Why I stopped driving…

It started way back, even before I could legally acquire a license. My folks didn’t own a car. That meant only one thing, I was ever more desperate to have what I didn’t – opportunity to get behind the wheel, as often and as much as possible. I’d beg, plead, cajole anyone I could. More often than not, (read 0.001%) I’d succeed. I would visit many a showrooms, pretend to be a rich rice distributor’s son and request a test drive.

Finally, 6 months into my first job, I got myself my first car – a Madison Blue Maruti 800 standard, had loads of fun, but getting into it means I’ll have to digress.

And then I upgraded to a Maruti Zen. These two Marutis amount to the maximum fun I’ve had on four wheels. I used to think that the more expensive cars are simply over-rated and I used to think that any car priced over INR 10Lac are simply a waste of money (looking back, I wonder if it was a manifestation of ‘sour grapes’). I remember being very vocal about it too. This line of thought almost cost me a job, I didn’t know the interviewer was a passionate BMW owner and this opinion of mine really irked him.

When my wife needed a car, I got a Honda City, the CVT variant (over a decade later, we still have it). At that time, she was the only auto-transmission available in the market. Runs like a gem to this day, not a scratch under the bonnet (yes, read again, I meant under the bonnet).

Finally, I bought my last car (the way it looks, probably will remain the last car) – Land Rover Freelander 2. Had my bit of fun with her, a few long drives, a bit of off road, quite a few adventures.

dsc_0411-e1536646083653.jpg

Finally, as suddenly as she came into my life, she was gone.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog – why I stopped driving.

dsc_0012.jpg

My three girls, yes, shoot me, am partial to white, so much so that I even sport my hair white.

I found a new love, actually a few of them. It was a passion that was lying dormant for over 40 years finally erupted. My love of two wheels completely overwhelmed me. At first, it was the bicycle (read more here) and then the bikes (read more here). Once I started, I just couldn’t stop, commuting, joyrides, weekend jaunts, vacations, everything was on two wheels. The freedom, being one with the elements, the sheer thrill that the two wheels gave resulted in the cars feeling neglected. Many a reasons for this:

  • The sheer experience:

Realised quite late in life, but riding a bike is therapeutic to me. The sheer joy of wind whistling in your ears, being one with the nature is an unparalleled experience. To quote Robert Pirsig, “Driving a car is like watching a movie. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a motorcycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore.”

You smell everything, feel everything, hear everything and everything around you is a blur. Over 1,00,000kms in total with these three sets of wheels and I still haven’t had enough of it, not just yet.

  • Camaraderie:

Whether you ride in groups or prefer going solo (read more on the pros and cons of group v/s solo rides here), camaraderie is a given. Even when solo, there is a brotherhood, a feeling that is very hard to put in words, there’s instant bonding, usually. Motorcycles definitely are conversation magnets. People feel less inhibited to come and have a conversation with you. They always end up saying one of the two things – “I wish I was doing what you are” or “I wish I knew why you are doing this.” Either way, it is an awesome feeling. On the other hand, if one is in a four wheeler, there usually is a wall that seems to prevent people from coming close.

  • Solitude:

A complete contradiction to the point above huh? Actually no, while riding is enjoying the company of other like minded folks, it still remains personal, very personal. It is you, your bike and your decisions, Despite being in a group it is that feeling of solitude the second the helmet is on.

  • Practicality:

    • Time: This is a big saving. Without necessarily riding the bike faster than cars, one can save 15-25% of time. The ability to squeeze in and out of traffic, makes it much faster on two wheels, be it powered by man or ‘horses’.
    • Space: The small footprint helps you park closer to your destination. Further, the real-estate required to park one car is more than adequate for 2-3 two-wheelers.
    • Cost: This is a topic big enough to ‘earn’ its own mention as a head below:
  • Cost:

    There are multiple aspects to this head. Will try and break the cost factor of a car down below, the bikes typically are immune to this, provided you are comparing like to like. This would hold no water if  you were to compare a super bike to an entry-level hatchback:

    • Acquisition cost: With the vehicles from INR 3lac to over 3 crores, there’s a different dream car that each one of us aspires and it almost always is just out of reach. Now, in hindsight, I wonder if the basic need of mobility is defied by such a priced possession as you may not dare to or may not want to take it to many a places. Surely it is heart over brain choice.
    • Maintenance & repair: This is a biggie, more expensive the machine, costlier is the upkeep. Don’t know if it is just my experience, but there seems to be a direct correlation between the cost of the car and its propensity to get pick up a scratch or a dent. One could argue that the repair is well taken care of by the zero depreciation policies, which brings me to the next cost head
    • Insurance: Zero depreciation policies are a big boon, given the cost of the repairs, but then the premium is a handsome amount, also, they are usually offered for a maximum period of 5 years. Post that, even a minor accident can set you back in a major way.
    • Depreciation: The value of the car goes southward faster than ice melts in peak summer. In fact there are times I wonder if it is more profitable to push the car down a hill and claim the IDV value as that is surely more than the resale value of the car

Sure, one could argue there are tonnes of cons of riding a bike – safety, open to elements, limitation on how much you can carry, bugs, dust and grime all over you. More often than not you are a blind spot to guys with more wheels, even if they see you, they have little or no intention of sharing the road.

To sum up, to me being on two wheels is a pure, almost childlike joy of speed, immediacy, adventure and everything that goes with it. In fact the cons above challenge me and turn me on more! Sure, there could be a need for a four wheeler on certain occasions, for that we have the Olas, the Ubers and the self drive cars. I can proudly say that there is one car waiting for me in every corner of the globe, and I don’t even have to spend on maintaining them.

And now to answer the eternal question – “Why you are doing this to yourselves?” – To me, it is all about the lean and the bellowing tranquility. If you are not a biker, never mind, you won’t get it.

And if you did get it, please do keep coming back for more…

________________________________

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

 

 

 

Multistrada 1200S – Long term ownership review

She lovingly came home on 22nd January 2015, one of the very 1st Multis in Delhi I was given to understand. Today, 2.5 years later after clocking over 25000km (not a lot, but she shares the home with an equally loved Bonnie who too has clocked over 25000km in the same time period, an average of 25km per day astride each of the two bikes is all that I could muster), I would say that I have no regrets. Here’s my long term ownership review of the bike, heave tried to bucket the various factors very unconventionally (yet hopefully logically):

The heart factor: DSC_0010

This perhaps might seem as the single most important yet logically illogical factor, after all love as they say is blind. So I will try and steer clear of looks (with a disclaimer that I obviously love the way she looks). Multi will set your heart racing, a little twist of the right wrist in any gear, at any speed and she will ensure that the objects that appear small in the rear view mirror will look smaller, way smaller. I’m yet to have a vehicle pass me unless I want it to.

