Nov 27, 2008

Good boy goes bad and we like it!

Suzuki stuns. Brings big guns to the market (they should've done it earlier though). That Red Hayabusa. 1340cc bike! Do I say more? You saw them in Dhoom and now you'll see them on the roads for sure. Find more about Hayabusa here.

That's not all. This one's also here. This is badder!!! :) The Intruder M1800R. Yup that's a whopping 1800cc!



I can't afford these. But they excite nonetheless. Would cost anywhere around 12-13 lacs.

Nov 18, 2008

Suzuki GS150R, Terrible


I won't get into the specs really. They are pretty similar to what we already have in the market. I will not even touch upon the marketing related issues here. However, I guess the one aspect where Suzuki really had a chance to make an impact was styling. My verdict: they've failed. GS150R might sound like it's in the league of R15, FZ16 and such, but that's the only similarity. Suzuki has continued to be rather conservative (to the extent of being archaic) in their styling. Heat, Zeus & GS150R. God save Suzuki. With the downturn showing its colors, Suzuki has quite a task on its hand.

Even the red isn't gorgeous. Side on, the bike looks similar to Unicorn with a bit of Hunk thrown in the front and Apache thrown at the rear. Thank you!

Oct 9, 2008

Honda doesn't have anything better! Honda Unicorn yet again!

Or is it that I can't see the beauty?

Unimpressive from a company which boasts of amazing machines like CBRs, etc. Stunner looks better, I would say.















Even the red one doesn't shake me! Something's really really wrong.

Bullet Classic



No, no, no! No dream or photoshop job! That's the Classic Bullet unveiled at the Intermot 2008 in Germany. Here's another pic. My fascination with red is getting fuelled all the more... Have a look:





There's been no announcement about its launch in India but I sense that it's gonna be launched here as well and perhaps very very soon.

How many bikes would you like to own?

Sep 21, 2008

Yamaha FZ16 & my predictive analyses

And if one wasn't enough, Yamaha has another warrior in a different armor. Back in early January this year, just before the annual Motor Show in Delhi where two bikes - R15 and FZ16 - were displayed, I had analyzed the motorcycle market in India and suggested what TVS needed to do to really break the shackles and capture certain important segments. Of course, my basic assumption was that Yamaha would not wake up in time to grab the position it had left vacant for years together.

Irrespective, Yamaha ends up doing almost precisely as I had written on my other blog called fork-blog.blogspot.com (it's all about business and marketing strategy using the concepts of divergence and focus). And I am so glad about that. If I were to express the emotion, a motorcyclist is witnessing a second revival (the first was launch of Bajaj Pulsar) of performance motorcycling in the country.

That's FZ16 for you. The lord of the streets! Ravishing red!

Sep 1, 2008

R15 Red

In one of my earlier posts on 5th July '08, I had expressed a desire to see a red R15. And how soon does it come true :). Reason enough to plan for buying one soon.

The pic's from the Yamaha India website. Does look smashing, doesn't it?

Jul 8, 2008

Kinetic Flyte - how is it flying?


The scooter above is Kinetic Flyte and the one below is Honda Dio. Instead of Honda Dio, I could've taken any other scooter too. But Dio serves the purpose better.

Have you observed Flyte on road? It's 125cc and yet looks so diminutive - from the front as well from the back. Contrast it with any other successful 100cc scooter and you would think that Flyte competes with the Scooties of the world. On the other hand, also observe Kinetic's launches especially among scooters - Kinetic Nova, Kinetic 4S, Kinetic Blaze... Most notably the latest, Kinetic Blaze. It's unarguably the biggest scooter launched in India till date. When it comes to two-wheelers in India the cubic capacity i.e. cc is often positively correlated with the actual size of the vehicle. Greater the cc, bigger the scooter. In light of that, Kinetic Flyte seems to be an aberration - considering the competition, considering its own launches and considering the popular perception.

Am not sure how well Flyte is doing, the trend in two-wheelers, both motorcycles and scooters, hints at preference for bigger-looking vehicles. I wonder after the launch of Blaze why Kinetic launched a diminutive scooter like this one. 125cc is just right segment but the size doesn't match the cubic capacity.

160cc Apache RTR FI launched

Here's what the The Economic Times says:

Aiming to strengthen its presence in the premium segment, country's third largest two-wheeler maker TVS Motor Company on Monday launched an advanced version of its bike Apache fitted with fuel injection engine, priced at Rs 64,990.

