Don’t run wide!

This month we focus on the most common problem associated with judging corners right – turning in early




Every rider goes through this situation at some time or the other – turning in early, carrying too much speed and running wide. Now if it’s a left hander you are taking, you run a risk of crashing into the truck coming from the opposite direction and if it’s a right hander, you’ll either go off the road into the rough or crash into the barricades.

The cause
It’s difficult to know if you’re turning a bit too early unless you’re a seasoned rider. It’s a mistake most novice riders commit. Carrying too much speed, turning early thinking they’ll have more space and ending up running wide. The first thing one needs to understand is that the faster the speed of the bike, the longer the bike will take to turn. One should know the speeds he’s comfortable at and pick the pace up slowly with experience. By carrying too much speed, you’ll tend to brake mid-corner or roll the throttle off making the bike stand up and run wide.

The methodology
Don’t dip the bike in as soon as you see the road turning. Fix your eyes on the last visible part of the road, take position on the bike, try to go to the extreme left of the road (for a right hander) to increase the range of your vision, assess the corner properly, adjust the speed to your comfort and skill level and turn in only when you are absolutely sure of being able to carry a certain speed through the bend. Some corners are very tricky, they look as if they’ll end after a certain point, but enter them and you realize that they tighten on you even more. A cautious entry with some margin for surprises helps. Remember, for such a corner, if you’ve made a correct entry by being wide while entering it for better vision, the chances of running wide as the corner tightens are much less. For someone who entered too early, running wide is almost an eventuality. The theory of turning in too late may not be entirely correct on a racetrack where you don’t have any hazardous traffic approaching from the opposite direction. But while riding on public roads, the chances of someone going a little too wide on his side of road are quite high. Being on your side of the road, and slightly wide, gives you a good vision plus ensures that you are quick through the corner and power out of it without running wide.

Stay wide, but be on your side
While taking a left hander, use the width of the road as much as possible to ensure better visibility. Do not, however, enter the opposite lane – you may just be in for a surpise. No one expects someone barrelling down from the opposite direction in the wrong lane. While being wide before entering a bend enhances visibility, overdoing it may turn out to be hazardous, especially while taking left handers

You don’t begin taking a corner when you have dipped the bike in. In fact, it is pretty much the last stage of cornering because you have decided the speed at which you are going to go through the bend and the line which you are going to take. You make any changes to these factors and you’ll unsettle the bike. The process of going around a corner actually begins when you’re about to approach it. You go a little wide, get into position, look into the corner, decide the speed at which you’re going to go round it, decide a line, dip the bike in and go. Practise makes perfect. No wonder, those who ride extensively and are used to taking corners on hilly roads are in a much better position to approach and take these corners at the correct speeds, choosing the correct line. We also suggest that those who aren’t very used to the idea of carrying high speeds through corners, don’t push the bike beyond the limits of their skills. Going 5km/h slower on a given bend is perfectly cool rather than going 5km/h faster and ending up being shaken and stirred. The speed will come naturally as you keep practising but for starters, you should concentrate more on your approach, position and line. If you get it right, you’ll blitz through the corners and never run wide.

Late and wide turn in is the key to safety
Apart from being a hazard to the traffic coming from the opposite direction, and of course yourself, turning in too early and too narrow will make you run wide at the exit of a corner. Make sure you’re close to the edge of the road before taking right handers and turn in when you’ve seen and decided everything

Back to School

Adhish Alawani goes back to the classroom in order to learn how to ride around the track faster
Photography: Navaroze Contractor

The first time I ever rode on a racetrack was back in October 2008. Since then, I must have put in around a 100 laps on the Madras Motor Sports Track (MMST). Anyone would think that such a person should at least know the track and how to ride there thoroughly. Well, though not thoroughly, I still thought that I was quite good with the R15 at the Chennai track, until of course I was introduced to the California Superbike School (CSS).

