Dec 3, 2010

driving force

The repeated phrases gave the poem the hum of a good engine.

Read the above on the blog ursprache by JforJames. Let me put this in another manner...

the hum of a good engine on an idle road
like the repeating rhythm of my favorite song :)

Dec 1, 2010

TVS Velocity 160


Even if TVS does decide to launch this one, I wonder what response they would garner. They are late. That apart, they are unimaginative.

The flanks look ridiculous. The silencer is a misfit. Can't comment on the specs though.

Nov 6, 2010

Royal Enfield Hollowbird

Thunderbird is a Hollowbird!

Now, some might see me as being too harsh in my criticism. Some might say, it isn't warranted in the first place. That's okay.

Classic seems to be a consummate product. I ask myself why can't other models be as good? Characters could be different, but coming from the same stable the aesthetic-level of all bikes must be equal.

Yamaha for once is a good example. The fit and finish and aesthetic-level of all bikes seem to be the same, other factors not considered. FZ16, Fazer, R15, SZ/SZ-X, YBR all exude the same level of detailing and aesthetics. In fact, I can add even the earlier models like Gladiator and Libero (do you remember that still?) :).

Intense urge to dismantle a bike

I've got this intense urge to dismantle a bike. How did this happen? Well, I've been anxiously evaluating all the bikes so that I can come to a decision to buy one.

I've done test-rides of FZ16, Hunk, R15, Bullet Classic, Thunderbird, etc. Some or the other thing stops me. R15 - very narrow tyres. FZ16 - the fuel tank accentuated with plastic add-ons, Hunk - the huge plastic scoops called 'muscles', Classic - the excruciating waiting time, Thunderbird - just a lot of hollowness coupled with some unnecessary jazz. Some of these bits I've listed might sound trivial to the reader but that's how my mind's working right now.

Karzima ZMR is the biggest plastic pooper this country has. Didn't get an urge even to touch it. I visited a nearby Hero Honda showroom just a few days back, so I can claim that.

All these experiences get me to this point. I want to dismantle a bike and build it again with my own hands to know which one is the really really reliable and solid one. Of course it must be neat and beautiful; that's the primary condition. I can begin with FZ16. It looks the most reliable and the sturdiest of all. It looks but I want to know for sure before shelling out my money. So I want to dismantle FZ16. And if I don't think the plastic bulk on the tank is needed, I'll do away with it.

May be before long Mahindra Mojo launches. And this urge to dismantle and feel a bike from the inside might die.

Nov 4, 2010

What will the competitors do?

 So this is Honda's belated gift for the common Indian biker. Not bad. :) Good for the Red Riding Dude.

Must be remembered that it is slated for a April 2011 launch (based on reports in the media). So we've got effectively 5 months before it launches.

Current offerings on the same lines are:

Yamaha R15 with a tag of Rs.1.2 lacs approx on-road
Kawasaki Ninja 250 priced at around Rs.3 lacs on-road

Yes there is a huge gap. So Honda CBR will supposedly fill this with on-road price of around Rs.2 lacs.

My gut feeling is that some motorcycle manufacturers are not going to take this lightly. Expect Yamaha to announce a 250cc launch at about the same price as that for the Honda CBR 250. Expect Hyosung to bring in its 250cc. Won't speculate on the price.

But the gap isn't necessarily between Rs.1.2 lacs and Rs.2 lacs as is anticipated. The real gap is between 70k and 1.2lacs.

Expect Bajaj and TVS to launch 250cc versions of Pulsar and Apache respectively priced competitively around the Rs.1 lac mark. And that will set the country racing. Fingers very much crossed.

Nov 2, 2010

Apache RTR Hyper Edge is blunt

When I heard and read about the launch of Apache RTR Hyper Edge and saw the pics, I was surprised. For very obvious reasons Hyper Edge needed to be something more. Not just in performance but also in design. Besides, this was a strange case of giving a 'hyperbolic' name (without the corresponding changes) after the product has met with a fair amount of success anyway.

I realized that Hyper Edge is a fitting name more for Pulsar than for Apache RTR. Especially from a design perspective. I've tried breaking apart the designs of both the bikes to show why Pulsar is the Hyper Edgy bike.

Focus on the yellow lines below. Apache RTR Hyper Edge. These are the dominant lines I see when I look at the bike.

