Customizing a mindset

 

 

 

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Motorcycling as a subculture has come a long way in the subcontinent. Though a motorcycle is still predominantly a cheaper commuting medium, but the way in which a person rides from point A to B is undergoing a shift. Maybe this is the initiation of perception-catharsis this country needs to undergo and show respect to this effective, practical form of transportation.

 

Never say no to therapy!!!

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Have you realized lately that you are mostly occupied but not necessarily busy? See being busy is a good thing; it means a certain activity needs your brain’s support. Most of the times when we use our brains we are involved too – being involved in anything at any given point in time is great. They almost have meditational essence.

On the other hand, being occupied doesn’t mean you are involved all the time; for instance, waiting for your turn at a counter or at the doc’s clinic or dropping and picking family does not necessarily challenge our brains, it only consumes time. These are the times when we tend to get a lil edgier than we’d rather be. A certain sense of restlessness creeps in and sooner or later we burst (in ways we later regret). The instances are endless, thus a lot of moments filled with despair in retrospect. Can we change this?

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We-humans are complicated, much of the credit goes to our evolutionary upward curve (that we are proud of… somehow). We have reached a stage where we need to develop tools to combat certain situations in our day-to-day lives. All of us can write thesis after thesis of the innumerable customized tricks we have devised as survival tactics during these uncomfortable junctures.But few things in life never need tricks or plans to deal with. No points for guessing, we all know riding a motorcycle is always therapeutic. It is the very act of saddling up and looking for the next 10 meters of space – a throttle-twist, which makes for a perfect mix of involvement followed by recurring bursts of satisfaction. It is an individualistic satisfaction like meditation where we set the target and never get judged if we fail. Every spin adds to the list of secrets only between the rider and the motorbike (if it had a mind). Therapy time is directly proportional to the amount of space one gets infront of his/her front wheel, from 10 meters to 10 miles to 110 miles, more the merrier.

So next time when you had a day that you’d rather not remember, grabbing the helmet should mean you are headed to your therapist,  a combination of wind, speed and sound – some kinda mythological superhero  – and the fact that you would return rejuvenated is a given!!! Our evolution is also intuitive, it did give us stress but it also gave us superior motorcycles to de-stress and maintain that ear-to-ear grin albeit under the lid.

… Never say no to therapy !!!

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390 Black n White ride

Good weather and the right companion always make for an exhilarating ride, even within the city-limits of the capital

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Weekend mornings are generally afternoon-ish in nature. Seldom do we seek the rising sun or the serenity right before sunrise. We live in a crowded city, touted as the most polluted city on planet earth – the situation in Delhi doesn’t make for the best advertisement to wake up a hardworking cohort and excite them to hike to certain parts of the city to feel rejuvenated and sing songs in awe. Albeit, we ensure to be up and running  for a strong cause, a cause close enough to  get our blood gushing through our veins – often flowing further through the chassis urging the pistons to jump in accordance and move. So we did!!

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The night was longer than usual and probably longest for the Spaniards at the  Fonte Nova stadium, Salvador (Brazil).We watched them sob as they got thrashed on the very first match of their World Cup campaign by Netherlands  – much into the wee hours of the night. I slept cribbing about the short time I had to nap – contemplating whether to wake up at all for a ride at dawn – which neither had a route or a substantial plan.

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I got my wake-up call exactly as scheduled – quick to gear-up – I fled out of  home before any worldly reason could restrict me – the city did not shy away from rewarding me; as the weather looked just fine on the saddle. The city was yet to start hustling … We had a vague route in mind – in and around town – a mix of highway, off-road and twists. Mervyn was my homie for this ride … arrived equipped with a go-pro mounted on his Duke 390, roaring loud with the Ixil twin-pipes. We were on NH8 almost immediately. The empty streets invited handsome digits on the speedo and we had no complaints.

Dragging and zipping on NH8 for a while – we could see the traffic getting busier; this is where an unplanned trip finds unpredictable fun. we took a quick left which got us into a village a little after the toll. We didn’t look for the name nor were we interested. What interested us was the beginning of  the Aravallis … The roads ended & ushered us into a dirt track, we accepted in glee.We rode with the sole aim of reaching closer to the rock-formation peeping behind the village roofs. The off-road stretch was a welcome break from highway monotony, and was effectively a pre-cursor to yet another beautiful stretch to follow.