The new bike Apache RTR FI would come with an 160 cc fuel injected engine.

"The fuel injection technology deployed in the RTR FI gives the motorcycle crisper throttle response and enhances its fuel efficiency," TVS Motor Company Head (Marketing) HS Goindi said.

"The company has strengthened its presence in the premium segment with this launch and we are planning to introduce two more products in this segment by the end of this year," TVS Motor Company General Manager (Marketing) K Ramakrishnan said.


The launch hasn't raised my eyebrows really but the last two lines have. Two more products in this segment by the end of this year! Now premium segment would mean 150cc and above. So which of these will we see in the market - Apache 180cc, 200cc, 225cc, 250cc or beyond? Or are we only gonna see one main launch like a 200cc and the other launch could be a variant, like we have for Apache 160cc? Let's see.

Now my personal views about 160cc Apache RTR FI. Will it be a seller?

What's the competition? In the sub-200cc Pulsar, Hunk, Unicorn & R15. Comparison can be done on various fronts. While R15 is in its own league, the other three lack the much glorified fuel-injection. So? Apache 160cc has a lead in that department. And? Apache has been the best-styled bike (yes, to my mind, better than the much hyped Flame) from the TVS stable. And yet it doesn't really impress in comparison to Hunk and Pulsar (even now). Anticipating that Bajaj is gonna launch something really market-shaker in this segment pretty soon, I doubt Apache RTR FI will do much to change the status quo.

A good bike but... All the best TVS.

Jul 7, 2008

R15 - A Motorcyclist's Muse

Yes another post on Yamaha R15. Can't help it. Capped off a wonderful Saturday with a visit to the Yamaha showroom in Vikhroli after watching Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.

While I was aware of the Yamaha dealer in our vicinity, it never really occurred to me all this while that the showroom would have R15 on display. So when I saw the R15s from a distance while on my way to the cinema hall, I decided to visit the showroom when I would be on my way back.

To say that I was already in a good mood (because of the movie) which made my first-hand experience of R15 so cool would be an injustice. Even though I didn't get the test-ride, I could convince myself of the quality of this bike in every sense of the word. I switched on the ignition and revved the bike and rpm needle just swerved smoothly and quickly to the other end. The engine sounded so refined. And the bike felt rock-solid in spite of being so light. The stance without any doubt is sporty. The best part is that the size of the bike doesn't seem to overwhelm the rider; many people after reading a few reviews think that the bike is diminutive. In stead, the bike is just the right size to be sporty and at the same time give a feeling of total control to the rider. Don't you recall the same about RX100 and RXZ135?

Well, that in a nutshell was my experience. Would've liked a test-ride definitely. I'll buy it soon nonetheless.

Jul 5, 2008

R15 Wallpapers


I must buy one of these after the rains. Both look stunning. The oil prices are going up every day and the price of this bike is no less, and yet, these pictures simply fuel my desire. Have to have a test-ride soon.

Anyway, I wish so much there were an R15 in red too!!! :)

Jul 4, 2008

New Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark 350cc

That's the new Thunderbird Royal Enfield has launched. If you had noticed the earlier one, you would be able to spot the differences. The makers claim that the engine is 'revolutionary'. They call it Unit Construction Engine. The engine is gonna keep all the pleasure of the earlier Bullets intact and add a little more in terms of better fuel efficiency, better maintenance, better working clutch (and therefore, lesser visits to the mechanic. In fact, that's the reason I sold my Machismo 350 in Dec last year). It also seems that bike is more powerful than the earlier 350cc Bullets.

My personal take is 'got for it'. This seems to be best bike launched by Royal Enfield for decades. Why? Simply because the new engine design has resolved many hopeless complications of the earlier engines which marred the Bullet experience. Purists would frown as they've always done with the launch of every new Bullet. But my sense is that this bike might win them over after all. Yes, the ones who want the vintage/retro Bullet feel can continue to rue the evolution; I'm happy.

It's neater too; observe the change they've made in the back-rest fitting for the pillion rider. They've made the silencer also a little safe for the riders; won't burn you anymore.

Jul 1, 2008

Honda CBF Stunner 125



Honda launches CBF Stunner 125. A look at the recent bikes certainly suggests that motorcycle companies are realizing the importance of good looks even in the commuter bike segment. This is by far the best looking two-wheeler that HMSI has launched in the country. Can put Dio also in the same league but not the Aviator.

