Author Archives: Akhil Kalsh

About Akhil Kalsh

Akhil has been a biking fan since his umbilical was cut. He got his hands on a Pulsar 150 when he was in college and has ridden its sorry ass about 50,000 kilometers since over most of India, including Ladakh. Now he can be seen on a Duke 390 trying to run as far away from civilization as possible.

A few ideas about becoming a better biker in 2017

This piece is in continuation to this article. During the last 2 years I’ve experimented with a number of different strategies, some of them worked, most did not.

Last month I put up a poll on this website asking people if they noticed an improvement in their riding during 2016. Out of the 141 voter, 73% said yes.

I don’t believe them.

Such extreme positivity about your riding skills is either overconfidence, or a lack of understanding of what “becoming a better biker” means.

When I ask you if you’ve improved as a motorcyclist, I do not mean that you’ve gained a few thousand kilometers worth of experience, or that you finally picked up some proper riding gear, or that you didn’t crash. All those things are awesome, but they are not enough.

A better biker not only improves his riding skills, but evolves as a better human being by using motorcycles as a base upon which he can build himself. One of the biggest reasons why people are unable to change their lives is lack of motivation. A biker has a vast pool of natural inspiration that pushes him to ride. If you don’t channel that energy to improve your life as a whole, what’s the fucking point.

In that direction, here are a few ideas that I’ll try and apply to my life in this year.

1. Give up riding for a few weeks

It is very easy to start enjoying bikes so much that you completely ignore all others means of transport. Some people are actually proud of this behavior, including myself at one point. There are numerous problems with this system though.

First, like I’ve said many times before, motorcycles are nothing special, and dedicating your entire life experience to just one type of machinery is stupid.

Second, by giving up on driving, cycling, and public transport, you also give up on a vast set of experiences that could’ve improved your riding indirectly. For example, if you’ve never driven a car, it is less likely that you’ll be accurately able to predict the movements of others drivers on the road.

Lastly, this lack of knowledge, coupled with the monotony of existence with just one form of transport, leads to frustration. You get angry at bus drivers for overtaking you on a blind turn, you should’ve instead expected that to happen if you’d noticed the life of a bus driver, and hence taken steps to ease their pain and your own.

Cycle, drive, take the train, fly, walk, run, hitchhike, the world is your stage. Not only will you end up with a richer life filled with random ups and downs, you’ll also end up connecting with a much larger and more diverse set of people than what bikes will ever get you.

2. Ride something different

Last year I rented the Daytona and the Benelli 600i. I enjoyed riding them, more so the Triumph than the fat piece of TNT, but the most interesting part of that experience was the way I rode when I went back to my Duke 390. The simple act of me having ridden a bigger, heavier, faster bike made me much more confident on the smaller, lighter, slower one.

The biggest reason for this change was the fact that I wasn’t afraid anymore.

The progression of a rider’s life usually follows a slow path upwards, you start with shit scooties, then you move up to shit commuter bikers, and then over the years you get to own and ride bigger, faster machines. Every time you make the step up, you are afraid. You are afraid of the speed, of dropping the bike, of crashing. With time you get used to the bike, but a small part of that fear never goes away. In the end, you end up never pushing your bike over 60%, because in your mind that’s the absolute limit.

Imagine you are a beginner who just graduated from an Activa to a Pulsar 150. You were a bit afraid of the gears and the clutch, but you learned quickly and now you’re quite happy with your abilities. One day a friend of yours comes along and offers you a ride of his Duke 390. You’ve heard plenty of horror stories of KTMs, so you accept, but with fear. You start her up, somehow struggle through the traffic, and then find an open stretch where you see that speedo climb over 150 kmph like it’s a zit. The braking is better, the grip is phenomenal, the acceleration is mental. After a few hours, the party ends, and you are back to your trusty 150.

Your riding style on the Pulsar changes immediately, you’ve seen level 5, level 2 doesn’t scare you anymore.

This effect is even more pronounced when you ride something that’s smaller than what you normally ride. When I rode the Aprilia SR150, there wasn’t even a single fleeting thought of fear in my brain. I have ridden much bigger bikes for far too long to be scared of a measly little scootie. This meant that I truly enjoyed the experience, I pushed, scraped the side stand, made the tires squeal. The same happened when I rode the Navi, I actually did sustained powerslides in dirt on that thing, apart from some rather gnarly trails. Also, I really had fun riding the RS200 on the track, it was so rewarding to have to work the bike hard to get that swing off the corner exits, to downshift madly, and to actually get to twist the throttle all the way round.

The pleasure of feeling totally dominant on your motorcycle takes years of practice and knowledge. One of the easiest ways to make this process faster is to ride every kind of bike you can get your hands on.

Of course it goes without saying that you’ll need to use your brains in certain situations. I still haven’t ridden a liter class bike till date because I’m quite certain I’ll end up dead.

3. Seek knowledge from books, movies and videos

This is one area where our automotive websites and “influencers” rarely ever put any stress, and I don’t understand why. Experience is a big part of motorcycle riding, it is a very visceral activity that can’t be directly derived from bookish knowledge. However, by giving up on that vast repository of books, movies and videos that concern a biker, you are missing out on some truly remarkable and intellectually stimulating works of art.

When I read Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I realized that the book had nothing to do with bikes, and yet it remains one of the most profound works of literature that I’ve ever read. When I saw On any Sunday, I realized how unimaginably huge the culture of motorcycle riding is in this world, and what a hilariously insignificant spec I am in it. When I saw this interview of Freddie Spencer, I realized just how intricate motorcycle racing is, and how much effort people put into being who they are.

Sam Manicom’s books have taken me around the world, Twist of the Wrist has scrambled my brains, motorcycle crash videos have taught me so much. Riding kicks ass, but don’t miss out on other aspects of this enormous culture that you’re a part of.

4. Ride in dirt

This is something I did a lot last year, and thoroughly had fun with. Even though my bike wasn’t even remotely prepared for this kind of riding, and neither was I, I didn’t let that piece of logic stop my stupidity.

Riding in dirt is much more than just about riding. It’s exploration, since you usually end up just finding new paths into nowhere. It’s serene, since you usually find yourself far away from civilization. And it’s dangerous, since one little mistake can cost you dearly.

It is such a beautiful feeling to find that your motorcycle is able to take you to places a car could not. It is at that moment that you truly start appreciating the power of two wheels, and the freedom it spawns inside you. You take huge risks, sometimes things backfire, but the overall experience is never ever negative.

Although I enjoy riding alone in dirt sometimes, I usually try to have company. I also gear up at the same level in dirt as I do on the track. The reason for both of these behaviors is the same, dirt is dangerous, and it’s better to be prepared than be sorry.

5. Learn how to service your bike

I am not the kind of guy who likes to get his hands dirty. I am not mechanically sound either. I’ve always depended on mechanics for all my maintenance needs for most of my life.

In the last year, I got fed up of riding into a service station every few thousand kilometers to get my chain tightened. Then I got a bit frustrated with the oil changes. Slowly, I bought the tools needed for both these activities, and started doing them myself.

It started quite disastrously though. My first attempt to tighten the chain ended up with me in a fit of anger since the number of threads on the left and right side of the swingarm never matched, no matter what I tried. One time I attempted to fix a crash protector on the bike myself, and ended up riding a few kilometers without the main bolts that mount the engine onto the frame. I suffer from major OCD itches, and every time I tinker with my bike I end up in circles of minute adjustments that end in some bolt’s threads getting sheared off.

And yet I continue.

After a year’s worth of chain adjustments, I finally understood quite recently the orientation of the bolts, how they should be turned, and by how much. I’m still quite new with engine oil changes, but I enjoy that moment when you remove the drain bolt and your hand gets smeared in stale, black, dead engine blood.

I do not believe that doing these things creates some connection with me and my motorcycle. I’m not a romantic, I still look at my bike as a combination of moving parts that does what I tell it to. However, I like the feeling of control I get from understanding how my bike works, I like the fact that if it misbehaves I know how to make it fall back in line, I like that my dominance over the machine extends beyond what it can do, to why it does that.

Saves money too.

6. Get fit and healthy

Riding is a physical experience, not as sedentary as driving, but it’s still not an alternative to exercise. Some specific types of riding can improve your mental and physical health, but you are the one who has to do most of the work.

A few months ago I tried dirt track riding with the Motovation people, it was a singularly exhausting experience. As my friend Alex put it.

“Rather than calling it a dirt track day, you should call it a weight loss program, that way you’ll get far more people.”

I did some 4 laps of that 3 km dirt track, and all I wanted by the end was the sweet release of death to ease my pain. Asphalt track riding in that respect is far more forgiving, I can do 15, maybe 20 laps before I want to kill myself.

Being fit and healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you must be thin, go to the gym, and have abs. If you’ve ever seen Rossi with his shirt off, you’ll know what I mean. He’s as fit as a horse, but looks like a poor, white, low class rickshaw puller. I exercised at a gym for a few years, and I enjoyed that experience, but nowadays all I do is walk, run and cycle, and that’s more than enough to make me feel as good as being able to bench press 50 kgs.

The more difficult part is mental health. It is true that bikers generally enjoy better mental health than most because of the very nature of motorcycle riding. Riding is adventurous, it opens you up to different people and experiences, and it momentarily helps you forget the unending misery and sadness that pervades life. However, in this respect as well you must make efforts of your own, rather than just depending on bikes.

I’ve been listening to this book about mental health and ways to maintain it, and it’s quite beautiful in the way it looks at the very basics of our thoughts, behaviors and emotions, along with examples of real people. I’ve also been watching this Youtube series that tells you so much about the way human thought has evolved over the millenia. I recently finished a book about Hitler, another about all the philosophers in the world till date, and am finally reading the entire Sherlock Holmes.

This is what I do to keep myself happy, your methods may be different. Whatever they may be, invest time, money and effort in them, and the results will show up in every area of your life, including riding.

SJCAM M20 review: The best budget action camera

You can pick up this camera from the SJCAM India official site with a 10% discount by using the code RIDER10.

Before we begin this, I would like you to understand something I’ve said repeatedly in my articles, but is rather easy to miss.

I am not an expert in anything, and when I say that the SJCAM M20 is the best budget action camera in the market right now, that is nothing more than my opinion, based on the narrow set of experiences I have with action cameras, in an even narrower set of circumstances.

When you are out in the market to buy an action camera then, I would like you to take my opinion as a very small component of the entire critical argument you should have with yourself, and hopefully you’ll slowly learn to apply the same logic to all your future decisions, big and small.

