A day with the 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT

Ever encountered an off-roader without a foot shifter? Or one without a clutch lever?

The foot shifter is not present on the DCT version of the 2018 Honda Africa Twin, but an optional accessory!!

With the Africa Twin DCT-version, Honda has ventured into new territory, challenging the dogma of an off-roader. While the concept of riding an automatic motorcycle sounds boring, there is enough juice (89ps) and loads of brilliant electronics that engage the rider making it fun to putter around traffic, tarmac and hit the trails with gusto.

2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT Riding Experience in India

2018 Honda Africa Twin – DCT version – best experienced without the front screen!!

How does it feel to ride a DCT?

DCT stands for Dual Clutch Transmission, an automatic transmission technology that Honda first introduced in the 2009 VFR1200F, that has now tricked down to a variety of Honda motorcycles such as NC700/750 series, VFR1200 series, CTX700 series followed by the CRF1000L aka the Africa Twin.

On the Africa Twin, power from the engine to the final chain drive is transmitted via Drive (D) and 3 Sports (S) modes. There is a switch on the right-side switch gear to bring the motorcycle into Neutral (N).

City Riding:

In our congested cities, the DCT in D-mode is a bliss to ride akin to an automatic scooter, shifting is smooth and the transmission showed no signs of jerky/sloppy starts even upon riding all day along.

The gear choice in D-mode isn’t what I’d go with, but obviously the motorcycle never reaches the point of stalling with a too high gear or lurch by going too low. The Sports mode does the trick for spirited riding and tackling corners – allowing to hold the revs long enough.

Tackling the pothole laden city roads never seemed so much fun 😀

Off-Roading:

This is where the Africa Twin has been projected to shine – and it does with flair!! courtesy a controlled chassis pitch (a clever electronics system that controls chassis pitch upon closing the throttle by injecting a small/calculated amount of fuel into the cylinders to offset compression braking) and a beautifully tuned stock suspension.

The tank is narrow, so the bike feels thin, comfortable & inspires confidence to ride when sitting down or standing up.

Standing up & riding is simplified on the DCT with the gear-shift buttons, instead of hunting for the shift lever [eliminates the accidental down-shifts while standing up :D] and other body position shenanigans!!

The normal motorcyclist in me was constantly reaching out for the clutch-lever, which is actually a parking-brake lever 😛 [used to hold the bike on an incline].

Joy of off roading on a 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT in India

Yeah I can go here as well 😀

Proud Owner of 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT in India

NFS – proud owner of the AT and always happy to pose 🙂

Final Verdict:

Oodles of mid-range power, a healthy tank range of 350 kms, plush suspension to tackle all terrains, acres of space to tie luggage coupled with a DCT, a refreshing feature that – once you get used to, makes riding a bit more – simple, allows you to soak up the scenery and focus on the road.

While purists would disagree & may call this being lazy – I strongly urge them to ride the DCT-version of the Africa Twin to understand.

Riding a 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT, 2016 Triumph Thruxton R and 2017 Ducati Multistrada Enduro in India

Great bunch of guys to ride with and their delicious steeds 🙂

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Selvi Mess Salem

Selvi mess is so synonymous with food in Salem these days, its disrespectful to not stop by for a meal !! (unless you are a pure vegetarian).

Started 35 years ago, Selvi Mess attracts locals and visitors with the promise of simple, delicious Chettinad cuisine (the traditional cuisine of Tamil Nadu’s Chettiar community, which is pre-dominantly spicy and meat/sea-food driven) dishing out a gastronomic experience via their biryani, white rice based full-meals, chicken/mutton/fish/prawns-based side dishes that complement the biryani or meals along with great hospitality.

Chicken Biryani at Selvi Mess Salem

Delicious  Chicken Biryani

What to Eat:

While we couldn’t cover the full spread, here are the must-eats:

Biryani (Chicken or Mutton):
Made with short-grained rice and meat-pieces, the biryani is an explosion of flavours, but spiced mildly. Its served with tomato & kathrikkai (brinjal) dalcha , raitha, Kari Kuzhambu (mutton gravy) or Koli Kuzhambu (chicken gravy).

Meals (Veg or Non-Veg):
The Veg meals comprise of white rice, sambar, rasam, more (spiced buttermilk), tomato & kathrikkai (brinjal) dalcha along with pickles.
Kari Kuzhambu (mutton gravy) or Koli Kuzhambu (chicken gravy) are served with white rice in the non-veg meals.

