In his eyes, it would have looked like this.

Should I go up the flyover? Or left under it? Damn, I'm lost. [He had no clue where he was on the road either, so was drifting all over the left most lane going up the flyover at the time]. F*** it, I'll go over it and see. [Opens throttle]. No wait, maybe I should ask someone... [hits brakes, starts to pull left to the side. No, never looked in the mirrors at all]. As I slow to a stop, feet coming down off the pegs, I feel a rather powerful bump from behind. The Thunderbird picks up another 15 kph, seems to become higher in the rear and then settles down. WHAT WAS THAT? I pull over to the side and see carnage behind. Two people, in shiny helmets are down. The one in the middle of the lane is wearing a dark, padded sort of jacket and a salwar kameez... must be a girl. The other one is sitting up on the road... nice helmet... rather awkwardly. His right leg... oh fook, looks broken. Shit.
The crowd arrived instantly. In that instant, I relive the event. We were riding home, briskly, but without any major urgency. A friend waited near home, for us to roll in and take him in. We took off from the previous traffic light as we usually do, surely and rapidly pulling away from the crowd and catching the next platoon that was climbing the flyover at the time. I saw a truck, I think, in the middle lane, and decided to join the flyover from the left lane. I spotted the grey t-shirt on the Thunderbird and realised he looked unsure. I slowed a bit, to about 75 kph, I think, waiting for him to decide. I spotted him rolling on, and rolled on, and then I saw the sudden flash of brakes lamps and the bike beginning to pull left. I wasn't worried, actually, I was a good 20 feet or so behind then. But when I hit my brakes, I felt the front lock up.

Dirt? Here? No way? Even as the thought flashed through my head, I knew that the bike was tilting hard to the right and that we were now character actors in a slow-motion movie.

Enough crashes in my past to not blank out. Or do stupid things like stick hands or knees out. So I simply feel the front wheel dragging stubbornly over a greasy carpet of dust. The lean angle deepening and then we're down. I don't feel The Wife on me, so she must have fallen clear... I look up to see my jacketed arms dragging on, my palms are up out of danger and my lid is no danger of being smashed either. Phew!

Then I spot the motorcycle, screeching along ahead of me, on its side kicking up dust in my face, heading for the rear wheel of the Thunderbird. That's going to hurt.

I close my eyes moments before the twain meet, but here's what I think happens. The T-bird is still rolling, and on impact, it flips my bike up. The bike lands, fortunately for me, on its right footpeg and the tail end crashes down on the padded part of my riding pants, cue giant bruise. But it also pins my knee in a very awkward fashion. Damage done, it untangles itself and slides off, taking another 10-15 feet of space before coming to rest gently in the plastic poles that the traffic police usually mount in the space before the beginning of the flyover railing begins.

When I open my eyes, the right leg hurts. I look down, its twisted the way I've seen a million times on sick YouTube videos. Oh shit. Where's The Wife? She appears over my right shoulder, screaming. I realise it's at me she's yelling, 'Are you okay?'

'Think I broke my leg.' I tell her optimistically.

She proceeds to vent her worries, cloaked in the instant anger of a concerned loved one on Mr T'Bird. He clearly is clueless. She rains blows down on him, and despite the pain, I'm loving this. Wish I could get up. Then, I hear the traffic catching up behind us, and the murmur of the concerned crowd.

They lift me up and take me to the side and then I realise that nothing's broken. The Wife's busy at the thrashing, so I try to put weight on the gravity-straightened leg. It holds. I've twisted it really, really badly, but I can't feel the sharp pain of a torn ligament, or worse. Just a twist.

Some concerned citizen-type offers us water. She takes some. I limp, with help, to the bike. Someone hands me the keys. Someone else has parked the bike on the center stand and recentered the Cramster tankbag I usually carry. Thanks, whoever you are. The bike seems okay. No fluids leaking, a slightly cracked fairing. Yeah, its all right.

The Wife comes back and asks if I am bleeding. I'm not. And I drop the riding pants to convince her. The crowd takes unusual notice of my legs. One's mine, definitely, the other looks like Schwarzenegger's after he stopped working out. She has two skinned knees, a hurting, bleeding ankle and a sprained wrist. Not good, but could have been a lot, lot worse.

I remount, she climbs back on... you gotta love adrenaline... we continue on. I see a couple of very amazed faces in the crowd. Protective gear works, okay?

Ten minutes later, I am feeling every gearshift as the thigh obstructs every movement of the toes. Thankfully, you can grimace inside the helmet and no one's the wiser. Then The Wife asks me to pull over. When we stop, she sits on the pavement. She's slightly claustrophobic, and a bit nauseous (she tells me later).

Composure regained, we head home. Later, the doctors pronounce us lucky, minorly injured. Bed rest, painkillers, sleep, novels...

The Wife still has scabs, but has agreed to wear knee protection and probably gloves too. I've written the right knee of my pants off. The road's worn shiny patches all over the knee and holed the sturdy nylon in two places, leaving scars on the hard plastic armour below it. The left knee bears signs of a more pointed sort of violence. A force that aimed to break but was thwarted, rather than one that aimed to wear out. The jacket only has a shiny right forearm, showing clearly the outline of the Knox armour it has inside.

