Hamara Pulsar, Hamara Discover

Bajaj to drop its name; retain only the core models’ names


 The brand that gave India the slogan ‘Hamara Bajaj’, a catchphrase synonymous with a whole generation, will cease to exist come April this year. Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj recently stated his intention to remove the Bajaj brand and, in its place, establish its top-selling Pulsar and Discover as separate brands in their their own light. This is not an unusual move for brands in European and foreign countries but will certainly be a first for Indian automotive manufacturers who rely on family names for their product range (read TVS, Mahindra and Tata).

“Actually I don’t want that (Bajaj) name. We have already started the process so today on a Pulsar, the Bajaj name is seen only on the engine. The same is the case with Discover. Our three-wheeler has Bajaj in small font while the initial ‘RE’ is in much bigger font. One day, We will drop the Bajaj name from there also completely”, Rajiv Bajaj disclosed in a recent interview. “Consumers know that the product is coming from Bajaj, just like I know my Audi is coming from Volkswagen. But there is no Volkswagen on the Audi product. This creates a perception that there is something more in the product”, he added.

The project is spearheaded by Fitch, the international design agency that have collaborated with brands as diverse as Aditya Birla Group, Boeing, Reliance ADAG, Tata and Microsoft in the past.

Words: Saeed Akhtar


 Two of the world’s greatest racing personalities come together for an epic duel. On ice.



You might not have heard of it before but Ducati and Ferrari has an annual event, somewhere up in the Dolomites mountains in Northern Italy, wherein the racing arms of both the manufacturers launch their latest team lineups and jointly share the limelight. And this year, the Wrooom Ferrari & Ducati Press Ski Meeting (that’s what the event is called) will play host to a traditional ice race between Valentino Rossi and Fernando Alonso. Ducati MotoGP team manager Vittoriano Guareschi has revealed that Rossi is fit enough to race the former F1 world champion at this year’s ‘Wrooom’ event, to be held on January 10th. Guareschi also allayed all apprehensions about Rossi’s fitness, specifically his recent shoulder injury, saying that the World Champion has recuperated and is in perfect condition for the coming MotoGP season.

This year’s Wrooom event will also give the Ducatisti their first opportunity to view the new Marlboro Ducati livery and the first public appearance of Rossi in red leathers.

Words: Saeed Akhtar

New motorcycle norm

Motorcycles to be EMC – Compliant

Recently the Ministry of Surface Transport and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways announced a new norm according to which all new models that are to be introduced in the market will have be EMC (Electromagnetic) compliant. This norm will ensure that the electromagnetic waves emitted by a two wheeler is under admissible limit and doesn’t interfere with any electronic controllers that are present on it. This EMC norm came into force from January 1st and 70% of the current two-wheelers in the market have already been tested for it at the EMC Tech Center. The ministry has also said that vehicle manufacturers have to come up with a system in order to meet the standards.

Words: Ravi Chandnani

TVS Apache ABS

No, the Apache won’t have six-pack, but will be safer to ride



Early this year TVS Motors showcased the Apache 180 with ABS (anti-lock braking system) technology during the Auto Expo and, almost a year later, the bike sporting this safety technology will be available in a TVS showroom close to you this month (January 2011). We reckon the new Apache with ABS to be about Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 dearer. Though ABS is common in bikes and cars internationally, we still have a reason for a tiny celebration. This will be the first time a ‘made in India’ bike will feature ABS. Hurrah!
TVS have developed the anti-lock braking system in collaboration with Continental AG, Germany (pioneer in chassis control system for passenger cars and leading bikes like the BMW). The system has a hydraulic-electronic control unit (HECU) and a speed-sensing technology that continuously monitors the wheel speed of the bike. During braking it modulates the hydraulic pressure in the brake system to avoid an impending wheel lock and loss of control.
The ABS system improves braking even in wet conditions, prevents wheel skids and rear wheel lift-off. So, all you guys who love to perform ‘stoppies’ on their Apaches, TVS have made the trick even harder for you.


Gauri Lokare joins a gathering of 660 Bullets for Rider Mania 2009
Photography by Gauri Lokare & Aditya Bedre




All of us know that light travels faster than speed. A certain variety of motorcycles is an exception to the rule though. The sound from Royal Enfield motorcycles reaches you way before the sight of these heavy duty machines. The thump of more than 660 Bullets echoed in the dense Nilgiris in January this year. The reason for this rumble? Rider Mania ’09 was about to commence.

In its seventh season now, Rider Mania is a Bullet congregation coined, owned and executed by Bullet riders across the country to elevate the culture of biking brotherhood. It was the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club (RTMC) from Bangalore who staged the most yearned for biker party of this year and that too in true RTMC style. The preparations for being a part of this two day fest commences months before the scheduled event. There’s a lot these diehard bikers have to take care of right from shopping for new riding gear, polishing, servicing and revamping the bikes to applying for leave from work and in some cases, even resigning from work. That’s how serious this event is to the Bullet fraternity. And why wouldn’t it be? Rider Mania is for Bulleteers what Essel World is for 10-year-olds. It’s where hardcore bikers become kids again. You see professionals, youngsters, bachelors, workaholics and even senior citizens unleashing their inner child and doing what they do best – taking it easy and having fun.

Prashant from RTMC presenting a burnout

This year, a host of kids were also seen running around showing signs of being promising bikers

Roadshakers bagged the first place for the ‘Overall Trophy

At the 2009 fest, the only role I had to play was that of a hardcore Bulleteer. And given the circumstances of the event, it was hardly a task. With great music, food, location, chilled beer at throwaway rates, old buddies, new friends, eye-candy Bullets, more beer, mindless chatter about motorcycles, riding experiences, biker events and competition parties throughout the fest; it is quite normal for anyone to act like a complete maniac. The highlight of the event was the spectacular group ride where a pack of 660 Bullets rode in a two-by-two formation through the hilly and twisted roads of Ooty. The entire small town was bedazzled, first with the sound of thumping motors and then, at the sight of these torquey machines themselves. Adding more delight to the ongoing festivities were the host of individual and team events such as riding on the figure of 8, slow race, arm wrestling, ‘The Pusher Man’ (won by team RTMC) and ‘Pump it up’ (won by Roadshakers). Mad Bulls from Chennai who rode in a pack of more than a 100 bikers bagged the special trophy for making a spectacular club entry. In the race for ‘Overall Trophy of the Event’, it was Roadshakers, Pune who claimed the first place followed by Inddiethumpers, Mumbai.