As far as action cameras go, I have talked in detail if you should even buy one or not in the beginning of this review, along with other useful info about the SJCAM buying and camera options, and I’d like if you go through that.

Motorcycles, wives, and action cameras are real easy to get, but living with them is an entirely different domain.

I would also like you to know that I didn’t buy this camera, it was sent to me by SJCAM India. It is extremely rare that I get something to review from a manufacturer, and the SJCAM people were unbelievably nice to me, and thus it is not impossible that my review is biased, which should be all the more reason for you to not take my word for anything.

Having said that, I was extremely impressed by the way this camera worked for the 2 months that I had it with me, and even more impressed by the amount of abuse it took, without trouble. I shot more than 50 GB of footage with it, and here is one example of the final product I was able to create.

Throughout this review I’ll try and give you more examples of what this camera is capable of, and here’s my detailed review of the SJCAM M20, starting with the negatives first, since they are nothing too serious.

SJCAM M20 review: Negatives

1. Cluttered interface

This one has continued from the 5000X Elite review, as will a number of other negatives. My criticism of the unbelievably stupid UI of SJCAMs was absolute, however, since then it has been pointed out to me that Git cameras are even worse in this department, hence comparatively the M20 is not bad.

My complaint with the software is very simple, it is entirely disorganized and very unintuitive. There are far too many options, many of which don’t even do anything, and all of these options appear separately in all the sub-menus, which is just idiotic. I do not know why it was designed this way, but it can be vastly improved in a few very simple steps.

2. Unintuitive button actions

This negative is also carried forward from the 5000X Elite, however the issue is made worse due to the way the design of this camera is. The problem with the 5000X Elite is that the buttons work in mysterious ways, one click of the start/stop button may or may not start/stop the video, depending on the state of the screen, apart from the mood the camera is in. With the M20, there’s an additional issue.

Both the power and start/stop buttons are on the top of the M20, unlike the Elite, on which one is on the front, and the other on the top. Now picture this, you are looking at your camera in the mirror, trying to press the start/stop button to finish the video off. What button should you press? Both of them look the same, and even if you generally remember that this one is for power and the other is for video functions, many a times you end up looking at the camera in a mirror, and that confuses things even more.

The side buttons work fine though, even if their number has been reduced to 2 on the M20 from 3 on the 5000X Elite. It is possible that I didn’t face much issues with the side buttons because I never bothered with the WiFi, which is activated by the same “up” button.

3. No external mic input

No surprises here either, the universal hate for 3.5mm mic jacks that the SJCAM people share is visible in the M20 too, however this issue leads to greater problems in the M20 than it caused in the 5000X Elite.

Since the M20 doesn’t come with a mic jack, this camera gets automatically taken off the list for anyone who is serious about Motovlogging. Although I find Motovlogging to be a rather awkward and half-assed way of getting your point across, its popularity in the last few years cannot be ignored.

4. Bad audio quality

In continuation of the last point, the M20 suffers even further in the audio department because of the way the internal mic is setup. Here’s a video example of what I’m talking about, although I must warn you that the following footage may be disturbing to some viewers.

Okay then, apart from the weirdness and the psychotic brain activity, I would like you to focus on how the audio changes with respect to the position of the camera. Most action cam internal mics are more or less omnidirectional, which means that no matter what orientation you hold the camera in, upside down, face up, backside, the audio volume remains fairly consistent. This is not the case with the M20, which might be so because the mic is recessed deep inside the camera body, with openings only under the screen.

The bigger problem is that even if you do hold the camera in the correct position to get the maximum audio output, it is still quite sucky. If you keep the internal audio volume at anything below 9, you can’t hear anything, at all. If you keep it at 9, you can hear a bit of sound, but nothing workable. If you keep it at 10, you can clearly hear the sound, but with the addition of a massive amount of noise.

Overall, the audio quality of the M20 is by far the worst I have ever found on any camera.

5. Low intensity lights

As you might have already noticed, the faults in any SJCAM run through the entire family, and this is no exception. The 5000X Elite’s blue light was simply invisible, the M20’s yellowish orange light is a bit better, but still falls far short of the way it should be.

In bright light, I had to bring the camera right to my eyes to know what was going on. Things were even worse when I was wearing my helmet and goggles. It must be added that my eyes are absolutely shit, hence it is possible that you may not face similar levels of pain while using this camera, however I’m sure that if the lights were brighter, things would be better for everybody, not just visually impaired cunts like me.

6. New mounts

With the M20, I also got to try out some of the new mounts SJCAM has added to their lineup. There was only one positive in this experience, in the form of a sticky mount that could rotate on its axis, I had great fun with that. Everything else is either pointless, or destructive.

It appears that SJCAM people decided to kind of flatten their mounts a bit, which I don’t really understand the need for. The main problem is their new J mounts, and the way they are supposed to clip inside the sticky mount. In my opinion, what SJCAM has done is a clear case of trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

With a normal GoPro J mount, you pinch the two arms, and slide the thing out of the sticky mount. Has worked awesome for centuries. To remove the new SJCAM mount, you have to lift the front top section, and then slide it out. The problem is that no matter how much power you put in, the damn thing doesn’t move. I only saw this miracle happening once at the hands of the guy who distributes SJCAMs in India, every attempt that I made to dislodge the fucker ended in a failure.

SJCAM M20 review: Positives

1. Exceptional gyro stabilization

I would rather let the video do the talking.

If you weren’t impressed by the stability of that footage, you should be. This video was shot at the Motovation dirt track near Hyderabad, and it’s rough. I was quite certain of not getting any footage at all, but the final result really surprised me.

I’m not sure if it’s a hardware or a software upgrade, but the gyro stabilization of the M20 feels substantially better than that on the 5000X Elite. Like on the Elite, using the gyro doesn’t seem to affect battery life at all, which is why I used it in all situations, except when a wide field of view was most important.

2. Nice video quality

This is what matters in the end, a camera that doesn’t help you publish good final footage is good for nothing, no matter how much it costs or what gimmicks it has. I generally shot at 1080p and nothing higher, simply because my laptop can’t process anything beyond that. Here’s a short clip of what I was able to do with this camera.

I am not a high-level videographer, and for me the camera delivers more than what I need. The colors are awesome, the stability is great, the footage is smooth, and the overall feel is realistic. The way this camera handles sudden changes in brightness could be improved, but that problem happens with all cameras.

Low-light video quality is nothing special though, there’s a lot of noise, diffraction, and overall the footage doesn’t feel usable for any artistic requirements. It still could be used for safety purposes though, for example a dashcam.

3. Great value for money

This, for me, is the biggest reason why I feel the SJCAM M20 is the best budget action camera in the market right now. You get a camera with some amazing capabilities, plus a bunch of different accessories, plus warranty and support, and all for the cost of a second-hand GoPro Hero 3.

The battery life is not bad, some 1.5 hours, and you can swap batteries easily, while being able to use the camera as it is charging. It doesn’t take too long to charge either, unlike the 5000X Elite. It weighs nothing, looks discreet, and does everything an action cam is expected to do. For the more fashion conscious out there, you even get the option of colors, plus a selfie stick.

4. Remote connectivity

One of the main reasons why the software and hardware of the M20 did not frustrate me as much as the 5000X Elite’s did, is because of the remote that came with the camera. Thanks to the remote, you no longer have to slither through the options on the cam, just the 5 buttons on the remote do it all for you. More importantly, the buttons on the remote work much more intuitively than the buttons on the cam. For example, pressing the power button shuts the camera down, irrespective of the state of the screen.

You can mount the remote on your handlebar, or wear it as a watch, or just leave it on your selfie stick. In every situation, it makes the act of using the cam into a delightful experience. I think the M20 is sold bundled with the remote by default, but if you do get to choice to buy it or not, buy it, it changes everything.

5. Light weight

The M20 weighs 55 grams. For comparison, the GoPro Hero 5 session weighs 73 grams.

When mounted on the helmet, you barely even notice it. Due to its low weight, it remains much more stable on mounts around the motorcycle. I personally prefer the shape of the M20 as against the shape of the 5000X Elite, it just feels more streamlined, better in every way.

6. Usable as a dashcam

Like all SJCAMs, the M20 can be used as a dashcam, since it comes with loop recording and a dedicated car mode. Like all SJCAMs though, it is not really a good idea to use them as dashcams for a number of reasons.

They are not discreet enough, are too easily noticeable from outside the car. They are mainly designed to be used for adventure, hence the mountings will need some special attention. Also, dashcams are supposed to be setup once and then left there for good, if you plan to rotate the M20 between dashcam and riding duties, you will most likely find yourself frustrated.

SJCAM M20 review: Verdict

The M20 is one hell of a device, and here are my suggestions to the SJCAM people about how they can make it even better:

  1. Add some mark on the housing and the camera that makes it easy to differentiate between the power and the start/stop button. For example, you could add a red mark next to the power button on the housing, and same on the cam itself.
  2. Convert all the lights on the camera into bright, red colored lights. Also, increase the frequency of their blinking a bit, the time between them turning on, off, and then on again is too high right now.
  3. Add a goddamn mic jack.
  4. Clear up the interface, delete options that are not important, organize those which are into one single menu setting.

That’s it, you do this and what you get is the ultimate action camera money can buy.

You may have noticed that I didn’t talk about the SJCAM app at all throughout this review, this is because I didn’t use it even once. With the remote, I never felt the need to fiddle with the WiFi and connect the app, and on top of that the SJCAM app is quite shit, as I found out while using it with the 5000X Elite.

Overall, I highly recommend this camera to anybody who is new to adventure videography, or just wants a cheap, lightweight alternative to a GoPro. Below is a small playlist to give you an idea of what this thing can do, and I hope that helps you make your decision better.

Few thoughts about the Bajaj Dominar 400 launch

I’ve just finished watching the Dominar 400 launch stream. It took a lot of effort to not kill myself.

Here are a few thoughts I had during the launch, about the bike, and the launch itself.

What the fuck is wrong with Bajaj’s marketing department?

While watching the launch feed, I really felt the need to actually watch what the Bajaj’s marketing team looked like, to see what kind of people would create this kind of campaign. A few searches on Google gave me this result, which explains a lot.

Yes, that’s an actual photo of the Bajaj’s marketing department for the Dominar 400, taken during a small team outing.

The fact that the Dominar launch campaign was designed by a bunch of BDSM loving Goth Vampires makes a lot of sense. How else can you explain the name of the bike, which brings the mental picture of an 18 inch vibrating dildo with metal spikes all over? What about the tagline “Dominate the night”? Or that weird Dracula music? Or that group of Dementors dressed appropriately for a Christian ritualistic orgy, which probably also doubled up as the after-launch party?

