Of revs and gears

Bike India tells you all you need to know about gear selection in various riding conditions

 

 

Mid-corner
The right gear you engage for a corner varies depending on the nature of the curve. If it is a sharp hairpin turn, you may have to shift down to as low as the second, or sometimes even first gear, while some fast sweeping corners can be taken flat out in the highest gear. There should be enough power on tap and the rev meter should read at least 4000rpm (on most Indian bikes) so that you are not left struggling for power. Remember if you are a clean rider, you should have selected the right gear before entering a corner as shifting gears mid-corner is never advisable. The toes of your feet, not the trough between the toe and the heel, should rest on the footpegs. Keeping your feet in that position helps you shift your weight more quickly, aiding you not only in carrying more speed through a given corner but also equipping you better to tackle any surprises.

Trackdays
On a racetrack, you have the liberty to take the bike to its absolute limit. The aim is to go as fast as possible. As most of us know, a bike produces its peak power in the last few thousand counts of its rev range, known as the power band. While slowing down in a corner, the downshifts should put the bike bang in the middle of the power band or atleast at the beginning of it. If you shift in a gear higher than ideal, you won’t have enough power at hand thus leading to lower acceleration and loss of time. Shifting in a gear lower than ideal will make the engine hit the rev limiter and you’ll have to shift up again. The result again will be loss of valuable time. In essence, while riding around the racetrack, gear shifts should be such that your bike is in the power band at all times

Overtaking
Overtaking requires the bike to be in a gear where sufficient power is at hand to accelerate swiftly yet smoothly. One has to match the ground speed with the revs and understand its relation for every bike. As an example, if you wish to overtake a car ahead of you, moving at 70km/h and you are in the fourth gear with the rev needle placed happily at say 4500rpm, then you don’t need to shift down or up. Just open the throttle and you should be able to surge ahead on most 150cc+ Indian bikes. If you elect to downshift, the bike will get jerky. If you upshift, you’ll witness the car ahead of you pulling away as there won’t be any power left to accelerate. Different bikes have their power and torque reservoir in different bands. It is imperative to stay within that band to get past a vehicle briskly

Riding uphill
Riding up a hill is different from riding on the plains. It’s all the more difficult for the bike to keep moving as it has gravitational force working against it. Select a gear that keeps the bike in a relatively higher rev band. If riding between 4000-5000 revs keeps you moving with great reassurance, you’ll have to keep the bike at about a thousand revs more to negate the effects of gravity. This also prevents the bike from running out of breath in case you upshift.

Descending downhill
Riding downhill doesn’t require any effort from the engine but that doesn’t mean you should put the bike in the highest gear possible. While coming down a slope one needs to be in a gear which makes sure that the bike experiences some engine braking when you roll off the throttle. Engine braking is very smooth and reassuring, and aids traction. Make good use of it while descending a hill as it puts you in better control than just relying on the wheel brakes.

Fuel efficiency
It is imperative to keep the engine in the right band to extract maximum fuel efficiency from it. Under revving an engine will make it splutter while over revving will increase fuel consumption manifold and reduce its life. Keeping the engine within a rev band of 2500rpm to 5500rpm on most Indian bikes will let you have sufficient power and torque on tap and will also make the bike deliver the best fuel economy. Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule, but most four-stroke air-cooled singles will operate optimally within the indicated band.

Fuel efficiency
Does the bike accelerate and decelerate smoothly and responsively (not jerkily) when you open and shut the throttle? If that’s the case, then you’re riding in the right gear. If the bike accelerates very slowly when you open the throttle, and if the engine tends to die down when you shut it, then you need to shift down. Is the bike twitchy, snappy and oversensitive to even the slightest movement of the throttle? Do the forks dive if you shut the throttle? You may have gone down too many gears – try shifting a gear up for a smoother ride.

Revs, gears and the planet
Some would argue that riding the bike in lower gears will lead to lesser fuel efficiency and would advice you to ride in as high a gear as possible at all times. Not only does riding in a higher gear than optimal makes you go slow, it is also hazardous, especially on highways. A look at a normal four-stroke air-cooled bike will reveal that it produces its maximum torque between 3000rpm and 6000rpm, and that’s where the engine is running at its maximum efficiency. If you ride correctly within that band, the bike will return you a fabulous fuel efficiency figure.