She is a bit grumpy at lower revs. But keep her over 4000 RPM, you can hear your heart beat, yes even over the wind roar and the exhaust. And if you do decide to take her to the red line (at about 11000RPM) in the first three gears, you will have something soft and rubbery in your mouth, yes I am still referring to the heart (what were your dirty minds thinking?).

Of course there are multiple riding modes that you can tweak to get her to respond like a grey hound on a rabbit chase or a friendly retriever as a guide dog, and that brings us to the brain factor.

The brain factor:

At times you wonder if she is smarter than you. The electronic nannies like ABS, Cornering ABS, Cruise control (adaptive), EBD, ECU modes, ES/EAS, ETC, IMU, Traction control, Wheelie control etc. seem to take the purity of biking out. Yes, these nannies can be toned down or even switched off with a bit of fiddling, not really a rocket science. But, does take a bit of time to find your comfort zone. The new 1260 is a tad bit easier with graphics aiding the process. But do remember to check the settings before you ride off from your friendly, well-intentioned service centre, they could have accidentally reset it, changing the nature of the beast completely.

One part of me cringes at the thought of so many nannies governing you, but the other part constantly reminds me of the days when ABS was being introduced and a similar hullabaloo ensued, now one can’t think of life without it (except when off-road). With a hung jury on that, would just add that the nanny in MTS is not as abrupt and intrusive as in some other bikes, works silently in the background. Guess, I have to grudgingly owe my uneventful journey so far to it.

dsc_0159.jpgThe only time I do realise its presence is when she is in extremely harsh terrains and environment like the ones I encounter during my annual pilgrimage to Leh and beyond, sometimes the dash starts displaying all sorts of error messages, making the presence of these nannies felt. That’s when I love to wish away all the electronics as there is nothing one can do to fix it. Thankfully, as suddenly as, the error messages appear, they usually vanish as well.

The base-of-your-pant factor:

Ah, this is my favourite part. The sky hook semi-active suspension is a dream. The bike ‘actively’ alters damping and preload within milliseconds, adapting to every little variation in the terrain. Before you can finish thinking of riding the pegs or shifting weight, the sky-hook has already taken action, saving your poor behind from incessant rams from our dynamically changing roads. Result – you manage to maintain your cruising speed without the need to really slow down, keeping your overall average speed (and your poor behind) healthy.

It is called semi-active because the wheel’s position relative to the chassis not “actively” controlled.  In an active setup, servos and electromagnets push the wheel out actively instead of springs.

Totally a no nonsense, effortless mile munching bike, I end up covering at least 20% more distance same time as compared to my Bonnie without necessarily increasing my speed. This is one electronic nanny that I simply adore.

The ‘Bahubali’ factor:dsc_0043-e1533464892530.jpg

Given my build and height, friends ironically call me Bahubali (an Indian equivalent of He-man). After a long tiring ride, especially in the thin air of the mountains, to me, setting her up on centre-stand, or getting her unstuck from muck or picking her up if she tips over is not exactly is cake walk. The trick is to use the bike and her momentum to tide over everything. And the unexpected does happen sometimes, that’s when I do need help. Not that she is top heavy like some other ADVs, but she doesn’t have the low-CG advantage of a boxer twin either. These moments set me wondering if I’d have been better off with a smaller bike. More on that here.

The India factor:dsc_0150.jpg

I guess that during homologation, the Italians didn’t think the Indian conditions were, well, a lot harsher. Result, much shorter service intervals, air filter has to be replaced twice as frequently, dust and grime gets into every crevice, so opening pannier and seat locks becomes next to impossible, fork’s oil seals go kaput, fuel quality makes idling go haywire, but more on this in the tips section below.

The Eyeball factor:dsc_0113.jpg

Being with her is like having a supermodel in a bikini for company. She never fails to attract attention wherever she goes. This is both a good and bad thing. All the attention and curiosity is good if you are around, but when you are not on guard, people get on the bike, take selfies, try all sorts of things, toying with the levers, pedals, gears and accessories. Being a bit possessive, it’s not exactly what I’d like happening with my bike. Clearly, my ‘Bahubali’ build has no role to play in this. What clarifies further is the incredulous looks on the onlookers’ eyes, almost giving voice to their silent thoughts – how did this joker come to be with her” or “if only I had that kind of money“.

The wallet factor:

Hmmm, it is anything but light on your pockets. The bike has long service intervals, 15000km for regular services and 25000km for desmo. However, in the Indian conditions, the service intervals has been halved, the gurl visits maike (her paternal home aka the service centre) every 6000-8000km and/or after every pilgrimage.

The spares don’t come cheap with all the import duties. Also, there is a considerable wait for getting the parts in.

With the ADV market still nascent in India, most accessories are not easily available, even the ones available come with a hefty price tag.

But then again it is a small price to pay for the wide grin on your face.

Some quick-fixes and tweaks I discovered to make my long-rides a dream:

Here’s a summary of many a lessons learnt, some a very hard way:

Must have:

  • Bash plate/sump guard: dsc_0010.jpg
    Wouldn’t recommend a long trip without one. I opted for the OEM, know of a few who have chosen SW Motech, either way, a must to protect the underbellies of your gurls. She does have a good ground clearance but I’m sure some of the speedbreakers in India can even cripple battle-tanks (ok that was a bit of an over-kill, but you get the drift, no?).
  • Bark busters:20180306_163215.jpg
    The reservoirs for brake and clutch fluids are mounted on the bush guard which incidentally is a delicate plastic structure, all with an intention to keep the weight of the bike down. But that is the first thing to go in case of a hard brush against a bark or a fall, rendering the bike incapacitated with no breaks and/or clutch fluid. You could also lose your levers. I chanced upon a product from Bark Busters made for the multi, a bull bar of sorts, that protects the complete unit, an aftermarket product that is a life-saver.
  • Gaiters for front fork:dsc_0030.jpg
    A typical problem of dusty environments – while the stock bike comes with a wind deflector to keep dust of the from fork, but it is not sufficient to manage extreme dust. If a grain of dust manages to get in between the oil seal and the fork, you can end up with a leak. If the damage is bad, the front suspension can go kaput, worse, the fluid can reach the front disc, severely affecting the breaking. I opted for an Acerbis gaiter. It wraps around the fork, keep dust from entering while cleaning the fork as well.
  • Rear break:Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 9.15.19 PM.png
    There are two issues with the stock rear break pedal. First, the stock brake pedal is so small that one’s foot, especially with off-road boots, can easily slip off it or in the worst case, miss it altogether. Second, it being rigid, doesn’t take too kindly to even mild impacts. I opted for the optional OEM off-road version of the brake pedal. While this folds back, protecting me from mild bumps, it still is not big enough. Further, it has no extender (it is awesome in the GS incidentally) to help while standing on the pegs especially when you push yourself back to get the load off the front wheels.
  • Gear lever:DSC_0006
    Similar to The break lever, even the gear lever suffers similar problems. not necessarily small, but not folding and not adjustable. One tends to find false neutral, more so between 5th and 6th with heavy boots. The off-road one sorts that out, you can adjust it to your comfort zone while folding in case of light bumps.
  • Panniers:dsc_0013.jpg
    I initially went in for the OEM panniers, tail box et al. Single key, made by and for Ducati, and boy the sexy looks, nothing could go wrong, right? Yes, nothing did, they last me over 2 years and 20000km. But Indian dust proved too much for these as well. During one of my recent pilgrimages, the key hole got filled with dust and much. Just wouldn’t open. I had everything I ever needed, only I couldn’t access it. If I were to repeat the mistake, just for the awesome looks, I’d choose to tape up the openings during the pilgrimages so that they still remain functional, or if the brain were to rule over the heart, I’d go in for semi-rigid waterproof ones. More on my thoughts on luggage options here.
  • Centre stand:
    Despite the fact that my ‘Bahubali’ build sometimes makes it difficult to set her up on the centre stand, especially when the grab rails are tucked under the luggage, I’d still put this under must-have. One reason is the ‘Eye-ball factor’ mentioned above. an unattended bike is an open invitation for anyone to sit astride, can’t afford the problems associated with a bike that tips over. Secondly, it is a lot easier to fix a flat and to clean & lube the chain.
  • RAM mount:dsc_0002-e1533487662612.jpg
    While I do have a tank-top bag with a slot for mobile under transparent cover with charging capability, I’d much rather have a RAM mount for my waterproof phone. A lot easier during fuelling stops, one less piece of luggage to fiddle with, plus it gives me more room for riding on the pegs.
  • USB Adapter:
    Coupled with the RAM mount above, a cigarette lighter to USB adapter to juice up my phone and perhaps an action cam. Handy as power many-a-times is not readily available in remote areas. Having these trinkets fully juiced up sure come in handy.

Nice to have:

  • Fog-lights:dsc_0187-e1533487268142.jpg
    Have put this under nice to have as the 1200S has awesome stock lights with cornering function that really works as well, you wouldn’t miss a fog-light under normal circumstances. Thinking it is a must have, I have opted for the OEM ones. Chose the OEM over other brighter non-OEM alternatives in the fear that I’d lose the warrantee and also, non-OEM lights would mean that I can’t use the built-in switch. Now, I have a strange feeling that these don’t really make that big a difference (apart from making her more photogenic), one surely can live without them. Only time I feel the need for additional and more powerful dazzlers is precisely for that – to dazzle the oncoming joker driving in hi-beam. Else, I’d let it pass, pun intended. If you have a 1200, well, this could creep into a must have.
  • Battery maintainer:
    Nice to have again if you do not manage to ride the bike as often as you like. Also come in handy when you try to crank her up in extreme cold with, well less than ideal fuel. Further some insurance companies do not cover battery under insured items if you don’t have one. so more as an insurance than a necessity, I’d put this under-nice-to-have.
  • Tank top bag:rearview-shot.jpg
    Nice to have to stow-away nick-nacks like toll receipts et al, but as mentioned above, also eats up space and is fidgety while refuelling. Further, if you choose to have any other trinkets like the RAM mount for phone or action camera, or a GPS mount, they will end up fouling with the tank-top bag, not allowing for a lock to lock turn.

Avoidable:

  • GPS:dsc_00011.jpg
    I opted for the Ducati branded Garmin Zumo. Funny that despite getting it through the proper channels, it didn’t have maps of my region preloaded. Had to buy the maps separately. For some reason, Garmin doesn’t provide any updates for India, it therefore has maps that were valid 4-5 years ago. Further, it doesn’t include lots of places. Unlike some other ADV bikes, the Zumo doesn’t sync with the bike to act like an extended dashboard. As a stand alone navigation device, that too a not so reliable on in my case, Google maps on your phone is a much better option with more functionalities like traffic info. To me therefore, a stand-alone GPS device is an avoidable investment.
  • Performance exhaust:
    This topic could end up rubbing a few the wrong way. I see the logic from the enthusiasts, louder means safer as the bike is more ‘visible’, performance is enhanced, lesser weight, the sound is musical, etc. But to me this too is an avoidable investment. The very advantages stated by enthusiasts works against my riding style. I do believe that I am yet to push my gurl and squeeze out all her 160 horses all the time, and that by a good margin I dare add. So additional power or performance fails to seduce me. My riding usually involves long hours and many a miles everyday. To contend with even the stock exhaust for extended periods of time, I resort to ear plugs. Any louder music, I guess I’d go deaf. So this too fails to entice. To sum up therefore, shedding a few kilos is not big enough a reason by itself to help my wallet lose some weight.

Some things to look out:

  • Fuel gauge (and the associated leak problem): The fuel gauge is not one of the most reliable parts of the bike, at least in my bike, have had it replaced twice over, thankfully under warrantee. Not a biggie, but got me into the habit of using both the trip meters, especially during long rides. But one needs to ensure that the pipe from the fuel pump is fixed properly. Else, it pops right out under pressure, getting petrol all over the front part of the bike instead of the engine.
  • Rubbery rear breaks: The fading break owing to the heating is another known issue. The rear breaks get spongy after a bit of riding. This is supposedly because of the catalytic convertor being too close to the break lines, over-heating the fluid. Some have opted for changing the exhaust, yet others different break fluids, I’ve chosen to live with it, relying more on front break and giving the bike a short break when the problem gets too bad. I have heard of two solutions, yet to try out either. One is changing the exhaust, the other using a different break fluid. If any of you have found this helpful or any other solution, please do write in.