This bike looks far far better than the 125cc Shine (of course, Shine wasn't meant to really impress I think). It generates 11bhp@8000rpm and also touches 60kmph in 5.2 seconds. Not bad I would say. It's got traces of Hero Honda Karizma; in fact, a very important feature of the design is that the front panel, which includes the headlight, speedometer et al, isn't attached to the swing handle. I think, therefore, that bike would be amazing as far as handling is concerned. It's also a first in 125cc segment in India. Unicorn's engine has proven to be a very refined one at all speeds, so we can expect the same from this one.

A welcome introduction by HMSI. Hope it does well. For Yamaha, it gets tougher even with the upgraded new Gladiator.

Jun 21, 2008

Avenger 200 - A Review

I've covered 5500 kms on my Avenger 200 which I bought in January this year. So am sharing a few thoughts - positive and negative - about the bike. Of course, these could be generic to all Avengers or perhaps particular to just mine.
  1. Suspension isn't great. Yes, I bought the bike thinking since it's a cruiser-styled bike, I would relish riding it to my office and back (22 kms ride one way). However, it isn't really so. And Mumbai's roads never really help the cause. Having said that I'm sure no company can be more conversant with Indian conditions than Bajaj is. So suspension, especially on a cruiser, should've been taken care of.
  2. Speedometer & Fuelmeter get foggy. Now, this is extremely irritating. As soon as it rains a bit, the fuelmeter and speedometer, both get foggy. Dew drops form inside and that doesn't quite impress.
  3. Mileage is between 35-40. I think that's quite reasonable given Mumbai's traffic congestion.
  4. The bike feels sturdy but not always steady. At >150kgs, the bike feels really sturdy. Rides decently on highways also. But on occasions it wobbles on certain types of roads. For example, if the tar on the road assumes stripes because of the way it was made and shaped, the bike starts wobbling, sometimes to the extent that I have to come to a halt and resume my journey again.
  5. Tough to push it beyond 70-75kmph. Don't quite know whether it's a problem with the speedometer or whether it's to do with the engine itself. The bike struggles to respond beyond the 70kmph speed.
So, all Avenger aspirants, please keep these points in mind when you consider buying this bike. Of course, if you want to talk about more details, you can always write to me.

Jun 11, 2008

Gazprom predicts oil will reach $250

That's the headline of one of the articles I read on rediff.com. Check the full article here. Now what will the government do? And what will the car buyers do?

Have always been a proponent of using bikes. Not just because they are cheaper or exciting; they are the most practical source of conveyance in a country like India. They allow more space, lead to less congestion and on the whole great excitement. Time we introduce policies conducive to lighter vehicles like bikes/motorcycles. Car buyers should shift to bikes too. Demand would go down (I'm sure) and gas prices might normalize (I think India has that kind of influence now on oil prices).

Some might argue that why doesn't China do the same? If they don't do, why should we do that? That's follower-like thinking, at best. If India needs to really lead, set a precedent that others can look up to and emulate.

May 27, 2008

Yamaha R1 & Yamaha MTO1

Barring the fact that 99.9999% of the Indians can't afford these bikes, the size and muscle of the these bikes is awe-inspiring.

Yamaha R1

Yamaha MT01

Meanwhile, the Yamaha dealership at Ahmedabad were taking Rs25000 for advance booking of R15. I said I would rather wait for the actual launch.

May 26, 2008

Amazing Yamaha Gladiators

Yamaha Gladiator

That's Planet Yamaha, the Yamaha showroom in Ahmedabad.

I was in Ahmedabad in early May. And after checking an ad about the launch of R1 and MT01 in Ahmedabad, I decided to visit the Yamaha showroom. Not for booking, just out of curiosity :), of course. Inside I was hoping that R15 might also be on display. It wasn't. Though the biggies were there. And alongside there were these new Gladiators.

I must admit, I was nothing less than thrilled after having seen these Gladiators. Immaculate in fit and finish. Even earlier I didn't think that a Yamaha bike is worth comparing to the others in the category. Not to say that other bikes are bad, but having driven Yamaha RXG135 for 7 long years, and having driven Fazer for a while, I was convinced that other bikes (no matter what the sales say) might not match up in performance.

True to my thinking, very soon after having checked the new Gladiator when I checked the TVS Flame, I rubbished all comparison between the two. Even the Honda Shine or Hero Honda Glamour (or whatever) or Bajaj XCD do not compare to the Gladiator. If it's performance and style, it's the Gladiator. Surprisingly, apart from XCD, even if it comes to fuel efficiency it's the Gladiator that takes the cake. And at the current price-point, definitely Gladiator is the best 125cc bike, if you are considering buying one.