Apart from the regular Bullet clubs in the country who were present, this year interestingly saw a host of new Bullet brotherhoods coming to light even from far off places like Latur, Kolkata, Chandigargh and Shillong. The country’s largest biker fest attracted a few international guests as well. In its first edition, the event which attracted just 150 riders has escalated to over 660 riders this year with many more gatecrashers. This in itself is a testimony to prove just how popular Rider Mania and biking brotherhood have become in this country. I need to take a moment here and thank RTMC for the painstaking effort they put in to host such a brilliant Rider Mania 2009 and more so for executing it perfectly.

There is something remarkable about us Bulleteers. How else can one explain over 660 riders from 42 cities across the country taking time out of their respective busy lives and quotidian activities to be present at a single designated time and venue? The commitment they showed by just making it to Rider Mania speaks volumes about the strong bond between Bulleteers. It’s amazing to witness the intense passion and respect which these riders have towards their steeds as well as fellow bikers. They come together for two days and act as if they have known each other for ages. A smile, a hug and a Bullet is all it takes for them to bond forever.

Mad Bulls Chennai came in a count of more than 100 Bullets

Abbhas from Inddiethumpers poses for the camera

Big hugs to all the sponsors who made this event possible


As part of their annual celebrations, Honda let journos from across the world have a taste of their best performance machines. Aspi Bhathena shares his ride experience

The primary reason we were in Japan was to ride a wide range of Honda motorcycles and provide feedback regarding which bikes would be most suitable for Indian conditions. The lineup included the Silver Wing scooter, the DN-01, the CBR600RR, the CBF1000, the CBF1000R, the CBR1000RR and the 1800 Gold Wing. Katsuhisa Yoda – Manager Overseas Operation, Asia & Oceania and Hitoshi Akaoka – Chief Engineer, Honda R&D were among the senior management members present to oversee the ride.

Honda were extremely vary of the riding capabilities of Indian journos as the circuit that they had selected was extremely tight. One could not get the CBR1000 out of the second gear and additionally, they had a Honda S2000 car to make sure we did not go crash. I started the day’s ride with the Silver Wing scooter as the overnight rain had left the circuit wet and damp in places. The DN-01 which is quiet futuristic in its design and styling performed reasonably while pottering around the circuit. After riding all the bikes, the motorcycle that really impressed me the most was the GL 1800. Even with all its mass and size, you could really throw her around even on absolutely tight crippling corners without any problem.

I concentrated mainly on the CBF1000, the CB1000R and the CBR1000RR as these are the most likely motorcycles that will make their way into India. The CBR1000 will be launched in India at the end of February 2009. The 1000RR has been shrunk in size and feels like a 400 on steroids. You can throw this bike around like a toy, but at the same time you have to treat it with a lot of respect as you feed the power. If you are cranked over the limit you could slide the rear end or if you whack the throttle open while being upright you’ll see the front wheel getting sky bound. Honda have made the CBR1000 more user friendly so even people with average riding abilities can utilize all the horses available. You don’t have to be a Danny Pedrosa to be able to ride it!

It was quite annoying to follow the pace car. I could not bare it any longer and passed the pace car sending the Japanese into a bit of a tizzy. I had requested Honda if I could have a ride on the RCV212 but was told that it was not possible as it would be very dangerous. But after I finished riding, Hitoshi Akaoka complemented me on my riding technique and said that I have the skills to ride the RCV212. Thanks to the Indian journos who rode the bikes there, Honda’s previous opinion had transformed and they acknowledged that we are also capable of riding the big Superbikes.

The Chief Engineer at Honda’s R&D centre, Hitoshi Akaoka with the CBR1000RR bound for India. The bike will be here by the end of February 2009


Honda team drivers and riders from across the world converged at Motegi in Japan, to display their skills to fans from across the world.
Report and Photography Aspi Bhathena



Every year after the racing season is over, Honda organize an event called Enjoy with Honda in Japan. They bring in their motorsport personalities from all over the world do a couple of demo laps at their own Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The Motegi venue is just not a race circuit as it also has an entertainment facility for the entire family. This year, Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India invited a few select journalists from the country, including me, to experience the Enjoy with Honda event. Additionally, all Honda owners were invited free of cost to come and witness the event. There were more than 30,000 people at the circuit.

I had the opportunity to get really close to F1 cars, MotoGP motorcycles, Indy Racing cars as well as Honda GT cars. They also had a trial circuit just behind the racing circuit where some trial riders were performing. Honda’s emphasis on safety was also on display as they had tiny tots in the age group of 4 to 5 years riding electrically powered two-wheelers on a special circuit with a soft rubberized surface to protect the children if they crashed. The main idea was to teach kids the appropriate road manners from an early age in a safe environment.

The Honda museum showcases the company’s prized racing collection right from their first IOMTT bikes, World Championship winning motorcycles and F1 World Championship dominating engines which took the late great Ayrton Senna to his championship victories. One could spend an entire day in the museum without realizing the number of hours gone by.

Honda had a specially designed track to teach kids the nuances of safe riding

All the drivers and riders of Honda teams from various motorsport events across the world

Honda Trials’ riders performing in sync


Mat Oxley

Do we still need GP racing?
The Philistines are in the building and destroying the grand old sport of Grand Prix racing. But who cares, wonders Mat Oxley, maybe we don’t need it anymore

The plan fot this month was simple: switch into curmudgeon mode and lay into the bunch of mindless vandals who are trashing GP racing.

