August 2017

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Yet Another Milestone

THIS MONTH BIKE INDIA CELEBRATES ITS 12TH ANNIVERSARY.
The magazine has grown from strength to strength over the past 12 years and for this success I would like to thank all our readers and manufacturers for their support in making Bike India the number one bike magazine in the country. This would not have been possible without your unstinting support.

Every month we bring you the latest news, ride stories, first rides, road tests, and a lot more — all this would not be possible without the team at Bike India. You will always read the name of the author of the article in the by-line or see our pictures in the magazine, but what you don’t see is the hard work put in by the unsung heroes — the designers, photographers, and the copy desk editor — along with the marketing team that puts in a lot of hard work to generate the funds so that we can bring out this fantastic magazine for our readers.

From the first of last month the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced in the country and, as expected, most manufacturers have the same ex-showroom price for their bikes, whereas some others have different pricing because of the addition of freight charges. Now the next step should be a uniform vehicle registration fee across the country with the road tax being levied on fuel. Then one will not have to re-register one’s bike when one moves from one state to another.

Learn to respect your own vehicle and, more so, others’ bikes and cars when you try to squeeze your way through that small gap and end up scratching your bike and someone else’s bike or car. Please give other people space on the road they deserve.

This month we have quite a few exclusive rides for you, so enjoy the mega issue and always ride within your capability — ride safe and enjoy your ride.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

July 2017

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Let’s Have Uniformity in Registration Fee Too

WITH THE GOODS AND SERVICES TAX (GST) COMING INTO force, from now on you will find the same ex-showroom price for all twowheelers across the country; the on-road price, however, will differ from state to state since the RTO of every state has its own rate of taxation. It is high time we had a uniform registration fee and had the road tax charged on fuel.

The big difference between a two-wheeler designed and built in India and an international one, whether a motorcycle or a scooter, is the number of fasteners used. It is more than three times in case of the indigenous products. The service time for our local bikes is twice as much as that for the international products. Ironically, even with so many fasteners, most Indian two-wheelers begin to rattle after a little while. This is due mostly to bad design and poor engineering, or a combination of both. It is high time the service engineers got involved in the project from the drawing board.

The deportment of two-wheeler riders on the road is frightening. You have senior citizens who, not being confident of their balance, ride with their feet dangling instead of resting on the footboard/footrest. Then you have the kamikazes who are completely oblivious to traffic rules; they think going down the wrong way is their birthright. Such people are a hazard not only to others but to themselves too and give the bikers a bad name. When will the police start enforcing the law and stop triple-seat riding?

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

June 2017

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 The Flipside to Number One

LAST MONTH I WAS INVITED TO SINGAPORE TO RIDE THE new Harley-Davidson Street Rod. The very first time I rode the Street 750, I was really surprised because I had read some reviews criticising the bike, starting with the riding position to the engine and handling. In fact, the bike had a lot going for it from the riding position, handling to the extremely user-friendly engine. The Street 750 is a fantastic platform and the Street Rod is the first variant on this platform. Don’t be too surprised if you see a café racer and flat track racer from Harley-Davidson based on the Street platform in the near future.

When I look back to the time when I was growing up to now, it is sad to see how the law and order situation has deteriorated. If your bicycle did not have lights or if you were riding double-seat and the policeman caught you, he would deflate the tyres. Today riding triple-seat or going down the wrong way on a motorcycle is a ‘done’ thing. Last month when a two-wheeler rider was going the wrong way and brushed a pedestrian, and when the pedestrian complained, the rider just turned around, came back and stabbed the pedestrian.

Last but not least is that India has become the biggest two-wheeler market, overtaking China. It is great for the manufacturers to be in the biggest twowheeler market in the world. At the same time, HMSI became the number one in the Honda family of companies as far as the numbers go. There is a flipside to becoming number one; it is that we will have that many more who do not obey traffic rules. We need to make sure that people know all the traffic rules before they get a riding licence.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

May 2017

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 Odds Never Come Singly

THE TWO-WHEELER INDUSTRY WAS JUST ABOUT
recovering from the effects of demonetisation when the manufacturers suffered another jolt as the Honourable Supreme Court stopped the sale of BS-III two-wheelers from 1 April. The whole thing was a mess for, according to the government, one could manufacture BS-III bikes until 31 March, but the Court stopped the registration from 1 April. Those who took delivery of new bikes on Gudhi Padwa would not think that this day was very auspicious because the very next day the prices of new BS-III-compliant two-wheelers were slashed by up to 50 per cent.