May 15, 2008

Divine Dance


Divine Dance
Originally uploaded by twentyfourbees
This is the path right outside our house compound in our native village, Basera in Rajasthan. The barrenness is stricking, more so in this picture. I had my cousin's Pulsar 220 to roam around the village.

In Rajasthan - On Pulsar 220

In Rajasthan - On Pulsar 220

26th April 08. Clicked just outside Basera, my native place in Rajasthan. As you see from my face (though I'm smiling) it was really hot out there. Late April. Touching 40-41 degree celcius.

While I reached there directly from Jaipur, my cousin (on my insistence) got his bike from Bhilwara. Quite brave to have driven the bike for 70 kms in the simmering afternoon.

We had planned to ride the P220 from Basera to Bhilwara (about 70 odd kms) in the evening on 27th Apr. However, we felt that a morning ride would be better suited - it would be cooler and therefore, much more comfortable. We set out for Bhilwara at 6:00 in the morning. Reached at 7:00am.

One hour of exhilarating drive. The roads in Rajasthan have never been better. P220 was amazing. By far the best ride I've had. I was wondering if P220 is such, how would the CBR and the R1 be! Or for that matter, even the Ninja 250!

May 9, 2008

Big Dukes in India


It's called HYPERMOTARD; what a name!

Read yesterday morning about the launch of Ducati bikes in India. Of course, these will be imported units and the price range is Rs15lac to Rs50lac! Woohoooooo! Company officials say that they would import just 50 units to begin with this year. Depending on the response, future course would be determined... The engine power of the Ducati superbikes would be in the range of 90 horsepower to 180 horsepower!

Here's a little article from The Economic Times:

Italian motorcycle major, Ducati Motor Holding has arrived in India. The company has brought its five different models including the flagship Monster range. These superbikes were launched in Delhi on Wednesday along with a host of accessories and merchandise from the Ducati stable.

The company launched Hypermotard, the classic 1098, 1098R, 848 and the flagship, Monster. The Monster S4Rs is a bike without compromise, a true superbike in every way. It has all the legendary superbike power and character along with potent desmodromic Testastretta engine. The new, amazingly powerful Ducati Monster S4Rs is as unique as its name and a pace-setter that all other naked models look forward to.

Ducati's Monster S4Rs is a masterpiece of technology and design. Its a harmony of design and precision of the engineering. The styling is that of a spectacular and customs the appeal of size and power. In addition to the common features shared by all Ducati Monsters with single sided swing-arms, like the small upper fairing, vertically stacked twin exhausts exhausts and longitudinal stripe (bigger and centrally positioned on the S4Rs), the S4Rs also incorporates a large number of eye-catching racing components.

The S4Rs features new graphics and colour schemes to enhance the 999-derived front end and the Y-spoke wheels that recall the racing origins of this naked superbikes. In fact, Ducati Corse has contributed a large number of small but important details to this Monster, details that might not be noticed under a full fairing but that cry out for attention on this meanest of all Monsters, like the triangular oil cooler.

You can read a little more here:
The Financial Express
Hindustan Times

Apr 10, 2008

Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R

Received some information about the Ninja 250R that Bajaj plans to launch soon. I've been informed that it might be priced about INR1.25+ lac. Not bad, I would say. Some competition to Yamaha R15 for sure, though each belongs to a different segment. Check the specs below:

Specifications
Engine type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke Parallel Twin
Displacement: 249 cm³
Bore x stroke: 62.0 x 41.2 mm
Compression ratio: 11.6:1
Valve/Induction system: DOHC, 8 valves
Maximum power: 22.2 kW {30 PS} / 10,500 rpm
Maximum torque: 21.0 N·m {2.14 kgf·m} / 8,500 rpm
Fuel system: Fuel injection: ΓΈ28 mm x 2 (Keihin) Dual throttle valves
Ignition: Digital
Starting: Electric
Lubrication: Forced lubrication, wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed, return
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Clutch: Wet multi-disc, manual
Frame type: Tube diamond, steel
Rake/Trail: 26° / 83 mm
Suspension, front: 37 mm telescopic fork
Suspension, rear: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock and 5-way adjustable preload
Wheel travel, front: 120 mm
Wheel travel, rear: 130 mm
Tyre, front: 110/70-17 M/C (54S)
Tyre, rear: 130/70-17 M/C (62S)
Brakes, front: Single 290 mm petal disc
Caliper: Single balanced actuation dual-piston
Brakes, rear: Single 220 mm petal disc, Caliper: Dual-piston
Steering angle, left / right 35° / 35°
Dimensions: (L x W x H) 2,080 mm x 710 mm x 1,115 mm
Wheelbase: 1,400 mm
Ground Clearance: 135 mm
Seat height: 780 mm
Fuel capacity: 17.5 litres
Dry weight: 152 kg
Automatic Headlights On: (AHO) n/a
Complies to EU emission limits: -