The most clear proof for this theory is the fact that the announcer at the event would’ve been totally at home doing a death metal gig, rather than the sorry, raspy, coughy excuse for a job that he ended up with. The weird guy with the white mask who was guarding the bike also helps my hypothesis.

If this theory is disproved, I have another one.

I firmly believe that Bajaj’s marketing and advertisement department is composed entirely of fat racist squirrels who suffer from extreme attention deficit disorder. Their campaigns at the launch of the RS200 can be used as evidence in this regard, and so can this one for the Dominar 400.

The fact that the most interesting part of the entire live feed was that point when the cameraman shouted at the photographers to sit down, and followed it up with “Bike ko ghar leke chale ja”, proves my point beyond all doubt.

What happened to Bajaj? These are the people who did Pulsarmania, and that “Definitely Male” advertisement series, both of which were iconic in their originality and execution, and still to this day remain one of the best motorcycle launch campaigns I have ever seen. How did it come to this point where every Bajaj launch is by default expected to be another exercise in epic stupidity?

And then there was Mr. Bajaj himself. If you didn’t know already, someone watching the live feed could’ve mistaken it for a university management lesson. Nobody gives a shit about your philosophy Mr. Bajaj, publish a blog post like a normal human being and launch the damn bike without boring us with your ideology. His speech has such a massive contrast to the way Steve Jobs launched something, he sounds like a headmaster, someone entirely removed from the reality of the situation.

This entire festival of idiocy stands out even more due to the comparison it draws against the way Mahindra Mojo was launched. Mojo was launched to the people first, and then a bit of time was wasted in presentations and shit. The fact that Bajaj totally disregarded that marketing model proves it even further that they are managed by a bunch of BDSM loving Goth Vampire racist squirrels who suffer from extreme attention deficit disorder.

The bike

Dominar 400 looks like an excellent bike, on paper.

34 bhp and 35 Nm of torque is nice, so is the 6 speed gearbox, and the pricing is insane. 1.36 lacs ex-showroom for the non-ABS model, and 14,000 bucks more for the ABS one is mental. It’s fuel injected, which is awesome, and has a slipper clutch, which as a selling point is nice, although it may not add much to the overall riding experience.

The 182 kgs of weight is not bad, if it’s wet. The 13 liter fuel tank is bad, especially considering the fact that it is supposed to be a cruiser. The 148 kmph top speed is hopefully not electronically limited, I’m sure the bike will cross 150 easily if given the chance, but it looks like it’ll have no problems cruising at 120 all day.

There are still a number of details that are missing, the tires is one, cooling system is another. Then you have the ground clearance and the seat height and the service interval.

The biggest factor to consider here is the fact that the Mojo is also a brilliant bike on paper, but in the real world it presents a number of issues which you can read about here. This could also be the case with the Dominar, which has a similar stance and a similar “let’s make everyone happy” ideology behind it.

Also, the Dominar looks like a bike that’s been developed from scratch, consequently there are going to be a large number of teething problems. Hence, the decision regarding how good the bike is can only be made 6 months after the deliveries begin.

Will Dominar kill the Mojo?

It is possible.

Based on the information we have at this moment, the Dominar trumps the Mojo in all departments. It costs less, makes more power, has ABS as an option, looks better, has a single exhaust setup, and inherits the advantage of Bajaj’s vast service network. I can’t think of any reason why someone will choose the Mojo over the Dominar, but then again the Mojo really irritates me on a personal level, which as an emotion may not be shared by everyone.

One major disadvantage that the Dominar would most likely have would stem from the lack of quality in Bajaj’s parts. This disadvantage is even more likely to be present given the ridiculous price it has been launched at. Mojo has done relatively good as far as refinement and quality of spares goes, although they certainly could’ve done much better. Having said that, this alone cannot be a reason good enough to choose the Mojo over the Dominar, especially considering the narrow Indian mindset that values money above all else.

Will Dominar kill Royal Enfield?

No.

Royal Enfields do not sell based on logic, in fact they, like religion, sell exclusively to the illogical. A man who buys a Bullet does not buy it for the bike, but for the emotions it is connected with, his childhood memories, the people he looks up to, and the whole cult that has spawned around Royal Enfield.

It is true that the Dominar could do everything that any Royal Enfield motorcycle can, and do it much better. It is true that as a motorcycle, the Dominar can safely be assumed to be a far better example of engineering when compared to any Royal Enfield. It is also true that the Dominar should be the logical choice over any Royal Enfield for any literate human being, but none of this matters.

As long as men are insecure about the size of their penis, as long as legions of humans don’t mind being brainwashed as long as they belong, as long as the value one attaches to himself remains dependent on external factors, Royal Enfields will sell like tissues at a Bukkake.

Will Dominar kill the Duke 200 and 390?

No.

The fact that the Dominar doesn’t really compete against the 390 is rather obvious. One is a cruiser that is supposedly easy to handle, the other is a streetbike that constantly wants to murder you. Duke 390 is for the people who enjoy the track, Dominar is for the people who want to take their wife to the beauty parlor.

The comparison of Dominar to the Duke 200 is a bit more complicated. Duke 200 remains the best beginner to mid-level rider bike in India in my opinion. It is far lighter than the Dominar, will be far more agile too, and already has a large base of after-market parts and accessories to make it useful for any type of riding. Youngsters would most likely still pick it over the Dominar, owing to the flashy orange and the general association with coolness.

It is true that someone with a budget around 1.5 lacs may get confused between the Dominar and the Duke 200, but I believe the choice will be rather easy to make. People looking for some excitement, especially beginners, will go with the Duke. Relatively experienced bikers looking for something easy to take them places should go with the Dominar.

You shouldn’t forget that Bajaj owns KTM, and the Dominar has been intelligently designed to be different from the Dukes by its very essence.

Will Dominar be a game changer?

Probably not.

As much as Mr. Bajaj might want to play up how “big” the bike is and how many gazillions they are going to sell, I don’t think the Dominar is going to be a success at the level of the Pulsar family. I also don’t think it will be able to grab much share from the Royal Enfields, neither do I believe it’ll shuffle the market in any big way.

The Mojo attempted to upset the superiority of RE in the cheap cruiser department, and it hasn’t exactly worked out well for them. I don’t think the Dominar story will be any different. Following Mojo’s example, I also don’t think a large number of Squids would end up buying this bike. Squids need agility, to be able to slalom the bike from left to right as a proof of the infection inside their brains. The Dominar feels like a mature bike, unwilling to participate in the fucktardery of pubescent vaginal cramps.

Tourers would be the ideal candidates to pick up this thing, and they most likely would, but their numbers against the entire market are negligible. As much as I like the concept of this bike. something with decent power, comfort, and ABS, I think I have grown out of the need for this bike, and would rather go for something bigger. In other words, even for tourers, the Dominar would end up being a transitional bike, something that helps them move onto 600cc bikes, or something that they fall back on when they have ridden everything.

It might look like I’m not really happy with the bike, but that would be wrong. As a motorcycle, the Dominar is a huge step for the Indian market. It has everything that a biker like me needs, at an astounding price. The reason why I’m not too positive about it all is because motorcycles are like wives, you never understand them well enough until you start living with them.

We haven’t even seen a proper ride review of this bike yet, except this one, hence we all must calm our tits down.

There of course would be people who would go ahead and buy one from the first lot, and I admire your balls. As far as I’m concerned, I would let time decide if the Dominar 400 is worth my time.

England, bikes, and the complexity of chasing the dream

In case you didn’t know, I am in the United Kingdom right now. As much as I’d like to take credit for this achievement, it had absolutely nothing to do with me. My wife works in IT, and she’s here for an onsite assignment, and I joined the party as a dependent.

I’m writing this from a beautiful hotel room that overlooks the Milton Keynes marina. There are boats outside, and white swans, and beautiful exhaust notes of fast cars and big bikes. We’ll sadly have to move out of this place in a few days to a more permanent temporary home, but I’m sure that’ll be an experience in itself.

This article is in parallel with Shumi’s latest opinion, in the sense that it looks at the complexities of the act of “Chasing the dream”. The content of his post, and more so the title, does not give enough stress on the fact that not only is the process of finding “the dream” an extremely difficult one, even when you do happen to find something to chase, the end of the chase, and the chase itself, may end up being entirely different from what you’d imagined. A simple example would be fact that what Shumi is doing with his life is a dream worth chasing for a lot of other people, and yet the thoughts of someone in his position invariably go towards doing something else.

This article is also meant to be a place where I’ll try to organize my thoughts about what I should do here with the limited time that I have. On a deeper level, this is an attempt to understand the Things vs. Experiences debate, and to really grasp the complexity of this thought train, especially when it crosses tracks with money.

I apologize in advance if this post becomes too abstract, too intricate or too weird, I’ve been watching too many books and videos about philosophy lately, and although I believe they are helping me better understand the world and myself, they do tend to use too much jargon, and sometimes feel a bit elitist, which breeds in you this feeling that your knowledge of this knowledge makes you better than others, which it doesn’t.

As always, I’ll now try to break down my thought process into small, digestible parts, which by the end of this piece should hopefully bless us with a pleasing, heart-warming brain fart.

The situation

I am not certain how much time I have in this country, but it’s safe to assume that it’ll be roughly 3 months. My visa is actually for 11 months, but I can’t really expect to stay back here and chug chilled, sparkling beer with my English pals, while my wife flies back home, works, and pays for the aforementioned chilled, sparkling beer.

This is probably the worst time to be in England as far as the weather goes. The temperature outside drops below zero at night, snowfall should start sometime soon, and it’s just a generally foggy, wet, miserable time to be here.

My wife leaves for office around 9 in the morning, and comes back by 8 at night. My job is to provide moral support, take care of any tasks outside the office, and basically just be around. This means that I have plenty of free time, which is a good or a bad thing, depending on perspective.

The options

Since I have so much free time, I could do a number of things. The problem begins when you start comparing one of those things with the others, and then can’t decide what should be done and for what reason. The main assumption here is that I don’t want to use my wife’s Pounds, anything that I spend for myself must be earned by me.

Option 1: Just write

As of this moment, I have 31 different article and video ideas that I could pursue and finish. Yes, that’s thirty one distinct article and video ideas. Based on my normal routine of writing 3 articles a week, this should be enough material for more than 2 months, which should get extended even further as new ideas join the queue.

Advantages:

  1. A giant clearing of backlog, extremely OCD satisfying.
  2. A big help to my online revenue, which could use all the fucking help in the world.
  3. An overall growth as a writer, by spending a few months in pursuit of pure writing.

