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Thread: Making the right choice!

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    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    Default Making the right choice!

    MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE!


    Once upon a time, circa 1947, there came about a country called India. Some American cars and some cycles then. Not much motorized two-wheelers to talk about. And no racing either. This was a colonized amalgam of cultures where the colonizers came to make money. And when money making was no more viable, they left. We all know that. I will not go through the whole evolution since then. I will stick to recent changes in motorized vehicles, more specifically to two-wheelers.

    After three and half decades of Yezdis and Bullets and Rajdoots came about a change that was not revolutionary but we got to see the existence of some other players. We saw the entry of Yamaha through Escorts and Honda through Hero Cycles etc. Till then the undisputed king of motorcycling in India was the antediluvian Bullet. This Royal-ness was being seriously challenged with arrival of the new upstarts. For the first time I could beat the gasping wind out of my father on his Bullet as I rode the RX and effortlessly whooshed past him at every and any given opportunity.

    That was the first time that people realized that something was amiss. A puny looking 100cc was beating the life out of the reigning King of two wheels of India which had more than thrice its engine capacity. Certain things seemed to change. Light vehicles with more plastic components became the order of the day. Apparently a new era was ushered in. But somewhere all that and more was lost in the quest for fuel efficiency. Evolution took another parallel line and performance issues were shelved. And we started having comparisons of how far a motorcycle would go with one drop of petrol.

    Fast forward another two and half decades and we see something that we cannot call a change but a quantum leap. After six decades and a bit since “Independence”, we see the arrival of a real motorcycle, a Superbike, not one but two. Most of us here know that we are here talking about the YZF-R1 and the MT-01 from the Yamaha stables being released late autumn in 2007. This sudden release has brought motorcycling in India to a strange unheard of juncture. And this is what I am bringing into focus right now.

    Here we will not talk about infrastructure, availability of roads, presence of just two race tracks in this country, bribe taking cops and so on, I will try to keep this as precise and clear as possible without discussing other (maybe relevant) issues which might sidetrack us from the main subject in hand. Why did the tuning forks bring these two bikes into India? Again here I am not talking about Yamaha’s flagging sales and being in the doldrums state.

    The reason behind the R1 we can understand. It is the perfect fully faired, cult following, race replica that has made this bike the flagship model that we all know. The choice of the R1 is not usurped. Why did they choose the MT? Maybe they wanted a caf-racer-muscle-bike-mix kind of thing. It was at the other end of the spectrum. Naked, big, heavy street bike with oodles of torque which ofcourse the regular Indian biker is not aware of. This choice is the area that I am particularly interested in.

    When Yamaha came into this country with these two magnificent machines, we were pleasantly surprised, tentatively enthusiastic, despite the prohibitive costing, and were initially skeptical of how and would Yamaha go ahead with the whole hog or just put a lid after a limited edition like the way Kinetic did with Hyosung. As far as I see things evolving over time, fast, slow or moderated, this is a fully capitalist system and the society of unbridled consumption is setting in. I will not go into the ethical aspects of such a system which will only take us to a long drawn out discussion on drawbacks of political aspects and responsibilities of a self sufficient social system.

    With the impetuous introduction of these two monstrous bikes, has Yamaha tried to play the first mover advantage? Initially it would seem not. During a talk with Mr. Tripathi, who has become quite familiar and a well-known face with us now, has said that they were simply looking at sales of around 40 bikes during the year. With such a sales target figure, Yam was obviously not looking at having a first mover advantage initially. But surprisingly for Yam, they had already crossed that mark barely a few months after introduction.

    Yamaha had obviously introduced these bikes to showcase international technology to this country where technology meant better looking stickers and to boost flagging sales and subsequently present the R15 as what I call “The Affordable Superbike Replica” in the Indian context. The R15 presented everything that a young enthusiast looks for. Here again I don’t want to get into the arguments about how good the R15 is and “there is no replacement for displacement” argument since that is not my point of the article. The R15 is something that I also call the first step to biking “education and maturity” for the genuine enthusiast.

    In a closed door meeting I was amongst few who had forecast 100+ sales for Yam’s both bigger bikes, in the first year. After 9 months they are getting into the 80s. With the really bold steps that Yamaha took, they have unknowingly dealt a double whammy. Firstly, Yamaha is back into the picture as THE performance bike manufacturer of the country as of now. Secondly, they have gone well beyond their expectations in the big bike picture, which they had not even asked for in the first place. Now they are in a position to use the First Mover advantage to mould the market for the future. This will require some vision and some more daring.