Adv tourer v/s sports tourer:

I would like to end this blog with a question, what do you think of your MTS, is she an adventure tourer or more a sports tourer? Welcome your thoughts on this and anything else you would like to add to this, or simply your point of view on must and nice to have.

 

Please do keep coming back for more…

________________________________

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

 

The Italian Connection…

Musings of a Ducatista!

My first tryst with superbikes was when I picked up a Bonnie (Read more @ http://bit.ly/2kjMy1stGurl-Bonnie). She served me well, still does, will forever be my trusted steed. She saw me through many a miles, including the childhood dream of Khardung La. But eh dil maange more, wanted more power, more comfort, more… And Bonnie couldn’t really keep up with the newer gurls, especially in the freeways. By the time my gurl reached the top gear and a steady cruising speed, other gurls were way ahead, despite being in 2nd or 3rd gear, still accelerating. And then there were certain descriptor associated with the Bonnie:
  • Gentleman’s superbike
  • Modern classic
To me these roughly translate to an Old man’s superbike. Old I’m not, hence wanted something that matched my age. My first love is touring, so tourer the gurl had to be. Not into racing and tracks. Also, the stuff I want to do needs a lot of ground clearance, so sports tourers eliminated. That brought me to adventure tourers (#Adv), and heart truly sold to the GS, I started the test rides back in 2015:
Triumph Tiger (the 800s) – this bunch of gurls is awesome, great pricing, bloody good triumph-tiger-800-phantom-blackperfomance, am sold into their mother brand – Triumph, but a few niggles – slightly top heavy; the electronic nanny’s a tad bit rigid, cuts in more abruptly than what I’d like. Most importantly, she’s got a 3 pot, don’t get me wrong love the engine, she’s an absolute gem, only not in this bike. To me an adventure tourer has to have two pots, twins of any kind – parallel, V, L, or the mother of them all – a boxer. The whine of a 3 pot v/s thump of a 2 pot was THE deciding factor. (Photo credit – http://bit.ly/2kTfjPb)
versys1000-1
Kawasaki Versys – Again an awesome gurl, has the same DNA of the much acclaimed Ninja, that to me was the pain point. The 4 pot high-rev engine does brilliantly well on a Ninja, I just love the noise, she screams and shouts “I’m a super-bike, look at me”. But for an adventure tourer, IMHO, NO, not my style. (Photo credit – http://bit.ly/2BxysNA)
2015_Suzuki_V-Strom_1000ABSAdventure
Suzuki vStrom – Good bike, a darn bloody good bike, but nothing that made it go to the great territory. Everything about the bike is good, can’t pick even one decent sized hole, but on the same note, can’t pin anything on the vStrom to say that this is awesome. Or maybe the dealer didn’t let me explore her enough, but I guess we were not made for each other. (Photo credit – http://bit.ly/2C3Cpqz)
BMW-R-1200-GS-7691_2
BMW GS 1200: I just wanted to sit on her once before I made the final decision, wanted to ensure that my heels touch when I’m astride. I was willing to travel anywhere in India, just to get a feel, but no, no one seemed to have one at that point of time. I have my heart set on her, even now. (Photo credit – http://bit.ly/2BwBzWj)
Edit: Finally rode her in 2017, read my take on it @ http://bit.ly/BlueBMW1200GS
Ducati Multistrada 1200S: She’s the gurl I eventually picked…
DSC_0010
In hindsight, not very sure what helped me zero into the Multi – was it the Skyhook suspension, was it the curves, the L-twin, the raw power, or the unavailability of the GS, dunno. Also wondering if the decision were to be made today, 14-15 months later, with the GS now available in India, would the decision have been different? Honestly, I don’t know.
No, don’t get me wrong, not regretting my choice (well, may-be, just may-be grapes are a tad bit sour). But no major post-purchase dissonance, niggles, yes, many, but major dissonance, no. Will not make this blog a review of the Multi, that’s a subject of another blog, instead will focus on my musing with the Multi.
The common questions from my previous blogs – A Biker’s Musings (http://bit.ly/2kjMy1stGurl-Bonnie) and Musings of a cyclist (http://bit.ly/2A9EwHW) remain, just because the bike changes, the questions don’t, only new ones get added on.

#Cost

2-3 laakh ki to hogi, Haan bhai, shauk ki koi keemat nahin hoti… (Roughly translates to – “Must cost INR 200,000-300,000, well, one can’t put a price to passion huh?” Innocuous statement at the face of it, but for the uninitiated, he’s missed a zero!!)
So, skipping the rest on #Cost & mileage (#KitnaDetiHai), here are a few notable ones…

Curiosity (#Curious):

No matter where she goes, she does draw eyeballs, away from the cities, they are more carefree, more open, #Masoomiyat? The cities however are more reserved. Got a first-hand look at it when I accidentally left the camera on.
While the video does explain the curiosity lucidly, there was one guy in a group who went a few steps further – after using his knuckle to tap (yes, it hurt quite a bit, but then again, I was alone and he was a village chieftain) around all across the fairing, petrol tank et al, the village chieftain says knowingly – Poori plasteek hai, nahin tikegi! (roughly translates to – “Completely plastic, will not last”). Hate to admit it, but he seems to be right, fairings are a tad bit delicate. The Italian philosophy of design before engineering I guess. She doesn’t give the built-like-a-tank feeling of the Bonnie. No doubts on the design aspect, dainty damsel she is, and a big tick in athletic capabilities as well, but she’s not a boxer (pun intended) or a wrestler.

The panniers and tail-box have invariably given hilarious responses:

DSC_0006

Ismein kya hai? (What have you go in these?)
Iske andar engine hai kya? (Does it house the engine?)
Kya pijja-vijja deliver karte ho? (Are you a pizza delivery guy?- Sure bro, how else do you think I can keep the delivery within 30minutes promise?)