Chilli Fish:
The perfect side-dish with a meal 😀 Served with lemon and onions, chilli fish is a deep fried dish made with boneless chunks of Nei Meen aka seer fish marinated with spices.

Ride to Selvi Mess - Near Dharmapuri Ghat -NH 44 on a Triumph Daytona 675R

Enroute Selvi Mess – fantastic road to a delicious meal 🙂

Useful Information on Selvi Mess, Salem:

  • Location: Selvi Mess, Opposite New Bus Stand, Swarnapuri, Salem – link to Google Maps
    While the above location is the main branch, Selvi Mess has 4 branches across Salem town:

    • Selvi Mess, Opp. Town Railway Station, Sivasami Street, Salem
    • Selvi Mess, Cherry Road, Hasthampatty, Salem
    • Selvi Mess, Attur Main Road, Seelanaickanpatty Byepass, Salem
    • Selvi Food Mania, Manivannan Road,new bustand, Salem [Selvi Food Mania, is the up-market AC version, serving the same food]
  • Cash-only, no cards are accepted
  • Parking for motorcycles, no dedicated parking for cars
  • Timings: 10:30 AM – 11 PM (Open all days of the week)
Selvi Mess Opposite Old Bus Stand Salem

Selvi Mess Opposite Old Bus Stand Salem

Awesome places around Bengaluru to shoot motorcycles

Bengaluru is blessed with beautiful terrains that make the perfect backdrop to shoot a motorcycle. Here are my favorite set of places around Bengaluru to take awesome motorcycle photographs:

1) Nelligudde kere
Orientation: Bidadi – Ganakallu Road [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 25 kms
Where to eat: Renukamba Thatte Idly Bidadi

Bidadi Ganakallu Road - At Nelligudde kere Karnataka

Bidadi Ganakallu Road – At Nelligudde kere

2) Harohalli
Orientation: off pyramid valley international centre, Kanakapura Road [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 37 kms
Where to eat: Vasu Hotel, Kanakapura

Kawasaki Versys 650 basking in morning glory - Pyramid Valley International Harohalli Kanakapura Road

Basking in the Morning Glory 🙂

[Image Credit – Nishanth N – Follow his Versys Adventures on Insta]

3) NICE Road – clover leaf
Orientation: look for an uphill road near the clover leaf [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 20 kms
Where to eat: Cafe down the alley, Dwarka Nagar ( off the nice road toll booth)

2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R - Long Term Review

Off NICE Road – Clover Leaf [Shot during the sunset]

4) Bangalore – Hassan highway
Orientation: Yadiyur [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 105 kms
Where to eat: Shark Food Court, Kannasandra

NH75 - Bangalore to Hassan Highway on a KTM Duke 390

An otherwise boring offers beautiful skies [shot during a sunrise]

5) Manchanabele dam
Orientation: reach Manchanabele via Ganakallu [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 40 kms
Where to eat: Renukamba Thatte Idly Bidadi

Yamaha YZF-R3 at Manchanabele Dam Karnataka

Manchanabele Dam – beautiful all along 🙂

6) Ragihalli
Orientation: Ragihalli forest near Bannerghatta [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 50 kms
Where to eat: Hotel Prasanna Kaggalipura

Exploring Ragihalli Forest near Bannerghatta Bangalore

Brilliant Forest Road !!

What are your favorite places to shoot motorcycle pics ?

Feel free to comment 🙂

Diesel Cafe Mangalore [All Day Breakfast]

While the popularity & number of places serving traditional Mangalorean cuisine continues to grow in Mangalore, a new crop of cafes catering to the cosmopolitan folks of the city are on the rise – one café that stands out among them is Diesel Café, located on Balmatta road.

While Diesel Café started way back in 2004, it has been revived to bring in additional cuisines and a new look. Diesel Café is the go-to all-day breakfast place in Mangalore to savor pancakes, waffles, English breakfast and delicious coffee.

Sharabi Banana Pancakes + Baked Chicken Feast (Mains) and Cafe Mocha at Diesel Cafe Balmatta Road Mangalore

[From L to R] Sharabi Banana Pancakes, Baked Chicken Feast – Mains and Cafe Mocha at Diesel Cafe

What to eat ?

  • Sharabi Banana Pancake – pancakes with banana toffee cream laced with Old Monk Rum!!
  • Cafe Mocha – regular mocha and it was delicious !!
  • Baked Chicken Feast (Non-Veg – Mains) – cheesy baked dish chicken, sausages and bell-peppers ( loved it!!)

