Places in Pictures | Pip #2 | Jalori Pass

Jalori Pass, Himachal Pradesh

This little known pass used to be something that people trekked to before, having inadequate access it hardly constituted to a decision of taking your vehicle to it, but things have changed and there seems to be a road now, albeit barely. Perched atop the ranges north of Shimla, the way to access it is either through Narkanda or via Shoja ( Map ).

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The road to Jalori is what this thing is all about, especially if you happen to take the Shoja route. After Pandoh whilst heading onward to Aut and Manali, don’t enter the Aut tunnel with all its traffic, instead take the quieter road going straight to Shoja…

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Bumpy as all hell, riders with adventure bikes will undoubtedly have the broadest smile among others along the way. However, whether you’re on a Hero Impulse or a Yamaha R3, the views are going to drive you mad regardless whilst assassinating the like button in your brain.

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For staying options, I’d recommend Shoja nearby, a really quaint little town with just about a couple of basic accommodations. Don’t underestimate it though, it has this air of a typical pahadi* village and is utterly soul gratifying to say the least.

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A reliable bike and an open mind are the solo riders two best friends among others. Happy travels ladies and gents, cheers and ride safe.

* Pahadi : is a wide term applied to social groups of Pahari speaking Indo-Aryan people of the Himalayas.

 

 

Places in Pictures | Pip #1 | Nako Village

Nako, Himachal Pradesh

When you step inside the zone of this little jewel of a town, you’ll instantly be swept off to a pre industrial era. Its as if the place is quarantined in the past, its rugged interface forms a particularly raw foreground to the magnificent and lofty Himalayas in the back. It would actually be an understatement to say that this place invokes the photographer in you, as I  was personally spellbound and completely shutterbugged.

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Situated at a height of 12014 ft above sea level, it hardly has much vegetation going for it hence the starkness. It serves as a perfect prelude if you happen to be travelling on to Spiti Valley, a beautiful place to camp or spend a spare just relaxing. You can either camp beside the lake like some mountain bikers do or stay at a hotel with a room and restaurant.

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Keep in mind this place isn’t for people trying to get piss drunk and party, that is what city pubs and discos are meant for. This is a place for tranquility though, where birdsong and livestock wake you up to the uniquely stark yet beautiful landscape of a mountain desert at 12000 ft.

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Happy travels people!

PhotoLog – Bangalore to New Delhi Solo Ride.

Gallery

This gallery contains 59 photos.

Different places, different tales. My intention here is to keep the post concise, just have an elaborate caption explaining moments of this photoLog experienced during my solo ride from Bangalore to New Delhi. The idea of the trip started with a feeling of … Continue reading

Photo Blog – Meandering through Western Ghats – Weekend Trip.

Gallery

This gallery contains 36 photos.

Date of Ride : 25th and 26th January 2014. A casual Photo log running through the weekend ride. (Warning – Pictures are motorbike biased). Friday 24th Jan 2014. It was late at half past two when I finished up work … Continue reading

Roadtripping Motorbikes in India (June 2013)

Indian Motorbikes you can Trip on – Roadtripping

Roadtripping Hardware...

To be or not to be…

Riding is almost synonymous with the fact that you’ll need two Wheels, an Engine, a Drivetrain and Brakes… Put differently, a motorbike. Most people who haven’t really ventured out on a ride or been out among riders tend to think that riding is all about the motorbike… Whereas on the contrary, riding is all about the rider and the balance he attains with his machine, riding is also an expression, preferably holding a higher meaning than just mundane transportation or aggressive showoffing… I know of a fellow rider who has travelled the entire country on her Yamaha RX 100 (soloing)… So no matter what bike you have, if you have the interest, the will and passion to ride, you just will…  I also know a french couple that did the Kargil-Kanyakumari trans India on a ‘Hero Splendor’ and a ‘Kinetic Honda’, so there’s no saying that you can only do a ride if you have a ‘Bullet’ or a ‘Harley’… Like I said… All you need are a couple of wheels, an engine, a Drivetrain and brakes essentially.

However… ahem… However… Riding is also about the unity of self and a responsive machine that is balanced enough to be handled and controlled with your bodily movements and corresponding physics with an eventual goal of journeying or travelling or exploring. A good bike would definitely aid you in the endeavor of being able to more efficiently express that unified expression of motorcycle riding. With more riding, reading, interactions and experiences one starts romancing with the roads instead of just riding… So here’s  a list of hardware in no particular order that I think can take you on to romancing the roads in India.

