2022 Honda CB300R Ride Review in India

A day with the 2022 Honda CB300R

Inheriting the design-cues from its elder, powerful siblings the CB1000R and CB650R, the 2022 Honda CB300R flaunts a ‘neo sports cafe‘ look that translates into a compact and elegant looking motorcycle.

Astride the motorcycle, the 2022 Honda CB300R evokes one feeling – “Spirited and Agile”. 😍

It is incredibly peppy to ride, raring to pop a wheelie but not edgy like the KTM.

A sweet 30bhp single-cylinder engine mated to a crisp 6-speed gearbox equipped with an assist and slipper clutch wrapped in a compact frame, makes it a nimble motorcycle to flick in and out of traffic and on winding roads.

Living with a 2022 Honda CB300R in India
Love the headlight ❤️

City Riding:

It is a smooth operator in the city – the smooth, linear power delivery with no jerky throttle, light clutch, comfortable suspension, neutral riding position – deliver a peaceful and good riding experience in the city.

Highway Riding:

This 30-bhp single doesn’t feel short charged on the highway. It can cruise at 100-120kmph all the day and has enough punch left to make an overtake.

Pillion comfort:

While the pillion seat is flat, it has very little space (especially when a medium-heavy built rider is at front) + the rear foot-pegs are higher, making it uncomfortable for long rides.

City commute with pillion is manageable for short distances.

2022 Honda CB300R First Ride Review and Impressions
Styling: notice the beautifully crafted exhaust pipe 😊

Luggage Options:

The plastic fuel tank rules out mounting a magnetic tank bag. However a Kriega tank adapter can help mount a Kriega US-5, US-10 bags at the front.

Rear luggage options are plenty – tail-bags, saddle-bags can be mounted.

How does the CB300R fare with short riders?

With a seat-height of 801mm, anyone above 5’2 – 5’3 would be able to flat-foot the motorcycle.

Is the CB300R women friendly ?

Being a compact, lightweight, smooth motorcycle with reasonable seat height, the 2022 Honda CB300R is sure to be a hit with the women riders.

2022 Honda CB300R - Women friendly motorcycle in India
Should be a comfortable motorcycle for women riders!!

Mileage and Full-tank Range:

The CB300R comes with a small fuel tank with a full-tank capacity of 9.7 litres.

  • City Mileage: 25-28 kmpl
  • Highway Mileage: 30-33 kmpl
  • Real-world full tank range: 200kms

Suspension:

The overall suspension setup is good, but towards stiffer/sporty side – enables the CB300R to corner well and hold the line. Mind you, it is not uncomfortable at all, but not as plush as a regular commuter.

Front Suspension is a USD fork made by Endurance in India (while the previous BS4 CB300R came with a Showa unit)

Rear suspension is a preload adjustable (7-level) mono-shock.

Brakes:

Brakes on the CB300R are progressive, offer good bite and doesn’t feel stiff/wooden.

The Dual channel ABS with IMU doesn’t intrude in a good way, delivering safe braking.

Cockpit view of the 2022 Honda CB300R India
Basic LCD instrument console + good quality switchgear 👍

What I love about the Honda CB300R:

  • Fueling and Engine: Smooth power delivery and refinement
  • Gearbox: Gearshifts are crisp, no false neutrals, assist and slipper clutch is light
  • Handling: very agile and extremely compact motorcycle
  • Mirrors: offer good visibility and doesn’t vibrate at good speeds
  • Overall Motorcycle: is super fun and smooth to ride ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What needs improvement?

  • Fit and Finish: Some components look like test-mule version and not full-fledged production model – notice the exposed cable duct on the left side panel (refer image below)
  • Placement of horn and indicator so weird
  • Price: It’s assembled locally (unlike the previous BS4 version which was a CKD import ) With no major updates wrt features and heavy localisation of components(USD fork is Endurance unit vs Showa and MRF tyres replacing the Michelin) it should have been priced at-least INR 30-40K cheaper
  • Features: Misses out on Adjustable levers, riding modes, mobile connectivity
  • LCD Instrument Console: is very basic [offers good readability in sunlight and at night] for the price point and what it’s competitors offer
Poor fit and finish - exposed wire routing on the 2022 Honda CB300R in India
Notice the exposed wire routing on the left side panel – looks straight out of a test-mule 😞
Touring on the 2022 Honda CB300R in India
Super fun to tour ❤️

The Honda CB300R is an absolute hoot to ride – in the city, out on a highway and on winding roads!!

The combination of smooth-power, agility, compact dimensions of the motorcycle and a sporty suspension elevate the riding experience on the CB300R and never fails brings a smile. 😊

Yamaha Aerox 155 scooter review in India

A day with the 2022 Yamaha Aerox 155

The Yamaha Aerox 155 is unlike anything we have encountered. 

Built on the maxi-scooter format, the Yamaha Aerox 155 immediately stands out from the regular-fare of flat floorboard scooters in India, thanks to the X-design motif, which covers the fuel tank and engine bay.

Aerox review - Living with a 2022 Yamaha Aerox 155 scooter in India

How does it feel to ride the Aerox 155 ?

Don’t be deceived by the silent humm upon starting, powered by liquid-cooled, 4-valve VVA 155cc motor derived from the R15, the Aerox has oodles of power across the rev-range.

The combination of linear power and smooth yet crisp throttle-response deliver a fantastic riding experience.

Mind-you, the Aerox doesn’t quite have that instant rush you get from an EV scooter, but once it gets going, it’s very rapid and linear, and doesn’t lose momentum until the speedo is showing triple digits.

City Riding:

With 15ps at disposal, the Aerox 155 is zippy, fun to tackle gaps in traffic and shrink the distances between stop lights. Weighting in around 126kgs, it’s effortless to ride in the city.

The massive under-seat storage space of 24.5L makes it practical for shopping runs and the office-commute.

Highway Touring:

Never before has a scooter felt so “in-elementoutside the city, the Aerox is comfortable out on the highway, holding speeds of 90 to 100 kmph feels natural and not-strained.