Useful Information:

  • Some items on the menu are available during specific times of the day – so read with concentration 😛
  • Special Menu: Ask for the special menu – its not available throughout the year, but they run events such as International Waffles & Pancakes festival offering food beyond their regular menu
  • It gets crowded on weekends, so spend the waiting time deciding what to eat. The service is a bit-slow, but then good food takes time – order a good set of French fries laced with Sriracha mayo (the fastest thing served :D) to calm down the hunger pangs!!
  • Cash and cards are accepted
  • Parking: No dedicated parking, plenty of bylanes to park motorcycles and cars
  • Timings: Open all days of the week – 7:30 AM to 11:30 PM
  • Location: Diesel Cafe, Balmatta Road, Mangalore [Link to Google Maps]
Cafe Mocha at Diesel Cafe Balmatta Road Mangalore

Cafe Mocha at Diesel Cafe – Deliciousness!!

Best Street Foods of Gurugram

Driven by the polished blue-collar corporates, a thriving stream of migrants in search of avenues and it’s true-blue locals – the street food in Gurugram is witnessing an explosion of flavours unlike any other city.

Here is ode to the delicious, pocket-friendly and fairly unique street foods near DLF Phase 3 Gurugram:

Tandoori momos:

Hats off to whoever conceptualized adding momos with masala inside a tandoor – absolute deliciousness!!

Where: The Hunger ‘s Paradise, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Tandoori Momos at The Hungers Paradise DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Tandoori Momos at The Hungers Paradise

Dabeli and Vada Pav:

Served here are bang-on taste to the famous ones in Maharashtra.

Where: Anil Bombay ki Mashoor, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Dabeli at Anil Bombay ki Mashoor DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Dabeli at Anil Bombay ki Mashoor

Litti chokha:

While this traces its origins to Jharkhand, Bihar and Eastern UP, the outlet here is run by a Bihari and tastes as authentic as the ones in East-Central India.

Where: Puja Purvanchal Litti Bhandar, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Litti Chokha at Puja Purvanchal Litti Bhandar DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Litti Chokha at Puja Purvanchal Litti Bhandar

Ferrero rocher shake and Alphonso mango shake:

How could the best Ferrero Rocher shake be found in an small outlet !! Loaded with calories, the shakes here are very addictive!!

Where: Made with More, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Ferrero Rocher Shake & Alphonso Mango Shake at Made with Love DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Ferrero Rocher Shake & Alphonso Mango Shake at Made with Love

Chicken lababdar roll & Soya Kebab Combo:

Delicious meat rolls and combos (served with laccha parathas, chutney,sauce and respective kebab). They fill your stomach with deliciousness.

Where: Rolls Royce, U Block, DLF Phase 3, Gurugram

Soya Kebab Combo at Rolls Royce DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Soya Kebab Combo at Rolls Royce

Chili Butter Veg Masala Patties Puff:

Never thought a puff could be elevated to such levels!! About 30 varieties of stuffings inside a puff.

Where: The Patties Junction, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Chili Butter Veg Masala Patties Puff at The Patties Junction DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Chili Butter Veg Masala Patties Puff at The Patties Junction

Suji wale Chole Kulche:

Suji-based bread served with delicious chole, onions and lime, very interesting and yumm.

Where: Ajay Yadav ji ke chole kulche, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Chole with Suji-wale kulche at DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Chole with Suji-wale kulche

Chicken Rara with Paratha:

Tenderly cooked chicken in gravy with laccha parathas. Lip-smacking!!

Where: Royal Dhaba, DLF Phase 3,  Gurugram

Chicken Rara with Paratha at Royal Dhaba DLF Phase 3 Gurugram

Chicken Rara with Paratha at Royal Dhaba

Useful Information while trying the street foods in Gurugram:

  • All these places accept only cash and wallet currency such as Paytm
  • Timings : open throughout the day ( from 8 am to 11 pm – timings vary slightly from shop-to-shop however)
  • No place to sit and eat
  • Avoid taking the car – No place to park (motorcycles can be managed)
  • The place is crowded, be prepared to hustle around and get your order
  • All the above places are near the DLF Phase 3 metro station
  • All the above places are on Swiggy

The above street foods aren’t complete with a good dose of masala kullad chai and some delicious pakoras!!

Best Strawberry Desserts in Bengaluru

Strawberry is by-far the most popular ‘berry’ used in desserts. In-fact next-to/on-par with mangoes, strawberry festivals are celebrated across the world and in India at Mahabaleshwar.

Here is my pick of must-try fresh strawberry desserts in Bengaluru:

1) Strawberry Sundae:

Although strawberries taste best with ice-cream, the Gelato takes it to an entirely different level.