Here’s a brief thing or two about bikes that ive seen being regularly used, reused and cherished by many a roadtrippers. This is in no way a complete or an exhaustive list of all available bikes, do leave me a reply on a ride you think i missed and ill add it if its a trip friendly bike. It should throw a little light to anyone buying a new bike with the intention of road tripping on it. Mentioned prices are approximate and ex-showroom rates.

Lets first open the post with the Baap of all trippers when it comes to long distance riding, the very bike that invented the word ‘trip’ to be synonymous with motorcycle riding. This bike and its relatives have single handedly been the flag bearers in the road tripping area for a long while now.

Enfield classic 500_right_tealgreen

Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 500:

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air Cooled – Twin Spark
  • Displacement – 499 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 8.5 : 1 (i.e – there are 8.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 27.2 bhp @ 5250 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 41.3 nm @ 4000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 190 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 13.5 litres
  • Price – Rs. 1,53,904 – 1,63,489
  • For – Classic Enfield appeal, low end thump of a 500, Hills & cold climate riding, highway stormability, ruggedness, bullet community and enjoyable rides.
  • Against – No liquid cooling, small tank capacity, fuel efficiency, engine heating and delivery time.

500cc Engine that can push through any situation and pull a loaded auto-rickshaw with it too.

Royal Enfield has lately worked hard on retaining and bringing the brand bullet back to the forefront with a host of technical advancements on an old 1950’s classic platform that is still very much in fashion. They have gone one step further in upping the brand with the reintroduction of spring loaded seats (changes a bumpy ride to a comfy ride), retrograde styling which is much loved and mixed it with advancements such as revamped ignition system, upgraded the fuel delivery and even come up with a much needed more efficient powertrain. So with this beast you can expect a growling half ton engine that can be pushed to about 6000 RPM with a knee shattering torque of 41.3nm @ 4000RPM. You could probably ride an entire journey on 4th and 5th gears, the low end punch that makes a bullet ‘a bullet’ comes with an edge and bite on the 500. Things to be wary of – Riding this beast at high RPMs on a hot 50 degrees C Indian Summer day would make me a bit apprehensive, would’ve loved it if Enfield had come out with a liquid cooled radiator with this one. Milage can prove to be a deterrent for many, although a powerfully exciting single cyl 500cc engine lugging heavy machinery at such torque levels isn’t bought by people looking for fuel efficiency and the pleasure and fun it gives is worth every bit of it.

Choosing an RE Bullet comes with its share of pluses; The ride quality, cruisability, ruggedness to take on any terrain, the typical assumption that you’re an avid rider when you mount the bike, autorickshaws become cautious, the thump and glide gives you this blissful feeling that feels like a king on a chariot. RE riders also are a knit community with the common thread of having the same bike, it becomes especially easy to join Bullet clubs and start going on group rides. Royal Enfield itself organises events like ‘Rider Mania’ where thousands of buleteers with their sets of fellow buleteers and bullet clubs come together to show off their bikes, repairs, mods etc.

Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 350

Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 350

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air Cooled – Twin Spark
  • Displacement – 346 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 8.5 : 1  (i.e – there are 8.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 19.8 bhp @ 5250 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 28 nm @ 4000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 180 kgs  (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 13.5 litres
  • Price – Around Rs. 1,20,000
  • For – Classic Enfield appeal, versatility, ruggedness, adaptability, the bullet community, ease of repairs and parts, tried and thoroughly tested tripper.
  • Against – Technologically lagging, no liquid cooling, no rpm meter and endless waiting list for bike delivery.  

This is the Standard workhorse engine that hit the spot when it comes to RE Bullets in India, made of a relatively healthy engine capacity when compared to 100 cc and 150 cc bikes gave the company enough latitude to keep customers satisfied just by having a play with the designs, the bike almost always was considered way ahead of its counterparts on Indian roads. With a little modification of the small chain sprocket one could almost rocket this thing to a top speed of 120 kmph which is more than the claimed 101 kmph while hardly losing much on torque (on the previous – cast iron engine version). Nowadays the 350 cc engine that comes with the bike is redesigned, made of aluminum which is much lighter than cast iron (increase in RPM decrease in free engine momentum) and an increase in milage due to the lighter weight of the engine/bike. This engine is paired with a 5 speed gearbox that can probably do 125 kmph anyway. Nimble enough to weave your way in city traffic yet deliver the thump when you go long – The 350 version is probably the most popular tripper on Indian roads and with reason, a highly dependable bike that can take a lot of the road in its appetite, 28nm of thumping single cyl torque, mileage of around 35 – 40 kmpl, swagger and strong build of a bullet and its distinct community make this one an undisputed contender for versatility while tripping on Indian Roads. Whatever the case, you’ll be able to take this machine to most parts of India and expect it to come back with you in one piece (that includes everything from the salt plains of Gujarat to the Himalayan dessert in Ladakh, wetlands of Western Karnataka to the Eastern Seven Sisters). Being a highly used and time tested machine you are bound to find mechanics and spares almost everywhere you go, most of the tweaking can be done self done with a little guidance or knowledge to push the envelop of ride able areas. The 350 cc version is also more tolerant to Indian summer temperatures than its 500 cc counterparts and hence is suited to a more diverse set of riding conditions . It would give Bullets an excellent edge if the company came out with an engine that’s liquid cooled and has 6 gears instead of 5 (particularly on its 500 cc models) but I for one am constantly praying for even normal jumps in technological advancement for this lovely beast of a machine… the current 2013 upgrade should have been out by 2002 or 2003. They don’t have the factories to produce and hence don’t have the drive to develop, pity its a drawback for a good brand.