The bike might be available in these colours:



Some highlighted features:

Apr 8, 2008

Why did I sell my Bullet? (will help the aspiring buyers)

I've been asked this questions many times now. Whoever knew that I rode a Bullet earlier asks the same question: Why did you sell it?! And then when they come to know that I've bought an Avenger to top it all, they give a rather amused look :). Understandably so. If I were in their shoes, perhaps I would also be amused.

But here's the story. Bullet Machismo with the AVL engine has its gear-lever on the left-hand side (as all other bikes do in India). This makes it easy for new Bullet buyers (who are migrating from other bikes to a Bullet) to familiarize themselves with riding a Bullet. However, therein lies the problem. The older Bullets had the gear-levers on the right; while one lever would help you change gears, the other would help you hit the neutral. This 'other lever' is not present in Bullets with AVL engines and that makes it extremely tough to hit neutral in certain conditions. And then, it's mighty tough to manage the bike. Let me explain with an example.

I'm riding in a traffic-prone area. Obviously I use (pull) the clutch very often. Also obvious that since I ride in the first/second gear more often, the engine gets hot. As I've mentioned, hitting neutral is tough. Now in Bullets, if the clutch stays pulled with a hot engine, the clutch rod starts losing control and then the bike just doesn't stay put. It moves even if you don't want it to :).

I'm smiling but if you have it drive day in and day out for kilometers together in traffic-prone area, you'll sweat a hell lot instead of enjoying the ride (no wonder, Bullet's meant for open roads and highways - as rightly advertised 'Trip'). That's why I sold it. This single problem! And this problem is only present in Bullets with AVL engine. Removing the 'other gear-lever' and moving the gear shift to left, while apparently seems a good user-friendly move by Royal Enfield, it could cause significant headache for the city-rider.

Aspiring buyers, take care. If you want to buy a Bullet with AVL engine, consider on an average where and how long will your ride be, and importantly how often on any given day?

Mar 22, 2008

Balaclava - Useful head gear for bikers/motorcyclists in India

Does your helmet stink because of perspiration, and of other things that you apply on your head? Is the inner cushion of your helmet dirty? Do you believe that wearing helmet is making your hair fall in increasing numbers or damaging your hair in some way? Do you get troubled by the dust and pollution in spite of wearing a helmet while riding your bike?

If you answer any of these questions in the affirmative, read on. I've spent considerable time figuring out solutions to these problems. One solution, I see most motorcyclists adopt, in the absence of bandanas, is wrap their skulls and faces (covering the mouth and nose) with handkerchiefs - under their helmets. I myself use two scarves every time I ride to my office or any other place which takes a little time reaching - one scarf I wrap around my skull and and the other I wrap around the lower part of my face. Done daily and frequently, it becomes quite a chore - rather tedious.

So here's a better alternative; use balaclavas. What are balaclavas? Very similar to monkey caps used during winters in India. But balaclavas have a different origin (you can read more here). You might've also seen robbers shown in movies wearing such head gear :).

For a long time, I've searched for this on google typing face mask or bike mask, but couldn't quite find the right stuff and the right place to buy. Today luckily, while again I typed the same words, I noticed the word balaclava in the results and finally found the right head gear and perhaps the right place to buy it too.

It will not only save you from dust and pollution and sunlight exposure, it's easy to use too - no more knotting bandanas every now and then. It might also help reduce some helmet-related hair problems. Very important to enjoy biking without getting bald. Hair matters :).

Balaclavas come in all sorts of material - stretchable, woollen, cotton, lycra, nylon - depending on where you want to use them.

Mar 6, 2008

Unusual morning ride

It couldn't have been better. Completing 6 weeks of ownership of this little cruiser - Avenger 200 DTSi Oil-cooled :). And I had the easiest of rides to office this morning what with people sitting at home for Maha Shivratri. Where everyday I take 65-70 minutes, I took barely 45 minutes today.

