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Monday, December 20, 2010

The one that started it all...

Handwritten behind this photograph, "With my savings, I have purchased my dream motorcycle - 1964"

This is the bike that started it all - my dad's Jawa 250 model 353 (he  named her Betsy) that he bought brand new back in 1964 from the Nagpur military canteen. Why a Jawa, I once asked him. All he said was that he never fancied scooters, the Rajdoot was too cheap and the Bullet was too bloody expensive. He bought the Jawa for the princely sum of Rs 3000. Back then, a tank full of petrol would cost you a hefty Rs 5. He spent 15 bucks getting the bike to Bombay.

Dad, mom and Betsy, back in the day.

 He met a certain woman, fell in love and terrorised her neighbourhood with the din that only a Jawa can pull off. He later married her and I call her mom.

My brother was born after a few years and I followed six years later. I learned to ride on the Jawa in the 5th grade, strictly in the compound under my dad's watchful eye. My legs didn't reach the ground and so dad would stand in one corner, ready to catch the bike as I approached. If it was a special day, he'd turn the bike around and let me loose again. That almost always happened, though.
Betsy, as she stands today and still very much the stunner that she started out being.

The Jawa, ah, the Jawa still lives with us. I may have ridden a handful of motorcycles in my existence till date and owned a couple of them too. But there is never going to be a motorcycle that makes me smile more than dad's Jawa named Betsy. I secretly wonder if dad loves Betsy more than me. I wouldn't blame him if he did.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bad blood..

Yellow Fever made her debut ride about town today and we were promptly carted off to the police station by, er the police. Figures having a handwritten numberplate won't cut it these days and the cops generally don't take chances with blokes on RXs or just RXs themselves. Apparently, at least that's what the gallant men in uniform had to say, there are a lot of sods who ride these things about these days, snatching chains from pregnant women and such. Okay, I made up the pregnant part but anyway..

I feel like a total bad-ass now and I'm sure the little Yam's notoriety is only going to go up. She's running great, just lost the stand spring when I hit a series of bumps the great care-takers of my city seem to have fucking forgotten about. She's running a tad lean but that's just a matter of fine tuning. I'd like to lower the headlight brackets to give her a meaner look but all of that in due time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flat line.

There's a fine line that defines a truely gorgeous motorcycle from a hideous one. And this one, unfortunately, over stepped that line by a billion miles. What you see before you is Royal Enfield's iteration (based on the EFI Electra sold abroad) of the now-in-fashion flat tracker movement - a phenomenon that's just taken forward from where cafe racers left off.

I don't know who they hired for the job, but I'm willing to bet my nads that the guy thinks a flat tracker is a non-endowed stalker. I commend the good folk at the Madras factory for trying something new with such an iconic machine, but in my opinion, this just does not cut it with me.

Think flat tracker and what comes to mind is the venerable Harley-Davidson XR 750. Definitely not this thing. Don't get me wrong, I really am a huge Royal Enfield fan and I love my Bullet to death. However, this lump of metal, nahhhh.

I like the tail end of the motorcycle but when that seat section reaches the tank, the disaster begins. Truth be told, I opine that the tail is a tad too high but I'm guessing that is because the good folk in the Madras factory didn't want to tweak the frame rail ends - economics, I reckon. 

The tank is too round for the angular rear and the front end is as disproportionate as a politician's income. The head light is too large, the mudguard too conservative and don't get me started on the cheesy 'Fury' emblazoned on the flanks. Heck even Stevie Wonder would agree that the font is too bloody garish and oversized and just doesn't blend in with the rest of the bike. It really does look like an after thought.

Oh, and as if it makes up for the rest, the bike will be priced at 5,795 pounds in the UK, sport a digital instrument cluster and twin silencers. That just makes this contraption twice as bad.

Photo source - - one of the best websites dealing with news about anything two wheeled! Thanks fellas and keep it real!

When more power isn't really a good thing.

There's been a delay in my rants for a while but that's simply the outcome of my life engulfing me. Sometimes, it just takes over and I tend to ride through it, hands clenched firmly on the shakey bars. But now, a few miles stolen in the night on my AJS, I'm back to normalcy.

I've been wondering, so how fucking good are these superbikes that everybody seems to be drooling over. Yeah, they go like the blazes and stop before you even thought of slowing down. They handle like an extension of your body and their lines, at least some of them, can get my blood flowing well down south.

But how happy is a 150-plus bhp machine that is being subjected to a cruel lifetime of urban city commuting - a dark place where top speeds can achieve a blistering 50 kph and in all probability, leaving the top three cogs in the gearbox spanking new due to disuse - be and I shudder to think of the thrill that is to be had while crawling around with 200-odd kg between your legs.

In my humble opinion, I'd rather ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow. Doing a tonne on a B31 gets my jollies much more than doing the same pace on a motorcycle powered by a nuclear reactor. And my fascination for cleaning up the mess that ensues - oil grime and tightening the odd fastener - just makes the whole deal a lot more intimate.

Funny because it appears that people like me do not constitute the majority of the avid motorcycling fraternity, but that doesn't count for squat, right?