Disadvantages:

  1. Boring, majority of the time would be spent in front of this stupid laptop.
  2. No real chance of travel around UK or around, since travel needs money, and I won’t be making any.
  3. Distinct possibility of all that time spent to be good for nothing, in terms of the advantages above.

Option 2: Drive a cab

This is something I’ve wanted to do since a long time, to experience what it feels like to be a taxi driver. There could be no better place to try it, the roads here are unbelievably beautiful, the road sense even more so. From what I’ve read and seen, it’s not too bad money wise either, but nothing spectacularly good.

Advantages:

  1. An incredible opportunity to really understand the people of England.
  2. An incredible opportunity to really understand the roads of England.
  3. Money.

Disadvantages:

  1. Requires big initial investment, most cab drivers here own the cars they drive, which is important if you want to do it part-time only.
  2. Requires investment in time, money and effort to secure the necessary licenses and medical certificates.
  3. All this investment might be in vain if I get only a few days of driving to do.

Option 3: Work at restaurant, gas station, or shop

Another one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, it would be quite easy to get it done here. There’s such a huge lack of manpower in this country that any place you go to perpetually has a “Help Wanted” sign in front of it. The money is rather OK too, especially when converted to Indian Rupees, although it can be a bit dangerous to think of it that way.

Advantages:

  1. Guarantee of some interesting experiences.
  2. Money.
  3. Small chance of a life-changing change in perspective towards life by character development through a menial job.

Disadvantages:

  1. Greatly reduced chances of travel.
  2. Possibility of chewing more than I can swallow.
  3. Lack of availability to wifey.

Option 4: Pick up a bicycle and ride around

This is the option I’m inclined towards the most at the moment. I could pick up a super cheap cycle, like the shittiest one front some yard sale or from a dumpster, and then ride it through UK, Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland, maybe even some parts of Europe, while surviving on goodness of mankind and a lot of couch surfing.

Advantages:

  1. Exploration at its best, slow, intimate, and a bit stupid.
  2. Big opportunity to see the life and understand the people in a post-Brexit UK.
  3. Cheap, when not free.

Disadvantages:

  1. Weather conditions might lead to serious complications, things that I am not even aware of, far from being prepared for.
  2. Extremely demanding physically, not sure if a fat fuck like me would be up for it.
  3. No time for wifey.

Option 5: Dedicate this time to books, learning, and knowledge

I currently have pending 8 audio books, 1 physical book, and millions of Youtube videos, it would be so easy to just sit back and try to finish some of them. I have recently developed interest in 2 main fields, philosophy and psychology, and the time that I have could be used in scratching the surfaces of these 2 massive icebergs.

Advantages:

  1. A beautiful opportunity to understand Plato, Kant and CBT in the serenity of Milton Keynes.
  2. Wifey should be very happy, if a bit confused by my attempts to psychoanalyze her.
  3. Possible growth as a human.

Disadvantages:

  1. Not something that can’t be done back in India, feels like a wasted opportunity to be in a different country and just read books.
  2. No money = No travel.
  3. Small chance of getting infected by a harmful idea and destroying my life.

Option 6: A combination

There could be a sort of middle path between these options, but I’m scared that I’d end up doing none of them rather than both of them. For example, I could combine writing with either working at a restaurant or reading about philosophy, however, I have realized over time that I need a clear mind and a lot of free time before ideas start converting into alphabets, although that is something I’d like to change.

Advantages:

  1. A chance to experience different things in a limited amount of time.
  2. To earn a bit of money while getting time for other things too.
  3. A good balance between personal goals and wifey’s happiness.

Disadvantages:

  1. Small chance of success, based on previous experiences.
  2. Might end up spreading myself too thin and feeling unsatisfied with the overall results.
  3. Will require planning, will power, and hard work, none of which I excel at.

In case you are wondering why I’m not thinking of doing something around motorcycles, there are a number of reasons for that.

First off, motorcycles need money, to buy and then run, along with riding gear, and I don’t have money.

Second, any plans to ride around in the upcoming weather are simply suicidal. Even if I do buy heated gear somehow, it’ll all be useless back in India.

Third, I do not want to be restricted towards the places I can see by my means of transport. This needs elaboration, which I don’t want to give.

Fourth, motorcycles are too fast for the kind of travel that I’d like to do here. England is a small country, you can technically “see” it all in a single day of riding.

Fifth, I did try to get a job at a motorcycle shop, showroom, website over here, just to be close to bikes, but none of them wanted me.

Sixth, and most importantly, I would like to stay away from bikes for a bit. They are brilliant, but life is about more than just two wheels.

Things vs. Experiences and the money problem

In case you didn’t notice this while we went through the options mentioned above, the basic question seems to be this.

Should my time, money, and effort be invested in acquiring more things, or should it be invested in gaining more experiences?

The answer is quite difficult to find out, mainly because a majority of the time experiences require things, and many things can also give you experiences. You may also have noticed that in every option, money plays a big role. I’m not saying that money is essential for all experiences, but it is an undeniable fact that a large majority of experiences require at least some level of monetary investment.

It is very easy to say that you shouldn’t worry about shiny things, that you should always choose experiences. It is also very easy to say that as a whole, your path in life should be one of moderation, something that lets you enjoy things, pay for experiences, and still save something for the future. The problem with both of these ideas is that they, like Shumi’s article, are very general, and do not consider the depth of the thoughts and the difficulty of choice that follows.

It is also very easy to say that this entire article is an exercise in massive overthinking, and I would agree with you on that. More often than not, the final choice that you end up making seems so logical, that you wonder why you were worried with other options to begin with. However, I enjoy the process of contemplation, I like organizing my thoughts, no matter how useless that might be in the long run.

My understanding of the nuances of the things vs. experiences argument aren’t fully developed yet, hence I’ll let them run their course and write something when I am able to put into words the fleeting thoughts as they are right now.

The brain fart

Thinking such thoughts can be a bit depressing, but there are also other thoughts that make you feel happier.

For example, yes it’s sad that I’m in a foreign country and wasting my time writing shit articles that make no sense, but I’m also happy that I’m not here as a student under debt. It is sad that I would have to compromise on outright travel if I want to make money for travel, but it’s good that I at least have the choice, unlike a lot of people with kids and dependent parents.

I’m happy, and that’s all that matters.

Emergency motorcycle braking: A few thoughts

This post came into existence due to a question asked by a friend on Facebook, and also due to this interview of a multiple motorcycle world champion.

As much as I’d like to make my life simple, and try to generally simplify my thoughts, behaviors and emotions, the more I think about anything, the more I realize how complex everything is. Here’s the question that I was asked, which looks rather benign, straightforward, easy.

Let’s say I am on full throttle, suddenly spot an animal on the highway, and wish to stop in the least possible time, on a bike without ABS. Any tips?

The first thought that came to mind was “Brake like hell and pray to God!”, but that’s not very useful. I then slowly organised my thoughts based on a large number of factors, and here’s the answer I came up with, which has actually become even more elaborate with thoughts that came into my mind after I had ended the discussion with the friend.

Factors that affect braking on a motorcycle

Not all motorcycles brake equally well, neither does the same motorcycle brake equally well in different conditions. Here’s a small list of factors that might affect the way your bike behaves under braking. It must be added that ABS makes everything better, even if it robs you of one sensory input that makes riding what it is.

1. Tires:

Different tires from different brands offer different levels of braking. An MRF Zapper will not give the same braking power as a Pirelli Supercorsa. Braking grip also obviously depends on how old or new the tire is, with both of those extremes providing less grip than ideal. Generally, grip also depends on the tire pressure, lesser tire pressure provides a bigger contact patch between the rubber and the asphalt and hence helps you slow down faster. However, keeping the tire pressure too low creates its own set of problems.

2. Braking system:

On bikes like Dukes and RCs, the default brake pads and even the front master cylinder isn’t too good, the brakes are weird and can have a spongy feel. EBC brake pads make a huge difference, so does upgrading the master cylinder. This is true for a number of bikes, although it is also true that some OEM braking systems can be remarkably brilliant, for example the one on a Triumph Daytona. The point here is that not all bikes come with braking systems of equal quality, and it may be a good idea to upgrade them, if you feel the need for it.

3. Brake you are using:

This is common knowledge, but important to note. Rear brake is far less effective in stopping a motorcycle as compared to the font one. This is basic physics, the more you brake at the front, the more it gets loaded, and the more braking force it generates. This rule does not apply to all two-wheelers though. Old scooters used to have ridiculously bad front brakes, touching them meant instant death. Today’s scooties also tend to work better with the rear brake, since the engine is at the back, but it depends from model to model.

4. Lean angle:

Naturally, if you are leaned over to a side, the tire contact patch is smaller, and also your suspension is not in a position to be able to handle a large braking force. Hence, you’ll either use a very small amount of braking force to get your job done, or pick up your bike and bring the center of the tire into play if you need more braking. Some people in some situations are able to handle sideways tire slippage, and even use it to their advantage, but we’ll ignore them for the sake of this discussion, since this is centered more around road users than racers.

5. Surface on which you are braking:

This is again rather obvious, your braking technique on track would be different from one on a dirt trail. Your braking technique on a wet road would be different from one on a dry day. Your braking technique on a concrete road would be different from one on the black asphalt. It also depends on whether you are going uphill or down, since you’ll either get assistance in your braking, or resistance to it, both of which will require adjustment on your part. It’s all about what the tires can do and how much you want to push them, but experience plays a huge role in such a decision.

6. The bike:

Braking on a cruiser like Avenger or a Harley would feel very different when compared to braking on a sporty bike like a Daytona or an RC. This is dependent on a number of factors, like how far out the front tire is from the steering, the weight, and the bike’s dynamics. For example, in case of hard but progressive braking, an RC200 is more likely to stoppie, while under the same kind of braking a Bullet’s front is more likely to wash out.

7. Additional items on the bike:

This should also be obvious, but your braking distance with pillion is far more as compared to when you are alone. The added weight gives you more momentum, and it takes you longer to stop. This holds true for other weight additions as well, for example luggage in the shape of saddle, tank, or tailbags. Not only do you have to compensate for the added weight of these items, you might also need to compensate for their movement under braking.

8. Skill:

Skills comes from practice, to know how quickly a particular bike would stop on a particular surface takes time and judgement to understand. My first time on a slushy mountain trail at Rajmachi was horrendous, I folded the front twice because I was so used to using the front brake all the time. This is why it is important not to let yourself be confined to only one kind of riding. Don’t just be a tourer, experience track, trails, slush, dirt, and whatever else you can.

Is emergency braking always a good idea?

This is an important question, and one that not a lot of people ask. Consider the following scenario.

