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 lot...it 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