Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hard Times

My humble little motorcycle collection (of just two examples), has just had a new addition. It’s an ’05 HH Karizma, black, with 30 thou kms on the digital odometer (yes, I’m showing off). I made a fantastic deal of it, and currently, it’s being put through its paces.

I burned the midnight oil all through March, looking up motorcycle classifieds on the internet. And within the first thirty minutes of the act, I concluded that the concept of depreciation was yet to be discovered by the people of Pune. 87k for a ’93 Standard Bullet? It’s like being asked to pay 87k for a, well, farm animal which has seen seventeen monsoons, gushes oil onto your boots as if there’s no way around, and is as fast as a cow. All of which is true.

And there were the ‘Sporty look Pulsars’ going for Gas denim money. Which is still a lot of money for a motorcycle that sounds like a Sumeet Mixer after a Bloody Mary, and is just about as quick.

In my search for a used motorcycle, I had numerous encounters with people who had all sorts of pearls of wisdom to contribute. While unparalleled motorcyclists of Rohin Nagrani’s ilk imparted with genuinely good advice, there were some others who didn’t.

The highlight, though, was this man with an R15, who made himself sound like he could do the Isle of Man with his hands tied to his back, and blindfolded. “I want my motorcycle to be a hard hard, excuse the language. Even the ‘Fireblade does not inject the sort of fear you’d like. Also, where are the roads to take a ‘Blade to its limits?”

Firstly, anyone who does not buy a Fireblade because our roads are ‘too limiting’ for it, should have an R15 with shredded tyres, razor sharp pegs, and with the tail piece on fire. Also, he should have changed, at the very least, ten dozen knee sliders and should have roughly three quintals of iron rods in his shins. The bloke’s R15 had chicken strips (the cornering patch on tyres) so large, it made chicken look small. His riding posture was all wrong; hanging off unnecessarily, and too much. And the only time he’d got his knee down, was when he got both in one go.

I must clarify, knee downs maketh not a great rider. In fact, getting one’s knee down is become some sort of a raging stunt in India, which is a sad interpretation of the fastest way through a corner. But a person talking about a Fireblade not being a ‘hard hard’ must have underwear the size of DisneyWorld. And aforementioned bloke was nowhere close to it.

I’ve never agreed with people who don’t buy superbikes, or fast motorcycles in general, because our roads are insufficient. A powerful motorcycle ridden to its 40% will still be a lot of fun. And a slow motorcycle ridden hard can be even more of a blast. I can never erase memories of a young(er) me sliding a blue TVS Victor’s tail right before I hit apex, and eventually, a tree. Or outdoing startled Pulsar 150 blokes on my bug eyed Vespa NV.

Somebody famously said “Excuses are like arseholes, everybody’s got one”. Okay, the original number was about opinions, but whatever. An R15 in the right hands is a capable enough tool. More so for our market, which has been on a strict single-downtube motorcycle diet so far. A famous motorcycle journo once said, “99% of the time, motorcycles are always fun”. And that last one per cent, constitutes the rider. Be safe. But enjoy your motorcycle thoroughly.

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