I was going to rant and rage against their grave act of Philistinism – replacing 250 GPs with a glorified World Supersport series. The 250 world championship has been in existence since the dawn of grand prix racing. During those six decades the 250 crown has been worn by Ubbiali, Hailwood, Read, Saarinen, Lavado, Sarron, Spencer, Cadalora, Biaggi, Capirossi, Rossi, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and many more. But 250s aren’t good enough for GP racing’s meddlesome rulers who think they can do better. Mike the Bike must be spinning in his grave at a steady 19,500rpm.

I was going to wail and gnash my teeth at the politics behind the decision – the sport’s most rapier-like race bikes must die because the Japanese manufacturers don’t do two-strokes any more, nothing more than that. As one MotoGP insider told me: “this decision is commercial and political, it is not a technical discussion”.

I was going to foam at the mouth as I complained that street 600s in trick chassis doesn’t sound like real GP racing to me. And I was going to glow with incandescent rage at the contradictory regulations which make prototype 600s eligible (to appease WSB boss Flammini) but keep them out by allowing riders to claim the engine of any rival for just 20,000 euro. Thus this so-called GP class will use hopped-up CBR, GSX-R, R6 and Ninja street bike engines.

I was going to cackle dementedly at the madness of the claiming rule, which gets the following vote of no confidence from an US Superbike team manager: “We’ve used claiming rules in the USA at various times and they never work. They are the work of the devil, with help from inept tech guys who don’t want to be bothered enforcing the rules. Claiming rules don’t work and are patently unfair. Give my crew chief a stock bike and a pile of parts and give Billy Joe Bob a stock bike and the same pile of parts and my guy’s bike will be better every time, because he knows what he’s doing. So why should Billy Joe Bob be able to steal his bike?” And I was going to explain why claiming rules are good for one thing and one thing only – the salaries of lawyers – because they tend to ensure that races are not won on the racetrack but in the courtroom.

Most of all, I was going to sob bitterly at the relentless homogenisation of our sport – at this rate every racing class will look and sound the same within a few years. How daft is it that the premier categories in both MotoGP and World Superbike are for big four-strokes and street-based 600s?

Then the penny dropped. Maybe there is method in the madness of the people behind the 600s – Dorna and the MSMA (the Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers Association). Perhaps this is their secret agenda: make MotoGP and WSB pretty much identical and then take the next logical step: merge them into one. With several years of global recession and a new age of environmental consciousness looming ahead of us it makes a lot of sense, in all kinds of ways. The factories are hurting bad; Honda has already pulled out of Formula 1, how long before one or more of the manufacturers decide they can no longer afford the hideous expense of MotoGP (rated as ten times more expensive than WSB)?

So maybe it really is time to say goodbye to real GP racing. It could easily be argued that we no longer need prototype engines because there’s no need to continue increasing horsepower. And anyway, no doubt in the not-too-distant future there will be tougher legislation restricting emissions and thus performance, both in racing and on the street. High-tech development budgets could be funnelled into environmentally focused GP support classes, perfecting new low-emissions technology.

Amalgamating MotoGP and WSB regulations would create a new racing class that uses WSB-spec street engines and MotoGP-spec trick chassis, just like the old TT F1 world championship of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but this time with all the world’s greatest riders doing battle in the same race. Older readers will surely remember the TT F1 format: Hailwood on his big red Duke, Read on his 900 Honda. That way, at least Mike the Bike might be able to rest in peace.

Blurb: Honda has already pulled out of Formula 1, how long before one or more of the manufacturers decide they can no longer afford the hideous expense of MotoGP (rated as ten times more expensive than WSB)?





The two-wheeler industry from India and around the world comes together in Delhi for the 10th Auto Expo to flaunt their latest offerings. We take you through the major action at one of Asia’s largest automotive exhibitions
Words: Adhish Alawani and Bunny Punia
Photography: Sanjay Raikar and Varun Kulkarni

Harley-Davidson setup a feast for motorcycle enthusiasts visiting the Auto Expo. Not only did the American marque surprise everyone by bringing in as many as 12 different models from the basic five families of the entire Harley-Davidson range, but they also stunned prospective buyers with a price range affordable for a wide variety of consumers.

The Harley-Davidson brand comes with a rich heritage and the company plans to charm the Indian customer with the same legacy. As a result, we see various models from each of the five families namely Sportster, Dyna, Softail, V-Rod and Touring making their entry into the Indian market. The basic XL 883L Sportster happens to be the cheapest of the lot with a price tag of Rs 6.95 lakh (ex-showroom). The prices climb up gradually all the way to Rs 21.95 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Street Glide. Apart from these basic five families, the firm has also introduced the Custom Vehicle Operation motorcycle or simply the CVO in the form of the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. To talk a bit about the CVOs, these are machines custom designed by a team working closely with Harley- Davidson and the team is responsible for creating a certain number of CVOs every year. The Ultra Classic Electra Glide will be the most expensive offering from Harley-Davidson and will be priced at Rs 34.95 lakh (ex-showroom).

The variety of machines offered by Harley makes sure that the consumer gets a huge range of options. Not only that, with the price range starting from as low as Rs 6.95 lakh, it is going to be easier for a larger number of people to purchase their dream machines. What’s more, the company’s dealerships will also sell Harley-Davidson merchandise for hardcore fans. Time to cruise, Hogs?

Finance options
Harley-Davidson has tied up with ICICI to provide brilliant finance options for their motorcycles. With a minimum down payment of as much as 15 percent of the vehicle cost and a tenure for a period of five years, you can get the XL 883L Sportster for a down payment of close to Rs 1.2 lakh with an EMI of around Rs 13,000. The fantastic finance option laid down by ICICI is further going to boost sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and make it much easier to own these machines than most of the imported bikes available in the country.

Yamaha has been on a roll since the last Auto Expo where they showcased the YZF-R15 and the FZ16 for the first time. The two bikes went onto become a massive success and raised expectations from the Japanese manufacturer for this year’s Expo. Though the company did not showcase anything as aggressive as either of the two products that have changed the fate of Yamaha in India, they surely had some welcome surprises for motorcycle aficionados.

