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Royal Enfield - Thunderbird 500 cc : Adventures of Baloo

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by , 06-11-2014 at 09:25 PM (5377 Views)
Quote Originally Posted by Inn0cEnT View Post
After a lot of debate in my head on what a good starting line would be for the series to follow and wondering from choices of One fine summer day and Once upon a time, I decided to just start the whole identifying the right bike and finally purchasing it with A bike so here it goes.
A bike in the older days were considered a luxury, a comfort of living in the upper echelon being able to afford a mode of transport which would build envy in all others around, however gone are those days and bikes no longer mean a sign of comfort & luxury. In todays fast pace world filled with traffic it becomes a necessity to commute between locations like work and home in the shortest duration possible.

This search for a new bike started with the older generation bike which was used for almost 12 years starting to show signs of trouble, thats when it was decided to move on with a heavy heart to a much longer lasting bike which would meet my daily needs of commuting between office to home and yet be able to be a worthy companion for the long journeys that I have a fancy too.
Comparing all the categories in the bikes to arrive at the right one were difficult, a typical Indian quest of asking ones self Kitna dete hai vs. Kya mast dikhte hai a difficult one to answer as somewhere down in our hearts each one of these questions are important, you wouldnt like to own a bike that would give 5 km fuel efficiency nor a bike which would pretty much look like a luna or a cycle.

The major categories of these bikes were divided into:
1. Sports bikes (consisting of the Honda CBR, Suzuki Ninja, KTM duke and the likes)
2. Cruisers (consisting of the Harley Davidsons, Royal Enfield, Hyosung Aquila and the likes)
3. Dual Sport (consisting of the below 250cc, TVS Apache, Honda Unicorn and the likes)
4. Standard (consisting of the other lower than 150cc versions)

Considering the requirements of having a zippy bike allowing the rider to cover long distances while providing comfort and fuel efficiency. The standard bikes, dual sport & sport bikes were eliminated from the selection, finally leaving the category of cruisers.
With each of these it was decided to take test runs and identify the best buy, the bikes selected from the range based on customer service, price, reviews and other factors were:
1. Harley Davidson Street 750:
Experience at the showroom: Walked in on a Saturday evening to take a look at the bikes available in this series, of course a lot of research on the bikes was done even before entering there. There was almost an hour spent at the showroom and only a fraction (10 minutes) spent by a sales representative to show the different bikes available and the details of these bikes, the downside to this was of course when a test drive was asked and the response was that Harley Davidson did not provide test rides on a Saturday which was obviously weird for such a huge brand, to top this off the sales representative mentioned that in case a bike stopped anywhere on the road there was a 24 hour helpline to call the nearest service station in the country and they would come to tow the bike away, once the bike was at the service center it would take close to two months for the issue to be fixed based on the part required to fix the bike. (So there goes my Leh-Ladakh trip planned in case something had to happen in between.
Though this did not let me down to take a test ride on another day, I found that the bike handled fairly well in normal conditions but did not have the Harley identifying thump or looks other than a logo stuck onto the tank.
Outcome: Harley Davidson bikes rejected on the time taken for service, the handling on the road and the thump we all love to hear from our bikes.

2. Hyosung Aquila 250:
Experience at the showroom: The salesperson were very helpful and willing to wait on you while they answered all the questions, the test ride was charged and would be deducted from the billing once you booked the vehicle which sounded like an amazing corporate strategy to ensure you go on to buy the bike. The downside to this however were the reviews on the web where all owners complained of seating comfort and high vibrations noticed on the bikes at speeds above 100 kmph, the test ride of the bike did nothing to instil confidence in the brand nor in the bike, the bike was fast but noticed a slight vibration as the speeds increased, of course we never do find open roads in the city to reach higher speeds to test its stability. While one of the customers who had recently purchased the bike and had a delivery scheduled during my visit to the showroom had impressed me with the Tail Gun silencer on these bikes (additionally fit).
Outcome: Bikes rejected based on the reviews online about the handling and after sales service provided.

3. Triumph Bonneville:
Experience at the showroom: Unfortunately this was one of the only brands I regret not experiencing the pre-sales customer service as the only bike in the brand which fit in the budget was the Bonneville, but the reviews online seemed to dishearten me and even more the looks of the bike discourage me from trying to test drive the vehicle.
Outcome: Bike rejected based on the reviews online and failed to test drive the bike due to factors mentioned above.

4. Royal Enfield:
Experience at the showroom: This was one of the best experiences out of all the showrooms visited, the salesperson had a genuine smile on their face while they seemed to beam with pride of being associated with the Royal Enfield Brand, they patiently answered all the questions and even suggested the best bike for the requirement, there were two models shortlisted immediately (obviously due to the style and looks).
The GT-535 cafe racer & the Thunderbird series, while the test drive on this machines were not impressive on the 350 cc bikes of the brand, the caf racer did leave a lasting impression. The bikes handled them self very well on the road and both were zippy and had the power to overtake an annoying vehicle on the road with ease.
Outcome: Thunderbird 500 & GT 535 Caf racer handled exactly as expected on the road, they were zippy and had the looks, the best fuel efficiency in the bikes selected.

While this being the initial reviews of the bike, this would leave you guessing which bike was finally the chosen one & the choice out of these two bikes was a difficult one, where the caf racer lost due to pillion comfort and nothing else.

So the Thunderbird 500 it is and there started the booking and waiting period of the bike, of course the only downside to any Royal Enfield Bike was the waiting period for the bike post booking, while waiting for the bike I did extensive reading on the bike, tried pulling all the chords to reduce the waiting periods and of course !! BAM !! something somewhere worked (stars up there aligned just right), arrangement for the payment of the bike was done within 2-3 weeks and the beauty was delivered within one month of booking.

On the delivery day which was pushed one day early again for it to fall on a Friday (a good day by the superstitious folk back home), extensive follow up was done to ensure the bike had arrived, the name was chosen much earlier based on the color and the favorite name in general used Beast, the name Baloo was selected to represent a black bear we fondly remember in our cartoon characters from Jungle Book and Talespin.

Much of the research done while waiting for the bike was applied during delivery to carefully check the PDI and other checklist that was made for any damages on the bike, it was realized that Baloo came with an internal crack on the speedo meter (which I dint trust would hold for long only from the inside) and one of the air pipes with too many cracks for it to be new. They were immediately replaced with one of the display bike, there was a small negligible scratch on the engine plate where Twin Spark was engraved which was not something I wanted to replace being a new engine. The dealer provided me with a 2 liter petrol coupon to be availed at the closest petrol bunk, explained the bike showed me the tool kit, spare fuses, etc. and there started the Adventures of Baloo.

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