Friday, 25 October 2013

Rider Ramble #1

It’s the age old practice of two types of riders locking horns. One looks to get from traffic signal to traffic signal fast enough to make you believe he teleported, while the other is the rider who chooses odometer over speedometer. It’s low end torque delivery VS quick speed delivery and at least in India, people rarely look at the difference between the two types of motorcycle when they want to buy one. It is the reason why you can spot questions like “I have a budget of up to Rs. 1.8 lakh and am confused between the KTM Duke 200 and Royal Enfield Classic 500..”

The KTM is a short stroke, 0-60 marvel that can zip through traffic, pull off a stunt or ten and max out on the highways before you take your first smoke break. The Royal Enfield is a long stroke British Classic Tourer that can go on and on for kilometers before the rider loses sensation in his rear end. Despite both motorcycles being worlds apart, they land up getting compared because around here the price decides the segmentation rather that the technical specifications. The average rider profile will paint you a picture that will make you understand the buyer’s lifestyle. Most likely a college student or office goer who looks to hit the open roads every weekend or month end. Seeing how the true potential of either category of motorcycle is never done justice in the city, the question arises. Should you buy a street/sports bike or a cruiser? The more experienced riders will find this question laughable, but a few visits to buyer advice sections of magazines or forums will tell you that this confusion is prevalent.

Here’s summing up the basics that may help make an informed decision.


Longer stroke motorcycles that both accelerate and decelerate slowly. They have high torque delivery at low rpms making down-shifting a rarity. The problem is that they won’t be as agile as a street/sports bike. Zipping through traffic will take a little more effort. These bikes are generally more comfortable as they are meant for long distances as opposed to rapid acceleration. They are also good to manage in city. The more relaxed riding position also reduced your risk of back problems. If you are the guy who likes to go the distance as opposed to the 100km bullion run, go in for this category.


This is obviously the high selling category. Pulsar, Apache, Karizma, FZ, R15 are the household names. They’re fast, agile, zippy and manage a reasonable fuel economy. They’re also perfect for the quick spin to the closest tourist attraction. Short gear ratios result in fast acceleration, but also in a need for more frequent shifting. Motorcycles like the Honda CBR 250r require downshifting very often making it hard to manage in heavy traffic conditions and it does take some time getting used to. The best part about this category is the fact that you have a plethora of options. The variations within brands are so many that you’d be spoiled for choice.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about entry level cruisers. Bajaj has the Avenger and Royal Enfield has its entire range. Any other cruiser is either from a high end brand or was discontinued, case in point being the Enticer and Eliminator. This is the reason why Royal Enfield, a brand famous for manufacturing defects and high maintenance costs has managed to be the dominator in the cruiser/tourer range. Yes, it does have the legend status, but they are far from famous for their reliability. A want for long distance motorcycles with the lack of options narrows down the vehicles purchased.

These are just some thoughts I typed out after general observations. There are a lot more factors that go into the decision of buying a motorcycle. Use your best judgment, understand what kind of riding you will have and what type of rider you are and above all, never look back after you made the purchase.

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