Now look at Pulsar.

You'll notice that there are fewer dominant lines (at least in the way I see) in Pulsar as compared to Apache Hype Edge. Lines seem to converge in Pulsar. Lines are closely aligned. Against this, lines in Apache are far more distant. They don't seem to converge. Forget edginess, there's very little to call sharp.

Fewer lines cut sharper. More lines will of course make the edge thicker. You get the logic, right?

Design apart, I love the sound of an Apache machine. There, they've got it right. But I guess the sound isn't enough (as it is for a Royal Enfield) to make it a cult.

Oct 31, 2010

ST7 for the Red Riding Dude

Displacement is 678.2cc precisely. And the price - as I read on - would be anywhere around 4.5 to 5 lacs. Not bad, yeah? Can't say whether I can afford to own one like this quite yet. It has far greater chances of making me a Red Riding Dude. ;)

My eyes are still set on this one.

It is closer (in terms of price, styling, power, madness, neatness, etc.) to what I've been thinking of for quite some time now. How far are the test-rides? When do the bookings begin?

Oct 29, 2010

Plastic Poopers

That's the name I've given to the mass bikes getting launched in this country. As the name suggests these mass bikes are made to look really smashing with plastic jobs. But if it comes to any semblance of grace and performance they would fall like pins in a trashcan.

Mini Triumph Bonneville in India

After watching a slew of launches from so many motorcycle manufacturers present in India, I realize this is what I really really want. Forget the tech-specs; I want a bike with this kind of style in India. Surely, there's Bullet Classic but even that doesn't cut in front such a beauty as Triumph Bonneville.

Mahindra Mojo is a great attempt at styling a simple yet radical bike.

Its reputation will only grow once it hits the road I believe. However, my earnest desire is to see a mini Triumph Bonneville 300cc or 350cc specifically for India. So that at least I can buy :).

One will trumpet arguments against my desire (like practicalities and volumes and blah blah), but that's what Mahindra has done; gone against all current norms to announce Mojo. Given a totally new twist to motorcycling in India. Whether the flow will drift in their direction is yet to be seen but I am sure there will be many takers.

Sep 5, 2010

Energy Economics & Petrol Prices

Oh! I just read this piece Petrol Prices Set To Hike Again. Just a few days back I shared an important bit in the post Alarm Bell on my blog polka thoughts.

I urge motorcycling enthusiasts who also like following motorcycling tit-bits online to read Jeff Rubin's thoughts on the economics of energy and how it is changing and how it is gonna change our world in a lot many ways. These price hikes are just the beginning but very important symptoms of an imminent future. Go, read.

You might do well to read Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller as well. Important stuff.

Red Slingshot

Well, I am not impressed with this Suzuki offering. The color's somewhat different I can say. 
Doesn't this resemble Bajaj Caliber in some respects? Remember?

Aug 26, 2010

O my God! It's the Slingshot!

Now who's betting on this one?

Promises a world-class ride. Priced to compete with the premium 100cc bikes.

My take, this is a ridiculous attempt to woo the Indian commuter. Hero Honda is the brand for the Indian commuter. Splendor and Passion. If you want excitement, then Pulsar 135LS or Yamaha SS125.

What's different here, I wonder. So a good reason to stay away from this one.

Aug 19, 2010

People are calling Yamaha's bluff. Why don't they seem to get it?

Yamaha just introduced YBR 110 and SS 125. If I were to summarize the instant reaction of motorcyclists online, it would be:

"YBR 110 is a rehashed ALBA and SS 125 is a rehashed Gladiator!"

And in essence, this reaction sounds so true. Why? Just when you look at the pics or the actual bikes you get it. The upper pic is Alba, the lower one is YBR. Also, why did Yamaha launch YBR? Coz Alba wasn't selling. But people can see they are both the same! So YBR might also have a tough time selling.

Now motorcycles and motorcycling is a hot topic online in India. And thousands and lacs of motorcyclists or prospective motorcycle-buyers are active online seeking guidance, sharing info and in turn guiding others in what to choose and what not to. People can see what's the truth.

Pitch all the interactive noise online against the monologuish claims in mass-media advertising and check what wins. Why do you think Yamaha's motorcycles commuter/executive commuter segment do not work?