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With the recently concluded Isle of man TT, the Gurgaon-Faridabad road seemed just the tarmac to live the fervor. The stretch offers ample twists and views that are otherwise unseen for most NCR dwellers. The region is a valley off-sort, upon which the clouds seem to come together – thus, creating a dramatic backdrop. We dropped knees with caution holding onto to the throttle. This road emerges into Surajkund, Faridabad. A sharp left veer after entering Surajkund got us onto another dirt-track, the old banyan tree setting infront of the lake.However, the best was yet to come.

It started drizzling, but we were undeterred & headed further into the wilderness in search for better scenery. The path was blocked with big boulders and rocks, testing our riding skills & determination. We rode further into the desolate region to find a spot worthy enough – important to mention, Mervyn is adept with his photographic instruments and does well to illustrate what we experienced with his photographs & video captures. His pictures summarizes the story quite beautifully. It might had been a mere 80km run around town but it sure seemed quite unlike the Delhi we all dread.

We saddled up almost unwillingly, heading homewards, soaked in rain and joy of the ride.

to add a lil excitement, we are in the process of editing the go-pro footage which we will upload soon enough 

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Live MORE !!!

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It was one of those early days on the highways; the times when we make a lot of  mistakes but tend to make the same mistakes a couple of extra times just to engrave the error onto ourselves, ….some call them scars, we as riders remember them with very different sentiments.

Riding back from Pushkar, my buddy and I were ripping the highway, sometime around  3.30am –  pre-dawn. There was never a dire need for us to ride at that hour, we just happen to be awake and felt the urge to venture out. It was dark and our bikes never seem to have appropriate illumination back then. We have had our share of fun* in the last few days wandering all over the desert and around.

The machines roared to life in the death of a rain-smitten night…40 minutes on an eventless road, we squinched our eyes peering into absolute nothingness infront. To say the least, it was strenuous and outright boring – we ripped harder to make most of time before Mr.Sun gets onto our case and showers his extra love.

Riding in the the darkness, I saw my rider buddy yell something to me, and it seemed important; but we could never hear each other while riding given to our pride of our loud pipes respectively. We had a set of obscure gestures to express information on the roads. Honestly, I still wonder how much of it we ever understood. I  couldn’t understand anything he was pointing out on that ride aswel, but nodded anyway…

A little further into the ride, I could sense traces of our fun*elements still doing their magic from last night. The otherwise straight-roads seemed to morph into intricate shapes…yeah it did get intriguing, and exciting as-well, albeit momentarily. The road was being re-built with half the tarmac already laid-out leaving a considerable road level-difference. Our side was still bare. This stretch had a lot of trucks plying either-way and infront of our low rides, these mamothish trucks never looked welcoming or friendly.

I veered right to get onto the fresh tarmac, almost ignoring the difference in the level, my low exhaust pipe  hit the higher part of the tarmac making me lose traction. I was air-bourne and my dear moto slid aimlessly on the highway, sparks galore. I landed and rolled into the oncoming convoy of trucks. I rolled a bit too much to comfort, with very little vision –  I saw myself heading right into the mouth of the truck that led a sizable troop (of trucks behind him). I knew I was on-route to meet my creator.

How I survived and what went through my head –  is another story. The incident did leave me with some potent reminders for life.

A few years later, we were on the twisties, somewhere in Uttaranchal, time 2 am. Logically, we could have stayed wherever we were; instead we planned to partake on a journey without even knowing the route ahead. By now we have developed enough brains to ensure appropriate illumination. We have been riding for almost 48hours without any rest.

We were rest deprived & somewhat fatigued contrasting to the hills as it slept in absolute silence. The road took us at the mouth of a mountain-trail which seemed like a short-cut (to our destination for the night). Without a thought in our minds – we rode into the wilderness.

Important to mention, we were at a music fest and have (almost) ensured to keep the fun*elements at bay since we were riding…this time it was the silence that intoxicated us. The roads kept swirling along the mountain endlessly – we were boys from the plains, on bikes customized to hit straight stretches – subconsciously, we always expected the road to straighten-up. A mental commotion was inevitable as the turns seized to end. Tired and exhausted, we approached a point which in our heads seemed to go down and straighten up and give us a chance to shift to a taller gear. That was nothing but wishful thinking, we saw our Maker (well almost again) this time as he rose from the edge of the cliff when we missed the sharp upward cut. In our minds we saw the beams of our headlights doing 360 degrees a few times before slamming into the rocks deep into the cliff. We died again in our heads right then…. or did we??