There are practically more than 10 choices that Royal Enfield offers to Indian customers with attractive differently dressed models that are all known to be practical and very good for riding. Have a look – any colour you like – provided you can wait months and months for delivery.

Bajaj's Cruiser

Bajaj’s Cruiser

Bajaj Avenger 220 DTSi

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air Cooled with Oil Cooler
  • Displacement – 219.89 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 9.5 : 1  (i.e – there are 9.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 19.03 ps @ 8400 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 17.5 nm @ 7000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 152 kgs  (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 14 litres
  • Price – Rs. 81,000 
  • For – Pillion comfort, affordability, inter city commuters, city cruisers and large service network.
  • Against – Generic Pulsar engine, low ground clearance, imbalance in looks-purpose-powertrain and no match to the Thunderbird 350.

The Bajaj Avenger sports the same engine used on a pulsar 220 but fashioned to fit their homegrown cruiser profile. Primary developed to come up with an affordable touring bike that has a reliable engine and decent mileage,  achieving it by upgrading their older engine which was 150 cc to a roomier 220 cc engine with an oil cooler unit that can sustain hot engine oil conditions (for long distance rpms). With a mileage of 40 kmpl and a tank capacity of 14 litres, one can expect to reach Goa from Bangalore in one full tank. The bike has been designed to be very much in-line with a harley cruiser and is basically a comfortable ride that has been downsized to the Indian Motorbiking scene. Long distance Riders riding this machine swear by it for its comfort (especially with a pillion), parts availability all across India and incredible affordability. As for attitude, this machine gets diluted with tonnes of city riders too owning & loving it for its balance of nimbleness and comfort. Overall, I think it’s a bike that can take you places with a very rare option of taking a pillion and still be very comfortable, however i do wish Bajaj developed an indigenous engine for the avenger and styled it towards being more of a purposeful cruiser on Indian roads.

Bajaj Pulsar 200NS

Bajaj Pulsar 200NS

Bajaj Pulsar 200NS (2013)

  • Type – Single Cylinder – Liquid Cooled – Triple Spark – Single Over Head Cams (SOHC)
  • Displacement – 199.5 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 11.1 : 1  (i.e – there are 11.1 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 23.52 ps @ 9500   (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 18.3 nm @ 8000 (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 145 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 12 litres
  • Price – Rs. 89,000
  • For – Liquid cooled Engine, power/milage efficient engine, light weight and frugal.
  • Against – Overuse of name Pulsar and brand dilution.

The all new Bajaj Pulsar 200NS, some of the key features about this one that sets it apart from its brothers at the Bajaj house is its high compression engine (11.1:1) banging out more power and its integrated liquid cooled engine that can hold its heat for long distance rpms. The Pulsars have by now developed into a strong brand for the Indian Biking scene, it has a vast and a diverse set of owners. In fact, some of the most hardcore riders have undertaken massive journeys spanning close to 15000 kms on Pulsars. The new Pulsar 200NS sports a brand new engine that seems like an identical twin of the KTM Duke engine and is supposed to push out 1000 rpm more than the Bajaj Pulsar 220F while also maintaining a more frugal profile.

Bajaj Pulsar 220F

Bajaj Pulsar 220F

Bajaj Pulsar 220F (2013)

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4-stroke – Air Cooled – With Oil Cooler.
  • Displacement – 220 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 9.5 : 1  (i.e – there are 9.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max. Power – 21.04 ps @ 8500 rpm   (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max. Torque – 19.12 nm @ 7000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 150 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 15 litres
  • Price – Rs. 85,000
  • For – Roadtrip-ability, adaptability, ruggedness, ride sustainability, balance of good power, posture and ruggedness.
  • Against – Bland & old styling concept, another pulsar? and technologically lagging for their most premium bike.