 

 

 

Touring-guide – PART I

Getaway trips are a bikerÕs delight as they rejuvenate you. Here are a few pointers that will help you make a long trip safe and memorable

PLANNING THE TRIP
Any kind of trip requires some amount of planning which involves various things that need to be checked and prepared. The destination and the route should receive top priority as these two factors will ensure that half of your planning is done already. While planning the route, you should also consider a few alternative routes incase the primary route is closed or inaccessible after some point. Next, find a good hotel. If you are headed to tourist hotspots then pre-book a hotel through the internet or the phone as doing so saves time and effort while finding shelter. If riding in a group it is advised to confirm the time, the place and the date of departure with fellow riders. Also, check the weather forecast well in advance as well as on the day of departure.

CHECK YOUR RIDE
You can never have a great experience if your bike is not properly maintained. Start with the tyres. Having a good set of tyres ensures a safe and comfortable ride experience so replace the tyres if the tread is worn out. Also, maintain the recommended tyre pressure as it is as vital as the tread itself. Another important aspect is fluids. Replace the engine oil with fresh oil as old fluid loses the ability to lubricate the engine internals efficiently. Check and top up the brake oil too. Next on the list are brakes. Ensure that both the brakes are functioning like clockwork and replace the liners/pads if necessary. Other vital checkups include lubrication and adjustment of the chain, battery health and charge, electrical parts and clutch, speedometer and accelerator cables as well as clutch play. Look out for rusty and old parts and replace if need be. Remember that regular maintenance of the bike proves beneficial in case you are running short on time.

SPARE IT OUT

A proper tool kit, a puncture repair kit and spares are a necessity while touring

ESSENTIAL STUFF
These are the small but practical things that will make your life much easier on the move. If you are done planning, now is the time to arrange and pack the essential stuff. A first aid kit should be at the top of your priority list. Second, get a set of practical saddle bags that will provide ample space for your clothing. Saddle bags are also equipped with pockets which can store water bottles, however, you can also carry a hydration backpack. Also, get a tank bag which comes in handy to store things like the bike’s legal documents, (it is recommended to take the documents along when venturing out on a long trip) maps, area guides, camera, wipes and soap. Communication devices such as cell phones become a necessity when travelling through deserted areas as they can get you out of a situation in the middle of nowhere. A GPS device is recommended for travelling on routes that you aren’t familiar with. Nowadays, GPS navigation systems built specifically for motorcycles can be purchased easily and be mounted on the bike with minimal effort.

BIKE CARE
Not every one on the planet is a mechanic, however, carrying simple tools along will help you sort out small issues that might pop up on the go. It is recommended to carry the tool kit supplied with the bike and an Allen key kit for minor repairs. Always carry a tyre puncture repair kit along with proper spanners to take the wheel out, if needed. Other essential things to carry include chain lube, spare bulbs and cables.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR RIDE

Ensure that all the electricals are in order as these basic things can prove to be lifesavers on the run Lubricating the chain makes it flexible and lends a smooth ride

Maintaining the right tyre pressure will ensure that the ride is comfortable as well as fuel efficient Check the oil level and replace if needed or just top it up if you have changed the oil recently Check the grooves on the tread and if the tyre is bald, it would be wise to replace it

PROTECTIVE GEAR
Long trips often involve a high risk of accidents so having all the protective gear in place becomes important. Hence, you should always carry a quality helmet with good ventilation, an all-weather riding jacket and pants plus good quality boots and gloves.

A FEW EXTRA TIPS
Before you get all charged up and excited about the trip, make sure that your bike is ready to roll. If it needs any kind of service or maintenance, get it done at least a week before the trip. Make sure that your motorcycle is ready in every way as a bike that is not in optimum condition can give you problems in the middle of the ride. Once the bike is taken care of, ready your luggage. Make a checklist of all the essential things and get them ready the night before the journey starts. Carry enough cash along with you apart from credit cards as many petrol pumps and eating joints on the highway might not be equipped with swiping machines. These small pointers will ensure that you start your trip on a happy note.