    We are already beginning to witness that riding piggy back on the success of these moves we have other manufacturers wanting a piece of the action and as big a slice as they can scoop out!

    We might yet not be ready for Superbikes or multi-cylinders and it might still take a few years before biking as a culture sets in a manner that it would make economic sense to have these bikes in the country at lower prices just the way in the early 90s Cielos used to cost 7L and today you get a Honda City for nearly less than that. But I am not going to propose how that is going to happen and when just as yet. I will keep that for a later discussion. I am interested in the “biking culture” bit.

    The R1 and the MT are already on the roads. Apparently the Hondas and the Suzukis are lining up as well. I will take it from here. Some of us think that these bikes are coming in with the relaxation of the 800+CC rules. I think a trifle otherwise. As I said earlier, with the ineluctable aspect of consumption creeping into our conservative society, such and further relaxations will be inevitable. You will see very soon what plan Bajaj is coming up with in the next few months which will ratify what I am saying now.

    This is where I am putting forth my argument (and my money). The market is certainly growing, albeit with teething problems which is healthy, not to be interpreted as hampering growth. We are witnessing unprecedented changes. In this current scenario, we have noticed that the 1000cc and above bikes have made their impression. But that is not where motorcycling stops. A showpiece is something that you showcase. But the showpiece will not take the rider places. It only takes the manufacturer places. It builds the foundation and delivers momentum. The R1 or the Blade or the Busa could be our dream bikes. But if we were to step out of fantasy a wee bit and still look at a relatively powerful bike that can take us places with luggage and yet be quite practical and fun to ride. This is where we are looking at real potential.

    Let me start taking names now. The CBF600 S from Honda for example. Before people start murdering me for shifting brand loyalty and stoning me for downgrading, let me first explain a few things. Brand loyalty comes with people who give me good products. I am not changing any brands as of now. This is just a discussion with lots more to follow in the future. And I am definitely not downgrading from the R1. Naked bike with a bikini fairing to prevent the wind blast at higher speeds and long distances, charged with 77Bhp@10500, relaxed cruising at 170+ with pillion and luggage is the Honda CBF600 S. And if you are still not satisfied, we can have the CB600F with considerably more aggression in riding stance, shorter wheelbase and bundled with 114Bhp@12000. But I personally would not shoot for this because I value the presence of a fairing preventing the windblast. And I would not know what to do with those extra horses honestly.

    The CBF600S




    And the CB600F



    The competition can propose the FZ6 Fazer S2. Similarly, the Fazer 600 comes with the right amount of fairing (other fairing equipment also proposed by OEM) and power to give us 96Bhp@12000. This is more than enough power that I will ever use in city, in the hills or during touring, almost anywhere but on track. As I mentioned earlier, I am not downgrading. Where the R1 will stop, the 600 will keep going way beyond. Each time I plan a trip on the R1, I really have to reflect on the kind of roads that I will encounter and the inherent shortcomings of this bike. With the Fazer600 I will never have to give it a thought. A likely argument against this choice would be why not the Fazer1000. My answer is simple here. I do not want or need the 150Bhp. I do not want to pay the extra 2L for something I will not want or ever need. And we all know though we may be loath to admit, we all fall. All bikes and bikers fall; standing, trying to park, slip in the grass; there can be a multitude of reasons. I am happier picking up the 600 rather than struggling with two other people trying to lift something 20 kilos heavier.

    I will not go through the whole gamut of manufacturers citing their various ranges. Though I want to make a special mention of a decent bike. I personally would have preferred the inline twin CBF500 from Honda again. The ride report will soon be coming. An ideal touring and marketing and mall-going and India Gate-for-ice-cream machine for me in India could be this. Though it seems that Honda has discontinued this bike since 2008 due to emission norms.

    Yam has built a base. The others are soon to pour in their showpieces. Today Honda is thinking of showcasing the Blade because Yam opened the door and moved ahead. The ball has been set rolling. Now this is the moment of reflection for the manufacturers. This is the time to make a move with a vision and not sit and watch. They must realize that the 1000CC class may continue selling, but sooner than later it will lose steam and stagnate. You cannot mature a biking economy and culture on fully faired Race Replicas alone.