You are happily riding on a highway, cruising at 120 kmph on a bright, sunny day. There are cars, buses, and trucks on the highway too, but you aren’t really bothered.

As you take a slight left corner, out of the bushes you see a group of black buffaloes sitting majestically in the middle of the road, blocking it completely. At the same moment, you also notice in your rear-view mirror that a speeding Volvo bus is right behind you. 

Let’s assume that there are only 2 possible things you can do at this moment. 

  1. Brake as hard as possible to stop just before the buffaloes, but possibly get hit from behind by the Volvo.
  2. Slow down just enough to hit the buffalo as slow as you can, and possibly avoid the Volvo. 

Let’s also assume that there are no other vehicles after the Volvo, and no other dangers on the road except the buffaloes, and that only one of these 2 situations will happen, in the sense that the bus driver will avoid you if you hit the buffaloes and vice-cersa.

What will you do?

This scenario can also be applied to other road hazards, like potholes, speed bumps etc. On a busy highway where you have cars tailgaiting you, should you risk bending your rim by going straight into that pothole, or should you risk braking, which might bump you into someone else?

Such questions can never be accurately answered, they depend on a large number of indeterminate factors, things you can never know for certain. The bad thing here is that you do need to make decisions of such sort on the road, and when you do, you don’t really have time to rub your chin and contemplate what you should or should not do. Hence, it makes sense to be constantly aware of your options, and to understand beforehand what would be a better outcome for you.

For example, I’ve always risked going into potholes rather than braking and hitting someone else. My reason for this behavior is simple, I’d rather spend the money getting my rim fixed than to fight with someone else on a highway. This choice however, isn’t always that straightforward either. If it becomes a choice between life and death, that’s a whole other dominion.

The problem is that if you see an animal on the road, the correct action is NOT always to just brake like hell. For example, if you are on the Yamuna Expressway, where people regularly go above 150 kmph, sometimes even 250 kmph, if you brake hard abruptly, the chances of someone hitting you from behind are very high. If you had just kept accelerating and had hit the animal and fallen, the damage could actually have been lesser when compared to a Fortuner ramming you from behind at 150.

The point of what I’m trying to say is that emergency braking isn’t always the best thing to do. There are many situations where acceleration would save you, there are other situations where you might have to go with the lesser of two evils. One thing which is certain is that emergency braking is something that you should definitely know, even if you may never be able to properly apply that knowledge in real life.

A few thoughts about different animals:

Different animals require different techniques, not all of them react the same way. The 2 main points of consideration in this regard are the following.

1. Ability to make a decision:

When you have only a second to decide what to do, you need the animal to go with you in that decision. The contrast in this situation is real easy to see between dogs and donkeys.

If you see a dog on the road, and the dog sees you, chaos ensues. You decide to go left and miss him, he decides to go left and miss you, then he notices you are going left and he panics, starts running to the left, which is even worse since you looking at the dog going left had decided to go even more left, and the story ends in disaster.

If you see a donkey on the road, you are the decision maker, because the donkey doesn’t give a single fuck about you. You can go left or right, he doesn’t care. This is good, this is what we want, to be in control of the situation and to be able to predict the outcome, based on which we can make a decision. This also works for cows, buffaloes, and to a lesser extent, pigs.

In short, if you have the option to be a dog or a donkey in your life, be a donkey. Decide, do, die.

2. Possibility of going over the animal without harm:

This is an interesting thing to consider as well. I once hit a dog close to its rear legs, but I was lucky that he bounced off the front tire, rather than getting caught under the bike. Such a scenario is impossible with a cow, or a fat pig.

What I’m trying to say, in spite of the feelings this might raise in people who love animals, is that you have to decide if you can save yourself at the expense of the animal. This is possible with dogs, as sad as that might make you, and maybe with piglets, but not much else.

The most important thing is what happens to your front tire, if the animal comes under it and moves it to a place from where you can no longer recover, you are done. Generally, going over a dog with your rear tire will not make you crash, although it’ll certainly give you one hell of a jolt.

With this painful knowledge, it can be said that with dogs, it makes more sense to keep going rather than brake for them. Dogs are not good at making decisions, so you have to make one for them. If you keep going, they’ll either run away, or run back. Slowing down leads to confusion.

Cows, buffaloes, pigs are in a different category, they don’t give a shit about you. In their case, slowing down is the only option. You might be able to go over a dog without much damage, or without even crashing, but you can’t go over a cow without flying out of your seat.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to cross an animal with its ass towards you, rather than its face. This is because most animals run forward when they get frightened.

An ideal case emergency braking scenario:

So, let’s assume an ideal case emergency braking scenario.

You are on a highway, there’s nobody behind you, nobody in front you. You suddenly notice a group of cows sitting in the middle of the road, blocking it completely, and you understand that you must shed speed as quickly as possible if you want to stop your bike before them. There are no other road hazards, it’s not wet, and your bike, a KTM Duke 200, is in good shape. 

This is the procedure I would follow in such a situation.

  • Roll off throttle immediately.
  • Simultaneous to the throttle roll off, move my weight forward.
  • Simultaneous to the throttle roll off, pull the front brake as hard as I feel comfortable with.
  • Simultaneous to the throttle roll off, engage the rear brake.
  • Simultaneous to the throttle roll off, downshift as quickly as possible to engage engine braking.

All this would happen simultaneous, without any delay between the different actions.

Now, each one of these actions has complexities of its own. Let’s go through them one by one.

Moving the weight forward must be done without upsetting the bike. This is possible by gently sliding your ass forward until you can feel the inside of your thighs is pushed against the fuel tank. If you lift up your ass too high while braking hard with the front, it is very easy to find yourself flying over the handlebars.

There are 2 reasons for moving the weight forward.

  1. To load the front as much as possible, which’ll help increase the braking power, while also reducing the chances of skidding. When the front is loaded, a bike like the Duke 200 is more likely to stoppie than to fold the front, and arguably, a stoppie is easier to handle. This logic wouldn’t work for a cruiser.
  2. To use your thighs to hold tightly onto the bike, while your hands and feet and head remain stable to do what needs to be done. You don’t want any unwanted throttle inputs, or sudden release of brake pressure, or a missed downshift at such a moment, and keeping your hands, feet, and head stable is the key.

How you engage the front brake is also extremely important. In the heat of the moment, if you panic and grab the front, that’s the end, especially if your bike doesn’t have ABS. Generally, I try to apply roughly 70% of my brake pressure at the start, and then progressively increase it as the front loads up and as I get feedback from the handlebars. This depends completely on your experience, as a motorcyclist in general, and with that bike in those conditions in particular.

The rear brake will not do much, but it’s an emergency, and you need all the help you can get. The same principle applies to engine braking, although on bikes like KTMs, their engine braking can feel very strong and capable. It’s also important to understand that the rear is very easy to slide, so that’s something you should be comfortable with, and should know how to deal with when it happens, which it will.

If you feel the rear end fishtailing, it could either be because of the rear brake, or engine braking. If it’s because of the rear brake, you could simply release and reapply. If it’s because of the engine braking, I’d suggest just hanging on a bit, since it’ll grip back real soon, and pulling the clutch in to ease the engine brake may make things rough.

You will also have to decide what downshift method you want to use. I use the rev-matching method, in which you downshift one by one, while disengaging and reengaging the clutch, and blipping the throttle. You can also use the clutch slip method, in which you pull the clutch in, downshift all the way down, and then slowly let the clutch back out. Both will require time and practice to master.

It is also important to understand that in this ideal scenario, you are not using your steering at all, in the sense that you are trying to stop before the cows, rather than slow down enough so that you can avoid them and then carry on your way. Such a scenario will have a number of additional factors, which’ll need a separate article to discuss the skill of object avoidance.

Things you can do to improve your emergency braking skills:

  1. Use the rear brake often: A lot of people have told me that I use the rear brake too much on the highway and the city, that I should just relax my legs and use the front one. The problem here is that your emergency response needs to come naturally, you won’t have the time to think “Oh I’m not slowing down fast enough, wonder what I could do to make it quicker, oh I know, I’ll just use the rear brake, where’s the damn thing”. As my friend Mr. Anoop Pamu says, riding is all about your muscle memory, and muscle memory isn’t gained by resting them all the time.
  2. Learn and practice downshifting: It’s a lot of fun, I can tell you that for sure. I tried both the methods, and decided to go with the rev-match one, simply because it felt awesome, and sounded even better. It certainly is more complex than slipping the clutch, but I like my actions to have an aesthetic touch as well.
  3. Do emergency braking simulations: This is not easy, you first have to find such a place where you can brake abruptly without the danger of hitting someone else, and then you have to create imaginary obstacles on the road and practice. You’ll make lots of mistakes for sure, in my first braking exercise at Motovation Track Days, I remember sliding my rear for some 20 feet, I was almost sitting on the rear brake.
  4. Know your bike: Handling an emergency situation requires confidence, and confidence comes with knowing yourself and your machine. Do track days, that’s the easiest way to understand what you are capable of, and your bike too. Take your bike off-road, do stupid shit, slide around, stunt, crash. As long as you are in full gear, nothing is going to happen, and the knowledge of finding the limit will make a huge improvement in your overall riding.
  5. Try different kinds of biking: There are 4 basic kinds of riding you can do in India: Touring, track, trails, and city. Touring and city don’t teach you much, not technically at least, they are more a test of endurance and patience. Track and trails teach you far more, on a per-kilometer basis. Both bring very different items to the table, and give you a big opportunity to better yourself as a biker.
  6. Learn how the technical aspects of a motorcycle work: Read books, watch videos, watch others who are better than you. Twist of the Wrist is a popular reading option, although without applying it on the track, that knowledge can cause more harm than good. You can watch MotoGP videos, or other stuff on Youtube that talks about the technical aspects of braking, including tires, chassis and suspension. Cycle world and Life at Lean are good sites to read for this. Understand what preload and damping is, what is chatter, what is soft rubber what is hard rubber etc. If you don’t want to do a track day yourself, it’s always a good idea to just sit by the side and watch others go around, you can learn so much from their engine noises only.

This article, as always, spiraled a bit out of control, and there’s still a lot that could be said about this topic. It goes without saying that all this is just my opinion, learned through experiences in a very narrow field of motorcycling. Take my opinion, combine it with other opinions, and then make your own opinion, based on experiences, empirical data, and intuition, for as Bertrand Russell said.

I would never die for my beliefs, because I might be wrong.

Lavasa: A culture of street racing, ignorance, and bad choices

A good article is like a fart.