Where it truly-shines is on a winding road, the Aerox 155 feels almost like-a-motorcycle through the corners, holding a line brilliantly.

Ride Quality and Suspension:

Unlike most petrol scooters in India that use a monoshock, the Aerox gets twin shock absorbers at the rear that are set up on the firmer side. 

However the front fork sports a conventional telescopic shock absorber that isn’t as stiff as the rear.

Overall, at high speeds or on smooth pavement, there’s little to complain about, but going over bumps at city speeds isn’t the most pleasant affair

Yamaha Aeroz 155 scooter ownership review in India

Is the Aerox good for short riders ?

With a seat height of 790mm, it slightly taller than most scooters, hence riders below 5’4 won’t be at ease.

For the tall riders (above 6ft), legroom is in short supply. The front fairing constantly brushes the knee and the prominent step in the seat, holds back the rider from sliding back on the seat. In tight braking situations the knee rubs into mobile storage compartment knocking it open.

Pillion Ride Experience:

The pillion seat is decently flat and wide, sitting back-to-back is comfortable, whereas sitting sideways isn’t possible.

Although the visible grab rails are missing, the shape of the under-seat cowl provides a comfortable grip for the pillion.

Mileage & Full Tank Range:

Inspite of such performance on tap, the Aerox’s stellar fuel efficiency in the city is courtesy its excellent Automatic stop-start system.

  • City: 40-50kms per litre
  • Highway: 55kmpl at a steady cruise of 70kmph
  • Expect a full-tank range of 180-200kms

Yamaha YConnect App:

The Aerox 155 connects with the Yamaha YConnect Motorcycle app via BlueTooth, unlike SIM-enabled connection on modern electric scooters.

Hence we don’t get features such as on-screen navigation instructions and music control, but you do get call notifications and SMS alerts.

Last Parking Location: At the outset this seems like a useful feature, but this only has details of the last time the scooter was connected to the phone over BT and cannot be used to trace a borrowed or stolen vehicle. 

Where the Aerox 155 lacks:

Since the Aerox would compete with other 150cc ICE rivals and even electric scooters – it misses out on the following:

  • Features:
    • No keyless operation , while the international variant has this feature
    • Full-function LCD/LED display with SIM-enabled features such as vehicle tracking and full-navigation 
  • OE Replacement Tyres: The current tubeless tyres on the Aerox 155 are NOT available in India. Hopefully, owners will have more tyre choices available by the time these ‘Made in Indonesia’ IRC SCT-005 OE-tyres wear out.
  • Front Smartphone Charging Pocket: too small, doesn’t fit a typical smartphone
  • Under-seat Storage Amenities: NO charging point in the under-seat storage space 

The Yamaha Aerox 155 is the ONLY AFFORDABLE maxi-scooter out there, that is an absolute joy to ride in city-traffic and even on the highways. A masterclass engine coupled with fantastic handling makes this the most fun scooter in India and yet is practical enough to make the domestic-errand runs.

Yamaha Aerox 155 scooter in India review
Moto3 Starting Grid - Qatar GP 2022

The MotoGP Experience – Everything to know to watch a live MotoGP race in Qatar

Planning to watch a live MotoGP race in Doha Qatar ?

This detailed guide will help plan your MotoGP trip to Doha – from race tickets, transport to racetrack, visa requirements and other useful information.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and the information provided is based on my personal trip to MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar on March 4 to 6, 2022.

General Grandstand Fanzone at Lusail Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022
Engaging the fans outside the General Grandstand – Grand Prix of Qatar 2022
2022 Qatar MotoGP race start at Lusail International Circuit Doha
Grand Prix of Qatar 2022

Held in the month of March, The MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar is held at the Losail International Circuit or Lusail International Circuit in Doha and is the only night race in the entire calendar making it visual-treat to watch under the lights.

Meeting the Moto2 and Moto3 riders at Lusail circuit - Qatar MotoGP 2022 - Pedro Acosta Augusto Fernandez Jaume Masia
Riders – meet and greet 🙂
Fanzone at Lusail Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022
Fanzone at Lusail Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022

How early to start planning ?
Sometime in November-December of the previous year, MotoGP release the schedule of venues and dates for the upcoming races of the next year.
The window to buy race tickets open usually in late January or early February for the Qatar GP in March.

Types of MotoGP tickets and Cost:
For the Qatar GP, one can choose from the below different viewing areas:

General/Main Grandstand: The Main Grandstand at the Lusail International Circuit is located on the Main Straight, facing the pit boxes.

  • Best place to see the starting line, podium ceremony
  • Cost of tickets: QAR 700 per person for a 3-day pass
  • Flexibility to choose from 1-day, 2-days, 3-days pass
  • Includes Free transport in air-conditioned bus from Lusail Metro station to the racetrack on all days
  • The ticket will get you access and contains detailed schedule of free-practice, warm-up, qualifying and race for all 3 days across Moto3, Moto2, MotoGP and Honda Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup

MotoGP VIP Village: The MotoGP VIP village is located in the pit building, above the pit garages, inside the paddock area.

  • Best place to view the starting line, Turn 1, as well as the podium ceremony after the race.
  • Ticket includes paddock tour, pit-lane walk, 5-star hospitality
  • Cost of tickets: QAR 5500 per person for a 2-day pass
2022 Qatar MotoGP race tickets
2022 Qatar MotoGP race tickets

Note: Every race track have different types of zones/viewing areas, hence configuration of tickets and prices vary.

Where to buy MotoGP tickets?
While there are multiple websites to sell race tickets, consider the following on where to buy:

  • MotoGP Website:
    • Tickets are sold on the official website of MotoGP via a ticketing partner (Platinum Group)
    • Tickets at the cheapest price (no agent commission or extra charges)
    • Ticketing support (via email, chat, phone) is brilliant
    • Only International bank-issued credit/debit cards are accepted (International cards issued by Indian bank entities don’t work)
  • Other websites:
    • Price is higher, but more payment options and custom packages that include stay in Doha, transfers, food etc

Visa requirements for Indian tourists:
Visa is issued on-arrival for Indian passport holders upon showing return air tickets, MotoGP tickets and hotel reservation.

