APRIL 2016


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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.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor


MARCH 2016


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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.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor


February 2016


BI_Feb16THE RIGHT LINE

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?

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

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January 2016


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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.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

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December 2015


BI_Dec2015THE RIGHT LINE

The MotoGP world championship has been settled in Lorenzo’s favour and a lot has been said about the championship as to how it was won off the track then on the track. A lot of people are of the opinion that Lorenzo won the championship fair and square. One needs to go back to the year 2013 when the rules were changed to allow Marc Marquez to ride the factory Repsol Honda instead of riding for a satellite team. At that time it was mandatory for a rookie to ride for a satellite team for one year before getting a factory ride; but that rule was changed to accommodate Marc Marquez.

At Phillip Island, MM made sure that Rossi could not attack Lorenzo before making his move to win the race. He had so much in hand that he could drop his lap-time by one second. One second is a very big margin in terms of time in MotoGP; if Marc wanted, he could have won the Australian GP by a big margin but instead he decided to mess around with Rossi and the rest of the group so they could not attack Lorenzo.

In Malaysia Marc had a good start but did not follow Dani Pedrosa; instead he let Lorenzo also go through before he started dicing with Rossi. What Rossi did in Malaysia was not right but he was forced to do what he did. The penalty he received ended his championship hopes.

What Marquez did in Valencia was very evident — that he was protecting Lorenzo as he rode shotgun to Lorenzo and did not even make one attempt to overtake during the 30 laps, and when Dani passed Marc, he attacked Dani immediately so that Dani could not pass Lorenzo. Marc has to look within himself to see if he has done the right thing. HRC should take action against Marc as he has deprived Honda of a race win. Had the race been according to form, the result would have been Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi. This would have made Rossi the champion.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

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November 2015


BIKENovember2015THE RIGHT LINE

For the last eight years I have been writing about how the traffic situation in our country is getting from bad to worse. The total disregard for traffic rules finally caught up with me. This is the first time I am writing my editorial from my bed at home. On 28 September 2015, I was riding a motorcycle and going through a crossroads with a traffic signal, which was green for my side of the traffic when I arrived at the junction. As I carried on, a car coming from the right jumped the signal. After hard braking and swerving to the right I hit the rear of the Swift. At the time of impact my speed must not have been more than 10 km/h as I did not have a single scratch or a burn mark apart from a broken tibia and fibula.

Things got even more interesting in the evening when I was lying in the hospital bed waiting for the surgery the next day when a policeman came to take my statement. The first thing he said was that it was my fault because I had hit the rear of the car regardless of the traffic signal. Once you hit the rear of a vehicle, it is your fault. According to him, I should have stopped. Then he also went on to say that you should not stop on red as somebody might hit you from the back. During the time the statement was being taken by the policeman, a friend of mine, Meher Pudumjee, who is the chairperson of Thermax, was present and was in a state of shock on hearing what the policeman had to say.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

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October 2015


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The motorcycle industry is abuzz with activity what with new motorcycles being launched every month. Last month Yamaha launched the all-new R3 and now Honda have launched the CBR 650F this month. We have the first-ride impressions for you in this issue.

On the 23rd of August Indian motorcycle racing suffered a big loss with the sad demise of M R Raj Kumar (Raju). For me Raju was not only one of the best riders India has produced but also one of the best tuners. I had the highest regard for his riding capability and also for him as a human being. He was a thorough gentleman to the core. On the racetrack we used to fight tooth and nail but off the track we were good friends with mutual respect for each other. With the passing away of Raju the motorcycle fraternity has lost a true supporter of the sport. May his soul rest in peace. I offer my sincere condolences to the bereaved family.

Every time the government wants to introduce safety norms such as the anti-lock braking system (ABS), the manufacturers start complaining, saying that the cost of motorcycles will escalate and that there will be a drop in demand. Over the years, however, the cost of motorcycles has gone up by more than five times and yet we witness all-time high sales figures month after month. If the buyers don’t have a choice, they have to pay since a twowheeler is a necessity for most Indians.

Aspi Bhathena
Editor

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September 2015


BI_sept15-1THE RIGHT LINE

Most of us were worried that Yamaha were going to go back to making fuel-efficient commuter motorcycles and scooters just like what they did when the emission norms killed the two-stroke motorcycles, RD 350 and RX 100. It has taken Yamaha seven years to launch a performance motorcycle after the R15. Their DNA and strength lie in performance motorcycles and not commuters. This month we have featured the first ride of the all new Yamaha R3.

The Union Transport Ministry is keen to enact a law making anti-lock braking systems (ABS) mandatory for motorcycles above 125 cc. At the same time manufacturers are against it, saying that such a move will make bikes very expensive. We in India are ready to compromise on safety to save money. This is one of the reasons why ABS should be made mandatory so that people do not have the option of buying a bike without ABS. Indeed, sometimes you have to protect people from themselves.

Today people put their life on the line by going down the wrong way to avoid travelling that little extra distance before making a U-turn. It is up to us to avoid an accident or hurt other road-users who tend to come down the wrong way. If you try to correct them, they become belligerent and ask you to mind your own business. In such a grim scenario it is up to all of us to set an example by obeying traffic rules. Even if the traffic happens to be sparse, please do not go through a red light — wait till the signal turns green. Do not ride on the wrong side of a road even if it means travelling that extra kilometre or two.
Aspi Bhathena
Editor

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August 2015


BikeAug2015This month we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bike India with an action packed issue that sees us circumnavigating the Golden Quadrilateral – an epic 6,000 km ride on the Triumph Speed Triple and Street Triple motorcycles. We also conquer 10 Himalayan high altitude passes that we believe should feature on every die-hard motorcycle tourer’s bucket list with the Suzuki Gixxer SF. But capping them all off is our never-before-attempted (or accomplished) feat of covering 10,000 km on Indian highways in just 10 days with the Benelli TnT 600GT.
Pick up your copy of the latest 10th anniversary issue of Bike India from a news stand near you to enjoy an action packed month of reading, or subscribe to Bike India magazine for your monthly dose of two-wheeled motoring mantra.TO SUBSCRIBE