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill containing provisions for hefty fines for breaking traffic rules. It is a move in the right direction but traffic rules need to be enforced as we already have them in place. How many people follow them? Most of them are unaware even of the basic dos and don’ts. Forget the general public, I don’t think many of those who enforce the rules know them for instance, giving way to the traffic coming from the right or giving way to people who are on the main road, and not cutting to the right side of the road when taking a right turn so that the traffic coming from the right can continue to turn left. You should not park on corners and junctions. One thing that will definitely come out of the new Bill is the rate of chai-paani will go up.

After a long wait BMW Motorrad have finally entered India on the 12th with the opening of their first showroom in Mumbai, the second in Bengaluru on the 13th, and in Pune on the 14th.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

April 2017

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 Limping Back to Normality

The two-wheeler market is limping back in the wake of the effect of the recent demonetisation. Last month I rode three new motorcycles: the Yamaha FZ25 (250-cc), and KTM 250 and 390 Duke. It was at the same venue in Goa in 2008 that the FZ16 was launched and at that time I had suggested that they should have put a 250-cc engine instead of the 160-cc motor.

The KTM 250 Duke has been launched to counter the imminent BMW 310. The 250 runs taller gearing to make it subdued, so it is not as aggressive to ride like its 200 sibling. The 200 and the 390 easily hit the rev limiter in sixth gear whereas the 250 does not manage to do this in fifth or sixth gear. The new 390 has improved tremendously over the outgoing model. Read our first impression in this issue.

British motor sport had suffered a blow on 10 March 2003 when the last British 500-cc world champion Barry Sheene passed away. Now on this very same day this year John Surtees, the only person to have won world championships on two and four wheels, also passed away. I was fortunate enough to have met him at the Isle of Man TT during the centenary year of that great event in 2007. He had brought his world championship winning 500 MV Agusta for the Lap of Honour. May his soul rest in peace.

Over the Holi weekend I rode the beautiful Triumph ThruxtonR and it brought back some really fond memories; when I was growing up it was bikes like this that I used to dream of.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

March 2017

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Acknowledging Merit

LAST MONTH WE HAD THE BIKE INDIA AWARDS AND TO pick a winner was a tough job, there being a number of strong contenders starting from the 110-cc Hero iSmart all the way up to the big 1,200-cc motorcycles. The standout bike and the overall winner for Bike India Awards was the TVS RTR200 4V.

The fifth Cartier Concours d’Elegance was held last month in Hyderabad and it was a grand event. However, the one thing that intrigues me is the parameters for judging. The Velocette Venom that was given the runner-up prize has quite a few components that are not original to the motorcycle. To start with, it is a 350-cc Viper converted into a 500-cc Venom. The cylinderblock, piston and the cylinder-head are not from the original bike. The standard fitment for this model was Amal monoblock carburettor and not TT carb. The Venom did not come with rear-set foot-rests, clip-on handlebar and the headlamp had a nasal and not an open unit. Even with so many parts having been changed, the bike still manages to win an award at such a prestigious event.

When will the change come to India? It does not matter how good you are or your bike; what does matter is whom you know and that will swing the result in your favour.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

February 2017

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Heroic Raid

TEAM HERO MUST BE ON TOP OF THE WORLD WITH THE result of their début Dakar Raid. A top-10 finish and C S Santosh getting his second finish in 47th place are no mean achievements. Most people will say he only finished 47th. Let me tell you just finishing the Raid is a big achievement in itself; it being the toughest motor sport event in the world. This is Santosh’s second Raid and he has finished both times. Hats off to you, Santosh!

The annual Union Budget will be out soon and I hope the government gives us one that will boost the economy and the two-wheeler sales after the recent demonetisation.

Last month I was in London for the launch of the new Triumph Street Triple. The outgoing Street Triple is one of my favourite motorcycles for it has the right mix of power and handling, making for an excellent package, and the new one is going to be even better as it is lighter and has gained 90 cc in capacity. The power and torque have also gone up and the bike has shed a couple of kilos. This will make it even more nimble and agile, even more fun to ride.