One might say, Hero Honda has also been an active rehasher and has been doing it successfully. My guess is, Yamaha rides on a premium image and Hero Honda is just too massy. A huge chunk of Hero Honda owners might not be aware or even interested in the buzz online. Yamaha prospects though would be keen to know what people are saying online simply because of the stakes involved.

Yamaha needs to acknowledge this fact and draw inspiration from their FZ16 and R15 efforts. They need to offer something genuinely new instead of just changed names and whistles and color-schemes.

Aug 17, 2010

New Gladiator from Yamaha

Did I surprise you? Probably :)
Alright, Yamaha has discontinued Gladiator. So, is it good or bad? Depends on how Yamaha views the situation.
Here's a perspective. 
Gladiator has been around for quite some time. Few years, to say the least. Biking fraternity knows Gladiator. Why? May be coz of marketing, may be coz of blogs, may be coz of the fact that it comes from Yamaha. There could many more reasons.

Looking at it from purely a business point of view, the brand Gladiator seems to be present in prospects' minds, even if not favorably. In today's world, marketing is unarguably the biggest challenge and perhaps the biggest cost. I am asking, can Yamaha leverage this brand 'awareness' equity?

Of course! Few reasons to my claim and a couple of solutions.

The brand name GLADIATOR is very good. People can have views on the 'degree' of goodness but they can't deny that it can be a good motorcycle brand name.
Coming from Yamaha, the name GLADIATOR has the potential to carry forward all the attributes attached to the brand Yamaha in India. You agree?

So, the name's taken care of. The awareness of the name is also taken care of. Now what?

Try imagining a 300cc kind of cruiser with the name Gladiator.
Try imagining a naked 250cc (or even a 150cc with a good big tank :)) with the name Gladiator and coming from Yamaha.

To my mind, the second offering might fit better. Importantly what it could do is save Yamaha the hard part of marketing coz the name is already there in people's minds. It will also match the actual product with the already established name and therefore, find it easy to get people to accept the bike.

The thing is if a Hero Honda Hunk (I don't deny it's a decent bike) could sell here, a 250cc naked Gladiator would rock. Besides, aren't Gladiators often imagined naked, if we go by the Hollywood movies :)!

Aug 10, 2010

The Gladiator who never was

The Gladiator never fought. People didn't give it a chance. You know why? Coz the body didn't do justice to the name it carried.

To just explain in simple words, imagine the bike FZ16 with the name Gladiator instead of the name FZ16. In all probability, you will find it agreeable. 125cc bike with that kind of form just couldn't cut as Gladiator.

Jul 1, 2010

Dazzler, what a dampener!

The Dazzler looks decent in this picture I must say.

I visited the Honda showroom this Sunday. To begin with, I failed to notice this bike in the first instance. My eyes were still veering towards the Stunner.

I found the Dazzler totally disappointing, at least from the looks point of view. The tank extensions look rubbish and unnecessary. Over-all look, when seen in actual, is a dampener.

I didn't take the test ride. This is no great review. But the Dazzler doesn't elicit anything better out of me.

Jun 24, 2010

Bullet Classic in Military Green

I am often so surprised by such instances. This one's available in the international market but not in India. Why? And btw, how much effort does it take to make the same available here?

Going by observations of the ways in which people modify their Bullets, military green is one of the most preferred colors. Wonder if the marketing guys at RE have their eyes open?

This one's ravishing. Supreme impact. Bring it on!

Jun 7, 2010

Bajaj's new superbike - CHETAK

:) I know the title is tempting enough to go through this post.

As I see, Bajaj thrives on springing surprises. And surprises which almost get the entire biking fraternity sit up, notice and acknowledge the efforts. So, here's another strategic surprise that Bajaj can throw for the enthusiastic Indian bikers:

Launch a superbike called CHETAK!

I sense that the time has come for a bike to carry the age-old name. Yes, it was fuddy-duddy scooter once upon a time. But think about the word, its connotations, the myths and the history, the way it sounds when it is spoken. Quite rich, quite emphatic, very Indian but very apt for something grand! A superbike is just the right machine for the name.

If still not convinced, rattle it out with the likes of Fazer, Ninja, Hayabusa, Chetak, Ducati, etc. Repeat these names in your mind twice or thrice and you'll get the drift of what I wanna convey.