Past 1600 kms. Has been a pleasant experience. It's refined. Smooth. Of course, don't expect it to give hassles being a new bike. It's comfortable for the pillion rider too, though the seat seems quite narrow compared to the driver's seat in the front.

Though the bike doesn't have a kick, it does give a kick riding on open roads. Yes, it doesn't thump but then, it's not meant to; understanding this aspect of new-age cruisers is important. It takes the bumps rather well too. Just initial days, so can't take it beyond 65kmph; doesn't even go even if I try.

Good bike.

Feb 27, 2008

Yamaha line-up is a visual delight

Picked this picture up from the Yamaha website. The website remains as hopeless but these bikes look ravishing standing in one line. Starting from left, the bikes are Gladiator Type SS (Stylish & Sporty), YZF-R15 and FZ15. While the first is an improvement of the current Gladiator, the other two are 150cc bikes modelled on two of the best (also big) global bikes of Yamaha, R1 and FZ1. Late, really late but eye-pleasing nonetheless.

From what I've read in Bike and on 2wheelsindia.com, the R15 is expected to redefine what we call performance bikes. Here's a picture from one of the posts on Payeng's blog.

Payeng is 5'5". Comparing the bike's build with Payeng's, the two seem to be a good match :). So, is it a small bike for the average Indian male? Some comments on Payeng's blog suggest that readers do think it's a smallish bike considering what all it promises in terms of performance.

I have some thoughts. If we look at Yamaha RD350 and Yamaha RX100, the two performance bikes of yesteryears, both had a rather naked look. RD350 had twin cylinders, packed 32bhp power and yet wasn't really as big. RX100, the same. The tyres weren't really fat. Reason, the broader the tyres, the more it takes to propel the bike and therefore loss in pickup and loss in fuel-efficiency. The narrower the tyres, the better the concentration of power to propel the bike (Forgive me for not using the technical jargon. This is the best I can explain. Hope you are getting it). Of course, the tyres can't be cycle-like! :)

So, why does one need broad tyres for YZF-R15? Are we gonna take really close-to-the-ground turns on racetracks at 100mph or what?

There have been comments on the size of the bike too. It is said that the wheelbase is lesser than the likes of Pulsar, Karizma, etc. Does the length of the bike matter so much? Perhaps not. In fact, it's the sitting height which matters more. If it's too high it can affect handling since your feet might not touch the ground comfortably; if it's too low it might feel more like a cruise-bike instead of a sports-bike.

So guys, just chill. I would rather reserve my judgments until the time I take a ride on R15. As far as the specs and the styling are concerned, I think the bike excites. Let it come out on the roads. Then we'll discuss the rest too :). What say?

Thanks Payeng for getting the bike closer to us through your blog.

Feb 25, 2008

Helmetless on Sunday - an aesthetic issue

I've been wearing helmet ever since I started riding a two-wheeler (first was Kinetic Honda, followed by Splendor, Yamaha RXG135, Bajaj Wind, Bullet Machismo and finally Avenger 200).

Every time I open Bike, I see some pictures of helmetless riders being chastised for ignoring their safety. Valid. Quite some time back, when I used to own a Yamaha RXG135, I met with an accident and I can vouch that had I not worn my helmet, my skull would've cracked. Even with the helmet on, I suffered a rather dangerous cut on my eye-lid and I bled profusely - to the extent that my friend's mother refused to recognize me when I reached his house close by, right after the mishap. Even my parents didn't recognize me what with my head and one eye bandaged in full white (a la Anil Kapoor in Meri Jung :D). I was saved nonetheless.

Having said that, times have changed for me. Then I was in Ahmedabad, now am in Mumbai. Commute 45kms every day to office and back. And every day cover my face and head with bandanas beneath the helmet to save me from dust and pollution. Helmet's necessary to say the least.

Yesterday, I rode my Avenger without a helmet. Of course, the distance was short and I was in no rush. Also I didn't have to fear any traffic policemen in our area. Wind blew ever so gently in my face and for once I - used to all sorts of covering every day for about 3 hours of riding - felt exhilarating. Hair got disheveled and I loved it. Safety didn't matter; of course, purists would say, you never know when someone can knock you down no matter how careful you are. I did it deliberately, out of convenience, out of a little desire for change. Spare me.

Riding slowly on a sunny morning on an open road is an aesthetic issue. So if you are a 'safety-first' person and never forget to helmetize your head, just do this once - go helmetless. You'll love it. And you'll love the purists frown :).