The riding school is an initiative by Keith Code in order to impart racetrack riding lessons. CSS spread across the USA and later to other innumerable countries around the world. After years of painstaking effort in analyzing the various riding techniques, CSS has developed a curriculum which helps students learn the art of cornering. It has reached the pinnacle and is considered as one of the world’s best schools imparting track riding knowledge across five continents. When the Red Rooster Racing team offered me a seat at CSS, I grabbed it with both hands. Since I had to arrange for my own bike, I approached Yamaha and they were more than willing to give me a YZF-R15 which happens to be the best track tool available in the country and a bike on which I thought I had mastery around the Chennai racetrack.

The four coach team from UK’s CSS arrived in India to train 24 students over a period of four school days revolving around a curriculum comprising of 15 techniques taught in 15 classroom sessions. Each classroom session was then followed by an on track practical to apply whatever was taught in the class. After trying out the newly learnt techniques on the track, each rider had to debrief the session he/she had on the track. These three steps allowed students to learn the theory and practicals and at the same time also helped them zero in on their personal shortcomings through the debriefing sessions. With four levels spaced out in four days, the aim of the coaches was to make the students familiar with the art of cornering and to master it with the help of the techniques developed by CSS.

Day One:

1. Throttle Control and No Brakes Drill
Level I lessons began with throttle control and no brakes drill. The main motive behind the entire training was to make the rider ride the bike smoothly which can be achieved by keeping the bike stable through the corners. With good throttle control, the rider can get a better grip, better lean angles, of course speed, better lines and tackle bad surfaces. In short, good throttle control is necessary for almost all the vital elements of riding. The coaches asked us to ride the full circuit without using the brakes and controlling the bike with just the throttle. To add to that, everyone had to stick to one gear only, which made things worse since downshifts were strictly prohibited. Gary, the CSS safety attendant, instructed all corner marshals to look out for any brake inputs from any rider. The moment any marshal saw a bike’s front forks compressing under even the slightest of braking, the rider was black flagged, pulled in the pits and given a warning.

Sachin Chavan from Royal Enfield rides his track prepped Bullet 50

Adam, my personal coach, gives me off-track lessons on body postur

After having a hard time, I finally gave up my habit of hanging out my butt

2. Turn Points
The second lesson of the day gave us the second blow when Andy, our chief coach, told us that we were turning into corners too early – as early as a couple of bikes’ length! Turning in a corner as late as possible straightens the riding line through the corner thus giving excellent exit speeds. We all knew that theoretically, but not exactly where we had to turn off. The coaches made it easy for us by marking a cross at the entry of each turn. However, it was not as easy as we thought once we got onto our bikes and were told to run over the cross markers and then turn into the corner, as the markers were deep in the turns.

3. Quick Turns
After struggling a lot with the turn points, we finally managed to get into the turns as late as possible. However, things eased out with regard to using the turn points when Andy taught us the trick of quick turns. Basically everyone uses this trick subconsciously. Every race enthusiast talks of counter steers, but very few know that each rider going into a corner counter steers the bike to turn in. Now we were told to do it consciously. And trust me, it made things far easier and far less complicated. Slightly pushing the right bar towards the left in right-handers made the bike lean to the right and vice versa in the left-handers. This helped us go deep in the corner and then turn quickly after crossing the turn point. Counter steering, when applied appropriately with proper weight shifting, can result in the best cornering acts.

Andy gives us lessons in the classroom; never thought classrooms could be so much fun

Gary inspects the riders’ safety gear and bikes before getting onto the track

Navaroze Contractor gets a feel of the R6

4. Rider Input
After getting a hang of throttle control and counter steering, it was time to learn motorcycle-rider communication. It is of utmost importance for the rider to keep his body loose and free on the bike while riding. The simple theory is ‘be gentle on the bike and the bike will be gentle with you’. The handlebars’ duty is to steer the bike and not take the weight of the rider. So the first thing we had to do was to refrain from putting any load on the bars through our arms. Holding the bars freely also helps in letting the suspension work freely on bumpy surfaces and helps steer the bike comfortably. Also, the forearms suffer less fatigue since they aren’t clinging onto the bars tightly.