Miscellaneous muses…

Naam kya hai? डकैती (dakaitee)? What’s the name? Dakaitee? (incidentally this mispronunciation translates to “robbery” in Hindi)
Ismen kya khaas hai, special feature kya hai? What’s special about this, any special features? (A polite inquiry, in actuality hides a rhetoric – what kind of a fool are you to spend this kind of money?)
Kitna bhagleti hai? How fast does she go? If answered truthfully that she’s electronically limited at 299kmph, it is usually followed by:
Tumne kitna bhagaya hai? How fast have you gone? If safe enough to be truthful, the next question is:
Kahan? Where? (Read – Gotcha liar!)
But usually, when the answer is not given to “how fast bike/me”; the exploratory question follows –
Sau dedhsau to bhagti hogi? Must do about 100-150kmph, no?
Kya chipakke chalti hai? Phavikol hai ke? The local elderly gent admonishing the local stud (and therefore indirectly me) – What do you mean she sticks to the ground? Where’ve you spread the Fevicol (a popular glue brand)?
Tanki kitni badi hai? How big is the (petrol) tank?
Garam nahin hoti? Doesn’t she get heated up?
She’s faithfully served me, been through an effortless all-India trip and Spiti trip, and a not-so-effortless Leh trip, more on these soon.
Niggles, there have been a few, kya karen, dil mange more (roughly translates to hunger for more, actually a caption borrowed from an ad campaign from yester-years), but astride her, there’s always a smile on my face with the sheer pick-up or the long distance riding comfort or the smoothness of active suspension or the attention she seeks and the road presence she has. Overall, for a more road oriented jaunt, she’s the most comfortable steed that I have owned till date.
Or, then again, is it – dil mange less (read more about my ideal bike @ http://bit.ly/RightSizedBike).
Signing off for now…

 

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

Hard core soft porn…

Ooops, typo, panniers I mean. Top 11 things to consider before purchasing panniers.

Another touchy point, POVs are a lot more diverse than the options available…. Here’s an analysis of top 11 things to consider:

While the broad options are soft and hard, there are some more categorisations possible, all options fall into one or the other of the 5 options below.

Soft Hard
Leather Aluminium / metallic
Waterproof, modular Plastic
Canvas (or similar no-so-waterproof material)

 

The top 3 are some references for soft and the bottom two for the hard cases

I talked to a few adventure tourers for their opinion, (yes, yes, it was convenience sampling, topped up with my bias :D) and have put up the initial summary here. Would request you all to share your opinion as well in the comments below.

Here are the top 11 things to consider amongst a multitude of others:

  1. Security: Is it lockable? Is it safe from “slash-and-dash” kind of stealing?
  2. Rigidity: How rigidly is the pannier fixed on to the bike? Will it last the bumps and grinds of an off-road jaunt (or for that matter our pothole ridden roads)?
  3. Repairability: Can it be easily be repaired or fixed in case of minor problems?
  4. Convenience: Can it be left overnight on the bike without supervision? Also, are they modular, adding/removing parts or compartments to suit your needs?
  5. Weatherproof: Is it waterproof and dustproof, or do you have to get waterproof liners?
  6. Weight: How much does it weigh, and more importantly how significantly does it alter the centre-of-gravity of the bike?
  7. Size: How much does it add to the width of the bike? How much weight can they carry?
  8. Cost: How much does it cost? And the cost of repairs? In in some cases, will it damage the bike in case of falls, and the cost there-of?
  9. Life: How long is it likely to last?
  10. Personalisation & looks: How cool does it look and how amenable is it to personalisation (either cosmetic or functionally)?
  11. Universal v/s custom made for a bike: Some of the panniers need bike specific mounts and brackets to fix the custom made panniers for each bike, yet other are universal and can fit any bike.

Now to my experiences with the 5 options and how they fare on the 11 points above:

Leather Panniers: These look really classy, especially on the REs, the modern classics Leatherand most cruisers. They have the old-world charm about them and the smell of leather just adds to the whole experience. Usually, they do not offer too much of storage capacity. But they are not what one might call cheap and are not waterproof either. The contents are not usually safe enough to leave unsupervised. They are available as permeant fixture or as detachable ones, depending on the model. Finally they do not add too much to the bulk or width of the bike. Overall more for cosmetic purposes, not for hardcore, all weather and all terrain cruising. These usually are not universal, more so for the modern classics and cruisers.

Soft weatherproof panniers: There are a gazzilion options available on this genre of FSB_C + http-::dirtsackluggage.com:wp-content:uploads:2016:06:FSB_Cpanniers from the very small to very large, not so expensive to the very expensive, direct mount on any bike to requirement of frames to mount, standard to modular flexibility. These are amongst also the most versatile of the lot, giving you modularity and flexibility (or not depending on the ones you choose) to carry stuff the way you want it wherever you may choose to. They tend to have a pretty long life and best part, no matter how old, you will never get creaks or rattle out of these panniers. The only thing that you need to look out for is the clearance from your mufflers. This would determine how big a pannier you can use and if there needs to be a frame to keep the panniers from fouling with the exhaust or wheel.

Soft canvas panniers: Everything that has been said for the waterproof ones aboveX001-Y001 + https-::content.motosport.com:images:items:large:GYA:GYA007S:X001-Y001
holds for these as well, right from the range to size to versatility. The couple of points on which this differs from the former is in the fact that these are not weather proof so you may want to use some liners to protect important stuff, second, they may not be as durable as the former, and, finally, they are not as expensive. This would be the best choice to if you are not a frequent tourer or if you want to explore options before homing in on one or the other.

Plastic panniers: These are now seeming to be getting popular as an option for DSC_0006adventure tourers. It is aesthetically pleasing, can be moulded into any shape and colour, not many size options for a given bike, good all-round dust and water protection, lockable hence can be left unsupervised. There can be a bit of vibration noise over time. The side panniers do not alter the centre of gravity of the bike, but the rear top case is a cause of concern, it does raise the centre of gravity much higher. Aesthetically too the rear top-case is bit of a question-mark, it looks like the top-box of the fast-food delivery bikes, so you can start a side-business of pizza delivery. :). In case of the bike gets tipped over, these panniers prevent the bike from going all the way to 0°, a lot easier to pick the bike up from 20°. But plastic it is, so the parts that lock it on to the bike are also plastic. In case of big spills therefore, these plastic locking mechanisms break, you have to replace the whole pannier (and in some cases the lock on the bike as well) then. So not only is it costly to buy, but even costlier to repair. The mounts for these too are customised for each bike, hence more expensive. Finally, the good looks are all gone even with minor scratches, these do not like battle-scars as much.

Metallic panniers: This is by far the most popular choice, gives the bike a rugged look, IMG-20171129-WA0020while being weatherproof and durable. Some of the top end panniers intentionally allow for a small amount of play between the bike and panniers. It has been sort of a gold standard for adventure tourers, thanks to the GS. It looks awesome with or without battle-scars, with or without stickers. It incorporates the positive aspects of all of the options above, but has a couple of limitations as well. It is a bit bulky, so can impede hard core technical narrow trails or in a city ride. In case you are carrying delicate stuff inside, you need to pack them so that they do not get bounced around inside. Also, while the most rugged of the lot, they also are the heaviest, upwards of 15kgs, yes, when empty, also over time they also tend to pick up vibration noise. Finally, the mounts for these too are usually custom made for each bike so you can’t go on a pannier swapping spree.