Approximately, 12 years of riding and umpteen number of similar experiences, they taught us to be better riders, alert riders and prepared riders … though the biggest learning is to stick by each other as brothers and also ensure that we laugh-off the last fall and ride-on. I found my brother from another mother while riding; we graduated from being riding buddies to become brothers! I have been on solo rides and few with other people, but I think I can never express the level of comfort I feel when I know a dear brother is right behind me or ahead, it’s a feeling of invincibility and strength that I can’t find words to express. We grow as riders, moreso as brothers and if there is anything I owe to biking, it would be ‘finding all these tarmac-loving, wrench crazy, endearing buddies’.

They say we only live once, I say we have lived much more as  riders each day, everyday-  and exploring all of it with brothers– makes it all the more worthwhile!!!  Hope all of you find a brother in your lives and ensure you tell them what they mean to you at least once in a lifetime !!! LIVE MORE …

Bonnie takes over…

 

 

The Iconic Bonneville is as British as it gets…one look and it immediately brings back the 70s and 60s. The silver and chrome piece of machinery shone bright under the morning sun as we prepped up for the day’s ride. Not a long one, albeit with a lot of variety on its course. The Bonneville as known by all was named after the Salt flats of Utah, famous for land-speed records;  in today’s time the motorcycle is more about chasing the bygone era than new speed records.

In Indian context this bike is a serious fast-machine with almost everything one needs to enjoy (barring the ABS). A few numbers I made note of: 0-100km/hr in 5.38 secs, 0-140km/hr in 7.44secs, but the reason that makes this motor truely iconic has to be its enormous power-band and capacity at the lower end. I could easily putter around town all day without a single worry in my head. The Bonnie does not shy away from sharp bends, though the front-end-chatter didn’t get completely ignored. The suspension system felt rather stiff but they work well given the Indian road conditions.

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At 1500mm wheelbase, (an RE is 1370mm, to bring the Indian rider to perspective) the Bonneville manages corners with ease. Effortlessly charming, the Bonnie does its magic with the nostalgia it brings along. Needless to say, she had already won my heart the very moment she rolled it. I had to part with the claustrophobic full face helmet, out came the Motokraftcustoms open-face with the bubble visor, gloves got short and the riding boots got replaced by leather Lords. I personally couldn’t have enjoyed the ride without the right attire; after all I was representing a timeless classic.

On the roads the Bonnie is inconspicuous; it doesn’t attract a lot of attention to the generic audience, but in stark contrast gets followed by motorcycle-aficionados. “Yes it is available in India” was a staple answer I remember yelling- to the recurring inquiries. A middle aged gentleman even requested me to halt to have a closer look at the cult motorcycle, he later told me about the original 1960’s Bonnie parked at his garage, which would have been my next stop only if the world let me fulfil my simple wishes.

Our trip to Chaukorie was cut-short due to an unfortunate event on-route, so I had relatively less time with the motorcycle, leaving me asking-for-more. At 205kg the bonnie is a heavy bike but not as heavy as my heart as I bid adieu to the most charismatic motorcycle I have ever ridden.

 

 

Whats the big deal about a selfie… Rider selfie, a perspective

Usually, we click ourselves or get clicked when we ‘feel good’. We like to share our ‘feel-good’ moments.

As riders we almost always feel great when we are on the saddle, hence selfies  represent the emotion of such worthwhile-moments mostly in the absence of anyone else who could otherwise captured.

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In earlier times one would click a handful of trip-pictures and the yardstick of the trip’s greatness would depend on the rider’s oratory skills. All eminent tourers/riders are great story-tellers; we all know them for the very same reason. As technology progressed and became accessible– including the rider community, it was natural to find a lot of trip/travelogues from the top of their helmets (from where the road always look narrower and far more dangerous than it actually is).

There are a set of GYAN that we are introduced by our respective parents/guardians – however, it is easier to understand and accept all of it if they come from a certain cohort  whom we believe to be our type, almost subconsciously.

We all seek the bigger stuff – like truth; understand reality, sometimes we get lost in the search and sometimes they themselves appear out of nowhere – right in the middle of a highway or peeping off the clouds.

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Modern day travellers illustrate their stories as good as real-time. The excitement and adrenaline – almost real.

Riders like Adam Reimann take us through his journeys ensuring we get a splash of muck as he crosses a rivulet on his trail. He maneuvers his moto with equal ease as he narrates his stories alongside, much beyond the motor and the roads he travels on… but relatable realizations of his life, leaving a mark in ours too.