  • With the pandemic, Qatar needs one to pre-register/ upload documents such as vaccine certificate, passport, air tickets online on Etheraz website – the approved Etheraz document needs to presented at the Immigration
  • One has to download the Etheraz app on his/her mobile which indicates the status of vaccination and COVID-19 negative report
  • For detailed and latest information, please visit Ministry of Public Health Qatar
  • When I visited, there was a mandatory 2-day hotel quarantine required for Indians (this regulation keeps changing – so visit the public health website for latest travel rules)

Reaching the Lusail Circuit from Doha city:
The Lusail circuit is located away from the city of Doha on the Al-Khor expressway.
Transport options to the racetrack include:

  • Paid cabs from Uber or Karwa
  • Take the Metro on the red-line to Lusail QNB station at QAR 2
    • Free shuttles/ bus from Lusail Metro station to the racetrack organised by LCSC( included on Grandstand ticket)
    • Exit towards Al Kheesa from the metro to board the free/paid bus to the racetrack
Free shuttle service bus from Lusail Metro Station to Lusail racetrack for MotoGP
Free shuttle service bus from Lusail Metro Station to Lusail racetrack for MotoGP

Useful Information:

  • The MotoGP race is a loud affair – especially for kids, so carry ear plugs for kids and adults
  • Being a night race, expect cold winds after sunset, carry a wind-cheater or warm jackets
  • Carry Binoculars and Sunglasses
  • Food and water is available and is slightly expensive, so feel free to pack Food from your favourite restaurant and water to carry from the outside
  • Experience beyond the race: just outside the Grandstand is Fan-zone entertainment area with concerts, food stalls, aircraft acrobatic display on race day, Shops selling official merchandise, riding gear, souvenirs etc and various activities for kids
  • MotoGP is kids-friendly: they have numerous free activities in the Fan-zone for kids – painting, video games etc
  • Meet the Riders: meet MotoGP/Moto2/Moto3 riders in the Fanzone, outside grandstand on Friday-only (look out for the announcement for the meet and greet)
  • Other Facilities include
    • Clean and separate toilets for men and women
    • Prayer room
    • Feeding room for babies
  • Wheelchair access to Grandstand and Toilets is available
  • Carry charging cables to Charging your phone, Go-Pro – feel free to request the shops to hook up a charging point
  • No additional fees to carry DSLR camera, Motion cameras like Go-Pro to the racetrack
Post Race music concert at Lusail Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022
Music concert at the track
Painting at Kids area at Lusail International Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022.JPG
Painting the MotoGP canvas
Video games for kids at Lusail International Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022.JPG
Honing the skills!!
Air acrobatics display at 2022 Qatar MotoGP
Air Display on race day
Fireworks at Lusail Circuit Qatar MotoGP 2022
Beautiful fireworks after the race 🙂

The hysteria of fans, hustle of the paddock and energy of riders elevate the live watching experience with a befitting end to the MotoGP night race with mesmerising fireworks and a beautiful ballet of lights!!

Until next race then..

Timelapse of the MotoGP Race Start!!
2008 Yamaha YZF R6 In India

Living with a 2008 Yamaha YZF-R6

It took me a few kms to break out on to open roads. But by then, it was too late, I was smitten.
The 2008 Yamaha YZF-R6 is a brilliant sport bike that blends performance with mind boggling handling. Any one who rides one and doesn’t instantly want to own one should really get a full physical for they might be dead.

Since it’s debut in 1999, the YZF-R6 has smashed lap records on racetracks and set the heart racing on twisty mountain roads.

Touring on a 2008 Yamaha YZF R6 in India

How does it ride ?
This motorcycle truly comes alive beyond 9000rpm. However compared to its predecessors the 2008 R6 sports a more “usable mid-range” translating to good behaviour on the street and canyon roads.

The low-end is pretty dismal 😦

What’s impressive is the “best-in-the-class” handling courtesy a stellar chassis – it’s a “point-and-shoot” devil that hunts down apexes and inhales corners at a ludicrous pace.

2008 Yamaha R6 ownership experience in India

City Commute:
The R6 is a very docile motorcycle below 4000rpm, while it can survive in stop-go traffic, pot-holed roads and the massive drone of dust – its happy place is an open road or a racetrack.
These low speeds manifest as enormous heat, blasted towards the rider’s legs and the delta box frame – not at a pleasant place to be.
How to avoid heat from the motorcycle at a traffic light – do not sit on the motorcycle while waiting for the green light, instead put the side-stand and stand next to the motorcycle.

Pillion comfort: doesn’t exist – the rear seat is put out to make it road-worthy.

Ride review of 2008 Yamaha YZF R6 in India

Touring:
The riding position on the R6 is somehow naturally comfortable and I found it much comfortable/relaxed over my Triumph Daytona 675R.
The seat isn’t well cushioned for touring, but then this wasn’t designed to munch miles in comfort.

Tank range: expect a full-tank range of 200-230kms on the highway

Luggage:
Best bet is a tail-bag, tank-bag or a combination of both. Kriega’s US-series of luggage would be my choice to strap on the R6.
Underneath the rear seat of the R6 are in-built loops to strap the Kriega luggage.

Suspension:
The front fork has separate high and low speed compression damping, rebound damping(both non-adjustable), only preload can be adjusted.

2008 Yamaha YZF R6 In India

Ride height adjustment:
Yamaha offers mechanical shims that allow one to change the rear ride height.
Even the front ride height can be altered by purchasing longer fork tubes from Yamaha

Cost of service: Avg of INR 8000 – INR 10,000 per service (includes engine oil and oil-filter replacement)

What I like about the Yamaha R6:

  • Razor-sharp and crisp handling: the chassis of the 2008 R6 is designed to reduce braking effect through the frame. The motorcycle is super agile, yet stable , oozes confidence to turn fast. It’s the best-handling 600 PERIOD
  • Engine: It’s an absolute screamer that revs all the way till 15,800rpm (although the tachometer shows 18,000 rpm :p) – it’s a such a phenomenal engine that Yamaha retained the same engine all the way till the 2020 model.
    • For the 2008 model, the engine was updated with better intervals and a higher compression ratio of 13.1:1 over its predecessors (12.8:1)
  • Mechanical ride height adjustment: Yamaha offers OEM parts to alter the ride height at the front and rear of the motorcycle – super cool !!
  • Build quality: The quality of the switches, the fit and finish of the body-panels and the quality of paint are supreme.
  • Access to service the motorcycle: It is so easy to take off the body panels and access the internals for a quick oil change or to clean them – kudos Yamaha !!