5. Two Step
As we approached the end of Level I, we were introduced to the first lesson of taming our vision. Two step, as the name suggests, is a technique that involves two steps – fixing your riding line such that you are heading towards the marked turn point and then turning your head and vision towards the apex of the corner while still keeping the turn point in your peripheral vision. This helps in getting more time for determining the apex of the corner and makes it easier to hit the apex since the rider looks at it even before starting to turn into the corner.


The students follow Glen during a sighting lap

Preetham Dev Moses and Andy strike a pose while inspecting the bike

JET records Rohit’s debriefs for later reference

Day Two:

1. Reference Points
The vision drill that began on day one continued through Level II on the second day. In the first lesson, we were sent out on the track to find reference points around the circuit. We were told to hunt for references, on the track or off it, that we could use as indicators for various actions like rolling off the throttle or marking an apex or even defining more accurate lines on the track. This improved the students’ observation about the minutes across the complete length of the circuit. With the help of reference points such as tar patches or certain bushes just outside the curbs in a particular corner helped me in ascertaining my lines and apexes. Not just that, following the same reference points for every lap around the circuit helped everyone in maintaining consistent lines.

2. Change Lines
The second lesson of the day gave goose bumps to every rider on the track when coach Andy asked us to investigate the lines of the track which no one had ever visited. This basically included exploring the complete width of the track. We were asked to do three laps; the first one sticking to the extreme right of the track, the second from the extreme left and the third using the exact centre. This introduced us to the dangers around the track in the form of bumpy sections that we had to be careful of. At the same time, we also learnt about some smoother sections that we never thought of using earlier. The main intention behind exploring the new lines was to prove that there is not one particular race line for a circuit. One can use various different lines depending on how comfortable he feels on which line.

Hand signals were an efficient way of communication with the students. Andy is seen in this picture guiding Vikram to the late apex with his hand signal

Glen teaches the technique of the hook turn

3. Vanishing Points
After getting used to the better lines, we had to progress one more step with reference to the two step drill that we had done the previous day. This one was the vanishing point search or the three step drill. In two step, we used to ascertain our line so as to hit the turn point and then look into the corner to fix our apex. The three step was an extension to the two step; we had to target our exit even before we hit the apex. This made it even easier to go through the corner since we had even more time and space to hit the correct line around the bend. In case the exit point is not visible, as is the case in tight hairpins, we had to fix a vanishing point which would eventually lead us to our exit point. The three step or vanishing point drill was a lot tougher as the eyes had to work really hard to fix the turn point in peripheral vision, then hunt for the apex and then go even further to ascertain the exit/vanishing point.

4. Wide View
It is of utmost necessity that we see more while riding on the track. It helps us know what is happening around us, who is approaching us from behind and how much space we have at our disposal to ride around the circuit. Including our peripheral vision, our eyes can almost see through a 178 degree range. Training our eyes to use this complete range was not easy, but the results definitely rewarded us with more space and confidence since we had a wider vision now.

Alisha gets her share of personal training from Glen

Dedication was seen from both sides – Andy’s teaching as well as the students’ learning

Students line up in the pit lane before getting out for practicals

5. Pick Up Drill
The final lesson on the second day was a shift from vision to riding posture. When a bike is leaned over in a corner, there is lesser tyre contact which leads to decreased traction. To gain more traction, it is necessary for the rider to use the centre of the tyre as much as possible, which means that the bike needs to be as upright as possible. However, to maintain stability through the corner and while exiting it, the rider has to keep the centre of gravity low. For achieving this, coach Glen taught us the pick up drill in which the rider has to straighten the bike as soon as he crosses the apex of the corner and has to hang off the bike to maintain a lower centre of gravity. This feat can be pulled off by doing the opposite of counter steering, i.e., giving a slight push to the left bar while leaned over to the right in a right-hander and opposite to that in a left-hander. However, the rider is expected to hang off and duck down so that the low centre of gravity is maintained even if the bike is straightened. The pick up drill helps the rider make stable exits through fast and sweeping corners.

