Lending credence to weeks of grapevine buzz, reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo ditches Yamaha to join Ducati for the 2017 and 2018 seasons
Suzuki held the first edition of their Gixxer day event at North Campus, Delhi, and took the opportunity to launch a new dual-disc variant of their popular 150-cc Gixxer motorcycle there. Both the Gixxer and Gixxer SF now come with the option of front and rear disc brakes. New colour options have also been thrown into the mix with the Gixxer is available in dual-tone options such as Lush Green / Glass Sparkle Black, Metallic Triton Blue / Pearl Mirage White and Candy Sonoma and Red / Glass Sparkle Black – all priced at Rs 79,726. The Gixxer SF will be available in stand-alone shades of Pearl Mirage Red and Glass Sparkle Black, priced at Rs 87,343 and a special MotoGP Edition priced at Rs 88,857 (all prices are ex-showroom, Delhi).
THE RIGHT LINE
After the Auto Expo in early February I attended two biking events: the California Superbike School (CSS) and the country’s biggest biking festival, India Bike Week (IBW). Indian motorcycle enthusiasts have to thank the father and son duo of T T Varadarajan and Siddharth for bringing the CSS to Chennai, India. I would like to thank T T Varadarajan and Siddharth for their hospitality and for letting me do a few laps. I really enjoyed myself on Vardu’s Honda CBR 600RR as it was the first time that I rode a quick motorcycle on the Chennai track since my last race on the Yamaha TZ250 in 1999.
It was nice to see superbike riders bring their bikes to the racetrack and learn how to ride them in a safe and controlled environment. What also felt good was that people were spending money on good quality riding gear. The CSS is well-organised and teaches riders how to control the motorcycle using just the throttle on day one, and thereafter with gears and brakes. Siddharth and Vicky Jaising are now closer to being qualified CSS instructors.
The fourth edition of the IBW was held on the 19th and 20th of February. There were a few negatives, the first being the dates — it was a little too late and this made it much warmer. Secondly, the new venue was narrow and long, which made it crowded. Furthermore, parking and traffic were major issues since the new venue was on the main road as compared to the one at Vagator which was not on the main road and where being close to the sea helped in keeping the temperature down.
The event has grown over the years and more and more manufacturers are taking part. Some people were not happy and criticised the event. If, however, you ask the same people to do something constructive, they would say they do not have the time but would still be the first to criticise. Every motorcycle rider does not want to tear down a racetrack, some people like to just cruise along and enjoy their ride. I look forward to next year’s IBW which, I hope, will be even bigger and better.
THE RIGHT LINE
This month we bring you an in-depth report on the 13th Auto Expo. The Auto Expo has grown over the years with manufacturers’ participation going up and new brands coming to India every year. During the BMW press conference, BMW Group India President Philipp von Sahr announced that BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle wing of BMW, was finally set to enter the Indian market by the end of the year. With BMW entering India, all the major motorcycle manufacturers are now present in the country.
Not only has Auto Expo grown in size, even the quality of the two-wheelers displayed has improved drastically. The quality of concepts displayed by international manufacturers was always good; now even local manufacturers have upped their game. The concepts from Hero MotoCorp and TVS were good. The show-stoppers for me were the two cousins: BMW G 310 R and TVS Akula 310 Racespec. The quality of the BMW 310 is very good and the riding position is nice and relaxed. The NAVI from Honda is something that I have been wanting to build for a long time but Honda beat me to it.
One day before the Auto Expo Royal Enfield unveiled their all-new motorcycle, the Himalayan. There is not a single fastener or a pin being carried forward from their previous models. Siddhartha Lal and his team have gone all out and not left a stone unturned in the making of the Himalayan. This is the first time Royal Enfield have made an overhead camshaft engine and long-travel monoshock rear suspension. The front forks are also long-travel and even with long-travel suspension they have managed to keep the saddle height low. The build quality is very good. The boys at Royal Enfield have done a fantastic job.
The two-wheeler industry didn’t show any growth last year; in fact, it was more or less flat. Let’s hope 2016 proves much better for the two-wheeler manufacturers. Some of them have already begun launching new bikes, the first one out of the starting blocks being the Mahindra Gusto 125 scooter and the next in line being two motorcycles from TVS: the born-again Victor and Apache 200.
The two-wheeler industry has been lagging behind its four-wheeler counterpart where technology is concerned. The car manufacturers have been pushing the envelope further and further to stay ahead of the competition, whereas the two-wheeler manufacturers have been raking it in without having to improve their products. The high-end motorcycles are loaded with state-of-the-art technology whereas the entry-level commuter bikes are at least 25 to 30 years behind in terms of technology as compared to the entry-level cars.
When international manufacturers launch a new product, they try to set a new benchmark in the segment. The same can’t be said about our local manufacturers as they try to match what is already available in the market and most of the time fail to match up to the bikes that are already on sale.
The way R&D departments work has changed globally. Now they have a special head of chassis design, suspension and handling, bike designer, brake and a separate engine specialist and all of them work under a project leader, whereas in India it is still a one-man show under the head of R&D. Today Honda have a separate company, called Honda R&D, which develops bikes in accordance with the requirements of individual markets. How can the local manufacturers compete with a company that employs more than 3,000 engineers in its R&D department itself?
Bike India wishes all its readers and supporters a happy new year as well as a safe and enjoyable riding year ahead!
Another year has gone by and it is award time once again. A number of very good motorcycles were launched in 2015, most of them priced on the higher side. Last year it was easy as the Harley-Davidson Street 750, priced at Rs 4.5 lakh, was good value for money, but this year 300-cc twin-cylinder motorcycles were priced in excess of Rs 3 lakh. The CBR 650F is an excellent motorcycle, but at a price of more than Rs 8 lakh on- road is quite steep for most people.
The Indian Motorcycle of the Year (IMOTY) jury had a clear mandate and voted the Yamaha R3 as the winner. This is the second time Yamaha have won the award after the R15 won it in 2009. As the chairman of IMOTY, I would like to thank JK Tyres for sponsoring the IMOTY awards for the last nine years even though they do not make motorcycle tyres.
This month we have the exclusive first ride of the KTM 690 Duke and the Triumph Street Twin plus some of the new motorcycles that were shown at the Milan motorcycle show and which will make their way to India.
This year is going to witness a lot of activity in the twowheeler industry. First, it will be the Auto Expo where manufacturers will show some concepts and all-new two-wheelers that they will launch during the year. Two weeks later, the biggest bike festival, IBW, will take place in Goa on 19 and 20 February. Fellow two-wheeler enthusiasts, there is lot to look forward to and Bike India will keep you up to date with all the latest news.
The Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team have announced their line-up for Dakar 2016. [Read more…]