Yamaha already retails the YZF-R1 in India and has now upgraded to the 2010 model of their flagship bike that features the revolutionary crossplane crankshaft. Derived from MotoGP technologies, this R1 has already won the WSBK title along with many awards from various motorcycle magazines around the world. A limited edition R15 was also launched by the company which features nothing new except a fresh paint scheme. Yamaha showcased a couple of concept bikes in the commuter segment as well. The SZ Concept is expected to feature a 125cc engine while the YBR might sport a 100cc motor. Both concepts seemed to be very close to the production versions and it won’t surprise us if we see one of them rolling out in the market in the near future. The R15 and the FZ16 have helped Yamaha revive their status in India and we expect these new commuter segment bikes to further help the company achieve higher sales figures.

Apart from these bikes, the exhibits at the Yamaha booth included the R15 loaded with the Daytona Race kit and the FZ series bikes with all the optional accessories available. The company had set up a section of CBUs that showcased the recently launched V-Max. The other two very interesting exhibits in the CBU section were the T-Max and the Diversion F. The T-Max, a super scooter powered by a 499cc motor, pumps out 43.5PS while the Diversion F features a 600cc engine that delivers 75.5PS of peak power. The Diversion F will make for a very good option on Indian roads, but will attract a complete homologation (since it is less than 800cc) if it has to make it to the Indian market. The final two imported bikes on display from Yamaha were the FZ1 and the Fazer 1000, both of which are powered by a 998cc engine.

The most exciting exhibit at the Yamaha booth had to be Valentino Rossi’s YZR-M1 that he has been racing in MotoGP. The joy of Yamaha fans knew no bounds when Rossi himself appeared on stage at the company’s booth and shook hands with a few among the thousands of people gathered to catch a glimpse of their racing god. BIKE India’s Deputy Editor, Bunny Punia later got an opportunity to interact with the legend. Jump to page 105 for Rossi’s interview with BI.


Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India had as many as six launches scheduled for the Auto Expo including a variety of two-wheelers ranging from scooters and commuter motorcycles to enthusiasts’ machines. The launches included some facelifted versions of their existing models as well as some all-new machines for India.

To start with, Honda’s main attraction at the Auto Expo was the VFR1200F. The fun bike that has already been launched abroad made its appearance in India for the first time (refer to BIKE India’s January 2010 issue for Bunny Punia’s first ride of the VFR1200F) and definitely attracted a lot of attention with its radical design. The VFR1200F incorporates a lot of amazing technologies including the world’s first dual-clutch transmission on a motorcycle. This novel transmission allows the rider to ride the bike like an automatic motorcycle or manually shift gears with a button for a bit of sporty riding. Other fantastic innovations on the bike include the Layered Fairing Technology and the application of the UNICAM single overhead camshaft cylinder. HMSI claims that the VFR1200F might soon make it to the Indian market. The firm’s other CBU exhibits included the 2010 upgraded version of the CBR Fireblade that features an improved crankshaft inertia mass and a little bit of restyling along with new paint schemes.

The CB Twister’s unveiling at the Auto Expo marked the first public appearance of the new 110cc sporty commuter globally. Taking design cues from the hugely popular CB1000R, the Twister definitely makes for radical styling on a commuter. So far, HMSI did not have an offering in the basic commuter bike segment. With the Twister, the company forays into the highest selling class of bikes in the Indian market. Priced attractively between Rs 41,000 and Rs 48,000 (approximately, ex-showroom Delhi), the Twister is expected to score high on the sales front for Honda. HMSI also showcased the facelifted version of their Dio scooter which is hugely popular amongst the youth. New graphics and paint schemes plus a slightly raised ground clearance mark the new features on the Dio. It is quite surprising that Honda did not include the new 110cc motor in the Dio that is powering the new Activa and the Aviator. The Honda Stunner (carb version) gets a facelift as well with new paint schemes, graphics, an engine cowl and the inclusion of a tachometer in the instrumentation console. The concept versions of Unicorn and the CB Twister were also showcased by HMSI at the Auto Expo. In white and maroon colours, both concept vehicles sported additional body panels as compared to the production versions. Apart from these newbies, HMSI also showcased their entire existing lineup of products. Rider training simulators and the bike designing sections added a touch of interaction with the visitors.

The Honda U3X, a personal mobility device, put up one of the most exciting shows at the Auto Expo. Drawing technologies from the ASIMO, the U3X is a device that can move you in every direction – forward, backward, sideways and diagonal and can gather speeds of upto 6km/h while doing so. That makes it a fantastic mobility option in official and institutional premises. All you need to do is sit on it and incline towards the direction in which you intend to go and you are magically set into motion. Now who will not want that in order to roam around huge factory premises, offices or even educational institutes with absolutely no effort?!

Suzuki Motorcycles had a rather quiet appearance at the Auto Expo this year with no new launches. In fact, the company did not even setup a separate section for their bikes and instead simply put up the motorcycles amongst the Maruti Suzuki cars. The imported motorcycles on display included the Hayabusa and the Intruder which have already been launched in India. What made for an interesting display though, were the GSX-R600 and the SV650F. Sources close to company claim that there is a 600cc segment motorcycle that the company is probably homologating for the Indian market and our guess is that it is the SV650F. Not only is the bike a lot more practical for city use as well as touring, but it is also cheaper than the Gixxer 600 (it might get a sub Rs 8 lakh ex-showroom tag) and leaves the sport biking avenue open for the GSX-R1000. Sources also hint that Suzuki is working on getting a 250cc motorcycle to the Indian market to start off their own performance bike lineup. We hear that there are three bikes scheduled for 2010 and though there is not even the slightest of hint of the third bike, we hope to see the Gixxer 1000 or the monstrous B-King. Fingers crossed!