Lucky we were fast, that night. The gap to traffic was a boon. The Wife fell clear in the middle lane and rolled over twice. If there was someone speeding behind her... I was scared shitless for a while, but we're definitely riding together again.

All the parents duly recommended we upgrade to cages. But it isn't gonna be. I am limping, but I am back.

What did I learn from the crash?

  • No one's uncrasheable. But I knew that

  • Protective kit works. Spend money on it, it's a genuine investment.
    $100 for a riding pant is better than Rs 1,50,000 for a knee-reconstruction or worse

  • Have a sinking fund for kit. So when one part is wiped out, there's cash at hand to replace it

  • Nothing is foolproof. Eventually a fool will blunder through your defenses...
    not much you can do about that (Thanks for the tip, Murphy)

  • Be even more careful when riding. Maybe there was space to overtake this jackass from the right... maybe I didn't spot it?

  • Dirt's nomadic. Sometimes it sets up camp in places you don't expect it

  • Apologies do not reduce pain or injuries at all

  • Not being able to ride sucks. Not being able to walk sucks only a little less

  • I love my wife a lot more than I know

Funny blog!

My friend JC pointed me this way...

Sign up for story reading for kids at your local library. Remember, it’s OK to insert product placements into the story you are reading. For example, “Seven dwarfs came home after a hard day’s labor and logged on to Twisted-dna.com while Snowhite cooked the dinner.”

Bargains: Nelson-Rigg CL-650

Just found this at Nelson-Rigg CL-650 Tank Bag at New Enough. Seems like a terrific deal. If you have someone in the US coming back soon, I'd ask them to order one for you and carry it back. Rs 2000-odd for a good looking, capacious tank bag, is very good indeed. Even if you shipped it to India direct, you'd only be paying, what, Rs 4000-odd. Still a good price, I say

Fastrack Bikers Collection: rearset's in it too!

Fastrack sunglasses model MA016BK2I got a message from a lady who wanted to send me four pairs of sunglasses from FastTrack. Yeah, Bikers collection, peer review, you know. Then I got a second message, that the four was a typo. I took a long look at the peeling matte coating on my current pair of FastTracks, and smiled – I knew it was too good to be true. Anyway, I got to pick one of four styles. So I picked the one I thought looked best. Now, great men think alike. Or, if you prefer, fools seldom differ. The result, is that Payeng and I chose the same pair. And so did Captain Chitnis. Heh heh, damn cool!

Anyway, so here's the peer review.

As glasses go, receiving Rs 1800 worth of booty/swag in the mail is always a good thing. So yeah, the glasses are good. I've worn (down) a number of googles in helmets to date (dark and mirror visors are a recent thing for me) so I can say with some authority that er... sorry, they won't go into a helmet. If they do, your helmet's too loose, get a more snug one. Sorry. The problem, I think is that the tips of the stems are rectangular in section. A vertical knife blade like stem woulda fit, this won't. And I have two stinging welts on my temples to prove it.

So, that aside, the glasses are very good indeed. They look good, despite my mug, that is. The finish is good and my only observation (notice neutral stance) is that they're a fair bit heavier than my earlier pair, which were all-plastic, and thefore featherweight. The Wife, for the record, doesn't mind them, but hates the way the lenses stick out the sides.

I wish (and I always wish this) that the lenses were darker though. I read somewhere, years ago, that a good pair of goggles would not allow you see your eyes in the mirror when they're on. These (and I think almost every non-reflective pair I've ever owned) do.

But serious respect for the build quality. I walked into a glass door the other day. Not in the interest of testing them, but because the glass was obscured by a downed shutter on the outside, and I was trying to look sideways through a gap in the shutter to spot my cab driver. BANG! The glasses flew off and landed a couple of feet away, having taken the brunt of the impact. One rimless lens now bears a tiny pockmark, but the glasses are perfectly okay. Impressive. The top of the rubber bridge broke off on impact, but one screw removed and a little FeviKwik and its brand new from the outside, and no different in feel from the inside.

Xenitis UFO 0150: new scooter & Rock goes all-India!

Xenitis UFO 0150Xenitis, the brand that has rocked the two-wheeler world, has in the short span of time, doubled its product range in India. To two two-wheelers. Meet the new UFO 0150. In addition, the Rock 100 will now rock the whole country. Read all about it below:

Xenitis UFO 0150Global Automobiles Enters Scooter Market in India
  • Launches UFO 0150—The New Generation Scooter in India
  • National Launch of Rock100 – 100cc Motorcycle @ Rs 19,990
    The Revolution in Automobile Industry

Successfully Launched in Eastern India in November, 2007, with an existing customer base of approx 40,000 motorcycles in East. Revolutionary Price point of Rs 19,990 and exceptional mileage of 125 km/litre.

Xenitis Rock 100Within 1 year of 2-wheeler factory inauguration in West Bengal (the first two-wheeler manufacturing unit in Eastern India) by the Honourable CM, West Bengal, Global has geared itself to strengthen its presence in 2-wheeler market in India with the launch of Xpression and Xpression Plus in 125 cc category, Rock 100 in 100 cc and now UFO 0150 to take on the scooter market.