PREP UP TO BE SAFE ON THE ROAD

 

A basic first aid kit that is supplied with the bike should be enough in case of a minor injury Good saddlebags along with a tank bag should be adequate to pack in all the necessities

 

A quality rain suit is recommended if planning to visit wet weather habitats It is a good idea to pack rehydration drinks like these along with ample water before venturing out Good quality riding gear is essential and should not be compromised with on any account

EDITOR’S NOTE
Touring is often easier said than done. Undertaking a long ride doesn’t just mean sitting on the bike, wringing the right wrist and eating up the miles. There is a lot to be taken into account, especially if you are a first timer hitting the road for the weekend. Long rides extending into days, like venturing into the Rann or the Himalayas, need serious preparation. Your motorcycle, like all machines, needs care and love. Even if it has had a recent service, having a quick look through various things like the electricals, chains, brakes, etc. is essential. Next on the list is you, the rider. Be fit and get enough sleep before starting off in the morning. Carry essential medicines especially the ones you need often as they are hard to find in remote places. Do not overload your back by carrying heavy backpacks. Instead invest in a set of tank bags and saddle bags. For back up, carry a puncture repair kit, engine oil, fuses, etc. on really long journeys. In the end, do remember that sometimes all it takes is common sense and faith in your set of wheels to conquer almost any and everything.

Rebel-domination

Boasting of true American character, Confederate Motorcycle Company redefines the laws of motorcycle building by creating rebellious bikes
Words: Ravi Chandnani
Photography: Confederate

I believe that conventionality has a new challenger in the form of Confederate Motorcycle Company that specializes in building some of the wildest motorcycles in the world. Their one-off creations are scintillatingly awesome and mature enough to give healthy competition to some of the biggest names in the custom bike industry. H. Matthew Chambers, the alpha male who dominates the Confederate jungle, is the mortal who can be held responsible for initiating the company with a vision that was sculpted out of rebellion and carved by individuality. Chambers started off as a lawyer and worked his way up the ladder but after winning a major case, he opted out in order to follow that little rebellion inside him and build motorcycles that were adorned by the true American industrial design character and his love for hot-rods.

He established Confederate Motor Company in 1991, and since then there has not been a single product that has wandered off CMC’s core values. Products like the Hellcat Combat and the Wraith rocketed CMC to new heights in the galaxy. In 2005, the Hellcat Combat made its debut and to the world’s surprise, it took the company global. After that, came the Wraith which needless to say, was the ultimate custom bike that truly portrayed American rebelliousness with elements that shouted industrial designing. The firm’s latest machine, the P120 Fighter is as solid and rugged as American designing can get. Machines built by CMC are more like rock stars with a love me or hate me attitude.

F131 HELLCAT COMBAT

If you think custom bikes are motorcycles that only boast of poser appeal, then I would recommend you reconsider. The F131 Hellcat Combat is an amazing CMC creation that will perish all the images of chrome laden custom bikes with raked out fronts and fascinating paint jobs from your bloody brain. The design of this beastly machine screams American industrial design which forms the base of CMC’s core values. The F131 is loaded with components that surpass the regular benchmark and create a new niche in terms of quality and exploitation of technology. Use of aircraft grade aluminium and carbonfibre along with exclusive and expensive metals make the Hellcat one expensive ride. However, you get a whole lot more bang for every penny you pay starting with the design itself. The marvellous silhouette of the bike presents a perspective that visualizes future custom bikes. High quality Marzocchi racing front forks clamped to the solid triple trees hold the highly durable 18-inch carbonfibre wheel that is shod with 130/60 Metzeler rubber. The sleek and minimalist front with three tiny lamps and a single speedo/tacho unit with a touch enabled switch gear give a futuristic character to the Hellcat. The uniqueness of the bike lies in the frame which is constructed using thick carbon steel tubes enabling the chassis to hold oil inside these tubes. But the biggest feature on the F131 is the handcrafted radial twin engine. It boasts of mammoth proportions of torque which happens to be 203Nm and 151PS of power. All of this is transferred to the huge 9.4-inch wide rear tyre via a five-speed transmission designed by CMC. Massive braking power comes in the form of six piston, monoblock front callipers with semi-floating 300mm rotors and a two piston CNC machined rear calliper with 240mm rotor. The F131 is a pure example of traditional American custom bike designing meeting contemporary technology and materials to create a futuristic machine.