Day Three:

1. Hook Turns
The third day’s lessons were concentrated on improving the posture of the rider. We started off with the hook turn, a technique used to tighten the line by executing a special maneuver midway through the corner. This is managed by pushing the rider’s weight forward and towards the inner handlebar while leaned over. The act brings the bike on a tighter line suddenly giving the rider more exit speed since the tighter line implies a straighter line. The rider can use the hook turn as a corrective measure in case he needs to get back on the correct line after running wide in any corner. The coaches, in fact, suggested we use the hook turn in as many corners as possible for much better exit speeds.

2. Pivot Steering
Pivot steering was an extension to the counter steering that we learnt on day one. The human body works in opposites and this theory is used in pivot steering. Consider for example, a right hand corner. We push the right bar slightly towards the left in order to lean to the right. Now at this point of time, if we push the left knee against the tank (obviously towards the right), then it creates a better effect of leaning. The coaches made us understand this in a simple way. We were asked to stand opposite a wall with our palms resting on the wall. Now, if we had to lean towards right, we tried to push the wall with our right hand. At the same time, if we created tension in the left leg (which resembles the act of pushing it against the tank), the lean became easier. All we had to do was apply this simple trick on the bike while cornering. This incidentally, leads us to use the lower back as a pivot. The upper part of the pivot is exercising the push in one direction while the lower part is doing the same in the opposite direction, hence the name pivot steering.

The coaches made sure they supervised each student’s riding by standing off the track and observing them through the corners

Adam and myself in a debriefing session

The students gather around Andy during one of the off-track training sessions

3. Knee to Knee
After learning the basics of body posture while cornering, it was time to study the movement of the body through consecutive opposite turns. Going from right hand to left hand corner or vice versa, the rider is expected to move his upper body from one side to the other. Since the upper body and the arms are to be kept as loose as possible, the bike can loose stability while shifting from one side to the other. To avoid this, the rider has to maintain a good grip on the bike by hugging the tank firmly with the thighs. While flicking from, say the right-hander to the left-hander, the rider has to first bring the right knee in (which is sticking out towards the inner side of the corner), clamp it against the tank and only then let the left knee leave the tank and stick out.

4. Hip Flick
The hip flick acts as an extension to the knee to knee exercise. In hip flick, we were told that when both the knees are clamping onto the tank, the weight has to be shifted from one side to the other by flicking the hip first and then the upper body. Once the weight is transferred to the other side, only then should the rider stick out his inner knee. The combination of knee to knee and hip flick maneuvers helps in stable quick flicks through a series of opposite corners.

The R15’s low footpegs restricted my lean angles to a great extent

Rohit Giri, the Red Rooster Racing team rider, bagged the Star Student award after showing immense dedication throughout the four days of training

TT Varadarajan, the sponsor, gets tips from Andy

5. Attack Angles
The final lesson of the training came in the form of improving our attack angles. Attack angle is the angle as shown in the illustration above. The larger the attack angle, the smoother and faster the corner speed. Sticking to the wide line as much as possible before entering a corner and then executing quick turns properly will lead the rider into better attack angle for the next corner. Thus, the better attack angles work best in a series of corners where a perfect line is crucial for the final exit.

Day Four:
The first three days were spent in learning 15 techniques through three levels. It was now time for the final day and the final level of training. Level IV concentrates on personal shortcomings. Whatever the rider wasn’t been able to apply properly through the first three levels was taught and practiced again until he/she got the hang of it. Thus, the personalized Level IV also proved to be a great revision for everyone for everything that was learnt during the previous three days.

The California Superbike School made me realize quite a lot of things. The first was that I had hardly learnt anything considerable in the 100 laps on the track that I had done before attending the school. Secondly, after putting in around 200 laps over these four days with CSS, I understood that there is a lot more to track riding than we can even imagine. Thirdly, we can get vague ideas of how to ride a bike on the track by reading or listening to experts, but it can’t be mastered unless you have coaches like the ones from CSS guiding you every time you make a mistake. The way the instructors made sure that they paid attention to every rider while he practiced and applied the theory on the track was phenomenal. It gives you an assurance that every mistake you commit will be rectified so that you do not pick up any wrong habits even unknowingly. The experience at CSS was undoubtedly one of the best I have ever had in my biking career and I am definitely looking forward to at least a couple of more schools with CSS whenever and wherever possible.