TVS has emerged strongly in the two-wheeler market in India and is being considered as one of the powerful brands in the country. The reason for this is simple. TVS has been consistently delivering products that are not just strong players among the competition, but also have something really new and innovative to offer. Innovation and quality products took centre stage at the TVS exhibit. The company had a wide range of products on display that included everything from scooters and motorcycles to green concepts and ATV concepts as well as some racing machines.

The Scooty Streak Hybrid did not pull a lot of visitors with its visual prowess, but it definitely packs in the green technology of the future. This Scooty sports a parallel hybrid technology in which the scooter can be ridden either with the help of an internal combustion petrol engine or a battery powered motor or both at the same time. Though the project is still under development, the prototype that we rode was definitely impressive. TVS had put up a concept scooter called the Qube 2.0 which is later on expected to boast of the same technology as the Scooty Streak Hybrid. The other concept shown by TVS was in the form of a four-wheeled monstrous machine that was defined by its radical design and aggressive stance.

An important launch from TVS came in the form of the introduction of ABS on the Apache RTR. Developed in collaboration with the German company, Continental AG, the ABS comes equipped with a Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit that senses and regulates the braking as per the wheel speed of the bike. The rest of the machines showcased by TVS included the recently introduced Wego, the clutchless Jive, the racing RTR 160, the motocross machine RTR 250 FX and the rest of the company’s current lineup in India.

Bajaj disappointed visitors at the Auto Expo to a great extent with a rather drab display of the existing range of motorcycles from their stable, a few Kawasaki Ninja 250Rs and a couple of KTMs. With absolutely no new launches, Bajaj had nothing exciting to offer. In fact, inside sources tell us that the display was a last minute one and the company had no initial plans of putting up a stall the Auto Expo.

Bajaj had shown the Kawasaki Ninja 250R two years ago at the Auto Expo and the bike has now finally made it to the market a few months ago. Not only has the Ninja impressed us to a great extent, but has already started winning accolades from various magazines in the country including the Bike of the Year honour from BIKE India (refer to page 38 for the award’s special feature). KTM bikes have been over due now and there is no concrete information yet about their launch in India. First shown and talked about in the 2008 Auto Expo, the KTMs had left a mighty impression on everyone. Ever since then, enthusiasts have been waiting to lay their hands on these Austrian beauties. We hope to see the KTMs hit the market at least in the first quarter of 2010.

Mahindra got into the two-wheeler business recently and this year’s Auto Expo was the first one for them with respect to scooters and motorcycles. Since the company’s entry in the two-wheeler market, Mahindra has introduced the Rodeo and the Duro. Though both scooters share the same engines, they differ in styling and most importantly in the basic chassis. Mahindra’s two-wheeler portfolio has one more scooter in the form of the Flyte in addition to the Rodeo and the Duro.

While all these three scooters were on display at the Mahindra stall, what grabbed the most attention were the two concept machines showcased by the new player. The radically designed concept scooter definitely talks of modern design theories that Mahindra will be looking forward to implement in their future offerings. However, much more attention was grabbed by the motorcycle on display by Mahindra. Dressed in red and black race fairings, the bike looked like an exact adaptation of a MotoGP machine. Powered by a two-stroke 125cc engine, this concept boasts 54PS of peak power and a top speed of 245km/h. Though quite an over ambitious concept, we hear that Mahindra is definitely developing a performance oriented machine which, unlike the scooters, won’t get the engine from SYM. We are waiting for the promising bike, Mahindra!

The Hero Honda stall at the Auto Expo was reminiscent of their last year’s booth. Exactly like last time, the two-wheeler giant had on display almost their complete range of motorcycles. Without a doubt, Hero Honda is the largest selling motorcycle brand in the country and accounts for a huge range of bikes ranging from the small capacity commuter machines to the high performance sporty bikes. The company’s latest and most premium product, the Karizma ZMR, took centre stage at the Hero Honda booth. Mounted on a revolving ring, the ZMR with its sports tourer styling, attracted visitors. However, no new introductions from Hero Honda disappointed the crowd.

There was a weird and completely unique exhibit at the Hero Honda booth though. A motorcycle made from all the scrap that you might find in the junkyard behind a garage grabbed a lot of attention. The bike was made completely from rusted old scrapped spare parts including nuts, bolts, springs, gears, bearings, gauges, levers, rods, etc. It also included spare parts of bicycles like the pedal, chain sprocket, bell, etc. The junk bike was definitely a piece of art, but we fail to understand the motive behind such an exhibit.


Vibgyor, a Kolkata based motorcycle firm, was present at the Auto Expo with three bikes on display – the Gallop, the Hunter and the Shark. While the 100cc Gallop is already selling in the north-eastern Indian market, the company took this opportunity to introduce their other two new motorcycles.

The Shark, powered by a 150cc motor that pumps out 13.6PS of peak power, is the most powerful bike on offer from Vibgyor and also makes for their premium product. Though the engine seems to be promising, the design and styling of the bike is quite disappointing. Taking styling cues from various Indian motorcycles, the Shark looks more like an amalgamation of different features from various bikes. Even the fit and finish and the quality of materials used are not up to the mark. The second product launched by the Kolkata based manufacturer was the Hunter which comes with a 125cc engine. The company claims that their bike’s positive factor is its pricing. The Gallop is priced as low as Rs 28,999 (ex-showroom, Kolkata) while the Shark retails at Rs 49,990 (ex-showroom, Kolkata).

Vibgyor has a few other products in the pipeline as well including a 100cc scooter called the Persona and a 200cc unnamed motorcycle. The company is looking at expanding its dealerships across North India as of now and will further spread across the nation.