B120 WRAITH

Have you ever wondered how tanks are built? If not, then I would suggest you read on. Comparing a bike to a tank might seem way to much, however, one look at the Wraith and your queries are answered. This is a machine from Confederate that challenges conventionality. Many creative minds would put up an argument on whether this is a bike or some sort of army experiment. However, in my book, this is definitely a motorcycle and that too an intriguing piece of art and technology. Built using some of the most expensive and exclusive materials, this has to be one of the wildest and the most gorgeous bikes ever built. The B120 features a carbonfibre monocoque frame that makes it more agile and lends excellent torsion and bend rigidity. The frame also eliminates the need for body work as it has the capability of storing fuel and oil in carbon tubes. However, the most eye-catching feature of the Wraith has to be the Girder style front forks. Such suspension units were initially seen on examples such as the Brough Superior, the Vincent and a few others. They had units made out of steel, however, the Wraith features a unit built entirely out of carbonfibre. With CMC everything is exclusive and the Wraith is no exception. Breathing fire whilst sitting in the monocoque frame is a 2.0-litre V-twin motor hand built by Jims/CMC to develop a whopping 176Nm of turning force and 126PS of power. All of which is directed to the rear wheels via a five-speed tranny developed by CMC. The Wraith weighs around 176.9kg (dry) which might be on the heavier side, however, the ride is awesomely comfortable thanks to the well calibrated Penske suspension unit at the rear and high end Girder forks up front. The overall ride quality of the B120 is quite sporty as its dimensions are pretty similar to a sports bike. These examples are built in very few numbers with an ultra high price tag, hence it’s best just to dream about the Wraith.

 

P120 FIGHTER

After creating the wild and furious Wraith, many were curious about what the company would introduce next. High-end technology and expensive materials were all utilized in the making of the Wraith and many thought that the next CMC creation would follow similar cues. However, Chambers came up with a unique idea. To an extent, he excused the use of carbonfibre and diverted his attention on utilizing a metal that has been used by CMC since the Hellcat – aircraft grade aluminium. Hence his latest creation, the P120 is a hell of a lot different than the other two bikes. To begin with, the P120 features a frame that is built entirely out of aircraft grade aluminium which eliminates the heavy factor from the equation thus creating an agile frame. At first, the massive backbone tube might appear to be hollow at the beginning. However, a closer inspection reveals that the hollow part is actually an oil reservoir which feeds oil to the engine via copper hoses. The backbone also doubles up as an 18-litre fuel tank with a tiny little seat attached at the rear of the tube. But what steals the spotlight is the radial twin monster nestled in the monocoque frame. This 2.0-litre beast develops some staggering figures for a bike made completely out of aluminium. Turning force is rated at 183Nm at the rear wheel with a maximum power output of 162PS. These figures are transmitted to the massive 8-inch wide carbonfibre wheel fitted with 9.4-inch wide Pirelli via a five-speed close ratio tranny from CMC. The cherry on the cake has to be the Girder front forks, again fabricated using aluminium which makes the front extremely agile just like the frame. The P120 might appear to be a rhinoceros, however, it weighs just over two quintals with dimensions close to a sports bike, thus making the handling butter smooth. The P120 is a classic example of rebelliousness and true individualism that is based on the CMC philosophy.

 

Ace cafe

Here’s how you transform 200 odd kilos of a classic era heavy metal into an evocative café racer
Words: Saeed Akhtar

Regular readers of BIKE India will be familiar with the name of Chanderjeet Rai whose story we featured on these pages two years ago. He loves all things automotive, especially those that need two wheels for locomotion and an engine in between. This time round, Chanderjeet has directed his biking endeavours towards another realm – bike customization.

It all began way back in August last year when a local dealer offered him a 1972 Royal Enfield B-model 350cc motorcycle. Sensing that he was onto a good thing, Chanderjeet duly decided to go further and customize the bike in order to give it that distinctive feel. Since he already had an AVL 500 sitting in his garage, Chanderjeet was not too keen on retaining the bike’s original looks and decided to do away with it. Thus, the café racer project was born (he briefly mulled over a trials version too, but decided it had more cons than pros in India anyway).

First, every part that could be stripped off the bike was taken off. Then it was the fuel tank, the seat and the rear cowl which got the boot. In their place came an especially handcrafted custom tank in addition to a small, rearward mounted humped seat and an aerodynamic rear cowl. Complementing them were the modified handlebars for that signature café racer crouched riding posture. The non-folding kick starter was ditched and the footpegs were replaced by custom made rearsets which completed the riding position. Chanderjeet hasn’t fiddled much with the engine, considering its venerable age, and hence the only concession to performance is the free-flow exhaust. Over a period of six months, the old warhorse slowly evolved and after a final dash of chrome to the tank, it was ready to roll. As a fitting tribute to his better half, Chanderjeet chose to christen the now gleaming café racer as Richenfield – a portmanteau word that blends his wife’s name Richa and Enfield.