What I don’t like:

  • Limp Low-end power: it’s a complete lack-lustre. over the years the R6 has become very track-focused, sacrificing a bit of street ability in the quest for better lap times.
  • No braided brake lines: our Indian temperature isn’t kind on the OE rubber brake lines which tend to make the brakes spongy. Switch to steel braided brake lines for better brake feel and performance
  • No fuel gauge: considering this motorcycle will be used on the street and highway, a fuel gauge is needed
Living with a 2008 Yamaha YZF R6 in India

The R6 casts a powerful spell. It left me aching to own it. Never before have I wanted a motorcycle to be mine so badly

So persuasive is its appeal and promise that I’m sold. I’d buy it in a heartbeat. If only I could.

Touring on a 2017 Suzuki GSX-S1000F in India

Living with a 2017 Suzuki GSX-S1000F

The Suzuki GSX-S1000F is the epitome “more than meets the eye” as its bulbous styling will “turn-off” most riders from even riding the motorcycle. Once past the looks, it’s a fantastic road going sports bike.

Being positioned as “sports-tourer”, the GSX-S1000F is more “sporty” than a “tourer” – in fact it handles like a sports bike, has the top-end rush of the iconic Gixxer-1000, but is kitted with a “Renthal Fat bar” & a relaxed riding position making this a “comfortable sports bike”.

The show stopper in the 2017 GSX-S1000F package is the “Engine”, a retuned version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5 that ran between 2005 and 2008. This 145bhp inline 4 engine is smooth, torquey and brilliant for road riding with loads of low-end + mid-range torque and a massive top-end punch that sounds good too.

2017 Suzuki GSX-S1000F ownership experience in India
Bulbous meets sharp design..

Let’s get to the real world ownership experience of the 2017 GSX-S1000F:

City Commute:
The GSX-S1000F is a comfortable motorcycle to putter around the city – a combination of relaxed rider ergonomics such as – upright riding position, foot pegs right below the seat and wide handlebar make it easy to navigate the traffic.

  • A redesigned bigger radiator ensures that the heat dissipation is manageable.
  • Expect a real world tank range of 180-200kms in the city

Touring:
Comfortable riding position with good wind deflection and a creamy spread of torque across the rev range makes the GSX-S1000F a lovely motorcycle for tarmac touring. With the right suspension setup, it will even soak-up broken tarmac/gravel-roads with elegance.

Tank range: expect a full-tank range of 240kms on the highway

Suspension: It’s got a fully-adjustable upside-down fork and a shock that’s adjustable for pre-load and rebound damping, both from KYB

Luggage: The motorcycle doesn’t have any provision to mount hard-luggage. One has to do with soft luggage options of a tail-bag or a tank-bag.

Cost of Service: Avg of INR 8000 per service (includes oil and oil-filter replacement)

Touring on a 2017 Suzuki GSX-S1000F in India
Enroute Kudremukha, Western Ghats, Karnataka

What I like about the GSX-S1000F:

  • Engine: Borrowed from the K5 GSX-R1000, this is one of the smoothest inline4 engine in the market – it’s just brilliant!!
  • Chassis: the aluminium beam frame chassis and the swing-arm are designed to be fun-to-ride with agile handling and feels incredibly well-balanced
  • Suspension: Fully-adjustable front and rear suspension from KYB or Kayaba allows the rider to dial-in the settings suitable for a plush-comfortable ride and a responsive hard setting to chase corners.
  • Brakes: Front brakes are 4-piston Brembo callipers derived from the GSX-R1000 and a single pot Nissin caliber at the rear providing good bite and feel during braking.
  • Rider seat: is broad, soft and is very comfortable even over long distances
  • Traction control: is less intrusive and doesn’t take away the riding experience. Operated via the handlebar switch on the left, the traction control has 3 settings – 1 is the lowest sensitivity allowing rear wheel slide, level 2 is for regular road riding, and level 3 is for wet or cold riding conditions.

What I don’t like:

  • Unlike a text-book sports tourer, touring with a pillion and luggage is NOT BUILT-IN
  • Rear seat comfort: the passenger seat is narrow and uncomfortable for anything other than short trips.
  • NO options from Suzuki to mount a luggage side-rack or hard panniers
  • NO built-in steering damper
  • Full LCD Instrument Console: Simple, non-colour digital display shows sufficient information, but under bright sunlight, it’s difficult to read the dial.

Instrument Console and Renthal fat bar on the 2017 Suzuki GSX-S1000F
Cockpit View..

The Suzuki GSX-S1000F is blessed with a ‘brilliant engine’, ‘agile chassis’ and ‘comfortable rider ergonomics’ which translates to a wonderful riding experience out on winding roads, boring expressways, city commuting and even bad roads.

Lockdown motorcycling - watch a race onboard a motorcycle

How to be a better motorcyclist during the lockdown

Pre COVID-19, we motorcyclists used to wait for the Friday to take off on a ride or to a racetrack.
Ever since the curfew/lockdown has become “a never-ending Monday”, we only pray such Friday’s make a comeback soon.

Disclaimer:
This post is NOT aimed to encourage anyone to take out his/her motorcycle for a ride during the pandemic.
Please stay-put, adhere to the lockdown rules and wait till the pandemic passes in order to live and ride another day
.

Apart from cleaning your motorcycle, these will bring some motorcycling back into your home in such testing times:

Watch a race on a motorcycle:
Stop warming up the couch !!
Suit up, and flex some muscles while binging over a weekend race on a motorcycle !!