Royal Enfield is upping its game with the introduction of newer technologies in their motorcycles. The Classic 500 stands as a testimony for this. With the incorporation of the Unit Construction Engine or simply the UCE and fuel injection, Royal Enfield is trying to catch up with modern day motorcycles while still maintaining its own persona. This very approach adopted by Royal Enfield was evident at the company’s stall during the Auto Expo with the unveiling of the Café Racer Concept. Apart from carrying a retro aggression in the form of racing number plates at the sides, a classic paint scheme, a bum-stop saddle and chopped fenders, the Café Racer Concept boasts of modern day features like a gas charged suspension, disc brakes, raised footpegs, a megaphone exhaust and even the UCE 500 engine albeit in a higher state of tune. Though the launch of the Café Racer is yet to be decided, company officials say that the bike will hit the international market sometime in 2012, later followed by an Indian debut.

The recently launched Classic 500 now gets two new paint schemes – military green and a combination of chrome and maroon. The bike looks stunning in military green which is sadly available only for the American market. The rest of the models from the Royal Enfield portfolio completed the company’s exhibit.

Demak Motors is a Malaysian based manufacturer of electric vehicles, petrol powered scooters, mopeds and motorycycles. Present for the first time at the Auto Expo, the firm is looking at a tieup with a local company to start selling its range of two-wheelers, barring the electric scooters, later this year. Part of the DNC Asiatic Holdings Sdn. Bhd Group, Demak already manufactures and markets over 20 products in various countries.

In India, the company showcased four products – two scooters and two motorcycles. The dirt bike, named the DMX-R, is powered by a 150cc four-stroke engine and has already won a few awards in local endurance races in Malaysia. The cruiser, christened the Cougar, seems to be a very interesting option for India. It comes with a twin cylinder 250cc four-stroke motor and should be great on open Indian roads.

In the scooters, Demak showcased the modern retro 50cc Rino and the cute 125cc Duta. Both these machines looked chic and sported decent quality panels. However, it remains to be seen how Demak’s product fare in real world conditions in the country.


e-bikes lineup

Ultra Motors
Apart from their complete range of e-bikes, Ultra had a very interesting low rider concept called the Ultra Byke. It even had fake steel exhausts and the battery casings were designed like a V-twin engine.

Hero Electric
Hero launched three new e-bikes at the Expo and also showcased a concept scooter called the Super. They had other future e-project scooters including the cute Photon and the Sunny.

The very popular intelligent energy ENV, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle was displayed at the Expo.

Tara International
The Kolkata based electric vehicle manufacturer had their entire range of e-bikes on display.

Emmel Vheelers
Emmel showcased a variety of e-bikes including the Vee-Way personal transporter and the Vee500, a high performance e-motorcycle with a top speed of upto 55km/h.

BSA Motors

BSA had their full lineup of e-scooters including the new generation Edge and Roamer Able, a scooter for the physically challenged. Also on display was a concept e-bike powered by a 500 Watt motor.

Lohia auto
Lohia Auto was present at the Expo with both its offerings, the Fame as well as the Oma Star. The latter was part of the special subscription prize at the BIKE India stall.

Yo bikes
The Gujarat based manufacturer showcased its most powerful offering, the EXL with a front disc option as well as a cargo scooter version of the Yo Speed, aimed at food joints.

For those not old enough to get a legal driving license or the people looking for an exquisite and premium range of cycles, here is some dope on the various models on display at the Expo

Ralson is now divulging into the field of lifestyle cycles with the introduction of Raleigh’s range of high performing cycles.

Tube Investments that manufactures Hercules and BSA cycles was present at the Expo. Also on display was the Cannondale range of premium cycles.

If not the real motorcycle, you can have the Ducati Monster 900 carbon cycle. Yours for Rs 1,80,000!

The epitome of luxury on four-wheels was also present in various two-wheeled avatars. The Kid’s bike and the sport trekking series were on display.

One of the more famous premium cycle brands in India, FireFox had most of their products on display along with riding gear as well.

MapMyIndia, one of the pioneers in navigation devices in India showcased their entire range of GPS devices. What was new was the introduction of the TrailBlazer, a first of its kind GPS device for motorcycles in India. Priced at Rs 18,990, it comes preloaded with maps for 620 cities and all important highways. Most importantly, it is waterproof and has an in-built FM transmitter.

Continental AG, Germany have developed an ABS (anti-lock braking) system exclusively for the TVS Apache RTR 180. The device works on the front as well as the rear disc brake. Continetal has used the same technology they apply on other bikes overseas, though certain parameters were changed keeping in mind the RTR’s weight distribution. The system also has a lift off valve wherein it releases the front brake for a fraction of a second if it senses the rear wheel lifting off. Further, the ABS system can be switched off manually. Expect this feature to come as an option on the RTR soon.

Hall number six had an interesting little stall put up by the students and faculty members of Pune based DSK International School of Design. They showcased their concept motorcycle called the SUM or Sports Utility Motorcycle. With the Yamaha FZ acting as the base bike, these guys managed to sculpt a very jazzy looking design with interesting bits like a new smaller digital console, LED tail lamps, an underseat exhaust, etc. The SUM is the brainchild of Fabien Rougemont, drawing trainer and prototype manager at DSK and the bike should be ready for a test session next month. Lending a helping hand to Fabien were Makarand Potdar and Sachin Panchal, both final year students and Mukesh Panchal, a clay modeller. For more info on the school, log onto www.dskisd.com

Gul Panag needs no introduction. The famous Bollywood celebrity is well-known among the biking fraternity for her passion and love of motorcycles. In fact, Gul was on the jury panel for the recently held BIKE India (and CAR India) awards and played an important role in the overall analysis for the Motorcycle of the Year award. She was in Delhi to witness the Auto Expo and needless to say, visited the BIKE India stall as well. Gul spent time with the entire team and interacted with avid readers as well. Our stall itself was the best among all the automotive magazines and for good reason. For starters, we had the sexy Audi TT on display and for genuine biking enthusiasts, we had not one but three gorgeous beauties – the world’s fastest production bike, the Suzuki Hayabusa plus one of the most advanced litre-class bikes, the new Yamaha YZF-R1 and last but not the least, the sexy Italian Ducati Streetfighter S! Aaron helmets sponsored two helmets a day for daily winners of our subscription whereas Lohia Auto sponsored the Oma Star to the lucky winner (Rakesh Rajpurohit) of the mega draw.