This machine features Bajaj’s Auto’s biggest engine (220 cc), with a kerb weight of 150kgs it boasts of a very healthy power to weight ratio which for you means better overall power. The provided oil-cooler would give you much more confidence to keep the machine at high rpms resulting in more road appetite. Again a tried and tested bike from Bajaj with a relatively powerful engine matched with an unbelievable service network all across India. This surely would entice people who’ve ridden and loved the Pulsar 180 which was their highly loved relatively higher cc bike for practically an entire decade.

karizma

Hero Karizma:

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air Cooled
  • Displacement – 223 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 9 :1  (i.e – there are 9 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 17 bhp @ 7000 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 18.35 nm @ 6000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 150 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 15 litres
  • Price – Rs. 84,000 – 1,09,000
  • For – Comfort, reputation of trip-ability, good for any road, reliability, service network, ruggedness and good capability.
  • Against – Outdated styling, not liquid cooled, more importance development and patronage needed by Hero Company to this brand.

Hero Moto Corp’s heavy weight. Do not underestimate this machine if you don’t like surprises, it can do 0-60 in 3.8 secs combine that with Indian suited/designed ergonomics (which translates into a supremely comfy ride position) and it becomes a very strong contender in this category. Being a premium bike at the most selling bike company in India with the most number of Manufacturing Units and Most number of Service Centers is surely a driving factor for this bike (I’ve seen Hero Service Centers in almost every little town I pass by, every mechanic is bound to have essential parts). Buying a Karizma could mean a well rounded and comfortable bike suited for Indian roads that has the strength and will to power you practically everywhere with confidence of finding mechanics and comfort sans shoulder aches… Yup one of those machines trusted and used by many a solo riders and long distance travelers for its tank capacity, power, good ground clearance and superb reliability.

The Honda CBR250r

The Honda CBR250r

Honda CBR 250r :

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Liquid Cooled – Dual Over Head Cams (DOHC) – SI Engine.
  • Displacement – 249.6 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 10.7 : 1 (i.e – there are 10.7 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 25 bhp @ 8500 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 22.9 nm @ 7000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 167 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 13 litres
  • Price – Rs. 1,59,000 – 1,87,000
  • For – Looks, refinement, balance, ride quality, power band, 6 Lane Bun-burning, high speed handling/bending, build quality and technologically advanced.
  • Against – Pillion comfort, peak hour traffic and complete offroading.

Known for its engine refinement, brand value, balance and modern powertrain the CBR 250r certainly has trippers chewing on miles. Its weight,posture, aerodynamic design, the mounting, instrument panel, the humming ECU starter noise, the sound of ignition and the self inflicted compulsory wait for the engine to warm up all feel like you’re lining up for the tarmac to take off. Posture on this machine inspires rider confidence to push ahead and when ridden in tandem with using your feet the right way it comes alive and is almost like surfing or flying, basically its a sporty posture but is ergonomically made to suit all driving conditions. People used to other non-enfield Indian bikes will usually find this one heavy, but for me its just the bike yearning, calling out to head out long where it belongs 😉 . The machine is integrated with a liquid cooler which means she can hold her glass at high rpms and boy does she do that with finesse; Cruising at a constant 120 kmph, trustworthy electrical work, good build quality, 6 gear shifts to weave that eagerly playful torque curve through, beautifully balanced frame suspension and center of gravity position, plenty of hot internationally renowned performance upgrades in the market – these are all common with a CBR250r – one of the most popular and loved 250 Sports. The bike has a pretty decent low end punch to its torque that can propel you on from 2nd gear at full stop. Overall, I think it’s a thoroughbred, is very well designed, highly reliable like a car (cold-hot-wet-dry doesn’t matter), rounded off to suit different riding situations and an extremely eager tripper.