Lockdown motorcycling - watch a race onboard a motorcycle
Best seat to watch a race!!

Talk to your ride partner about being a pillion:
Most motorcycle pillions think they are just a passenger (like sitting in a car) and that they do not affect the motorcycle or the rider.

Have a conversation with him/her about:
– how the pillion can impact the dynamics of the motorcycle
– Ask your pillion for an honest feedback – how safe they feel as a pillion, how often to take breaks (taking a break physically and also to break the monotony of sitting and doing nothing)
– List out Do’s and Don’t while on a motorcycle
(Ex: look ahead onto the road so that they are aware in order to anticipate + do/do not try to keep the pillion’s feet onto the road while taking a U-turn etc)
– what to do after a fall/mishap such as emergency contacts, location of first-aid kit etc

These conversations are a massive confidence-booster, especially if they haven’t sat pillion for long ride and a must if you plan to take him/her out for a multi-day ride.

Build a dream ride fund:
It’s time to act on that dream, draw a plan to:
– finance the ride
– While you would be away on the ride – how to ensure financial stability of your family
– Emergency fund for any surprise-expenses in your dream ride

Some simple ways to build a ride fund include:
– Evaluate what you spend on the current bike – beyond fixed costs of insurance, service, riding gear, replacing worn parts etc
– Do I really need those auxiliary lights or a touring rack or an aftermarket exhaust or a bar-end mirror ?
Start Small, but keep it consistent: Set aside a monthly dream ride fund (start with 5-10% of your income)

Read on how our Indian over-landers have funded their dream ride

Aditya Kumar on his Overland Motorcycle Ride
Aditya Kumar on his Overland Motorcycle Ride

Keep the bike in a “Ready to Ride” state:
While this is a no-brainer, spend some time to do very basic DIY to keep your motorcycle in a running condition during the lockdown:
– Maintain a healthy battery, start the motorcycle once a week
– Keep the fuel tank full
– Check and top-up the fluids (coolant, brake fluid, engine oil, suspension gas)
– Constantly check and maintain tyre pressure
– Transmission Chain: clean, adjust and lube

Hero Impulse Motorcycle Chain - After the clean
Basic motorcycle maintenance

Set up the motorcycle suspension:
The suspension (front and rear) translates the road-surface onto the motorcycle and eventually to the rider.
A well setup suspension is the difference between a comfortable ride or the one with back and bum sores.

how to setup a motorcycle suspension of a Triumph Daytona 675R
Suspension setup – difference between a good ride and a great ride

Re-Read the owner manual:
Most of us would have NEVER read the owner’s manual and would only open it while getting the free-service coupon.
It’s immensely helpful to revise on vital information about your motorcycle such as
– location of the chassis/engine number
– location of the fuse box
– what’s the recommend tyre pressure (with/without pillion)
– Basic suspension settings for rider, rider+pillion etc (they are a starting point, fine tune the setup based the specific rider’s weight)
– All the motorcycle manuals include a “Basic Troubleshooting Procedure for the motorcycle”, which saves a lot of anxiety, time and money in case of a break-down

Keep yourself physically fit:
With limited movement + closure of sports-facilities, gyms, swimming pool – it’s essential to stay healthy with some basic exercises:
– Walking (most underrated and yet the most effective exercise)
– Yoga
– Indoor body weight exercises in full-form/with assist – push-ups + pull-ups and squat

For your own safety:

  • Wear masks, sanitise regularly, wash hands with soap.
  • Follow social distancing and avoid going out unnecessarily.
  • Stay Safe and don’t hesitate to consult a doctor.
Motorcycle ride to hampi from bengaluru stop at dam and tunnel view-point of Tungabhadra

Ride de Hampi

History and mythology come to life in the magnificent ruins of Hampi or Hampe, drawing travellers for centuries. The Tungabhadra river dissects this region into:

  • historic” ruins of the once mighty Vijayanagara empire as Hampi
  • mythologicalvanara kingdom of Kishkindha from our Indian epic Ramayana

Motorcycle Ride to Hampi from Bengaluru:

  • Route: Bengaluru > Chitradurga > Hospete > Hampi
  • Road conditions: excellent Dual carriage highway to ride a motorcycle
  • Where to eat Breakfast: The highway doesn’t have many breakfast options – a good place to stop is Sri Laxmi Bhavan inside the town of Chitradurga
    • Masala dosa, Khali Dosa with palya, Gulab Jamoon and filter coffee are a must try
Breakfast stop enroute to Hampi at Sri Laxmi bhavan tiffin room in Chitradurga -
Breakfast in Chitradurga
  • Best time of the year to ride: December to February
  • Enroute: Stop by to soak in the massive view of the Tungabhadra dam and the tunnel before entering the town of Hospete
Motorcycle ride to hampi from bengaluru stop at dam and tunnel view-point of Tungabhadra
Don’t forget to stop at the Dam and Tunnel View Point before Hospet

What to see in and around Hampi:

  • Hampi Group of Monuments: the heart and soul of this town – their discovery elevated this once forgotten ancient town to a UNESCO world heritage site. [Group of Monuments is a collective name given to all the protected temples, ancient bazaars and ruins spread across the town of Hampi]
  • Catch a sunset on Matanga Hill: one of the tallest and the best vantage point to view the town of Hampi- the sunset up from the hillock is magical.
    • The climb to the Matanga Hill sunset point is moderate and can take upto 20-30mins
    • Wear a sports shoe to climb and carry water
    • Sunset from Hemakuta Hill: for those who cannot climb the Matanga hill, Hemakuta Hill has a sunset point accessed by steps and lots of benches to sit
    • Matanga Hill and Hemakuta Hill are located near to the Virupaksha temple in Hampi
Sunset from Matanga Hill Hampi
Sunset from Matanga Hill
Sunset from Hemakuta Hill Temple in Hampi
Sunset from Hemakuta Hill Temple
  • Sanapur Lake: located about 30 kms from Hampi by road, this pristine lake is surrounded by boulders offering a beautiful view and is a perfect place to getaway from the crowd and even take a short nap 😀
    • Best time to visit: early morning or evening (avoid visiting at noon – it’s super hot)
    • Coracle Ride/boating at Sanapur lake: locals offer a 20-30 min coracle ride on the lake, fares start from INR 500-1000 for the entire coracle
    • How to reach Sanapur lake: transport options include hiring a car, local auto rickshaws, personal car/motorcycle and bicycle all the way
    • For the cyclist: I recommend cycling one way via the road ( Hampi > Bukkasagara bridge > Anegundi > Sanapur lake) and take a ferry/coracle back from Anegundi to Hampi [Local ferry/coracle fees is INR 20 per person and INR 20 for a bicycle/motorcycle]
Coracle ride at Sanapur Lake near Hampi
The beautiful Sanapur Lake
Cycling in Hampi - serene paddy fields en-route Sanapur lake
Enroute Sanapur Lake
  • Mythology Circuit: the opposite bank of river Tungabhadra (Kishkhindha/Anegundi) is a must visit for folks interested in Ramayan. Places of visit include:
    • Anjaneya Hill ( birthplace of Lord Hanuman)
    • Vali-Sugreeva Fighting spot
    • Sugreeva’s Cave in Hampi
  • Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary: located 20kms from Hampi, this wildlife sanctuary allows safari within the park from the comfort of your private car and government buses.
    • Entry fees of INR 500 per car + additional fees for INR 25 per adult [No fees for a motorcycle]
    • Carry water and food (do not litter, throw them in designated waste bins)
    • Carry a binocular
    • Timings: Park is open to public from 2 pm to 6 pm

How to travel in Hampi:

Most of them who don’t have their private transport rely on local auto rickshaws to travel from one monument to other, however the below options are worth considering:

  • Rent a bicycle in Hampi : there is no proper outlet to rent a bicycle within the town of Hampi, hence it’s recommended to procure the bicycle from the resort you stay (ensures full connectivity and can be dropped back at the place of your stay)
Cycling in Hampi - At Talarigatta Gate
At Talarigatta Gate in Hampi [Talarigatta translates to Toll Collection Gate]
  • Coracle Ride from Hampi to Anegundi: the locals will take you on a ferry/coracle at INR 20 per person and INR 20 for a bicycle or motorcycle
    • Coracle timings: 730 am to 5 pm
  • Government buses: there is no bus service that takes you from one monument to other within Hampi ( wish the tourism department can come up with a hop-on/hop-off bus service)

Useful information on Group of Monuments Hampi:

  • Entry Tickets: except a few Monuments, entry to all the ruins is free. For Monuments with entry fee, while there is a standard queue, one can also scan a QR code to pay and procure the entry ticket
  • Vijaya Vitthala Temple: the tourism department operates a free electric buggy to ferry tourists from parking till the temple – on weekends this gets crowded, so one can walk till the temple
  • Who should visit Hampi: the inner sanctum of the Monuments are accessible only by walking and there is no separate wheelchair access/ramp
  • Hiring a guide: if you are visiting for the 1st time, it’s best to hire a certified guide to bring forward the context and history of the ruins [look for a guide who are certified by the Karnataka Tourism department]
  • Best time of the year to visit Hampi is December to February
  • There are no dedicated stations/rooms in Hampi to breast feed babies
  • Public Toilets: clean toilets were found only at Lotus Mahal and Vijaya Vittala temple monuments

An arid landscape laced with precariously balancing boulders offset by lush green banana plantations and paddy fields – Hampi is the window to our glorious architecture, richness and culture of the yesteryears.

Sunrise in Bengaluru - riding a Triumph Daytona 675R in India
Enroute Hampi – a beautiful sunrise to see us ride 🙂

5 Things you missed while cleaning a motorcycle

Second to riding, cleaning a motorcycle is the most relished thing for a motorcyclist.

While a good and basic motorcycle clean comprises the below steps:

  • De-greasing the lower half of the motorcycle (prone to grease & grime)
  • Pressure wash with water
  • Foam/soap clean and rinse using the 2 buckets-method
  • Polish/wax
  • Before/after pictures to brag 😛

In addition to the above – here are the 5 most overlooked things one can include during a regular wash to make the motorcycle “super clean”

1) Cleaning the Exhaust Headers Pipes:
Easily the most neglected part of the cleaning cycle – the exhaust header down-pipes along with the radiator pick up the most grime and dirt spewed by the front tire.

What causes the discoloration of the exhaust header pipes?
Most of the OEM motorcycle exhaust pipes are made with stainless steel, chromium and other metals – they react with dirt, water, salts and heat to get oxidized to form a layer – which left untreated for long leads to pitting.

Materials to clean:

    • Hand gloves
    • Toothbrush
    • Scotch-brite
    • Steel wool (if scotch bite doesn’t work)
    • Water mixed with soap (Motorcycle cleaning soap)
    • Autosol Metal polish or Autosol Stainless steel polish
    • Lots of time, patience and hard work

Steps to super clean the motorcycle exhaust headers:

    1. Down-pipes are best cleaned upon removal of side + bottom fairings/panels of the motorcycle
    2. Wash the header pipes with soap water using the scotch-brite and toothpaste thoroughly – for newer motorcycles this removes at least 70% of the dirt and oxidation layer
    3. Rinse down the pipes thoroughly with plain water
    4. Dry out excess water with cloth
    5. Apply generous amount of Autosol metal/stainless polish using a cloth and give a good rub to make them shine

CAUTION:

    • Ensure the exhausts are cold before cleaning – never work on the hot ones
    • DO NOT USE harmful chemicals like “Harpic”, since it reacts to remove the protective layer of chromium

Before - cleaning the motorcycle exhaust downpipes

BEFORE…

 

How to super clean a motorcycle exhaust header without Harpic

AFTER…

2) Cleaning the Turn Indicators + Head-lights + Tail-lights:
While the outside of the indicators, headlights, tail-lights get cleaned every time – seldom do the inside of them get attention.
The insides of the turn indicators, head & tail-lights are not dust-proof, over a period they accumulate dust, moisture and turn dull.