The Auto Expo isn’t just about two-wheels or four for that matter. It goes without saying that both two wheels and two legs are an attraction for the young at heart and almost every two- wheeler manufacturer had glowing beauties parked, err, standing with their products or at the counter desk. Here is a little compilation from BIKE India as a tribute and salute to these damsels. All of them took the physical, and in Delhi’s case, the mental agony of standing, posing, smiling or simply trying to answer the never ending questions by the crowd. Cheers to these unsung heroines.



Words: Mat Oxley 
Photography: Chippy Wood

From the late 1970s to the early 1990s GP racing was ruled by five riders from the same country. Time to take the ultimate American road trip and visit King Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Freddie Spencer and Kevin Schwantz. In part I of this special series, is the man who started it all: the King.

For a motorcyclist, this is like driving through the gates of Graceland. There’s no Elvis-commissioned ironwork, but the motorcycle sculpture poised above the gates and the National Rifle Association sticker on the entrance keypad tell you all you need to know: this is the home of the King, the most important motorcycle racer in history.

At the end of the half-mile drive is the house where King Kenny Roberts has lived for the past 25 years and the mini racetrack complex where so many world champions have learned and played – from Roberts to Rainey, from Lawson to Kocinski, from Fogarty to Lorenzo.Indoors Roberts is sheltering from a winter storm and taking phone calls from people working on bringing him back to where he belongs: MotoGP. The scale of Roberts’ latest venture is mind-boggling – a long-term budget of several billion dollars (for MotoGP, NASCAR and F1), factory Ducatis and a team Boeing 707 to shuttle hardware between races and a new HQ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where fans will be able watch the bikes being prepped. And the whole deal will be the subject of a TV reality show filmed by Brad Pitt’s production company.

‘Dude, we’ll be on the grid at Doha,’ growls Roberts, whose team last raced MotoGP in 2007. ‘Until then I’ll just play golf or mess around with my motorcycles.’Roberts, who will be 60 next year, has always thought big. It’s what’s allowed him to accomplish a unique number of achievements: twice Grand National dirt champ, knee-down pioneer, three-time 500 king, fighter for riders’ rights, championship-winning team owner and motorcycle manufacturer.

Think on this: when Roberts won the 500 crown at his first attempt in 1978 he started the season contesting the 250, 500 and F750 world championships, which would be like Ben Spies doing Moto2, MotoGP and World Superbike in his rookie international season. He won his second 500 title in 1979 after breaking his back during preseason testing. Oh, and he’s only got one testicle (the legacy of a motocross accident) and he’s got a bullet in his left leg (hunting mishap). We’re talking old school hard man.

Roberts’ success on 500s fronted a wave of American talent that ruled GP racing on and off for more than two decades: Spencer, Lawson, Rainey, Schwantz, John Kocinski and Kenny Roberts Junior all followed in the King’s slipstream.

After Roberts packed up riding in 1983 he created GP racing’s first super team and guided Marlboro Team Roberts rider Rainey to three 500 world championships. And when he tired of racing factory Yamahas he built his own motorcycles from the crankshaft up. His Proton KR3 two-stroke 500 triple was good enough to beat Valentino Rossi to pole position at Phillip Island in 2002, though his Proton V5 MotoGP four-stroke wasn’t so brilliant.

There’s little evidence of Roberts’ stellar successes inside his house. There’s tarnished old racing trophies for doorstops, a V5 crankshaft for a toilet roll holder (‘About all that thing’s good for!’), a couple of guns and a hunting dog that bounds about with excited anticipation whenever Kenny handles his shotgun.

Behind the house it’s a different story. Walk past the hot tub and the wine cellar and you enter the King’s ‘man cave’ – a workshop full of every kind of motorcycle in every stage of disarray – from dirt trackers to motocrossers, from roadracers to road bikes, including an original RD350LC in Yamaha US yellow with no engine. ‘When Yamaha gave me that my manager said “Kenny, that motorcycle must never be used”, but I lent some racer the engine and it never came back.’ There’s also a lathe, a milling machine, some welding kit and faded posters of long-ago glories.

These days Kenny spends a lot of time here, fixing and spannering, welding and hammering. ‘I’m a motorcycle guy who builds motorcycles. Kids keep wrecking them and I keep building them.’

Current project is a bizarre mini-roadracer – a CR450 motocross motor in an aluminium roadrace frame (drawn on Kenny’s drafting board and welded together by the man himself) with minibike wheels. Kenny doesn’t really seem to know what he’s going to do with this one, but that’s not really the point. He’s having fun fiddling and fettling. ‘Next I want to build my own dirt track motor.’

Behind the ‘man cave’ is another building – Kenny’s museum, packed with Grand National and world title winners, at least a dozen homemade Proton and Modenas GP bikes and an Aladdin’s cave of high-end grand prix ‘auto jumble’ – factory YZR engines, racks crammed with all kinds of aluminium chassis, acres of carbon-fibre bodywork, dusty old leathers and piles of dirt trackers’ steel shoes.

Outside there’s dirt track ovals, motocross courses and a mini roadrace track around which Roberts and his disciples would ride, honing their ability to open the throttle faster than anyone in the world. ‘When Wayne was hitting it hard we would ride from sun up to sun down, every day.’ No wonder Rainey went on to emulate his mentor’s 500 title hat-trick.

Just across from the hot tub is what can only be described as a GP racers’ vegetable patch. There’s a chicken wire cage protecting half a dozen old Team Roberts flight cases, with tomatoes growing inside.

Back indoors is another ‘activities’ room. More chaos: old helmets, golf clubs (Roberts is an ace golfer, he made the cut in last year’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am), an artist’s easel, a half-finished oil painting. Who’d have thought this hard-man racer was an artist? ‘When you paint, everything else goes; it’s like taking a ride up into the mountains on your motorcycle. If you’re pent up, it makes it a different day.’

