May 24, 2009

New poll: Crashing constantly?

How many times do you fall off your bike every year

So, how many times a year do you tend to fall off? We'll go into how you crash after this... that one should be fun, eh?

May 22, 2009

Poll results: When do you wear your helmet?

I've basically nothing left to say on this subject. I am hoping against hope that the 4 per cent who don't use their helmet when touring basically never go touring and that the 35 per cent who prefer not to ride with a helmet in town essentially use public transport or their cages. As for the 14 per cent who never use a lid, my fingers are crossed that they aren't riders at all, just web traffic, passing through.

May 20, 2009

Learning to Ride

"How many days will it take me to learn how to ride a motorcycle?"

Wow, there's a question that stumped me. I didn't know the answer, honest. I told the young man that if he meant only the operation of the controls - clutch, brake, throttle - that would take 20 minutes. But learning to ride a motorcycle is a complex thing, no? I told him it depended on him. If he just needed to be proficient enough to get from home to work, that would sort itself in six months. But to evolve beyond that could take years!

I got to thinking about that and it's true. Unlike driving, riding motorcycles is a lot more nuanced. You need to learn a lot more to be good at it. I'm not saying these nuances don't exist for cagers, but the fact of the matter is a nuance that escapes you on a bike could kill you whereas in a car, it might mean little more than awkward looking metal, a tough session with the parents and a few rounds of insurance.

The other thing is that unlike learning to drive, learning to ride invariably depends on someone you know who is willing to teach you. Teach you all the basic points and whatever of those nuances he's figured out. And all the bad habits this person has picked up. There simply isn't a place or person you can go to learn riding from scratch in a structured fashion that aims to build you up into a serious, committed motorcyclist.

I learnt from a cousin brother of sorts, well, neighbour actually and at some level, I owe him my life and livelihood. But I don't even remember his face or name. I only recall his blue KB100, that springy feeling of a stretching throttle cable, the rising note of an urgent, if civil, two-stroke, a warm night flying by in reverse and a young heart throbbing in fascination at the experience. And yeah, I don't remember him telling me where the brakes were. Then I remember flying down a road in the Delhi IIT Campus on a brother-in-law's white Kinetic Honda. The scooter was stunned at the turn of speed - he rode it very gently - and then at the speedbreaker... both brakes pulled in hard-hard-hard and the throttle still on. And my first big air. And the strong apprehension that he will discover something broken later. Shit.

I remember riding my classmate Sachin's Yamaha RX100 down the road and being given all sorts of advice involving the battery running down if the ignition was left on for too long. I know now, that that's hogwash, but I was meticulous in the extreme with that bike's ignition. And I remember wafting about slowly on that bike too.

Then I got my Kinetic Honda and I simply cannot remember a time when the poor thing was ridden gently at all. That's the bike I realised I wanted to ride seriously. That's when the kit fixation started and that's when riding it for the sake of riding it became an obsession.

Point is that I cannot remember receiving riding advice from a serious motorcyclist until much, much later.

My riding 'style' has changed since I began riding. Rustom Patel - the motocrosser - changed my paws on levers riding style to two fingers on each lever. I remember these contributions because they're the only ones I got.

Think it's time to return the favour.
How do I do this? Ideas to rearsetblog [at] gmail. [dot] please.