Solo-motographer Alex Chacon has ridden all over the Americas, he recently toured central and north India as well (2013). He would probably travel further into the furthest corners of the earth like a thousand other riders, but his narratives find a special place – they almost have nothing to do with the machine he rides or the kind of engine-oil he uses, but deep predicaments of his life, his family, his father or his unborn kid. The feeling of belonging, though being away and the strength of being together though riding  miles apart from close ones – attachment and freedom, noise to complete silence, the spectrum is rather wide.

All of it brought to us in the form of selfies… (self videos if one may call them). Their stories have inspired us, given us goose-bumps, made us cry and laugh eccentrically without knowing who is watching. True as nature, raw as reality.

Selfies are a  great tool, till the time it has true content unlike a face in the corner of a bathroom, where one’s nose seem more shapely and the lips poutier. The reflection of excitement on ones face at the helm of an incident emphasize true emotion, all of it brought to us in the form of a narcissist phenomenon called selfies.

Selfies have an elevated role of self expression especially for riders/ travellers, till the time they are mindfully clicked…and deserve to be seen and pondered upon by the audience it is put up for.

keep selfy-ing and keep inspiring…

The following links are worthy self-expressions, enjoy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwV-Im0kGqg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85VErvTqgWc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9NJ5s6_yVc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhWR5jjGzfM

Hello Triumph Bonneville

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It was only 15 minutes into my halt at Kathgodam (Uttaranchal) as the Triumph Bonneville rolled-in. This rendezvous is a precursor to our ride scheduled tomorrow to Chaukorie. The smirk on the rider’s face exclaimed a lot more than what met the eye. The bustling noise of the town seemed to fade; it was just the legend and I.

This is the very same motorcycle which would probably have more expressions than Krishna himself. This is the true Viratroop of motorcycles. Be it a bobber, chopper, a scrambler – this moto has the calibre to guise into any genre thanks to its versatile parallel twin-cylinder motor.

The customizer in me had already started sketching a few lines all over an elusive canvas. It missed the 19” wired-wheel in my actual-visual, but the 17” alloy did not take anything away from the overall aesthetics of the moto, instead I do think the handling would have been a little on the harsher side with the bigger wheels.

Continued…

Rider review: KTM DUKE 390…

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I was suffering with severe ‘throttle-ache’*; the bright sun turned hot and Facebook became the official host for mountain shots with half a bike on almost every picture. It seemed the entire riding community has been waiting for the sun to show his wrath and it was a bikers’ way of saying ‘f#@k-that’ by taking the shortest route out of the plains (Delhi)  to the mountains.I have been meaning to write about this true-ish rider-review and probably a non-insinuating comparison between two completely different bikes, albeit embarking the same roads and highways – together, almost.

Like a lot of my rider friends, I was stuck – jostling between professional and personal lives. Eventually, there was one such week where a Friday-off ensured a 4 day ride, possible. I sheepishly smirked throughout the week anticipating the highways and the twisties that await.

I was riding a KTM Duke 390, barely a thousand km old. The destination was just a matter-of-fact. I was eager to know how the moto behaves on the open roads. I packed my luggage in  Dirtsack saddle bags, this was the first time I wore Revvit Horizon riding pants (the inner lining is not required in May) and the light-weight full-face SOL helmet which promised superior air-circulation.

It’s been over 6 months that I had hit the highways on 2 wheels and only a fellow-rider would understand the burgeoning pain I held inside. I wanted to do everything in a mere patch of 300 km. I wore the dependable A-star mesh jacket zip-mated with the Revvit pants to avoid wind gushing into my back (not a good thing at high speeds).

I was out without an alarm-clock, unlike any other day of the week/month. The playlist was set in prior, but it had to wait … first-up, I wanted to hear the Duke’s voice on the ‘opens’.

Easy, nimble, petite with a good sense of humour, the KTM took me through the about-to-wake-up city roads. The motor of the KTM is raw, eager but one doesn’t take too long to find a sweet-spot. 43 PS ensured enough grunt to overtake anything that dwindled infront .

Needless to highlight how the Duke touches higher speeds and literally stays on them with poise, (I touched speeds upwards of 140km/hr numerous times without realising). I was getting addicted to the ease and pace. I didn’t feel hungry, thirsty or any other form of fatigue considering I haven’t had any breakfast and it was already heating up at 8am. I was also prepped for a sore behind (as alarmed by other 390 riders)… but I guess a few hundred kilometres was far too less to even feel the soreness. The ear to ear grin continued as I played along on the NH 24 on this unassuming machine. The stock ergonomics almost matched my height and built (I’m 5.9inches weighing 76kgs)

The informative speedo console indicated a descent average speed of 85km/hr by the time I stopped the first time. The distance seemed to have squeezed and the route has become much shorter this time. I was much ahead of time than every other time I had ridden/driven on this stretch on other vehicles.