Mumbai, January 31, 2008: In keeping with its commitment to storm the burgeoning 2-wheeler market in India, Global Automobiles, The only 2-wheeler manufacturer in eastern India from Xenitis Group, launches UFO 0150- a 4-stroke new generation state-of-the-art scooter in India today, thus marking its entry into the scooter segment. The Group is also announcing the National Launch of Rock100 the 100cc motorcycle that has created revolution in the 2-wheeler market in India at a price of Rs 19,990.

Shri Pranab Mukherjee,Hon’ble Union Minister, External Affairs, Govt of India unveiled the UFO 0150 and Announced the National Launch of Rock100 today in New Delhi in presence of Tariq Anwar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament & Member, Consultative Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs and Shri Anil Basu, Hon’ble Member of Parliament & Chairman, Indo-China Friendship Forum.

Targeted at urban youth males and females with a focus on students in India, UFO 0150 will capture the fancy of the target segment as a New Generation Scooter. It is featured with 150 cc, 4 Stroke Engine, Electronic Self Start and Kick Start facility, metal bodied chassis and front and side cover in ABS. Available in four colour variants of Red, Black, Yellow and Silver, UFO 0150 will be the preferred choice of scooter riders for its high instant pick up, very powerful engine. The ex-showroom price (Delhi) of UFO 0150 is Rs. 34,990.

Designed and developed completely by Global Automobiles R & D, Xenitis group is committed to provide a satisfaction to scooter riders all across the country for its easy to drive facility and unique features like scooter disc brake, mobile indicator and self start that are not available in any other existing models in India at this price point.

Announcing the launch of UFO 0150 in India, Mr. Santanu Ghosh, Chairman & Managing Director, Xenitis Group said, “We are entering the scooter market in India with UFO 0150. Global hopes to sell 15000 units of UFO 0150 by the end of this fiscal. We are eyeing 25% market share by 2010 with the help of our aggressive marketing strategy and pan India dealer network. Though the scooter segment constitutes only 15 per cent of the two-wheeler market, Global has chosen to enter this arena to win over the youngsters.”

Global has built a strong dealer’s network of 450 dealers spanning across the country. It has 150 dealers in North India, 125 in West, 100 in South and 75 dealers in eastern India. The company has set up 250 exclusive showrooms across the country.

Xenitis Group, one of Eastern India’s biggest conglomerates set up its eastern India’s first and only 2-wheeler manufacturing factory in West Bengal in February, 2007. It has launched “Xpression”—the first 2-wheeler from its stable on 28th April,2007. The company has strengthened its presence in 125 cc category with Xpression Plus that was launched in quick succession in August,2007.

Rock 100, the Revolutionary product, was launched in November ’07 in eastern India. The 100 cc Motorcycle is aptly christened Rock 100 as it has already evoked enthusiasm in highly competitive 2-wheeler market with loads of enquiries from across the country. Global has already sold 40,000 units of Rock 100 in eastern India in last few months. With the ready availability of the product across the country, it has set an ambitious sales target of 1.6 lakh by current financial.

Rock 100 has all the potential to rock the 2-wheeler enthusiasts of India with its unbelievable Mileage of 125 km /litre and mass affordability factor. Featured with 4 Stroke Engine, Electronic Self Start and Kick Start Facility, Tachometer, Gear Indicator, Aerodynamic Headlight with Halogen Bulb, Sporty Indicators, Rock 100 would penetrate into the mass market across the rural and urban India including traders, office goers, farmers, teachers with the lowest ever price point and maximum mileage of 125 km/litre. The 100 cc bike with a robust masculine look, unmatched style will be available in four attractive colour variants of Red, Black, Blue and Silver.

“We are going aggressive for an all India roll out of this revolutionary Rock100 -the 100 cc performance motorcycle at lowest ever price point by any 2-wheeler manufacturer in India. This will cater to the requirement of the common people of our country. There will no more be an out of reach 2-wheeler for anybody in the country. Rock100 will also be a rocking product in the remote areas where finance is not available and also will keep the 2-wheeler market steady even without depending on retail financing. We do believe that sub 20 K bike would bring in automobile revolution in India. We are confident to carve a niche for ourselves in the 7.6 million 2-wheeler market with our state-of-the-art technology, affordable pricing and strong distribution channel”, commented Mr. Santanu Ghosh, Chairman & MD, Xenitis Group

Xenitis Rock 100 “Our 2-wheeler factory has the capacity to churn out 3.6 lacs 2-wheelers annually. The company has taken order booking of 1.6 lacs 2-wheelers to be supplied till March 2008 from all India distributors and booked a sales turnover of Rs 400 crores for the current financial year. The company has also got confirmed export enquires from Middle East, Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and some African countries”, added Ghosh.

“We are confident of acquiring a 20% market share in 100 cc & entry level category by 2010” added Mr. Ghosh.

New poll: How much is too much? Or too little?

Here are the final results of the first poll. Its an image... so not clickable

rearset's poll #1

And here is the second poll, clickable, of course

How many posts per week is just right?

DIY Image stabiliser

Check this out!