Kawa Ninja 650r

Kawa Ninja 650r

Kawasaki Ninja 650r:

  • Type – Twin Cylinder – 4 Stroke – 8 Valve – Liquid Cooled
  • Displacement – 649 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 10.8 : 1 (i.e – there are 10.8 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 72.1 ps @ 8500 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 64 nm @ 7000 rpm  (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 211 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 16 litres
  • Price – Rs. 5,13,000
  • For – Looks, fuel efficiency, balance & control, kawa power, tripable posture/ergonomics and cutting edge technology.
  • Against – Very bad/non existent roads, rush hour traffic, too few official service stations,    

The New Ninja 650r is a very promising motorbike for any roadtripper willing to pay the price. This one has been tweaked at exactly the right places to offer amazing versatility to a rider on Indian road conditions; The handle bars are extended by 10mm each side to allow for an easier more relaxed shoulder position that can have a massively positive impact when it comes to long distance riding; Day running lights again is a mark of a true road tripper – increases visibility which is quite important for a biker on a powerful motorbike; Redesigned ergonomics to suit a more natural position that maximizes balance and confidence for a more diverse set of riders – Bulls-eye again for roadtripping. With the twin engine 650 you’d be crunching up miles like pacman on steroids; 64 nm of torque should be enough to give you a gut wrenching thrust of a roller coaster doing a wheelie; Being a 650 i’d expect it to give a milage of about 21 – 26 kmpl, a riding distance of 350 – 400 kms per full tank which is superb considering its twin engine powerhouse. Overall – A wonderfully balanced machine.

KTM Duke 200

KTM Duke 200

KTM Duke 200 :

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Liquid Cooled – Dual Over Head Cams (DOHC)
  • Displacement – 199.5 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 11.1 : 1 (i.e – there are 11.1 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 25 bhp @ 10000 rpm (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 19.2 nm @ 8000 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 135 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 11 litres
  • Price – Rs. 1,33,000
  • For – Red lining, light weight, nimbleness, naked looks, power, handling and riding fun.
  • Against – Small tank capacity, luggage load-ability, nakedness in India and pillion riding.

The KTM Duke 200, the new kid on the block has taken the Indian Biking scene by storm, never before has nakedness been so forefront as now and thanks for all that to the Duke. Sports an identical engine as the Pulsar 200NS except for the fact that this machine has a fuel injection system instead of a carburetor and the gear ratios are shorter, giving it a burst of redline-able speed. For all the sportiness the Duke shows, its surprising how well the rider can be seated on it, also has very good cornering ability due to its custom swing-arm and mono-shocks on the rear for stability. Great for people who want and can afford great hardware that’s well built in its category. My concerns with this machine is that holds the most cards fact that radiators get stolen a lot in India, you wouldn’t want to be riding a naked bike with good hardware when rapists are around would you? (beware of radiator thieves). For a roadtripper out long he’d require a little more than 11 litres of fuel at a full tank, but that’s just my opinion, its surely a good, nimble, powerful, fun bike to ride on and it proves just perfect for dukers.

KTM - Duke 390

KTM – Duke 390

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Liquid Cooled – Dual Over Head Cams (DOHC)
  • Displacement – 373.2 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 12.6 : 1 (i.e – there are 12.6 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle) 
  • Max Power – 44 bhp @ 9500 rpm (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 35 nm @ 7250 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 150 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 11 litres
  • Price – Rs. 1,80,000 
  • For – Lightweight, nakedness, agility, power, fuel efficiency, switchable ABS, single riding, highway bun burning, affordability, engine and build quality.
  • Against – Pillion riding, small tank size and luggage load-ability.

The Duke 390 is named after the much adored 390 series, the actual displacement can be safely mentioned as a 375er. This bike comes with a bang for so many reasons that its hard to sum it all up in a brief sentence; The lightness is sure to give you the ‘rocket-off’ feeling owing to an incredible power to weight ratio, the power itself is quite jaw dropping for the Indian scene (a 375 single cyl, we haven’t felt that since the RD350) sure to get you holding on to that straight handle bar, which brings us to the vibration free build quality even cruising at 150+ kmph. This much power coming to you at almost the same fuel efficiency of the 200, whats more, the Duke is known to give you consistent mileage at various rpms. KTM has really thought it out and loaded this machine with whatever they can, safety has been combined with stunt-ability, thanks to the Bosch switchable ABS systems you can switch between having sure shot anti-skid braking to no ABS Bybre discs that can make stunt bikers wanting more. KTM also got ‘what impresses us Indians the most?’ bang on… Affordability 😉 … Killer price tag.

Bajaj Pulsar 180

Bajaj Pulsar 180

Bajaj Pulsar 180 :

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air Cooled
  • Displacement – 178.6 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 9.5 : 1 (i.e – there are 9.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 17.02 ps @ 8500 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 14.22 nm @ 6500 rpm  (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 147 kgs  (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 15 litres
  • Price – Rs. 71,000
  • For – Original Pulsar, reliability, balance of power & milage, trip-ability and service network.
  • Against – Brand dilution and no innovation in new releases.