Indeed, the Bajaj's understanding and legal arrangements with its partners like KTM and Kawasaki need to be factored in. If there's space for Bajaj, then this is the thing to do. Imagine CHETAK 1OOO! Or, CHETAK 500! :) Doesn't take a lot of time to sink in, does it?

Jun 4, 2010

Suzuki might sue you

If you post pics of its about-to-be-launched 125cc bike Slingshot. Yes, that's the grapevine. And therefore, all the blogs and forums have removed the pics and articles.

But hasn't that happened with quite a few products? Stealth pics and all. I can remember it happened with Karizma ZMR. Guess it also happened with Twister. But we didn't hear any 'suing' news there.

The thing is when these Slingshot pics were posted, almost all the bloggers and their readers gave a unanimous thumbs down to the bike. Guess this is what got the company worried. And since they got worried, they threaten to take legal action.

Some important points:

1. If opinion makers are really not enthused, it doesn't change a thing. They aren't now. They won't be, later too.
2. You stop them from writing/expressing, for sure they are not gonna turn around and write positive about your product later.
3. After the launch, they might launch a sterner attack on the product. Get ready for the killing.

What Suzuki loses?

An opportunity. Yes, an opportunity to listen to the folks who have the power to influence opinions in a big way. An opportunity to involve the enthusiasts in the making of the bike. An opportunity which can turn Suzuki into an enthusiast's brand in a short span of time.

What we learn?

I am pretty sure that with hundreds of crores of money riding such automobile products, there must be a lot of marketing research happening before, while and after developing the product. Looking at this product in particular, am pretty sure that Suzuki is getting it all wrong. Or may be their researchers are getting it all wrong. It results in nothing but sheer waste of resources and sheer disappointment among consumers waiting to lap up products in a growing market like India.

May 12, 2010

Time for a Naked 150cc

Bajaj has another first to its name. A 150cc for pure commuting. My guess is Discover 150 will change market in ways which we can't fully comprehend.

Great! If you observe all bikes these days, especially >100cc bikes, they all come with fairing and swooping design elements from the head-light to the tail-light. It's time to get the classic naked look back. Something like...

Pic Courtesy:

Now of course, this picture shows RD350. But if you find a design like this mated with a 150cc-200cc engine, wouldn't you be tempted? Is any brand listening?

Apr 4, 2010

To Siddhartha From Siddharth

Dear Sir,

You are doing your best to thrill the patrons of your legendary motorcycles. Appreciate that. But you know what, your 'doing your best' is still traumatic for many of the fans. Are you even aware of that? Are you listening? We can only hope so.

You know how many (if not all) RE owners feel about RE motorcycles. They feel like a doting mother who knows very well that her child is an incorrigibly gone case but still loves him and feels hopelessly proud (even if there's no reason to) coz there's no other option.

Should you want to dig deeper and know a little more, urge to go to this link.

Apr 1, 2010

Not-so-royal experience @ Royal Enfield

Just came back from the Royal Enfield Bandra showroom. Went there to collect my refund cheque against cancellation of my booking made way back on 23rd Dec '09 for a Classic 350.

The showroom manager's smiling. His assistant's also smiling. Proudly (might say arrogantly too) announcing that the booking for 350 has been stalled for the moment and that the waiting period for a new booking is 8 months!!!

Downright pathetic. The guys have gone mad.

First, it's no happy moment that a customer is canceling his purchase no matter the high demand.

Second, it's no laughing matter that the waiting period is 8 months; it just tells us that you (the brand) don't care much about the customers.

Third, Classic 350 and the new engine converted quite a few non-Bulleteers into going for a Bullet. But that's just half the job done. If your service still sucks (like it did earlier), the same guys might turn their backs to you pretty soon.

Fourth, the company can't hold money like this and ask the person who made the booking to come and collect the money from the showroom. The least they could do is respect the customer, respect his time and the faith he put in you, apologize for inconvenience and try to make up in some form.

Sure there's only one Royal Enfield. And scarcity often leads to a favorable impression of the brand but guess they are stretching the loyalists much too far and far too often.

I can go on and on about my disappointment but the folks at Royal Enfield might not listen. Royal Arrogance or Royal Lapses sounds better.