On most motorcycles removing the indicators, head & tail-lights to access the inside is fairly simple, with basic tools.

Materials to clean:

    • Water mixed with soap
    • Microfiber towels

Steps to clean the inside of turn indicators and headlights:

    1. Basic tools to remove the indicator cover and to access the interiors of headlights and tail-lights
    2. Dab the microfiber towel in the soap solution and clean
    3. Dab a separate towel with plain water to rinse the soap
    4. Use a dry towel to remove any excess moisture

CAUTION:

    • DO NOT use coarse or any brush to clean since they may damage/scratch the inner reflective surface
    • DO NOT let water or soap to sit or drop on the electrical connectors/points
    • DO NOT use any polish or spray on the inside after cleaning
    • Don’t forget to clean the indicator bulbs/LEDs & bulbs/projector-bulb of the head, taillights

How to super clean a motorcycle turn indicator s

Clean’em ALL — In & Out !!

3) Cleaning the Front Sprocket of the chain drive:
While the rear sprocket and chain are often exposed to a cleaning spray and lube – the front sprocket is only seen by your mechanic 😀
Make it a habit to clean the front sprocket on par with its rear counterpart – after every ride.

Materials to clean:

    • Chain clean solution/ spray ( I prefer diesel since it cleans well, is cost effective and evaporates fast)
    • Chain clean brush/ regular toothbrush
    • Cloth to wipe the grime

4) Clean the Disc Brake System (not just the pads and rotor)
While a brake cleaning spray is good to clean the pads and rotor – it doesn’t reach the inside of the brake caliper and the brake pistons.
Cleaning helps with:

  • Correct braking pressure to both the pistons on either side of the caliper (translating to good braking feel/feedback to the rider)
  • Even wear of the brake pads on either side of the caliper

Thorough and cost effective cleaning of the disc brake system (pads, rotor, caliper and pistons) is best achieved with IPA (Iso Propyl Alcohol).

Materials to clean:

    • Commercial Iso Propyl Alcohol (IPA)
    • Toothbrush
    • Microfiber towel

5) Clean the Helmet 
After the motorcycle – the next most visible element is the helmet.

An unclean helmet smells bad, looks dirty and affects the rider since he/she has to breathe via the dust-filled air vents of the helmet and leads to scalp irritation and even hair fall.

Thorough helmet cleaning should cover the following areas:

  • Outer Shell with the graphics
  • Outer Visor and inner Sun visor (if present)
  • Helmet inner pads (head pad + cheek pads)
  • Air vents in the helmet

Materials to clean:

    • Water mixed with baby shampoo solution
    • Helmet interior cleaning spray
    • Microfiber towel
    • Ear buds
    • Wax polish for the helmet exterior shell

Steps to clean the helmet (interior & exterior):

    1. Start with cleaning the Interior Pads of the helmet:
      • Helmets with Removable Liner:
        • Remove the pads from the helmet (Refer the instruction manual provided with the helmet or the relevant videos)
        • Wash the interior pads with a mild soap solution by hand (do not feed them to a washing machine – it may damage the foam protection)
        • Air dry them in shade
      • Helmets with Fixed Liner:
        • Use a helmet cleaning spray and wipe using a micro-fibre towel
        • Air dry them
    1. Helmet Visor:
      • Remove the helmet visor
      • Clean with plain-water + dry using a microfiber towel
      • DO NOT forget to clean the spare visors
    2. Cleaning the exterior of the helmet:
      • Rinse the outer shell with plain-water
      • Clean with mild-soap water using a wet microfiber towel
      • Remove excess moisture using a dry microfiber towel
      • Use ear-buds to clean the air-vents and other hard-to-reach areas
      • Apply/spray your motorcycle polish/wax to make it shine

How to super clean a motorcycle and clean + polish the helmet

Not just the motorcycle – keep the lids clean & shiny!!

General tips to super clean a motorcycle:

  1. Perform all or any of the above procedures under a shade
  2. Work on a cold motorcycle – never on a hot one after a ride
  3. Wear protective rubber gloves – to protect from grease and chemicals that may react with your skin
  4. Read the service manual specific to your motorcycle to know beforehand – tools required, how to remove and put them back (usually putting them back is confusing unless one is adept) [PRO-TIP: use a tape to stick the respective screw/fastener to the relevant body-cowl of the motorcycle – ensures no mix-up of fasteners during assembly]
  5. Listen to music – helps keep the tempo!!
  6. Keep a bottle of cold water to hydrate and towel to wipe sweat
  7. Mount the motorcycle onto a rear and front stand for easy access
  8. Use a low stool/bench to sit and work on the motorcycle
  9. Tires: inspect the tires for any damages, embedded sharp objects and small stones that sit between the tread pattern

A “super clean” motorcycle feels great to ride, improves longevity of the moving parts and strengthens the bond between man and machine !!

Comment on which are the most neglected areas while cleaning your motorcycle

A day with the BMW S1000R Pro in India

Derived from the rich-pedigree of the S1000RR, the roadster S1000R combines the best of the naked street riding experience with the super sport DNA.

The 2019 S1000R is powered by a 160bhp and 112 Nm torque inline 4 engine tuned for more low to mid-range torque making it useful for road riding.

2019 BMW S1000R Pro variant ownership and test ride review in India

Oodles of delicious mid-range 🙂

The BMW S1000R Pro variant is shod with the A-list of goodies such as:

  • DDC (Dynamic Damping Control): semi active electronic suspension on front & rear
  • Gear Shift Assist Pro: up and down quick shifter with auto-blip on downshifts
  • DTC (Dynamic Traction Control): traction control at lean angle
  • ABS Pro: includes the ABS to be disengaged to slide into or or out of the corner.
  • Launch control + pit lane speed limiter
  • Touring comforts include heated grips and cruise control
  • Akrapovic HP Titanium exhaust
  • Standard riding modes – Rain, Road
  • Special riding modes – Dynamic, Dynamic Pro
    [Changing these modes gives you a different preset of the bike (throttle response, ABS, traction control and suspensions)].