Where: Milano Icecream, Indiranagar

Strawberry Sundae at Milano Icecreams Indiranagar Bengaluru

Strawberry Sundae at Milano Icecreams Indiranagar

2) Strawberry Lassi:

A big dollop of thick curd blended with fresh strawberries – never did a lassi taste so delicious!!

Where: Sreeraj Lassi Bar (all outlets in Bengaluru)

Strawberry Lassi at Sreeraj Lassi bar Bengaluru

Strawberry Lassi at Sreeraj Lassi Bar

3) Fresh Strawberries with Nutella:

The purest form of consuming a strawberry!! Dip one in a jar of Nutella and get lost in yumminess!!

Where: Anywhere with good company 🙂

Strawberries with Nutella at Strawberry Festival Mahabaleshwar

Strawberries with Nutella

4) Pancakes with Fresh Strawberries and Cream:

Delicious pancakes served with whipped cream, maple syrup and loads of strawberries – A breakfast date done right!!

Where: The Hole in the Wall Café, Koramangala

Pancakes with strawberries and cream at The Hole in the Wall Cafe Koramangala Bengaluru

Pancakes with strawberries and cream at The Hole in the Wall Cafe Koramangala

5) Chocolate Pizza with Strawberries & Bananas:

God bless the soul who created this combo!! Chopped strawberries with bananas on a chocolate pizza – it doesn’t get better than this!!

Where: Onesta (all outlets in Bengaluru)

Chocolate pizza with chopped strawberries at Onesta Bangalore

Chocolate pizza with strawberries & banana at Onesta

6) Around the world berry –Bubble waffles with Nutella and Strawberry:

Delicious is an understatement – do not miss this if you love waffles, nutella and strawberries 🙂

Where: Belgain Waffle Factory, near Brigade road

Around the World Berry - Bubble Waffles at Belgian Waffle Factory Brigade road Bangalore

Bubble Waffles at Belgian Waffle Factory

Good to know: I highly recommend checking with the above restaurants on the availability of strawberries before-hand, since they are seasonal.

Have a berry-good day 🙂 🙂

A day with the 2016 Triumph Thruxton R

Being a super-sport enthusiast, a retro styled cafe racer was always a treat to the eyes, but never to ride – the Triumph Thruxton R shattered such opinions and how!!

Blessed with the goodies to rival performance nakeds, the Triumph Thruxton R boasts of fully adjustable Showa Big Piston Fork at the front and Ohlins at the rear , Pirelli’s diablo corsa tyres, ride-by-wire tech, 3 riding modes ( Road, Rain and Sport), Traction control, ABS (which can be turned off at the rear wheel) and not to forget a lighter crank 96 bhp engine based on the Bonneville T120.

Living with a 2016 Triumph Thruxton R in India

Such a looker!!

City commute: 
The delicious scoop of torque at the low-to-mid RPMs mated makes this a confortable motorcycle to putter around town.

Touring:
With a tank-range of 200-230 kms and a not-so aggressive riding position, the Thruxton R’s touring abilities shine on good and broken Tarmac. But, can handle bad roads courtesy the fully adjustable suspension.

Where the Thruxton R lacks is the ability to carry luggage , being a single seater.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R - Long term review in India

Neat Blend of Style and Performance

Things I love about the Thruxton R:

  • Suspension: Our varied road conditions and the notion of ‘one motorcycle that should do everything from touring to commuting to corner-carving etc’ can only be justified with fully adjustable suspension that can handle all !! The Showa and Ohlins combo do a fabulous job at fostering traction to the wheels at all times
  • Seat: the suede-seat is super comfortable without compromising the looks
  • Handling: being a retro-styled cafe racer, I didn’t expect corner-carving abilities, but the suspension and chassis come together beautifully to handle any inputs to change the direction
  • Looks: From the beautiful Monza-styled fuel tank cap to fuel injectors designed to look-like the old Amal carbs – this is the motorcycle to impress your tinder date !!
Monza styled fuel tank for 2016 Triumph Thruxton R

Gorgeous fuel tank with the Monza styled fuel cap 

2016 Triumph Thruxton R

All the right bells & whistles!!

Things I didn’t like:

  • Side stand: getting that side stand on/off with a street riding boot is an absolute pain – not much leverage 😦
  • Bar-end Mirrors: look stylish but offer nil visibility
  • Wind blast: very evident at speeds above 100kmph

The Triumph Thruxton R is a very relaxed and lovely motorcycle to ride – offering an incredible blend of style with performance and  built to turn heads on the road.