 

The-vernal-activity

Young guns are building custom choppers. Are we getting ready for future biker build-offs?
Words: Adhish Alawani  
Photography: Sawan Sekhar Hembram

Custom choppers are gaining popularity in the country. With a growing consumer base, we have newer and younger talent showing their skills at building custom choppers in the market. The latest chopper customizer we come across is from Gujarat. Calling themselves the Trojen Horse Customs (THC), Pandit brothers Dhruv and Nipun are involved in building custom choppers.

Dhruv has always been a motorcycle fanatic. His passion for modifying bikes and an education in Commercial Art tempted him into the business of building custom choppers. Having met the brothers at the Auto Expo and witnessed their obsession for modifying motorcycles, we decided to get hold of one of their machines in Mumbai and see for ourselves what the Pandit brothers were up to.

Achilles, the first of the THC bikes to have hit the road, carries the basic ideals followed by the builders of the chopper – innovation and uniqueness. Built on the Thunderbird frame, the bike’s side profile shows a mixed blend of flowing curves and flat panels. The tank’s top outline flows smoothly and gels into the seat nicely. The curve continues to dip beyond the centre of the seat and then rises up further beyond the seat in the form of steel tubes. Though it’s a smoothly curving shape that we see from the side profile, it actually turns out to have a sharp edge if seen from any other angle. The flat, slanting side walls of the tank give it the feel of a stingray. The twin tank comes as a part of THC’s innovative thinking. Separated by the backbone tube, the two tanks supply fuel through two different fuel pipes that converge into one and are then connected to the carb. A bigger 19-inch front wheel and a smaller 17-inch rear wheel shod with fat 190mm rubber give the bike a typical American chopper look. However, with the rake angle unchanged and the handlebar pulled back, the bike’s geometry doesn’t turn out to be very appealing. The front forks are straight from the Thunderbird while the rear one is the monoshock from the Honda Unicorn. Custom detailing is seen everywhere on the motorcycle, right from the flamed mirror rods to the forked footpegs to the LED tail lamp strips. Highway bars have also been incorporated for long cruising journeys. The Bajaj Avenger’s front disc has been used on the Achilles as a rear brake.

The THC Achilles comes with a twin tank that supplies fuel through two individual fuel pipes The engine and transmission come from an old Bullet

The THC Achilles is the Pandit brothers’ first attempt in the market. There has been an investment of thought, art and skill in the product. However, there is a lot of scope for improvement at the same time. The fit and finish needs to be worked upon. Better engines and transmissions would help them make better bikes. Some elements like the two headlights sandwiching the registration plate, the handlebar design and the front alloy wheel don’t suit my taste. Nonetheless, the end consumer has an option of customizing the bike according to his own choice. THC is working on a couple of more bikes which could probably include new stuff like a single sided swingarm, airbrush art paint jobs, an alternative to the chain drive, etc. We are waiting!

NIPUN PANDIT
Nipun, who took time out on a Saturday morning for the shoot, handles the marketing for THC in Mumbai currently. He plans to expand sales by tapping the markets in Goa, Pune and Delhi in the future

 

Night-riding


Riding during the night is a big challenge within city limits and an even bigger one on highways. BIKE India tells you how to remain safe if you ride after sunset

CLEAN VISOR

Before setting out for a night ride, clean both sides of your helmet visor with a mild soap solution. Make sure it dries up before you go ahead with the ride. A scratched or hazy visor must be replaced as it has a high level of refraction. Such visors result in double vision –  two headlights of a car would look like four. A rider can literally be blinded with the refractions coming from tens of vehicles coming in the opposite lane. It is best to clean your helmet visor thoroughly, twice a week.

INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY

One must take care to increase his/her visibility on the road. Usage of bright coloured riding jackets make sure you stand out in the dark. If your riding apparel is dark coloured, stick reflector tapes on it to enhance your visibility and road presence. Sticking reflectors to the back of your helmet as well as to the bike’s tail is advisable. Even if the tail light ceases to work for any reason, the tape will help to an extent.