The Bajaj Pulsar 180, with its ‘definitely male’ tag was a bike that was released into the market with the USP of having a relatively high engine capacity compared to other 100 and 125 cc counterparts in the Indian motorcycle market. Setting aside ‘Bullet’ from the Enfield stables and the ‘Hero Honda CBZ’ there were no other bikes that was more than 125 cc… Bajaj took the cue from the inherently growing demand for technically modern bikes above the ranges of 125 cc and released the twin Bajaj Pulsar models. This happened in 2001 and 11 years later picking off a statistic from 2012 Bajaj had sold more than 5 million units of this highly loved 180 cc machine and thats the truth. 12 years have also seen a lot of refinement done to the bike to enhance, update and squeeze out every drop of energy this engine can produce, not to mention the utter ease of finding a mechanic and parts for this lad everywhere in India. Thousands of bikers have used and loved riding this bike on long road trips especially with its relatively huge tank and good mileage. A full tank on this one can probably take you to Pune from Bangalore (900 kms).

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler:

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air Cooled – SI Engine
  • Displacement – 149.1
  • Compression Ratio – 9.5 : 1 (i.e – there are 9.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 14 bhp @ 8500 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 12.7 nm @ 6500 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 138 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 12 litres
  • Price – Rs. 68,000 – 71,000
  • For – Fuel Efficiency, light weight, pillion comfort, city commuting, intercity commuting, affordability, reliability, comfort, disc brakes for both wheels, service network and go anywhere ruggedness.
  • Against – Sustained redlining or high rpm, sustained high speeds.

Known to be one of those bikes that are practical, fuel efficient and can go anywhere you please. A highly refined 150 cc engine through a 5 speed drivetrain makes sure you can take on cruising speeds and maintain them. Advanced rear mono shock absorber to provide stability while bending at high speeds. One very good basic ride that can trip on fun with you.

Yamaha FZ 16 ... The Midship

Yamaha FZ … The Midship

Yamaha FZ 16:

  • Type – Single Cylinder – 4 Stroke – Air-Cooled – Single Over Head Cams (SOHC)
  • Displacement – 153 cc
  • Compression Ratio – 9.5 : 1  (i.e – there are 9.5 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel in the cylinder at a given combustion cycle)
  • Max Power – 14 ps @ 7500 rpm  (i.e – amount of energy measured in electrical units produced at the given RPM)
  • Max Torque – 13.6 nm @ 6500 rpm (i.e – maximum amount of thrust this engine produces and at mentioned RPM)
  • Kerb Weight – 135 kgs (i.e – weight of the bike without rider, pillion, luggage or extra accessories)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 12 litres
  • Price – Rs. 67,000 – 70,000
  • For – Pillion comfort, affordability, low-mid end torque (when compared to other 150cc), inter city commuting, city commuting, milage, lightness and fun to ride.
  • Against – Sustained redlining or high rpm, sustained high speeds and feather weight (the windforce from oncoming highly aero static buses can cause imbalance when at high speeds)     

Yamaha’s midship, their sales lottery in present day India was released in 2008 when the company was going through a period of lull and staticity reminiscing the 2 stroked glory of the past (RX 135) while their 4 stroke counterparts suffered from all kinds of deficiency. The FZ series changed all that, it gave Yamaha a bike that for the Indian customer reminded them of the powerful, speedy and agile ‘Yamaha’ they knew and loved for so long in the 2 stroke biking era (before pollution norms came in). The company handled the situation quite well by styling this machine in an aggressive fashion and giving it that build quality that it needed. Meanwhile, nice new additions such as the monocross shock absorbers (good for balance), tubeless wide tyres (relatively more stable), redesigned exhaust (for the perfect note), chain guard etc gave the bike a good edge. I was also actually happy about the newly designed engine that came with this machine – Torque feels like a 180 cc which means you can ride around with a pillion with much more ease than other 150 cc bikes and good for cruising.

So go on ahead and venture into the world of exploratory meditation, a world of roads and rides.

ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, prevents brain fluid leakages due to damage. 

Loading up for your Ride…

Motorcycle Pre Ride Preparations – Roadtripping

Your Ride and its essentials.

Roadtrippin prep.

Riding for me is a place where the past and the future dissolve into the now. Fellow riders will understand how deep our love for riding and the attachment to it goes, maybe because historically as humans we have always ridden… We’ve riden Horses, Ponies, Oxen, Bulls & Buffaloes, Camels & Carabao, Mules, Elephants and any other equine that even remotely gives us the impression of wanting to be riden on. So to me the feeling of mounting up to ride and facing the wind almost naturally beckons and captures my soul.