You get the idea, you chew it into smaller ideas, digest all of them, and out comes a beautiful tootsie that relieves your system of distress, while making a cute sound. An idea that stays in your system for too long leads to either constipation, or diarrhea, both of which result in a smelly, painful outcome that nobody enjoys.

This post has been overdue since a while.

The idea came in my head a few months ago, and since then the internal dialogue that constantly happens inside my head has been raging on continuously. Initially I wanted to label all who go retard at Lavasa, or any other twisty section for that matter, as ignorant and stupid. Slowly, I started identifying the reasons why people do such stuff, and finally came the realization that I’ve done it too, although not at the level of what some of the people in some of the examples that I’d show you have.

Sadly, the average length of my posts has almost quadrupled from 1000 to 4000 in the last few months, which means that being able to structure my thoughts properly is even more important than it used to be. Let’s break this thing up into parts that can easily fit inside our mouths then.

Identifying the problem

What is the issue that this rant is about? Here is a small playlist to help you figure it out.

In case you still have some doubts, here’s my take on what the problem is.

People push themselves and their bikes beyond the limits on public roads, full of natural and man-made hazards, with complete disregard to their level of skill, experience, type of bike, or the safety of others, for no other reason than the thrill of doing an obviously wrong thing. 

The first video is someone riding their wheels off in rain. Second and third are of the same guy making giant blunders while attempting to push too hard. Fourth is a Bullet guy who doesn’t understand how an uphill hairpin should be approached. Last is just one example of how moronic it is to go beyond your limits at a place like Lavasa.

It goes without saying that this is not an issue exclusive to Lavasa, but endemic to every twisty section you can find anywhere. I’m singling out Lavasa here because it’s the most popular one, and people seem to call it “The Mullholland of India”, a statement so deeply idiotic and false on so many levels, that it’s hard not to laugh, and then cry.

Here are a few more examples from places all over the country, just to make sure you guys don’t feel Lavasa is the only place where this shit happens.

In some ways, it feels like ghats of India have become infested with bikers, who, like a plague, have spread themselves far and wide, making life difficult for a vast majority of people, and sometimes ending it altogether.

Have I done it?

Of course, there’s no stupidity I haven’t tried for myself. Here’s just one example of it.

Yes I’m not as big a cunt as I’d like myself to be, but I try.

Although I’m a relatively slow rider who takes few chances, I have done some incredibly brainless things over the years.

I once overtook a car on a blind turn, only to find a truck right in my face. If the truck hadn’t moved off into the gravel, I wouldn’t be writing this. I once went to Shimla from Chandigarh and came back the same day, and that entire ride was filled with insane moments of incredible foolishness. I once attempted to do Chorla at night on the way to Goa, lost my way, found myself in some godforsaken jungle, with a dark visor on my helmet, and rode like a madman through the potholes and besides the truck and over the jams to get there by midnight.

The biggest reason why people may not recognize me as an asshole is because I try not to share such witless moments in public, and also because I rarely carry an action camera on me, hence many assholic moments go unrecorded.

In any case, let there be no doubt in your minds that when I say people do stupid stuff, I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Why do we do it?

The reasons for this type of self-destructive behavior are varied and deep. Here are a few that fit my theory.

1. Ignorance

They just don’t know any better.

When you’re young, at the beginning of your riding life, the obvious thing to do is to try and find the limits, of you and your bike. Since you are young, and consequently a jackass, this aim is achievable anywhere, inside the city, on the highway, or at some ghats somewhere.

The riding and driving culture in India is anyways fucked up, the people who they watch on the road everyday are probably the worst ones to learn from. They watch people break every rule in the book, do crazy stuff for no reason, and risk themselves and others just to feel a bit better about themselves.

On top of that, it’s easy to see that those who don’t behave like dicks get trampled on by other dicks, hence the incentive to be a dick yourself is pretty huge.

The same story continues in the virtual world. Young people are far more attracted to the extremes, all they watch on Youtube are videos of cars and bikes that sound loud, go fast, and stunt from time to time. The demarcation between what needs to be done on a track and what can be done on the road doesn’t exist in their minds, even though the videos they watch might come with the pointless “Don’t do this at home” warnings.

You really expect to tell a walking bag of testosterone “Don’t do this at home” and expect him to comply?

Our education system teaches nothing at all about safe and responsible road behavior. Our law enforcement system is entirely ineffective. And traditionally, we tend to use our roads as an anger management system more than one for transport. It’s no surprise that young dudes Squid their brains out all over our streets.

2. Influence of Youtube

Media, as in films, advertisements and news etc., don’t play an important role in the development of today’s bikers. Kids don’t watch the news, which is a good thing in a lot of ways, but most importantly because all news channels constantly brand bikers as dickheads, that anyone who crashed on a bike was racing, that it’s OK to blame bikers with big bikes and fancy riding gear for all of nation’s problems.

Movies are worse, in the sense that they portray bikes as these stunt machines that can do anything, slide under a moving truck, jump over a bullock cart, stop a moving train. Motorcycles in movies have no connection whatsoever to reality, and most kids understand that, or at least I hope they do.

Advertisements are the worst, mostly because the manufacturers themselves make such fucking short-sighted blunders, that the people who watch them are given completely wrong information.

It’s a rarity to watch any rider in any motorcycle advertisement wearing a full-face helmet. Gears? What gears? And then there was Bajaj’s marketing campaign for the RS200. If you don’t remember it, the tagline was “Leave track racing to Amateurs”. If the guy who thought of this idea, and the managers who approved it, haven’t been fired and then lynched, we as humans are not living up to our potential.

However, films, advertising and news have almost no influence against what Youtube has. Youtube videos have such a huge impact due to 2 reasons.

First, they are real, you know that’s a real guy doing those real things right in front of your eyes. Second, you can watch what a guy in Jordan or Switzerland or USA is doing from the safety of your house, the level of reach Youtube gives to you is incredible, it’s your choice what you want to see.

In India, a major factor in this direction has been Powerdrift. They make beautiful videos, with Sagar doing some pretty incredible stuff, and to that gets added their popularity in general. I enjoy watching their videos, especially the old ones, but what you need to understand is the difference in perspective between when I watch one of their videos, and a young dude watches the same thing.

When I watch a Powerdrift video, I appreciate the editing skills, the time that must’ve gone into thinking it, and then making it happen. I appreciate Sagar’s skill with motorcycles, more so since I’ve never got my knee down, and I understand how much effort it takes to get to this level where you can do anything with a motorcycle that you just got a few hours ago.

However, I’m also aware of the bigger picture, the fact that these guys have had plenty of crashes on the way, have spent countless hours on the track getting trained by professionals, and overall, spent huge amounts of time, money and sweat to get where they are. They understand the risks, they understand their limits, they prepare for eventualities, and they have tremendous amount of experience doing what they do.

Now imagine a 19-year-old watching the same Powerdrift video, what do you think he thinks?

He has barely seen the world, his viewpoint is extremely narrow, all he can see are the knee-downs, the sparks flying away, the wheelies, the sound, the excitement. To him, Sagar was born like this, and if he watches enough of his videos, he can download his skills to his own brain right through Youtube. Since there are no crashes in their videos for obvious reasons, he never realizes there’s a different side to the coin as well.

I’m not blaming Powerdrift for anything, it’s not their responsibility to teach youngsters things their parents should, the society should, and what they should have an innate understanding of. If anything, their videos are extremely sensible when compared to retard buckets you can find all over Youtube, who sadly have far more viewership than Powedrift.

My point is that kids are easy to influence, and they naturally tend to look at the fun side of riding than the sad side, they tend to look at top speed runs, exhaust note videos, stunt videos, rather than near-misses, crashes, broken bones and deaths. This creates a version of motorcycling in their head that’s completely removed from reality, and the shock of knowing the truth comes with great risk.

Here’s another set of videos to help prove my point, all these videos are specific to Lavasa.

3. The fetish of Knee Downs

As someone who spent a large part of this and last year attempting to get my knee down, I understand how strong this urge can be. We watch a lot of MotoGP, we watch a lot of Youtube, and it looks so easy. Then you try to do it yourself, and the damn thing is so unimaginably uncomfortable.

I understand how important knee downs are to people, and I also understand how useless they are for a rider, at least one who isn’t taking part in some competitive racing event. But this fetish of scraping your knee leads to a lot of huge problems, as we’ll discuss.

I’ve been to Lavasa only once. I went there with a friend, both had their girlfriends behind them, and we were staying a few nights there. It was raining like shit. We went on a Friday, so on the way up there wasn’t much traffic, just a few random bikers with loud exhausts practicing their cornering. When we came back, it was a Sunday, and the entire twisty section, from top to bottom, was swarming with bikers, like an open wound attacked by maggots.

A few of the bikers were like us, caught at the wrong place at the wrong time. We just wanted to get out of there, had no reason to get involved in the fuckfest that was going on. Some of the bikers there were total dickweeds, there was a guy riding a yellow Harley V Rod without a helmet, there were plenty of others on loud bikes overtaking everyone all the time without giving a single shit about common decency and sense. Most of the bikers were reasonably geared up, on small to mid level bikes, and pushing their heart out to get their knee down to the ground.

We couldn’t help laughing at some of the poor sons of bitches, their bikes perfectly straight, both their ass cheeks out of the saddle, their body looking like one from a crime scene that fell off a building, contorted, twisted beyond recognition, and the knee stretched to the breaking point, just desperately wishing for a touch of asphalt.

The first problem with this uncontrollable desire is that it fucks up a biker’s body position. Their aim is no longer to balance their weight, to be comfortable on the bike, and have complete control over the throttle, they would sacrifice anything to have a few scrapes on their knee guards to show to others later.

The second problem is that doing such stupidity on a public road is crazy, I understand you are trying a few things, getting to know what works and what does not, but do you really have to do it at a place with absolutely no margin for error, with an oncoming vehicle waiting for you to fuck up, with the cliff waiting to embrace you and your bike with its bushy, thorny hands?

The third problem is that more often than not, such riders get into races. They watch someone else who looks faster and has his knee down, and they will do anything to overtake them, just to prove a non-existent point. If things weren’t dangerous already, now they are.

I will not tell you that there’s no reason to get our knee down, I still want to, and I still try to. However, it’s completely useless to make it happen on a ghat section somewhere, come to a track, be away from all the distractions, all the risks, and then do it. As with everything else, knee downs are just a way to understand your limit, and it’s quite possible you’ll rarely do them again once you know how, but to reach that point you’ll have to spend time practicing, making mistakes, crashing.

If you don’t have the brain to realize this isn’t something that’s supposed to be done on a public road, rest assured your brain would sooner or later be splattered down that same public road.

