February 2016


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


January 2016


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


December 2015


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


November 2015


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


October 2015

bike_oct2015THE RIGHT LINE

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


September 2015


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


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

July 2015


THE MOTORCYCLE MARKET WITNESSED A DE-GROWTH of three per cent in May 2015, and, to make matters worse, the meteorological department has forecast a below-normal monsoon; in fact, a drought-like situation. This will not augur well for the sales of new motorcycles since most manufacturers are looking towards the rural areas for growth rather than the urban market.

The traffic situation has become a serious problem in India — it is worse than the Wild West. No one gives a damn about traffic rules and if someone tries to correct them, they become aggressive and belligerent. It is high time the police took decisive action against such offenders. Some manufacturers like HMSI are making an effort to educate people about traffic rules by setting up traffic safety parks where everyone from children to adults are taught traffic rules.

The Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship has got under way with record entries in the new group ‘C’ class, and this year there will be a Gixxer Cup one-make series along with the Honda, TVS and Yamaha one-make series.

There are a couple of issues in the Indian motorcycle racing championships, the first of which is the lack of cross-manufacturer racing in the national championship. Manufacturers do not want to lose, so they stick to one-make series. The second issue is that the organisers are reluctant to introduce championship for 12- and 14-year-olds, for that is where the young talent lies, not among the 18-year-old and above since their ‘sell by’ date is over.

It’s a shame that we do not have a single rider representing India in the Dorna Honda Asia Talent Series. Countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia have three to four riders taking part in it. It is high time the FMSCI, manufacturers and the organisers of these championships rectified this lacuna. Having raced myself, it is very sad to see the standard of racing in the country even with so many manufacturers involved in racing today.