A crashed R6 makes its way back to the pits

Maximum student-coach interaction was the key to the training’s success

Sponsors and Organizers

TT Varadarajan (MD – Preethi Mixers and Grinders), a bike enthusiast, has attended several sessions of the California Superbike School abroad in the past few years. These sessions had such an impact on TT that he decided to bring the school to India. His aim was to make sure that upcoming young talent from the country gets the best guidance available that would in turn help them succeed not only on the national racing scene, but also on the international level.

TT also organized the event in an extremely efficient way. From the corner marshals, the pick-up trucks (for crashed motorcycles), the ambulances and medical backup to food and drinks’ supply all day long was amazingly managed.

Giving TT a helping hand were the Red Roosters Racing team from Bangalore who provided the motorcycles and their tyres for the coaches and complete technical backup. Dinesh Reddy, the owner of the RRR team and a hardcore enthusiast, supported Mr. Varadarajan’s cause in every possible manner. Mr. Amit Sandill, RRR Team Director, was present throughout the four days of training along with his team of mechanics headed by the Joe Rajasingh, the chief technician of the RRR Team. A special applause for Joe who made sure that the bikes ran in perfect tune. Navaroze Contractor, Editor at Large of BIKE India was also present throughout the four days of training.

Champion Trainer
Adhish Alawani gets one-on-one with Andy Ibbott, chief coach of the California Superbike School, UK to reveal the master’s experience of coaching in India for the first time.

Tell us something about yourself. How did you get into the schooling business?

I started riding bikes at age 14. I didn’t start racing till quite late in life actually. I was about 32 or 34 years old. I did a season with Yamaha 250LC, then a season on 600 and later started doing nationals 600s. During a race in the New Era 600 Championship, I crashed while leading a race and the guy running at the back broke my back (laughs). That time it was pretty much decided that I didn’t want to race. Racing is fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I didn’t want to take the risk any more. I got away that time walking and I like walking (laughs). Earlier, I had done the California Superbike School in November ‘95 in the US. At that time, I was working as a test rider with Fast Bikes magazine. After doing the school, I went from midfield to top three straight. That is when I decided to bring the school to the UK. The first year was a complete disaster. Nobody knew about the school or about Keith Code and the work he had done. But I was convinced that it would work. So we continued dedicating our efforts in 1997 and here we are in 2010 in India.

So how has it been in India so far?

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. We had some wrong preconceptions about how it would work out here. But everything including the bikes that Red Roosters have supplied are of good quality and the racetrack is phenomenal. We were expecting the worst, to be honest, but the track is absolutely brilliant.

What are your tips for kids who want to start racing early in life?

Oh, I was speaking to a young lad today who came along with his father. He is 12 years old and wanted to start racing. The thing is that we have to make sure he is having fun with it. There are so many risks involved. It is tough physically and financially too, it is hard. So you’ve got to enjoy it. I mean, look at Rossi. When do you see him serious while racing a Grand Prix? He is smiling at the cameras and always happy. I am sure there are times when he is not, but he never shows it.

How many schools do you (CSS, UK) do in a year?

We run 273 events.

And that is around how many countries?

23 currently – essentially from the top of Norway to the bottom of Africa and from the west coast of Ireland to the east coast of India.

The final and most important question, will you come back to India again?

100 percent. We are already talking with TT about how we are going to arrange the event next year and what we are going to do. Do we come in the same format? We are already looking at which month to do it in, which is most likely to be January. We might want to do it again this year in December, but I would prefer doing it next year in January.

Of revs and gears

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



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.

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 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

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.

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.


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

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.

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.


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

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.

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.



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

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.