CLEAN LIGHTS

You must keep your bike’s headlight clean. Irrespective of the power output of the headlights, you can get the best out of it only when it is properly cleaned. Before going out on a night ride, wash off any dirt with water and wipe it dry. Repeat the same for tail/brake lights as well as the side indicators. Carry spare bulbs if you are planning to go on a long ride.

DECLINE MIRROR ANGLE

Headlights of vehicles approaching you from the back can easily be a distraction through the rear view mirrors. Setting the  mirrors a little lower helps reduce the glare to an extent. This setting, however, should let you see vehicles approaching you as well as part of the road behind you.

USE INDICATORS

On any given night, it is more important that others see your manoeuvres properly than you seeing theirs. Hence, you must use indicators before you change lanes or take turns. Sudden manoeuvres are a strict no-no at night. A simple lane change at high speeds without a warning can put you in a vulnerable situation.

USE LOW BEAM IN THE CITY

If riding within the city perimeter, you should refrain from using high beam as it can blind others thus risking theirs as well as your safety. A low beam should have a cut-off limit of not more than 20 metres. This will make sure that you can see a good stretch of road without throwing light on other road users’ face.

UPGRADE HEADLAMP

If you want to go on long rides at night, consider upgrading the bike’s headlamp. A halogen bulb would help in throwing more light. If that does not suffice your requirement, take the help of an expert to rewire the electrical system to support a higher wattage headlamp. Remember not to exceed legal limits.

LOOK AT THE ROAD AHEAD

It’s very tempting to look at the headlights of oncoming vehicles and it happens inadvertently. Practice not to look at the light. Rather look at the point you are heading to. You need to judge where you are going and if it is safe enough to carry on.  Learn to look much ahead on the patches on which lights of other road users fall.

TAKING U-TURNS

If you intend to take a U-turn, you must turn on your indicators long before you approach the turn. You may also signal with your hand to further clarify your intention, but with caution. This will alert drivers behind you. Instead of taking a U-turn all of sudden, pause at the turn and look out for oncoming vehicles from the opposite side. Flash your pass light if needed. When the traffic becomes responsive and slower, take the complete turn within the shortest possible radius.

JUDGE SPACE

On a narrow road, be careful of the surroundings and road undulations. Take care not to get off the tarmac accidentally as this can set you off balance quite easily. Similarly, before negotiating a corner, judge road and traffic density to make sure you have enough space to lean safely.

REST IF TIRED

Never try to push yourself at night, if you feel tired. There is a high chance that you would fall asleep on the go before you even realise it. It’s better to park at a safe place and take a nap. You can have a cup of tea or coffee before you take off again.

MISCELLANEOUS

If you wear spectacles, consider using contact lenses for night riding. The starry effect (flare) of other vehicle headlights will be less likely with contact lenses than through a pair of glasses. Another point to remember is that wild and stray animals become more active at night. Hence, you should ride at a speed you are comfortable with, which in most cases should be lower than your regular daytime speed.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Believe it or not, but night riding is something that almost all of us go through on a very regular basis. Working individuals often get late at office and have to head home in the dark. Ditto for youngsters who like to spend their evenings out with friends. And of course, we can’t neglect the tourers who often end up riding to their destination in the darkness, relying solely on the headlamp. Two-wheeler riders are more vulnerable than other vehicles and hence the foremost step is to be noticed on the road. Wearing reflective gear, making sure that all lamps work perfectly, giving hand signals while taking turns, etc. are some of the measures one should follow. It is also easy to get blinded by the headlamps of oncoming vehicles and hence one should make sure that the visor of the helmet is as scratch free as possible. Invest in a good set of contact lenses and refrain from using spectacles at night. For those who tour a lot and have to ride at night, care must be taken to make sure you don’t feel drowsy. Follow these simple guidelines and we are sure your night riding will never be the same again.

Touring Guide – Part III


This month’s touring guide is all about tackling different terrains and conditions smartly

Rough Terrain

While traveling for long distances one often encounters rough patches. Some like it and some don’t. However, you can make the most of it and have loads of fun by going off-road. Unlike smooth tarmac, you witness a lot of undulations while going off the road. Hence, keeping your body in the right position will help you control the bike in a better way. Always keep your eyes on the surface of the path as even a slight distraction might result in a slip. Never hold the handlebars too tight or very lose. You need to hold them just right and caress the throttle finely which will lend better steering control while going over bumps and dips. Stand on the footpegs and use your knees like a suspension while tackling gravel laden paths. Next on the agenda is braking. Never use the front brake while riding on loose surface as chances of losing control are really high. Instead, use the rear brake which will give you better control even on gravel. Off-road riding can be dangerous especially when you are not completely geared up. So always wear complete riding gear including knee pads and a back protector.