Long distance riding is a kind of meditative venture. I’d say people who are comfortable being with themselves usually tend to be comfortable with a long distance rides. I for one have my moments of ‘are we there yet’ but in its eventuality I swear I’m short-changed for time – no matter how long the ride.

Riding though isn’t about just fun and thrills, but is often a balance of hardships and niceties. The passion for biking however determines how much you want to get back on the saddle to ride. What we look for as riders is how not to turn a bad incident into the bane of your expedition.

The Bike:

One of the most important aspects to a ‘Biking Expedition’, having a bike that you love and love to ride will make a world of difference to your approach to it. For example when I bought my first Enfield Bullet, I really didn’t have to try too hard to ride out long, the bike will tell you through its RPM-Gear relationship that it wants to head out long and that is enough of a push usually to get going for at least day trips. For Indian riding, I would suggest a reliable bike that can give you fair latitude with milage, being a large country with tonnes of inroads and bike-able terrain, you’ll surely be left stuck gauging the fuel gauge in some interesting moments. I find most new generation Indian bikes capable of doing good rides if run at optimum RPMs. I personally prefer liquid cooled engine bikes since it provides that extra latitude for pushing the RPMs and one can be pretty sure of the engine not heating to the red zone at high RPMs. I currently use a Honda CBR250r for all my flying expeditions and it hasn’t ever disappointed me, although I did get Leh’d on a Bullet and love it with equal vigour. I’ve seen plenty of Pulsars and even Splendours take on challenging rides and coming out very successful… It’s all about the rider and how well he can communicate/push/handle his machine. Whatever the case, I suggest falling in love with your bike anyways, because it helps.

Planning to Ride:

Warning:

Do not take on massive rides before you experiment and practice short distances on your bike. Short rides will tell you a great deal about riding. Here are a bunch of things you need to keep in mind on practice rides or short runs;

  • Ride for 100kms non-stop to gauge which parts of your body are likely to come under strain.
  • Experiment adjusting positions to come to the most comfortable ride position (your ankles, foot, butt, back, neck, hands, head… Everything matters).
  • Test out optimum rpms on the bike and get comfortable with it since you’ll be spending most of your time riding in that rpm.
  • Buy a good comfortable certified helmet and get comfortable in it. A bad helmet can mean the difference between a good ride and a bad one.
  • Yoga or stretch exercises can massively aid in keeping your joints and muscles strong, supple and trustworthy for a ride.

Clothing and Luggage:

Riding unlike driving a car is very much in touch with all the natural forces on offer out in the open.

I find having a good biking jacket which is padded serves a multitude of purposes. I used to follow a basic rule of layers which would mean I would either peel off or put on a layer depending on the heat/chill factor respectively, but before the last ride I found www.cramster.in and liked what I saw… This was just before my solo journey across India from Bangalore to New Delhi so I was looking for something reliable, has good build quality and is designed by a biker… And that is exactly what I found at Cramster, apart from the positive about this company being an Indian SME. The all-weather Jacket really caught my attention; built with  peelable anti-rain and thermal layers it also featured a mesh outer construction that kept my body cool with wind circulation while riding the sweaty Coastal middays or the hot middle lands of India. Carry lots of socks and two pairs of footwear that you can ride with incase one gets wet in the rain.

As for luggage, what I normally did was fasten two duffle bags to the sides beside the pillion seat with hooked bunjee chords (readily available in local auto markets). I also kept a small bag fastened on top of the pillion seat – this was also to provide a backrest when needed (I always needed it in a Bullet). Of course this comes with its mental baggage of worrying about the bag sagging or an unhooked hook… Especially after the innumerable number of potholes and rattle rumblers you fly past in our beloved country. Fortunately again I depended on Cramster for it… Bought the saddle bag and that proved to be one good decision, it meant a 15 min overall prep time instead of a 45 min overall prep time every morning, it meant clamp on – tighten up and forget it, it meant the right pockets for the right things and the right places, it even meant giving a drop to an old man for 27 kms and most of all it meant I didn’t have to look back or help hold it in place for the entire 13 day ride.

One last thing you’ll need to account for is heavy rain… The kind of downpour you’re water resistant stuff will not be able to resist. You will have to think of a way to completely cover yourself and the luggage secured on your bike individually. An oversized ‘Company: Duckback’ style rubberized Raincoat/Rain Jacket & Rain Trousers should be adequate for yourself and maybe a camera bag. Buy think grade sheet plastic and get it stitched to cover your luggage items or use different things like the bike cover, and other plastic bags to fashion individual rain covers. Using provided raincovers that come with branded saddle bags and other bike luggage items however offer the best protection and ease of operation when it comes to rain.