    Coming to the concluding part, we notice the elements missing in biking for enthusiasts hitherto are being gradually taken care of. The biking “education” has begun. The maturity is coming. And global economic crisis notwithstanding the Indian niche two-wheeler motorcycle segment is still rearing its head. What better time than now to soon announce the arrival of some or one of the aforementioned motorcycles. I am gunning for the 600cc bikes. The reasons have been recounted. Remember that one day, not very far from the day you buy your Superbike, you will definitely sell it off sooner than later. Nobody rides a Superbike for long, be it distances or be it in years and you also realize that a 1000CC of Japanese inline fours are somewhat over the top. And if you still remain a biker, the 600 will stay with you.
    Last edited by ken cool; 09-25-2008 at 11:28 AM.
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


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    MotoGrapher Sunny's Avatar
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    Hard Torque Approved

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    Ultimate piece of write-up there. Some very practical and very thought provoking statements...
    Absolutely agreed. 600cc is the segment to look out for if we want to keep that machine with us for long period of time. i am looking forward to Honda Hornet...

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    Nice writeup pal! and nice job putting up meaningful thoughts and words in the writeup. Wow for CBF600F looks! And true, 600CC is the segment to look for. Now, if only they are here and their prices are sweet! My personal choice would be Yamaha Fazer FZ6 S2 !!

  5. #5
    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    For the information of all:
    The difference between the Fazer6 S2 and the Fazer6 is about 19Bhp and 12Nm of Torque, the S2 being more powerful. They even have identical compression ratios.
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


    BMW Motorrad Days 2011

    Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

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    Rusted archistar's Avatar
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    so much of 'gyaan' ken da.... very nice thought....

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    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archistar View Post
    so much of 'gyaan' ken da.... very nice thought....
    If you read through it, you will realize that there is not much 'gyan' really. There are practical issues at stake, economic issues, factors that can and will decide motorcycling future in this country. The stakes are huge, there are big players who seem less tentative than in the not so distant past. The wheels have been set rolling. Obstacles, blocks and other teething problems will be there. But from here, there is only one place that we can look. And you know where it is. I just hope the manufacturers do not make mistakes that might needlessly hamper our movement in the direction that we are looking.

    The hard truth is, most of us wont EVER go to track. Hence most of us wont keep the R1 or the 1000RR or the Gixer for long. But a lot of us tour, will tour and keep touring. It may not be 3000kms a weekend tour. But even short nice rides along the beach, a quick ride to the ghats, a short stint of 200 kms is quite often on the cards. Maybe even 500 over the weekend. A good 600cc will help us get there more often and with more enjoyment and pleasure than what most of us have ever experienced thus far. It is simple. Really.
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


    BMW Motorrad Days 2011

    Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

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    Rusted torque_ankur's Avatar
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    600cc would work great in terms of city riding and occasional touring..which actually never stops..as we keep on riding to small distances, commuting to office/coll. or may be a long tour once in a 6 month.
    .......no doubt litre class is hot fav. but still... very less people are able to stretch them to its limit.
    You Make Your Choices, And You Don't Look Back

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    That was very sensible article Ken! U had ur point of focus all through the article!


    The hard truth is, most of us wont EVER go to track. Hence most of us wont keep the R1 or the 1000RR or the Gixer for long. But a lot of us tour, will tour and keep touring. It may not be 3000kms a weekend tour. But even short nice rides along the beach, a quick ride to the ghats, a short stint of 200 kms is quite often on the cards. Maybe even 500 over the weekend.
    you spoke my heart out! Most of us here look for a weekend blast to nearest tourist place, than too to the nearest race track ! So my point is, the tourers or the sports tourers should be emphasized more!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    my Travelogue -> www.roadsonwheels.com

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    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prabhubravo View Post
    That was very sensible article Ken! U had ur point of focus all through the article!

    you spoke my heart out! Most of us here look for a weekend blast to nearest tourist place, than too to the nearest race track ! So my point is, the tourers or the sports tourers should be emphasized more!
    BINGO! Somebody got my point finally. Ouf!

    And that too we are a bunch of bikers who take a while to understand our needs. Imagine those guys "up there" in the corridors of power and the other bunch of guys who form lobbies and arm-twist those in the corridors, imagine the time they take to realize things and effectuate them with their pea sized brains and Gargantuan egos and babudom methods!
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


    BMW Motorrad Days 2011

    Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

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