So, go ahead chose you pick, do drop a comment on what you think works for you. Your final choice also depends a lot on which bike you ride, on which terrain, your wallet and finally your build.

As for me, I am all sold on the soft, modular, weather-proof panniers.

Happy riding!!

LLAP

 

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

A biker’s musings…

A biker’s musings…

When my spills from a cycle became more frequent than frequent, I decided to move on to motorbikes – a safer option (??). Went through a really long cycle of evaluation – REs to Continental GT to Thruxton to Daytona to Tiger to a Night Rod. Now, that’s quite a range with nothing in common what so ever! Even the cost of the shortlisted bikes ranged from INR 150,000 to IRR 2,200,000, in hindsight, guess I was looking only at drool-factor or at any one specific aspect of the bike while shortlisting. Incidentally, when I was on a test-ride spree on the above shortlist, what hit me was that I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 18! My dad used to own a Bullet, obviously I would monkey around with her. We used to stay in a township where technically everybody knows everyone else. Eventually complaints from well wishers about my monkeying around forced my dad to take action and he sold the bullet off and instead got a Bajaj Chetak.

Finally, 25 odd years after I rode a bike, I picked up the good ole Bonnie #TriumphBonnevilleT100, #Bonnie. Yes, it was not even in the shortlist. The practicality of having usable rear seat (to convince the #SmallDecisions maker that I wasn’t being selfish when I decided to bike) and a respectable ground clearance, yet having a drool factor helped me home into the Bonnie. Triumph calls colour scheme of my Bonnie – Aurum gold – talk about them ensuring comprehension, “just in case you don’t know what aurum is you dummy, it is gold”!
I rode her like the wind, literally, a sense of freedom that is indescribable. Despite getting on the saddle after a break of almost 25 years, it was almost second nature. In fact I would inadvertently upshift when I meant to downshift, the bullet’s gearshift pattern seemed to be hardwired into my brain. It took me 6-8 months to get used to the correct side and correct pattern of gearshift on my Bonnie, talk about old habits dying hard!

Joined a group of bikers, made new friends, explored new places, went on many a long rides including those to Rajasthan and a childhood dream – Khardung-La – the highest motorable road. More on these trips later, but the musings and memories of people’s reactions to the Bonnie:

Joined a group of bikers, made new friends, explored new places, went on many a long rides including those to Rajasthan and a childhood dream – Khardung-La – the highest motorable road. More on these trips later, but first, the musings and memories of multitude of reactions to the Bonnie:
Someone or the other invariably has always walked up to me and asked some or all of the questions below, even today:
Koi race-wace hai kya? (roughly translating to – Are you guys part of a race?) For the life of them they haven’t figured out why one would aimlessly roam around in the extremes.
Khud ke paise se ghoom rahe ho kya? (roughly translating to – Are you guys actually footing the expenses of fuel et al that too with one’s own money!)
Yeh kyon kar rahe ho? (roughly translating to – Why are you guys doing this?) Kaash mid-life crisis ke baare mein samjha paate.
Kitna deti hai? (roughly translating to – How much fuel does she consume?) The timeless Indian curiosity. #KitnaDetiHai
Light on hai bhaisaab (roughly translating to – The lights are on?) The good samaritans, unfortunately the Europeans think the bike lights must be constantly on!
Accha, do engine hain? (roughly translating to – Oh, so this has 2 engines?) Yes bro, its called parallel-twin.
Kitne ki hai? (roughly translating to – What’s the cost?) Another timeless Indian curiosity. #Cost
Is it the original Triumph? 😐 #FacePalm The best part, coming from a person in modified Gurkha with the coveted star on the bonnet.
Kitne gear hai? Accha 5, 1 up and 4 down? (roughly translating to – How many gears? oh 5, so 1 up & 4 down then?) Like I’m dying to hand over the bike to him for a trial ride.
And then one day I was peacefully cruising through the countryside. I suddenly heard really loud exhaust of an RE (#Bullet, #RE, #RoyalEnfield) that was really being pushed real hard. For a second I almost impulsively twisted my throttle, a typical male reaction to show that certain part of his anatomy is bigger than that of the other person in question. But then I decided not to, an alien territory, didn’t want to vex an angry local. He caught up with me and signalled that I stop. He was over 6 feet tall, really well built and his dress and mustache indicated that he was a local. To me it was redder than a red light. So, stop we did and had a brief chat:
Him: Bullt hai ke? (The thick Haryanvi dialect roughly translating to – Is it a Bullet?)
Me: Nahin bhai Triumph hai. (roughly translating to – No brother, its a Triumph?)
Him: Trump? (Trump? – no indication of political affiliations here, thats the Haryanvi accent)
Me: Haan wahi. (roughly translating to – Yes)
Him: Kitte cc ki hai? (roughly translating to – What’s the engine capacity?)
Me: Nau sau bhai. (900cc brother)
Him: Nau sao? Danadan bhagti hogi? (roughly translating to – 900? She probably races crazy?)
Me: Haan, lekin aapki Bullet bhi koi kam nahi hai. (roughly translating to – Yes, but your Bullet is not something to be ignored either)
Him: Haan, door se yo bullt hi laage hai. Kahan ki hai yo? (roughly translating to – Yeah, from a distance your bike looks like a bullet too. where she from?)
Me: England ki company hai, bilkul Bullet ki tarah, dono bhai-behen hi hain. (roughly translating to – From England, exactly like your Bullet, they are practically siblings)
Him (sheepishly looking at Bonnie): Bhai to yo hi laage se, ben to maari Bullt se. (roughly translating to – Yours looks like the elder brother, and mine the younger sis)
So much for my initial anxiety!
And then one day during a ride, I accidentally left the key in the ignition, overheard the exchanges when I quickly doubled back to pick the keys:
Him 1: Chabi chod gaya hai. (roughly translating to – He’s forgotten the keys)
Him 2: Lekin kick kahan kahan hai? Start kaise karega? (roughly translating to – But where is the kick start? How will you start it?)
Him 3: Bhaari hai, koi dhakka dekar bhi nahin ja sakta… (roughly translating to – yeah right, bloody heavy too, can’t push-start either)
Many many miles later, more so when one of the litre class bikes overtook me, I realized that the Bonnie can’t keep up with the present generation. The final nail in the coffin was when someone commented that it was an old man’s super-bike, I finally lost it. Went ahead and picked up a Ducati Multistrada 1200s.