Bungee chords used to fasten a backpack.

Bungee chords used to fasten a backpack.

Bike Service Checklist:

  1. Engine Oil Change
  2. Brake Fluid Top-up
  3. Brake Shoe Check
  4. Brake Cable Check
  5. Clutch Cable & Clutch Play Check
  6. Gear Oil Check
  7. Accelerator Cable Check
  8. Chain Link/Chain Play Check
  9. Wheel Balance Check & Tire Air Pressure Check
  10. Carburetor Clean & Idling Check or Fuel Injection Check with Idling
  11. Timing and Point Check (In older bullets its advisable to waterproof the point in some way).
  12. Check for leakages worn out parts and
  13. Service and Wash
  14. Chain Lubrication post washing

Spares to carry with you on the ride:

  1. Clutch Cable
  2. Accelerator Cable
  3. Brake Cable
  4. Extra Engine Oil (Enough to top it up on long rides – not too much)
  5. Chain Clean and Chain Lube (I find these very useful. One instance I had a plastic cover squashed between the chain gaps and sprockets, couldn’t stand the ‘Kweeetch Kweeetch’ sound while riding)
  6. Fuses
  7. Chain Link Lock
  8. Head Lamp
  9. Tubeless tyre repair kit or spare tube.
  10. Spark Plug
  11. Bungee Hook Chords (Good to take them in whatever case)

Things you just cannot afford to forget:

  1. Helmet
  2. Original Bike Papers; Registration, Insurance and Emmision certificate (all up to date) kept safe where you keep your money and other important stuff.
  3. A copy of the above to be kept in the bike.
  4. Original Driving Licence
  5. Spare Key
  6. Provided Toolkit and your personal set of tools if you use any.
  7. Hand Sanitizer (when something goes into your eye, you’ll need clean hands and water to wash it off)
  8. Mobile phone (for emergencies at the least)
  9. List of Authorized Service Stations and their phone numbers (applies especially while soloing)
  10. Research about the area you will travel through, our country is diverse and sometimes extreme in both ways; common sense, respecting local cultures and etiquette, Adaptivity, kindness and gratitude are key traits to have in yourself while travelling. You will find that most people return the given respect with a smile.
  11. Update your antivirus… uh… i mean get yourself vaccinated (consult your physician and tell him your plans he’ll know what to do).
  12. Get a basic First aid kit.
  13. Mosquito Repellant.
  14. Water Purifying Tablets.
  15. Flashlight, Matches and Pocket Knife.

Some generic medicines that you’ll want to carry with you for unforeseen uncomfortable eventualities, please remember that these meds are India centric and available in India (Disclaimer – These are medicines that I normally make a kit of, I am no doctor – Please consult with your family physician to verify, check recommended dosages and take other specific medicines you might need).

  • Tablet – IMOL PLUS – For headaches, body aches, throat ache, backpain etc.
  • Tablet – ONDEM MD 4mg – One tab on tongue to stop vomiting or some such sensation.
  • Capsule – ELDOPER – For loose motions, watery stool.
  • Tablet – DOLO 650 – For fever and headaches.
  • Tablet – NIMEK SPAS – For stomach pain, menstrual pain.
  • Tablet – STEMETIL – Take one tablet with DOLO 650 at onset of migraine.
  • Tablet – AZIWOK 500mg – Antibiotic – once a day for sustained cough, cold, throat pain and fever.
  • Tablet – PAN 40 – For Gastritis, heartburn.

First try something natural like taking a good sleep, eating fibrous meals, practicing yoga or flexibility exercises etc that balance your body’s natural levels… most often than not its this imbalance that is experienced as various illnesses when you’re just out of balance not ill.

Update to NRIs/Foreigners:

  • Follow the crowd when it comes to clothing in different parts of India. It maybe acceptable to wear/not-wear anything in Goa but that doesn’t apply in every place.
  • Banish those old notions – India is changing, you cannot just bribe a cop everytime, the central Data Center is on and can track you, there are cameras stationed at many Indian Cities at signals/junctions etc, the village is no more a land where its people haven’t the slightest clue of the cities… They’ve got TVs and Internet… Innocence and patience are a fleeting virtue just like any other place in the world. Bollywood is the movies, real life is quite literally much more drastic, the weather a lot hotter and people more ogle-some.

For the brave, enterprising and adaptive traveler, this country can blow your mind with its rich diversity in experience, terrain, foods, people, accommodations, silent interactions with fellow travelers and much much more.

Happy Riding folks.