Too much happiness had never been a close friend as I felt the bike suddenly stir with a mind of its own. Something had gone seriously awry. I stumbled to a halt to find a flat front tire. With almost 12 years of riding experience, a puncture cannot really raise hell. I couldn’t visibly see any nail or cut on the tire-so lazily dragged her to a nearby ‘hawawala’. A little boy  had to fill-up the front tire, but the air seemed to find a wide opening almost instantaneously. In close inspection I figured that I was-in for a long halt – I took off the tire and felt the remainder air gush out from the inside of the alloy. Crevices had formed on the (1000km old) alloy through which the air slipped

I was in a fix, somewhat. Important to highlight, the axle of the Duke is an interesting 2-piece fix and relatively easy to work with. The tire came off smoothly with very little tools (I had the stock tool kit). The obvious make-shift arrangement was to plonk a tube and ride-on, but a 17” tube was hard to find in a desolate village where my neighbours were 16, 18 and 22 wheeled trucks. I was about 15 km off the closest city. It was damp at 39 degrees already at 9.30am and I was far from the twisties. The stretch before Rudrapur (UP border) is harsh with deep craters everywhere. Everyone was almost dragging their respective vehicles through an unavoidable menacing maze of potholes.

I was back on the saddle after 2 hours of haggling under scorching sun (after travelling 30km to find a  17” unbranded tube), with enormous caution I started riding with a brittle-cracked front alloy. I was cautious regarding the speeds and even the smallest spot on the road became a reason to be alarmed with. The joy of riding has taken a back seat as the heat pierced through my skin. The Revvit riding pants were supposed to be all weather compatible – only on paper, they failed to let any air pass onto my skin and I burnt inside. Added to that the Duke 390’s single-cylinder, it generates enough heat to make omelettes all-day, one can also throw in some bacon and salamis for a hearty breakfast. I have to give it to the SOL helmet; it was capable of keeping the sweat off my face, the 19 port ventilation-system proved quite effective.

It was during these cautious times that I started to identify a few fixtures which required attention, to get the 390 closer to an all-round motorcycle. The factory brake-pedal setting was too tight for a long cruise – good thing they are adjustable, but the lever itself asks the rider to hug/cling/knee the tank too tight at all times … a wider brake pedal would ease the calf muscle of the right foot. The handle can be played around with, furthering a stress-free experience. The throttle of the 390 requires too much of a twist which is often an issue at high speeds, a short throttle or an alternate throttle-system (not restricting the full revolution of the cable) might just seal this issue for good. The windscreen is a debate for any mid-sized nakeds, I also wondered whether one can play around with the seat and make it more welcoming. Gel seats could have been the perfect solution, hadn’t I lived in Delhi, since the gel component tends to heat up in warm conditions. The luggage carrying capacity also excited me to think about some custom solutions; I contemplate an all aluminium pannier system like the bigger dual-sports, which would do a handsome job. The small fuel-tank forced another halt at a petrol pump a little before I completed 280km, returning an average of 25 km/l, which brings me to ponder about an auxiliary fuel tank for longer stretches.

I had to halt at Haldwani for the day, still away from the twisties, disappointed and apprehensive. I needed a new front alloy to continue. I contacted everyone I knew in and around brand KTM for a quick solution/replacement ….alongside,  the one thing that really kept me engrossed was the thought of developing spoked aluminium rims for the 390 to avoid such dismal unnecessary break-downs on an otherwise fantastic machine. In no way did the incident develop any discontent for the machine. Indian roads are ruthless and equally unfathomable for the Austrian engineers who had worked on this bike with all their intellect.

My halt for the day was at Kathgodam, an industrial region with a healthy mix of motorcycle enthusiasts and veterans. They even have half a KTM showroom from where I eventually procured a front-alloy. I had scheduled my trip with some serious high-points, the next motorcycle I was about to ride the legendary Triumph Bonneville, probably the first bike to reach North India from Chennai.

Watch out for the Bonnie experience…

Later, the 390 rides back to the plains  with a RE C5

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Gears:

  • Alpinestar mesh jacket
  • Scoyco summer (textile) gloves
  • SOL helmet
  • Revvit Horizon riding pants
  • Dirtsack saddle bags
  • Spy optics touring sunglasses
  • Spartan touring boots

*Throttle-ache: (meaning) A sharp right-hand wrist ache
– Generally surfaces when a motorcyclist is unable to trip, constrained due to various worldly situations…