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

Khardung-La

Journey to the world’s highest motorable road (#WorldsHighestMotorableRoad):
It was June 2015, peak summer, just about when the mountain passes were opening up for traffic. A motley crew of 10 “young” men decided to conquer the world’s highest motorable road, a journey of a lifetime, one that I had been waiting for all my life. We were on 8 bikes and the remaining 2 in a car. We were quite an ensemble, some of us seeing each other for the first time. I for sure didn’t know all of them very well, definitely not familiar with everyone’s riding skills. The first halt planned was Jammu. Enroute, we witnessed crazy sandstorms and rains, visibility was down to few meters, forcing us (and other vehicles on the road) to a grinding halt, putting us way behind schedule.
A couple of breaks later (like broken rim, crashed bikes and broken egos, frayed tempers and some road kill), we reached Jammu, almost 20 hours after we started in Gurgaon! I was barely awake as I hadn’t slept a wink for over continuous 40 hours. Finally we did reach the hotel we had booked.
IMHO, could have been done in a lot lesser.
After a night halt and a much needed rest at Jammu we were all busy loading our luggage onto the bikes to start riding to Leh. A bunch of curious kids were looking at all the RE Thunderbirds, Classics, Desert storms and my Bonnie. It was very exciting to hear them speak in a dialect that sounded like Punjabi, but wasn’t. Later on I got to know it was Dogri:
Kid 1: Bhaiyya eh 350cc hai. (Bro, this is 350cc)
Kid 2 (the Bhaiyya): Arre oose chod, eh dekh 500cc (forget about it, see this, its a 500cc)
Kid 1: Eh bhi 350 (this is 350cc too)
Kid 3: Eh dekho kya mast miltree colour hai (pointing to the Desert Storm – look at this awesome military colour!)
All kids reach the Bonnie, looking really curious, until the smart bhaiyya looked at the T100 badge on my Bonnie and said very confidently Arre yeh to 100cc hai! (This one is 100cc) So much for the much touted 865 cc, 61 bhp bike. I was really foxed – do I join the others and laugh or go for a big #FacePalm!
The natural beauty of the hills is just unparalleled! It’s a non-stop feast for one’s eyes. We chose a lesser used path to reach Srinagar from Jammu. It is called the Old Mughal Road. It is a beautiful, winding narrow road via quaint villages. As luck would have it, it was raining cats and dogs, as we took shelter in the awning of this shop, the 3 beautiful kids, (don’t you adore those blue-green eyes…) offered us bread. To us tired, wet, frozen and hungry riders, it was heaven send! Another #FacePalm moment when the sweet girls told us that this was supposed to be eaten with subzi like roti, and not gobbled down like we did. When we offered to pay, the lil lad said Paanch Rupaiye, (5 rupees) we dug into our wallets the girls quickly said, koi baat nahin uncle, koi nahin. (It’s ok uncle, forget about the money). Do we lose this hospitality, the #Masoomiyat (innocence) once we urbanise? I wonder. Incidentally a common Indian way of addressing unknown men who are older than what one can call “elder brother” is “uncle”.

Our first Achilles heel was the Zoji-La pass. What made novices lead the way while the experts waited, I don’t seem to recall. But what certainly was out of this world was riding behind a mama bear and her cubs. Boy, could they run!

It was a case of scare them or drop your bikes and run back, there was no way we could do a U-turn in the slush and muck. I chose the former, wonder, in hindsight, if stand-off would have been safer. For, honestly, not sure we were more scared or them! We successfully crossed this pass with not too much further ado…
Riding further ahead, we met some chicks…
 Posed with battle tanks…
 Stopped over at the Kargil war memorial. An unexplainable emotion – just the question “why” kept coming up in my head constantly, why the wars, why the sacrifices, why hatred, why, why, why, WHY! No satisfactory answers ensured that I found one silent corner and shut myself down for sometime.
Continue from there we did, had to reach Leh. Stops enroute got us to meet some more local kids. DSLRs were out and flashing, kids posed, posed rather well, I dare add. But by the end of it all demands for Baksheesh got so loud that we had to scoot.
At a quick pitstop that soon followed, the disarming smile and happiness on the face of this kid on seeing bikes was priceless.
By the time we reached Leh district, some 80+ km from Leh city, it started getting cold and dark, we decided to call it a day. The quaint place was right next to the road, we sank into our beds. We convinced ourselves that this was the best thing to do to acclimatize ourselves to the altitude rather than racing to Leh.  The following day, we had a lot of time at our disposal, under 100km to Leh and the whole day ahead of us. We really took our time…
…crossed a few passes and felt snow fall for the first time… (before this, I had never seen snow falling, it has always been before or after snowfall!
Road was fantastic, for most parts we had amazing fun riding on one of the straightest roads, well maintained, with desert on both sides. We stopped for a few photographs.
And immediately after this photo, I tried to take a U-turn, most simple and basic of manoeuvres, but didn’t realize I was in 3rd gear. Bonnie couldn’t take this abuse, definitely not at this altitude. She stalled. And I dropped her, at 5 kmph! Doesn’t get more embarrassing than this huh? Broke my foot peg in the process. Quickly changed the one from behind to front and I was ready to hit the road again…
…not this way, if you know what I mean.
Continue we did, sometimes thumping, sometimes racing, sometimes waiting. But always ready to go…
…through the twisties at Lamayuru – moonland…
 …or one of the innumerable road blocks due to landslides…
 …or the magnetic (???) hills…
..or proving that I do not have ‘chicken stripes’…
 Got a royal welcome at the hotel, the place was awesome. Food was brilliant, it seems like a luxury to have a proper room with mattress, heating, laundry facility and even a WiFi. We kinda made this our base camp and after every expedition, we’d return to this hotel.
So continuing to thump, race, n wait; being eveready to go…

The customary pose at the mighty Khardung-La…

At the Khardung-La & Chang-La, Bonnie sure did grab quite a few eyeballs.
DSC_0564.jpg
Was overwhelmed with respect and a feeling of patriotism yet again. The presence of the soldiers patrolling there rain or snow is something that deserves a hell of a lot more than just respect.

It was quite a sight to see Bonnie merging right into the whiteness of snow. Bonnie purred along effortlessly through anything that nature threw at her, would have prefered a bit more of low end torque, but apart from that, it was perfect.