4. Lack of understanding about the Law of Personal Space

This is a cultural thing that has its hold deep in psyche. The Indian society has no sense of personal space, your neighbors know what size undies you wear, your relatives leave no stone unturned to embarrass you in public with intimate questions, and our public transport system mainly involves people pushing each other’s armpits into each other’s noses. The biggest reason for this is that there are too many of us, but there are a number of other factors too that need their own article.

In case you missed it in my earlier post, the Law of Personal Space states the following:

The Law of Personal Space states that you are free to do whatever you wish to do, as long as it doesn’t affect someone else’s personal space. 

With an entire culture that doesn’t give a single fuck about personal space, that permeates every walk of our life, it’s quite easy to see why our road sense is as warped as it is. It’s even easier to see then why riders feel no issues at all with using public spaces for personal fun.

I have no issues with you breaking some of the laws, it’s impossible to follow all of them all the time. However, when you put your thrill in front of someone else’s safety, that’s where the problem comes. You crash, you die, no issues at all, great fun. However, you make a dick move that makes someone else crash, then you are in trouble. Most of these riders don’t give a single shit about the locals who are just living their lives, riding their scooters and small bikes to and from home. They overtake them like they don’t exist, or matter.

You can have fun on twisties, as much as you like. One of the advantages of crappy law enforcement in our country is that it’s mostly your own responsibility to be a good road user.

It’s very simple to be one really, as long as you are alone and there’s no chance of someone else getting affected by your actions, go ape shit, wheelie, then stoppie, then do a rolling burnout, while scraping both your knees, shoulders and the bloody helmet. However, if there’s someone in front of you, someone who is not aware of the party inside your pants, don’t involve him in it, be respectful, overtake them when there’s space, tell them you’re doing it with a horn, and then go live your life.

I understand when you are pushing yourself, you tend to get into this zone where you want to get rid of all distractions as quickly as possible. If you are looking for the ultimate version of this, go to a track. If you still do want to do it on the roads, you’ll have to control yourself, wait for your moment, and give space to everyone else.

Here’s an excellent example of what I mean. 2 riders, with obvious wealth but not so obvious brains, sucking each other’s cocks in broad daylight on a public road with people around them who have no part in it.

5. Lack of safe environments to improve

This is the most obvious reason why a lot of us find ourselves forced to do what deep down we all understand is wrong.

There are barely any tracks in India, especially if you live in the West or Central part of this country. People of South have 2 tracks, Chennai and Coimbatore, Hyderabad has a tiny one, and then there’s Buddh. 3 major tracks to serve an entire nation of over a billion people is hilariously inadequate.

On top of this, roads are free, tracks are not. Going to a track not only involves spending some 10,000 bucks per day just to register, but you also must spend on proper riding gear. It’s just easier to ride in your chaddi to the nearest ghats and corner the shit out of them, not to mention enormously cheap, hence that’s what a lot of people do.

A small number of smaller tracks have cropped up at places like Bangalore, Kolhapur etc., but a lot of people have this misconception that small tracks are useless.

“What’s the point of taking my Duke 390 to the circuit in Hyderabad when I’ll never be able to take it above 3rd gear?”.

This is wrong on so many levels, but I’ll try to answer a few of them.

Small tracks are great for beginners, speeds are low, so if you crash, nothing happens, you just get up and crash again. Small tracks also tend to have a lot of tight corners, which teach you a lot about throttle control and lines. Most importantly, small tracks are dirt cheap. A track day in Hyderabad costs roughly 1500 bucks. Based on the value you get out of this experience, I’d say that’s money well spent.

Not only do we not have proper places where people can try things out and improve, not many of us want to spend the time understanding the complexities of a motorcycle, to read books about cornering, to read articles, to ask questions and clear doubts.

The combination of these factors means that what you end up with is an army of frustrated, jacked up bikers, who are inspired by the internet to push beyond their limit, ready to break every rule, without even the basic understanding of how to go about it in a safe and responsible way.

6. A burning sense to belong

This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest factors at play. Like girls have this weird compulsion to look beautiful, no matter how many layers of horse jizz make-up that takes, boys have this compulsion to be cool, to be associated with important people, to have some excitement and adventure in life. Motorcycles seem to be an easy way of doing this, and they dive in, head first, with no sense of direction.

It’s so common to find college dudes riding superbikes nowadays, how do you think that affects an average middle-class teenager? If he can’t have a bike that goes quick, at least he can compensate by going quick himself, taking a few risks on the way.

The group riding culture doesn’t help either, there’s always that one twat in every group who takes the most risks and looks the fastest, consequently everyone tires to keep up with him, which obviously ends in disaster. If you are quick, people respect you, if you are not, you are looked down on.

Humans will do anything to be appreciated, self-worth is the biggest motivator on this planet.

The sad fact is that young people generally tend to connect their self-worth to external factors, what people think of them, how many likes they get on social media, how do they look. This connection takes them on a dangerous path, lead by deranged, irresponsible assholes who themselves don’t have a fucking clue what they are doing with their lives.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t like people who give too much importance to motorcycles, you know the type who say “Ride or die”, “Live to Ride”, or share memes like “Ride, eat, sleep, repeat” and shit.

As a man who has built an entire unsuccessful career on motorcycles, I can tell you for a fact that they are nothing special by themselves. Motorcycles are just a means to an end, to get you to places, to give you that thrill, to fulfill your sense of adventure. People who tell you otherwise are frauds trying to sell you stuff.

Don’t buy into this delusional idiocy.

I understand young men want to belong, they wish to have a purpose in life, something they can sacrifice for, to fight for. Go ahead and follow this hobby, make it your life, but don’t get sucked into the elaborately dark minds of others, make your own damn decisions.

What is the result?

The question can be raised that the last 3700 words have all been in vain, that I’m just jacking myself off for nothing. Let me give you a few examples of how easy it is to influence riders, and make them do unbelievably moronic things.

There’s this penis spasm on Youtube called MaxWrist. All he does is race random people on roads, some of whom don’t even know they are racing with this jizz pudding. Although I always try to not give a single second of my time to such ass lickers, I would like to show you an example.

Now that you’ve seen what the life of man continuously unhappy with the size of his dick looks like, let me show you what it does to youngsters thousands of kilometers away. Here’s a video of some tit hair near Bangalore.

Do you see the influence? No? It’s OK, I have more examples.

I’m sure you’ve seen the video of this ballsack riding through traffic like the ballsack he is. In case you haven’t here it is.

Now that you know what the life of a man who got hit on the head with a shovel at birth looks like, let me show you how it affects youngsters. Here’s the video of some nosebleed from Kolkata.

Still not satisfied? No worries, let me show you one of the most popular motorcycle videos online, something I’m certain you’ve seen, and probably shaken your head to until you passed out.

Now that you know what the life of a man whose penis has never been touched by anyone else’s hand looks like, allow me to show you the result of this stupidity in India.

If you still don’t see what I mean, this article has been a waste of your time, apart from mine. Having said that, there’s just one more thing I would like you to understand.

I get it that people watch foreigners do stupid shit, and they want to do it themselves. What they don’t understand is the level of medical support you get in those countries, they don’t realize that these people have a giant safety net around them, something that we simply don’t.

Here’s an example, a dude crashes, and within minutes there are trained professionals helping him, followed by a helicopter, a fucking helicopter to fly him to safety.

What happens if you crash at Lavasa? Or Lonavala? Or Kasara? Or Chorla? It takes an hour for an ambulance to arrive, if it does, and then the police come to fuck your day up even more, followed by the struggle of finding proper medical attention and fighting the law that’s supposed to help you out.

A friend once crashed near Amby Valley, I was with him. We had to go all the way to the city, fetch an auto, bring it back up, pick him up, and then ferry him to a hospital. He was just lying by the side in dirt all that time.

You think you can do what someone in USA is doing, but you can’t. You are not fighting on a level playing field, your world is completely different from theirs, the things you don’t even know exist are a common part of their life.

Get your fucking head out of your ass.

How do we improve this situation?

I don’t know. I’ve realized over the past few months that I’m a thinker, not a doer, so I’m far better at spazing out than actually helping someone, far better at having a ragegasm than making a difference.

In some ways, I don’t think there’s much that can be done at all. Young people are complete dicks, I was one too, and they seldom learn a lesson without reality smacking them flat in the face.

My writing style doesn’t help either, if there is some teenager out there who might be influenced by this article to change his ways, he will most likely be put off by my language and insults and not understand the idea behind them.

What we need is a vast system of sensible people telling beginner riders what needs to done. Parents and teachers are THE most part of this pyramid, what they say and what they do has a massive influence on what the kid grows up to be. The society, law enforcement, and licensing authorities are big players too, but there are far too many other important things to fix before they can get to this. Our popular automotive sites could help out as well, but I don’t think such articles fit in their business strategies.

Why would someone waste an article telling people about safety that only a few would read, when you can use that article to talk about the instrument console of the upcoming KTM Duke 390, which everyone can masturbate to?

The silver lining on this dark cloud is that this article is done, so I don’t give a shit anymore. I have vomited the idea out my head and onto the internet, and that’s all I care about.

Honda Activa review: Why the hell do people buy this thing?

The number of things I don’t understand in this world keeps increasing exponentially.

Before this review begins, I would like to admit that my testing methods are weird, my ability to comprehend other people’s perspectives limited, and overall, my knowledge of the motorcycling world quite narrow and one-sided. Part of this can be attributed to inexperience, 10 years with two wheels is hardly enough time to grant you the power of passing sweeping critiques about things that inherently have far more value than your reviews of them ever will. The other must be my narrow-mindedness, I have a very brief set of beliefs I live by, and a majority of them don’t seem to be shared by the general population.

Look at Royal Enfield for example, I never got how in god’s name their products could get such a cult following, and that has never stopped that company from growing like the hair on an Indian man’s balls. And then there’s Trump, President Trump for fuck’s sake.

I had no intention of reviewing the Honda Activa, it just so happened that I was forced into riding 2 different models of it for some 650 kms, and during that time the single question that kept looping in my head was “What the hell is wrong with people?”. Here’s a detailed breakdown of why I think this thing is one of the worst set of 2 wheels I’ve ever plonked my ass on.

Honda Activa review: Negatives

Most of the riding I did on the Activa was on the highway, some was in the city, and a small part was off-road. Yes this thing is designed to be used in the city, and thrashing it on the highway with pillion and luggage doesn’t exactly make sense, but stay with me, since the highway experience was probably the only good part of the entire picture, although that part where it too me 8 hours to do 300 kms was a bloody nightmare.