BMW S1000R Pro with Akrapovic HP Titanium exhaust

Yes – the Akrapovic comes standard with the motorcycle!!

What is BMW Dynamic Pro ?
The dynamic PRO mode is the sportiest riding mode which instructs the ABS and DTC to intervene the least – Best utilized on a race track for launch control, rear wheel slide and many such hooliganisms.

BMW S1000R with Dynamic Pro control module

“Magical” Dynamic Pro Control Module – looks like a red/white USB stick 😀

How to unlock the Dynamic PRO mode?
The Dynamic PRO mode can be activated only when the Dynamic Pro coding plug provided along with the motorcycle by BMW is physically inserted into the slot below the rider’s seat.

S1000R Dynamic Pro control module - How to unlock Dynamic Pro and Dynamic modes

The Dynamic Pro control module needs to be plugged under the rider’seat

How to activate the Launch Control?
Dynamic Pro also lets you engage Launch Control.
Hold the starter while the bike is running for a few seconds, and the white shift light will come on along with ‘3 LCON’ on the dash. The number refers to how many launches you have left before you need to ride the bike a certain number of kilometres to have another stab at it

Living with an S1000R:

  • Service Intervals and Cost: the service intervals are scheduled once in 10,000 km and avg cost of service ( based on the 1st service) is around INR 15,000 – 18,000
  • Full tank range: 270-300kms on the highways
  • Pillion comfort: it’s meant only for the rider, however for short commutes the pillion seat is manageable
  • Luggage Options: only tank, tail bags to haul the luggage. Plenty of premium options from BMW Motarrad, Wunderlich, Kriega etc
  • City Commute: courtesy the wide handle bar and upright seating – it’s super easy to maneuver in traffic, but due to the heat from the motorcycle, the frame gets hot and may induce a burn on the inner thigh
  • Mirrors: visibility is good (with the rider in full gear)
  • Dials: very clear to read in day and night – information displayed is crisp and legible

What I like:

  • Mid-range Missile: oodles of torque and power in the most usable RPM band (between 3000 RPM to 7000 RPM)
  • Brakes: mind-boggling stopping power by the top-spec Brembos 
  • Exhaust note: The Akrapovic HP Titanium exhaust sounds brilliant, the bangs & pops when the throttle is let off is “sheer music to the ears’ 
  • Quick-shifter: the up-and-down quick-shifter elevates the gear-changing experience

What I don’t like:

  • Super-sport like turning: making a U-turn is akin to a super-sport motorcycle – one has to run wide to make the turn
  • Custom Suspension setting: There are two settings – Road and Dynamic – and both seem to be varying degrees of ‘Hard’. If there was a third ‘User’ mode where riders could really dial in the softness, that would be great.
  • The frame gets super hot in the city traffic and can induce burns to the inner thigh of the rider
  • Ground Clearance: The cat-con unit of the exhaust often scrapes the road-humps (in-spite of slow riding and with no pillion)
  • Foot-peg close to exhaust: For tall riders, due to the less distance between the foot-peg and the exhaust end-can, the heel of the right foot will be in constant contact with the exhaust – hindering foot movement on the foot-peg 

Touring on the BMW S1000R in India

Very comfortable to put long distances – in-spite of the wind-blast…

The S1000R is a very clinical motorcycle – It’s fast, controlled, enormously capable and it’s cornering manners will hunt down apexes with an evil gleam in its eye and a mile wide smile on the face.

Mind you, I haven’t ridden the Aprilia Tuono 1100, Yamaha MT-10 or the KTM Super Duke 1290 R yet.
Life is indeed tough.

BMW S1000R Pro variant first impressions in India

The Master-class super naked from BMW

Cauvery Peak Coffee Shop Yercaud

Coffee and friends are a great blend – add scenic roads and a motorcycle to the brew and it becomes perfect!!

Situated adjacent to the Cauvery Peak Estate, famous for its Coffee Museum and Plantation ToursCauvery Peak Coffee Shop in Yercaud offers the best brew of coffee ranging from hot-coffees such as filter coffee, espresso, latte, cappuccino to the delicious cold coffees.

Filter Coffee at Cauvery Peak Coffee Shop Yercaud

Cauvery Peak Coffee Shop – The best cup of coffee in Yercaud!!

Nestled amidst scenic hill-station roads, Cauvery Peak Coffee Shop is an outdoor-coffee shop overlooking a pond and surrounded by vast coffee plantations – there is ample space to sit-back under the trees, soak in the crisp air and relish the delicious fare of brew.

Serene roads of Yercaud best experienced on a motorcycle

Beautiful roads leading to the Coffee Shop

Useful Information:

  • The entire menu consists of about 10-12 variations of hot and cold coffees and no food at all – which I believe will complete the experience
  • Smoking on the Cauvery Peak coffee shop premises is strictly not allowed
  • While coffee is served in the outdoors – feel free to check their indoor souvenir shop
  • Parking: Cars can be parked within the plantation gate, whereas motorcycles can be parked across the road near the pond
  • Payment: Cash and Cards are accepted – no wallet or UPI based payments
  • Timings: Monday to Sunday – 8 am to 5 pm
  • Location: Cauvery Coffee Shop, adjacent to Cauvery Peak Coffee Estate, Yercaud – Google Maps Link
  • If you are a coffee fan – do signup for a guided Coffee Experience Tour involving a visit to the 150-year old coffee plantation, making of coffee and coffee museum (recommend to book prior) – tours start from INR 400/person + taxes (Even kids are allowed on the coffee experience tours)
  • I recommend visiting this place after a heavy lunch – relish the coffee and head-out to any of the view-points close by to experience magical sunset
  • And always do your bit to keep this place free clean and from plastic

Magical Sunset in Yercaud - touring on a Triumph Daytona 675R

Catch a sunset after the cuppa

The freshness of coffee from the newly-roasted beans from the plantation, crisp air and the serene location elevate the experience of sipping this cuppa.