Using the rear brake on rough terain gives you superior braking control Adjusting the suspension settings for off road sections will offer a smoother ride Don’t hold the handle bars tightly. Apply just enough pressure for controlled acceleration

Hill Riding
Riding in mountainous regions with enticing corners is every biker’s desire. However, this longing should be fulfilled with caution and alertness. Hill riding usually involves negotiating blind corners and hairpins and hence it becomes essential for the biker to assess the road and watch out for oncoming traffic. While taking a corner you should always be in the correct lane and use the entire width of the lane to open up a corner which gives you a better view of the oncoming traffic (refer to illustration). You should also maintain a buffer area between you and the opposite lane to ensure extra safety in case someone from the oncoming traffic makes a mistake. Do not force yourself to ride fast after witnessing tantalizing corners. Watch out for patches covered with gravel, dirt or oil and try to avoid them as going over them while entering or exiting a corner might result in a fatal incident. Never shut the bike’s engine off while coming downhill. Instead use engine braking which will also give you superior control over the bike compared to rolling downhill with the engine off. Always remember to park the bike off the road, with the engine in first gear, incase you decide to enjoy the views around you.

Do not rest your bottom on the seat while going off road as it is bad for the back. Instead stand on the footegs for a smooth ride

Night Riding
You may need to ride during the night for a number of reasons. It can be fun as one can munch up the miles by riding swiftly through the almost empty highways. But at the same time, it can also prove to be dangerous. While riding in the dark, one needs a high level of concentration coupled with common sense. Always ride towards the left side in the correct lane, avoiding collision with any oncoming vehicle that may be in your lane. Watch out for illuminated road signs that indicate a turn, a fuel station, a railway crossing, etc. Focussing on the road can work wonders for you. Never look down or away when the headlight beam from oncoming vehicles hits your eyes. Instead, concentrate on the patch of road that is right ahead of you. This way you can exploit the oncoming vehicle’s lights and see the path better. Most highways in West and South India have a lot of high speed Volvo bus traffic which usually sticks to the right lane. It’s always wise to give them way. Incase you have stopped on the side of the road at night, always look out before taking off again. A few essential things like a well-reflected jacket, helmet, perfectly working headlamp/tail lamp and blinkers make you and your bike visible to other road users. A clear, scratch resistant, anti-glare, anti-fog visor is recommended for better visibility on the road. We strongly oppose the use of dark visors at night.

 

Royal Bobber


Oshan Kothadiya can’t take his eyes off the latest custom bike on the block built by Rajputana Customs
Photography Vijay Singh

Custom bikes are gaining popularity by the day in India. Even at the 2010 Auto Expo, what really caught my eye was the custom bobber built by Vijay Singh from Jaipur. After completing his studies in Canada, he returned to India recently to pursue his passion for custom motorcycles and built the Original Gangster using a 350cc Royal Enfield Thunderbird twin spark engine. The frame is built by him and his team at Rajputana Customs from the ground up. No compromises were made in the materials used too.

The bike oozes a classy vintage appeal. The retro looking white walled tyres are hard to find in India. The air filter cover looks like a revolver tumbler which sticks to the theme. The Rajputana Customs emblem and the neat detailing given to the footpegs add to the bike’s individuality. The frame has been built from carbon steel and the accelerator is internally built in the handlebar which gives it a
clean look. Adding to the bike’s vintage appeal is the hand shifter (Jockey shifter) which was used in Harleys in the 1940s and 50s. Since the bike is a hard tail, the rider’s seat is given a spring to cushion the ride. The Springer suspension which works on a linkage mechanism looks brilliant and has been totally hand built by Vijay. The bike rides on 21-inch front wheels and 17-inch rears. The wheel hubs for the front tyres too have been built by Vijay.

Equal attention is given to the battery box that is neatly tucked below the rider’s seat. The dual fuel tank is simple but well executed. Even the fuel tank lid does not look like it has been borrowed from some other bike and adds to its distinctive touch.Though the bike is unique it does not lose the Royal Enfield feel. A custom vintage bike like this would cost you around Rs 2.5 lakh which is not a very steep price. We would love to see more bikes from this youngster.