The TVS RTR was crowned the Indian Motorcycle of the Year (IMOTY) 2017.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

JANUARY 2017

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Something Attempted,
Something Done…

THIS IS MY 10TH YEAR AS THE EDITOR OF BIKE INDIA AND I have a very special treat for you. Everybody tests bikes and reviews them but we are different: we test a bike and, in case there is problem, we just don’t point it out; we also help the concerned manufacturer solve it.

The first case in point for Bike India was the Honda Shine. When I tested the bike, I found it to be under-geared. As a result of this the bike would be prone to vibrations once the speedometer needle crossed 65-70 km/h. Fitting a gearbox sprocket one tooth bigger solved the problem and also improved the motorcycle’s performance and fuel efficiency. The second project was the Yamaha Gladiator with a mono-shock suspension.

When Bajaj launched the Pulsar AS 200, it was the NS 200 with a half fairing and a different rear mudguard. When I asked Eric Vas why the bike did not have a long-travel suspension and different wheels, he asked me if I was ready to undertake the change to improve the AS 200. It would have been very easy to put long-travel front forks and rear suspension but the idea was to modify the existing forks and rear mono shock for the extra travel and that is what I did, along with fitting 17-inch rear and 19-inch front spoke wheels. The stainless steel free-flow exhaust now exits from under the seat.

The treat for you this month is the Harley-Davidson Street 750 customised into a race replica of the XRTT 750 ridden by Calvin Rayborn. When I was about 10 years old, Calvin Rayborn used to ride a cast-iron engine Harley-Davidson and win races against modern motorcycles. Today I have built a motorcycle as a tribute to him. You may read the detailed story in this issue.

I would like to wish all the readers a happy New Year. Please ride safely and never drink and ride.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

Kick-start Your Career In Circuit Racing

Kick-start Your Career In Circuit Racing

There have been innumerable e-mails and queries over the past few years: how do I take up racing as a career? No doubt, there is an increasing curiosity in the minds of the youngsters as to where to start and how to pursue a career in motorcycle racing. Unfortunately, in our country very little importance is given to the sport of motorcycle racing and knowledge about it is limited. We, at Bike India, would like to enlighten our readers on how to kick-start a career in racing and move up. So zip up those leathers, strap on the helmet and get going as we guide you through each minor aspect of how to go about circuit racing

Master Those Basics First

There are several basic facts that need to be clear in one’s mind before we move towards this career and we will quickly run through them:

  1. You can start racing at 13 years of age
  2. A driving licence is not a must to start circuit racing
  3. Being on two wheels and riding fast will invite troubles in the form of falling and hurting yourself. Be prepared for those
  4. Motor sport has an element of glamour in it, but not at the grass-roots level and that is not what you should join the sport for
  5. Racing requires a high level of physical and mental strength. Start exercising and build up your fitness
  6. This sport is a matter of passion and dedication. If you don’t have either in sufficient measure, give a second thought to your ambition

Sort Out The Paperwork

As mentioned earlier, you need not be 18 and have a driving licence to start circuit racing. In closed-circuit racing, one can apply directly for the ‘Competition Licence’ issued by the Federation of Motorsport Club of India (FMSCI) at the age of 13 years (that is, for a limited classes of racing only and not for the advanced and expert classes). Do the required documentation and then go racing.

The following is the list of the documents you need:

  1. A ‘Competition Licence’ issued by the FMSCI (forms available on www.fmsci.in)
  2. A medical certificate as prescribed along with the form from an authorised medical practitioner along with his/her stamp, registration number and signature
  3. A copy of the driving licence (for those who don’t have a licence, an undertaking from guardians is necessary)
  4. An indemnity, duly signed by the applicant, understanding all the rules and regulations along with the hazards of racing. In case of a minor, it should be signed by the guardian
  5. Entry form for the class/es that you wish to ride in should be duly filled in

As mentioned on the form, the forms and documents have to be sent to the FMSCI by post along with a demand draft for the licence fee. It should be noted that the licence is issued for a maximum period of 12 months and in any case it expires on the 31st of December of that particular year.