Visit to Nubra valley was something else. Dunno about you but seeing a sandy desert with camels amidst snow capped mountains was not something I had ever imagined
The experience at Pangong Tso was surreal! The color of water changing with time, the temperature changes, the very ride to the lake and the fact that we were literally at China’s border was something else
The tranquil peace at the lake made us all take off and do their own thing. Some took of for photography, other for a dip in the lake yet others rode of to more desolate spot to meditate, some chose to hit the bottle and yet others hit the sack!
 I guess I selfishly spent time with myself, mah gurl and stacking up a few pebbles…
 Finally called it a day in these tents. They were awesome in the day, when the sun was up. Once the sun set, I was breathless, no-no, not the awestruck breathlessness, literally breathless, oxygen deprivation. Was working up a sweat just to haul myself over to the toilet, yes sweating in freezing temperature! But it was an experience I’m ever-ready for an encore (anybody listening?)
And thence began the loooooooooooong return journey…
…many a nalah crossings…
…and a very interesting gent called Topi (the gent sporting the yellow helmet), life saver, literally…
…and one random skull in Mori plains, couldn’t resist the photo-op…
…and a few moments of peace and introspection…
 …and that of forced male-bonding (never before and never since have I slept so close to another man, there were 15 or so of us in mattresses and razaais good for I’d say 10). After a sound sleep (actually quite literally, for there were Harleys, Busas, RE w/o mufflers, Yams amongst our snorers)…
…and a lots of eventful-events later (omitting them here as they were less to do with biking and my running out of tongue-in-cheek ways to narrate them without ruffling feathers), when I was feeling rather pleased with myself and my achievement, saw this gent riding a cycle rickshaw from Jalandhar enroute Mumbai (a distance of 1800km). Saluted him and his journey, came back to mother earth, and returned home.
That brings me to a new beginning, but then that would be a new note.
Do circle back and check my page for new stories
Till then, continuare a correre Hmmm, #TheItalianConnection, story idea…

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

Big v/s small…

The eternal debate…

While choosing a soulmate, one that partners you for a lifetime of munching miles, it is a big tussle, heart v/s brain, left brain v/s right, various hats will be donned – logical /rational, practical…. Having gone through the complete cycle, and having taken all these decisions, I have homed in on to my decision.

Logically one would go in for a bike all the obvious choices – big engine with loads of power, large luggage capacity, big tank, shaft drive, good amount of creature comforts…

I did the same, went in for the Bonnie, and when I wanted even more of it, picked up the Multistrada 1200s. Close to 50,000km between the two gurls, (and many more miles with  the many other borrowed choices) I’ve reached my verdict, much to my surprise, don’t shoot me, please go ahead and repeat my mistakes.

My ideal jaunt:

My ideal gurl – 300cc (ok willing to stretch it to a maximum of 600cc) bike with about 40 horses and 30 Nm of torque, ideally most of it on the tap as low down the rev range as possible. Ideally weighing well under 200 kg, with a good suspension travel and ground clearance. ABS would be the only electronic aid if at all that I’d crave for, rest of the electronic nannies I’d gladly let go, for good.

I will try to break it down to logical buckets:

The Cost: The big gurls cost 3 to 5 times as much as the ones I’m now leaning towards. And that’s just the cost of purchase. There’s more, the service, maintenance, insurance, tyres and the spares. At the very least, under the most optimistic of conditions, it is 2-3 times more expensive for the bigger gurls. Obviously, with most of the accessories having custom connections, adapters, switches et al implies that the OEM (read extremely expensive) accessories have to be purchased. Simply put, nothing about them comes cheap. Alternatively you should be willing to give up the warranty by using cheaper, non-OEM stuff.

Speed: Sure, bigger engine capacity does mean higher (read much higher) speeds and DSC_9794.JPGfaster (read much faster) pick-up. There’s just no denying that. And the ear to ear grin when you kick the butt of just about everyone else on the road is quite an adrenaline rush. But that doesn’t necessarily mean better adventure. On long drives, consistent average speed matters much more than top speed. In fact, higher speeds on long drives can slow you down – for one thing, the breaks become more frequent, and the chances of avoiding unforeseen problems become higher. Finally remember, it is a road-trip, not a race – don’t speed if you want to see the world.

My idea of road trips is hitting the mountains where there are no roads, the twisties, lesser frequented trails. Ok, now let’s talk speed. In these conditions, bigger the vehicle, lower the speed. PERIOD. The fastest way down the mighty Khardung-La is on a puny bicycle. On bigger bikes, you always have something soft and round in your throat, hoping nothing gives. Trust me!

Unless of course you are one of those weekend warriors and a bike to you is but a social badge.

Weight: If you use your bike on the roads (or is it no roads) that I do, one needs to be DSC_0041.jpgable to change directions literally in a dime on the ruts and gravel. You need to be able to get yourself unstuck from muck. You need to be able to single-handedly push the bike in case there is a flat tyre. And you need to be able to single-handedly get the bike up on centre-stand. Finally, in these terrains, it is not a question if, but instead when the bike falls. And when it does, you need to be able to pick it up by yourself, you may not be lucky to find helping hand readily available. Those of you who have seen me can vouch for the fact that I, well how do I put it, am not best built for hard labour. 😀

Safety: To simply put it, a big bike is a billboard advertising the fact that I have loads of money, come get your share. It will never stop drawing attention towards you and your bike #Curiosity. Unless of course you can pull off a story like you are just and ordinary human, doing test-ride of a bike on behalf of the company – more on this on #TheItalianConnection. On the other hand, a small bike is easy to move in any terrain, park, pull by yourself when it dies on you or has a flat. Further, you can park a small bike without worrying much for its safety.

Luggage capacity: Come on, learn to travel light, you don’t need a big bike just to lug your house with you. You are on Earth, not Mars, you can find most of the stuff you will ever need on road. You don’t always have to carry your tent and sleeping bag wherever you go. Yes, it is kind of insurance policy, #JustInCase, I have never deployed my tent, EVER. Trust me if you were to be in such a situation ever, you would have spent all your energy by then. If tent does catch your fancy, you can always hire one. Similar is the case with a sleeping bag, only exception being up in the mountains when you don’t want someone else’s body-odor from the blanket. IMHO, you need same amount of luggage be it 1 week or 1 month.

So there, a petite gurl it is for me…

 

About the author:

Muralidhar (www.musingsinlife.com):

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.