Roberts’ ranch is a two-hour ride from the fleshpots of San Francisco. This isn’t California Girls or Gangster Paradise country, it’s farming land – almond trees and cattle all the way to the Sierra mountains where Roberts buys his wine from micro-wineries. ‘Finding some American wines I like was a big relief, because I was always afraid I was going to run out of the stuff I brought back from Europe.’

The King was born just down the road in Modesto, where his parents and grandparents settled after escaping the Midwest dustbowls of the 1930s depression.

He started riding bikes by chance, aged 12. ‘I was training horses, I was going to be a cowboy. These people I worked for in Modesto bought their kids this minibike with a lawnmower engine. I go to feed the horses one day, they say “Kenny, ride the bike”, I say “no, don’t want to”. They say “you’re a baby, you’re a chicken”. ‘No, I’m not chicken, I just don’t want to ride it.” “You’re a chicken”. Okay, so I rode the minibike. Scared the shit out of me, so I had to have one.’

Doing things the hard way, taking the tough option has always appealed. ‘All through my career I’ve tended to stack more on my plate than I needed. If someone says I can’t do something, then I have to do it.’

It was the same when the rookie roadracer started hanging off, getting his knee down and rear-wheel steering in the early 1970s. His mentor Kel Carruthers told him he was insane. Within years everyone was doing it.

And it was the same when he came to Europe and started agitating for riders’ rights. ‘We were treated like monkeys. The tracks were dangerous and we got ripped off. If we complained, they told us “shut up or we’ll pull your licence and you won’t be able to race”.’ Roberts’ breakaway championship, World Series, never happened but it shocked the racing establishment into treating riders right.

Over the years he has been just as much of a technical maverick. Team Roberts was the first outfit to use carbon brakes and the first to make serious use of datalogging. When Yamaha dragged their feet on development he went and built his own GP bikes.

‘I’ve got this disease which makes me want to do everything myself. I can get stuff done right by someone else but I want to do it myself. Yamaha were giving me a hard time, so I walked.’

He thinks this attitude might have something to do with aggression – he’s always had a big fire in his belly. ‘I was pretty aggressive when I was a kid. I used to get into fights a lot, I was always in trouble.

‘I wasn’t at school much. I have dyslexia, so when I left high school I couldn’t read or write nothing. When I was 19 and Yamaha threw my first contract in front of me, I was, like, what do I do with this?’

He may not be very literate but Roberts has fierce intelligence. He brought a new level of technique and analysis to the sport. ‘If someone went through a corner faster than me I would have to analyse that: why was he faster? There has to be a reason. Putting it all together intrigues me.’

That ability to look at things and understand what needs to be done helped him become GP racing’s first big shot team boss. Back in the 1990s he was running an outfit with a budget of $18 million, not bad for a kid who could hardly read or write.

1969 Starts dirt track aged 13
1970 US national novice champion
1971 US national junior champion
1972 4th US national expert championship (Yamaha)
1973 US Grand National champion (Yamaha)
1974 US Grand National champion (Yamaha)
1975 2nd US Grand National championship (Yamaha)
1976 3rd US Grand National championship (Yamaha)
1977 4th US Grand National championship (Yamaha)
1978 500 world champion (Yamaha)
1979 500 world champion (Yamaha)
1980 500 world champion (Yamaha)
1981 3rd 500 world championship (Yamaha)
1982 4th 500 world championship (Yamaha)
1983 2nd 500 world championship (Yamaha)
1990 Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha
Wayne Rainey, 500 world champion
John Kocinski, 250 world champion
1991 Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha
Wayne Rainey, 500 world champion
1992 Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha
Wayne Rainey, 500 world champion

Roberts has never been able to back down. That’s why he accepted an invitation to ride his infamous TZ750 dirt tracker at the Indy Mile during last year’s Indianapolis MotoGP weekend. The Tee Zee Miler is the bike upon which the King won (in his opinion) his greatest victory, at Indy in 1975. It is arguably the most evil piece of over-powered machinery ever created – 120 horsepower, dirt tyres, no front brake.

‘I hadn’t ridden a bike for at least a year, so I can tell you I had some sleepless nights.’ And yet when he got to Indy he didn’t even practice, ‘because I wanted people to see it full throttle and go “wow!”. I didn’t build my career the way I did to ride around waving to the crowd.’

His WFO ride left the crowd – including Valentino Rossi – dumbfounded. ‘Once I kicked into turn one and got it sideways then I was okay. Obviously I can go sideways till I die…’

You get the feeling that’s exactly what he will do. Aged 58, Roberts is as far as he’s ever been from hanging up his steel shoe and kicking back on the porch. As we get ready to leave and hit the road to Wayne Rainey’s home in Monterey, we push him for more details about this 2010 MotoGP deal. ‘I could tell ya,’ he says, helpfully. ‘But then I’d have to kill ya.’ And judging by the way he handles that shotgun, he may not be joking.

King Kenny Roberts has always liked a drink, so he can be a dangerous man to know on Sunday nights

‘I got drunk after I’d won the first 500 GP of 1980 in Italy. They were giving me champagne at the track and I rode to the hotel on the luggage rack on top of the car. The guys tried to get me off the roof but they couldn’t. I ended up eating at the hotel, with Randy [Mamola] and some other guys. There were these English journalists, eating at a corner table. They’d really pissed me off because they wrote all the wrong stuff about my World Series thing. I remember telling those guys: “if you ever do that again, I’m not going to get a lawyer, I’m not going to sue you, I’m going to kick your ass”. Boy, were they nervous, they were shitting bricks. So we’re in the hotel dining room and I shout to them: “you guys want some champagne?” “Oh yeah, thanks, Kenny!”. So I throw this bottle, it goes flying across the room and smashes against their table and the wall. All of a sudden they were eating so fast, trying to get out of there. Then I say: “you guys want some more champagne?”. “Oh no, no thanks Kenny!” I never got along with the British press, I wasn’t diplomatic back then.’