The First Step

Having filled in the forms and submitted them along with the fees means that you have already taken the first step. However, the real first step comes when you finalise the class in which you will be racing. Technically there are classes of motorcycle racing at the circuit, which have bikes with 110-cc engines for the novice to lethal weapons like the 600-cc in-line fours for the experts. For someone starting for the first time, the simplest one-make series is highly recommended.

What is this one-make series then? Fortunately for the new generation getting into motorcycle racing, some of the major motorcycle brands in the country have started conducting their own racing series wherein they provide identical bikes to each competitor taking part in the race along with all the technical support. This ensures that the competitor has nothing to worry about apart from riding well. Among the big names conducting such series are Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and TVS. The categories offered by each one of these are as follows:

Honda

  1. One-make Series Honda CBR 150R – Open
  2. One-make Series Honda CBR 150R – Novice
  3. One-make Series Honda CBR 250R – Open

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Yamaha

  1. One-make Series YZF-R15 v2.0 – Novice
  2. One-make Series YZF-R15 v2.0 – Open

TVS

  1. One-make Series TVS Apache RTR 200 – Novice
  2. One-make Series TVS Apache RTR 200 – Open

 

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Suzuki

  1. Gixxer Cup Suzuki Gixxer 150 – Novice
  2. Gixxer Cup Suzuki Gixxer 150 – Open

 

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Each organiser charges a nominal participation fee, which covers the participant’s motorcycle, fuel and technical support for the complete weekend. The competitor will have to go through free practice and a qualifying session if there are more entries than the maximum number prescribed. The timing of the fastest lap set by every competitor is then taken into account for preparing the list of the qualified riders for the race. Depending upon the organisers, there will be one or two races over the weekend wherein the qualified riders will battle against each other.

One-make series suit those the best who do not have their own machines to race or do not have the necessary infrastructure to transport and maintain their race vehicles. Those who have their own bikes can participate in the regular National Championship that offers the following classes:

Group SUPER SPORT

All solo two-wheelers whether series production, specials or otherwise, Indian or imported.

  • Group SUPER SPORT INDIAN

All solo two-wheelers manufactured / assembled in India, homologated with FMSCI but modified within the frame work of the regulations listed.

  • Group PRO STOCK

All solo two – wheelers manufactured / assembled in India, homologated with the FMSCI but modified within the framework of the regulation listed.

  • Group STOCK

All Solo two-wheelers manufactured / assembled in India, homologated with the FMSCI.

Classes:

All Indian two – wheelers other than SUPER SPORT, will be divided into the following classes according to the Cubic Capacity of their engines.

 

Motorcycles – 2 stroke & 4 stroke

Class Engine Capacity

Class M-1 Up to 130 cc

Class M-2 Above 130 cc up to 165 cc

Class M-3 Above 165 cc up to 200 cc

Class M-4 Above 200 cc up to 300 cc

Class M-5 Above 300 cc up to 400 cc

It must be noted here that a participant need not be the owner of the machine that he/she intends to ride in the racing event. However, if the bike has been borrowed from a friend or family member, a ‘no objection certificate’ must be produced, duly signed by the owner of the vehicle in question.

According to the rules laid down by the organisers, the definitions of ‘Novice’ and ‘Open’ are as follows:

Novice: Riders who are below 23 years of age and have not stood overall 1st in more than 2 events in a National Supercross Championship event. National Champions who have already won the Novice Class are not eligible to ride the Novice Class. FMSCI Supercross seeded riders are not eligible to take part in Novice Class. conducted in India or abroad.

Open: Any rider who is above 23 years of age or has WON any race in any previous Championship/Cup/Challenge/Series/Scheme in India or abroad.


Ride Fast, Ride Safe

You are participating in a race, which means you are going to push your bike to its limit, which, of course, means you are going to go faster than is normal. This also implies that you are out of the safe riding bracket and you need to take care of every safety aspect possible apart from the unsafe speed. The FMSCI rules and regulations demand the following riding gear as a must:

  1. One-piece motorcycle racing/riding leather suit
  2. Full-face, ISI-approved helmet
  3. Full-length motorcycle riding gloves
  4. Full-length motorcycle riding boots with ankle protection

Our additional take on safety gear is as shown in the illustration:

Helmet quality/brand, non-impact

Visor

Double D Ring

Leather suit with proper protection

Proper boots

Proper gloves

Preparing For The Race

Many don’t yet know and we would like to take this opportunity to inform all of you that there are proper academies being run in India that teach you and prepare you for racing. They make efforts to make you understand the A-to-Z of riding motorcycles on the race track from the basics to the finest details. The three well-known academies doing this are as follows:

California Superbike School

Held once a year, mostly in January or February, the CSS offers the best coaches in the world with experience of coaching some of the highly successful MotoGP racers. This academy runs at the Chennai racetrack and can be followed on www.superbikeschoolindia.com

Apex Racing Academy

Held almost every month, the Apex Racing Academy not only offers coaching, but also has an option of providing you with race weekend pit services and infrastructure for vehicle transport, etc. Their academy is held at the Coimbatore circuit. They also have their own racing team for which you can race. They can be contacted at apexracing.in

Indimotard Throttle Wide Open

Run every four to six months, Indimotard TWO has coaches with immense track riding experience on bikes ranging from 100 cc to 1,000 cc. They can be reached on indimotard.com/two_racing.html

Apart from academies, you can also do practice track days. There is a nominal fee to be paid for the track authorities, but finding a free practice day is difficult, because the tracks are booked most of the days. There are free track days available too, but you will have to stay in touch with the track authorities to know the exact dates allocated for such practice.

Honda Ten 10 Racing Academy and MMSC Racing Academy are other options that are available.

Progressing Upwards

One may ask, after reading all this, where do we head after moving up the classes mentioned above. Well, to be honest, the sky is the limit. Unfortunately, motor sport has not got enough importance and infrastructure in our country. None the less, we can see a positive change in the recent past and we hope that it only improves in the future. There are several options to race abroad and thanks to the one-make series organisers, Honda and Yamaha, they have been regularly picking up top racers from their series and sponsoring them for participation at the Asian level.

For those who looking at an even bigger picture, they can always move to Asian level championships from here. For even tougher competition, the European series are there. Ultimately, it is the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP where one can head. Although we are yet to see an Indian in either of these classes, we hope this small effort to show the first step helps someone to make it in the world championship.

Other Essentials

There are a few other things that need to be thought of and we don’t want you to land in trouble when it comes to these.

First of all, make sure you arrive in the city where the race is going to be held in advance. In case you are running your own motorcycle, you might have to come well in advance to get your motorcycle up and running. If you are participating in the one-make series, life is much easier. Arrive a day in advance just to make sure that there are no last-minute glitches.

Secondly, try to find a place to stay as close to the race track as possible, so that you do not waste a lot of time and energy in commuting. The Chennai track is located about 30 km from the city. However, there are innumerable options in various price brackets to stay at within 5-10 minutes of driving range. The Coimbatore racetrack is also about 45 minutes’ drive from the city and, unfortunately, there aren’t any hotel options near this track. One can find best deals on the hotels in Coimbatore near the railway station. We will soon see races happening at the Buddh International Circuit, which is more than an hour’s drive from New Delhi. The closest place to stay near the BIC would be Greater Noida.

We hope we have taken the enthusiasts through every required detail for entering circuit racing and provided information that would be helpful to them. With the manufacturers stepping in, entering racing has become quite easier, simpler and less expensive for the current generation than what it was a few years ago. The organisers have been making efforts to improve the infrastructure and facilities to help the racers. We also hope that more and more people get involved in the sport and bring in help in every form for the uplift of motorcycle racing in the country.

Important: The normal life insurance policy does not cover injuries sustained in racing activities. For more information on insurance policies, do refer to the Supplementary Regulations laid down by the FMSCI or get in touch with FMSCI officials.

Important Note: At the beginning of every race weekend, the main organisers of the championship, FMSCI, conduct a riders’ briefing. It is a must for every participant to attend this briefing as this session discusses the rules, regulations and other aspects necessary to be known and understood by one and all before setting out on the racetrack. Failing to attend this briefing can attract serious trouble for the participants.

Note: Each participant can take part in maximum three race events, including one-make series races, over a weekend.

How to Maximise your Fuel Economy

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The sky-rocketing cost of fuel has hit the daily commuter as well as the enthusiast equally badly. No doubt the portents are grim. However, don’t let this curb your passion to ride. Follow the simple tips given below to make sure you get the most out of every precious drop of petrol.
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