1. Stupid suspension setup

I have a theory about why the shock absorber system on the Activa is the way that it is, and although it may end up looking like a conspiracy theory by the end, the major difference between the two would be that mine is not one.

There’s an underground Satanic cult of fanatics who have dedicated their lives towards the final aim of jiggling bosoms. Both the designers behind Activa’s suspension, and those who created the speed bumps that are all around us, belong to this sect. The combined effect of Activa’s moronic suspension, which as a scooty is primarily used by ladies, and the rumblers and speed breakers that such scooties must jump over 13 times per kilometer, means that the average breast air time has significantly increased in the last decade, bringing untold happiness and glory to our lord and savior The Prince of Darkness and the Brotherhood of Bouncing Boobies. 

The front is too hard, the rear is too soft, and it seems to be designed that way on purpose. As you hit a speed bump with the front tire, the jolt is so hard that it flings even your man boobs straight into your throat. While you are recovering from this sudden jab on your wind pipe, the front is still flying, not coming in contact with the ground for a few seconds, thanks to the rear-biased weight distribution. Then the rear hits, and your moobs are delicately extricated out of your chest, and thrown down again, as the front finally touches the ground. The party doesn’t end there though, the rear is so squishy that the up and down motion doesn’t stop for the next hour or so, with your assets waltzing with the motion, like a ship riding a tsunami.

Part of the blame here must go to the wheels, they are too tiny. The reason why a lot of adventure fetishers like to put 21 inch front wheels on their bikes is simply because it’s much easier to fly over bumps with that. The Activa’s wheel size is actually smaller than Eric Cartman’s dick, which should tell you a lot about just how much influence the Brotherhood of Bounching Boobies had on the development of this scooter.

The final effect is this: A bone-shattering ride, little or no control over even the smallest obstacles, and total compulsion to come to a complete stop before you can take even the smallest speed bump, or the shallowest pothole. During one of the off-road sections of the ride, I was going uphill with pillion, and there were plenty of rocks on the way. My front wheel rarely ever touched the ground, every rock would fling it in the air, and the weight of the pillion plus the engine at the back would keep it there. Ducati’s front wings would be very useful on this piece of shit.

The purpose of an Activa is to be a commuter, to be used by ladies or old people to go live their lives, and to spend most of its kilometers inside the city. Cities are full of potholes, speed bumps, and rough roads, and the way this thing is designed means that it’s going to inherently suck at the very place it’s supposed to be brilliant at.

A round of applause then to the geniuses behind this project.

2. Weird ergonomics

I was riding the Activa with my brother-in-law as pillion for some 150 kms, and by the end of it he was more or less completely slumped on top of me. I didn’t know why he was doing that, until I gave him the control and sat behind him.

Holy shit, I used to think Dukes have bad rear comfort, this beauty is on a different level!

The rear section of the Activa’s seat is fat as fuck, and there are 2 reasons for this. First, there’s an engine and fuel tank underneath your ass, so they could’ve made it only so thin. However, I think the most important reason for this decision was aesthetics. The Honda designers wanted to give the Activa a feminine look, and apparently a big ol’ hiney is the best idea they came up with.

When you are sitting at the back, unlike a normal seat where most of your weight is on your butt, the width of the Activa means that most of your weight is on your thighs. This means that your legs, rather than supporting you and helping to brace against any unwanted movements, are gently dangling in the air, dead and useless. Thus you end up sliding uncontrollably up and down as the road demands, while trying your best to hold onto yourself with your hands, which generally find themselves deep under the grab handle.

Things aren’t much better at the front either. The Activa’s riding position is far too straight, especially for the suspension setup that they’ve given. After just 50-60 kilometers, your lower back starts to ache, swiftly followed by your shoulders. Since you have no fuel tank to hold onto with your thighs in an effort to steady yourself, like you can with a motorcycle, most of that effort is done via your arms, which start paining soon afterwards.

Every time you hit a bump, the front suspension sends the whole lot of it straight to your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and then your brain. Then the rear suspension joins the party and sends your ass flying out the seat. If you are not careful, it’s far too easy to lose the front on even the smallest obstacles.

The switchgear isn’t bad though, all the buttons are within reach, although not entirely perfect in any way. The dash is OK too, although both my speedo and odo died within the first few hours of the ride, thanks to a few small bumps. The filler cap under the seat is extremely annoying, especially since the seat hinge is designed in such a way that you simply have to keep a hand on it to keep it from falling down and locking itself silly. Not the ideal situation to be in when you are trying to look down the fuel tank to see how much petrol is in there, and the damn thing comes crashing through your skull.

The fuel tank itself is quite hilarious, I was rarely able to fill up more than 200 bucks worth of fuel in it, which roughly translates to 3 liters. I’m pretty certain that fat butt could’ve taken a few more liters quite easily, but who knows what these people were thinking.

Overall, Honda has left no stone unturned in making the Activa experience as uncomfortable as it gets, and the story doesn’t stop sthere.

3. Snatchy throttle

You don’t generally expect grannies and teenagers going to tuition to be experts in throttle control. Honda disagrees, in their world all Activa users are personally coached by Keith Code.

I don’t know if it’s because of the transmission type, or the way the engine’s personality is, but damn this thing is lurchy. If you are taking a tight corner, and you would like to take it at constant throttle like any intelligent man should, tough luck, Honda wants you to accelerate uncontrollably, then brake like hell, shit yourself as you notice you’re aiming directly for the cliff, stop just in time, and thus complete the 5 point turn.

When you first touch the throttle, there’s a lag, and then it all comes gushing out, at which point you end up closing abruptly, and then there’s sudden engine braking. That friction point between no power and all the fucking power is too narrow, even a multiple world champion like me could barely hit it 50% of the time, I shudder to think how mere mortals handle it.

Combine this with the first two points, and you see the general direction Honda is going in, to make their scooter as unrideable as possible.

4. Heavy weight

Continuing with Honda’s aim of trying to fuck up everyone’s riding experience as much as possible, we move on to their latest trick, to make their scooty, which is aimed to be used by pre-pubescent girls, old ladies who live alone, and the general population that’s too scared of clutch and gears, so heavy and cumbersome that nobody can confidently ride it.

And the best part is this, when you go to buy an Activa, you get bombarded with offers to put those guards on the front, back, and sides, which a lot of people do. You end up paying ridiculously more for the scooty, and it weighs even more than it should have. But it’s OK, if everyone is stupid, nobody is stupid.

110 kgs may not be much for someone like me, but for most ladies it’s far too heavy. My mom has never ridden it, she is too scared. She used to ride the Sunny, and one fine day some girls suddenly came in front of her, forcing her to lock the brakes, and the scooter fell on her leg, breaking it. The Bajaj Sunny weighs as much as an adult Rhinoceros’s shit, so think about that.

I don’t know why it weighs so much, the exhaust is too fat for sure, but otherwise I don’t really see any simple way of shedding the weight. Which makes the TVS XL Super Heavy Duty an even better choice, as we shall see.

5. Costly

There seem to be 3 version of the Activa, the i, the 3G, and the 125. Their ex-showroom Mumbai prices start at some 50,000 bucks, and go all the way to 65,000. That’s an on-road price of 60-75k, for a scooter, and a crappy one at that.

A TVS XL Super Heavy Duty costs 27,000 bucks ex-showroom Mumbai. It can carry much more stuff than the Activa, carry you much more comfortably, all the while making you look like the goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus that you are. You could buy 2 TVS XL Super Heavy Duties for the cost of 1 Honda Activa, and you should.

The TVS XL Super Heavy Duty weighs 66 kgs, the Activa weighs 110 kgs. This means that the XL has a power to weight ratio of 0.05, while the Activa has 0.07. You are paying double the money for something that weighs twice as much, and gives you 0.02 hp/kg more.

Remember that time when Hero Puch used to be the sexiest way for a woman to travel? The sound that thing made, the speed that it had, and the way it looked, I loved it, more so because my mom had a shitty Bajaj Sunny. When did a fat, ugly, design become hotter than a streamlined, beautiful one?

All you are paying for is marketing, and the fact that the Activa was one of the first of its kind, and hence a lot of people buy them, because a lot of people used to buy them.

Don’t be a sheep.

6. Useless headlight

I have never seen a more worthless beam of light in my life, even those flowing out the hands of our gods seem to have more use and value than this.

If you’ve ever ridden out at night in India, you might have noticed that so many retards go around with high beams. However, the most irritating beams are those from scooters, not just because they are so scattered and in your face, but because even in low beam, their spread is designed mainly to send coded messages to aircrafts flying above.

There’s no proper cut-off point, no sense of direction, just a vague bombardment of photos on whatever sorry son of a bitch finds itself in front of you. It’s not even like the light is useful for you, it’s far too low in brightness, and has far too many black patches in important places.

And that’s the final nail in the Activa’s coffin of uselessness, it’s unrideable in the day, and a sure suicide machine by night.

Honda Activa review: Positives

There are some positives, but not many. I had to really think about what I’m going to write in there, since this 6-points-for-both-good-and-bad rule forces me to think from every single perspective. As much as I am disappointed in this thing, and completely enraged by the sheer number of people who waste their money on it, not everything is bad.

You may notice that I’ve not talked about brakes in the positives, and neither in the negatives, and that’s because they are OK, nothing special. Their bite and feel is vague, but you do get the combi thingy, and that makes things a bit better.

1. Spacious

As a motorcyclist, it’s so crazy to have a place to keep your helmet in, or a heavy bag not slung across your shoulders, or a bunch of groceries not hung on the handlebars. The underseat compartment in the Activa is quite nice, I had no trouble fitting my full-face SOL helmet in it. Most of the time I kept its papers and shit in there, but you can’t really keep too much, not just because of that weird hump in the middle of the chamber, but also because as you keep riding, that space slowly becomes an oven, thanks to the engine’s heat.

With that knowledge, I used to keep my food in there to keep it warm, and that worked brilliantly. Keeping your cold-drinks there is not such a great idea then, and neither is putting your phone or anything else delicate.

One of the Activas that I rode had that cage thingy in front, under the handlebars, and that was pretty nice to keep small stuff, although it did fuck with my knees sometimes. It also prevented me from fitting some fat bags in that space, but that’s nothing a bit of shoving around couldn’t accomplish.

Seating space is plenty too, although like I mentioned in the start, they might have gone overboard with the rear seat a bit.

All in all, I think the Activa could pass the Dilip Bam LPG cylinder test with flying colors, and that’s the end of that discussion.

2. Good mileage

I was quite surprised by the mileage I got on this thing. I rode one of the latest models, the HET one, and one that was old, and both gave roughly 35-40 kmpl, which is rather OK considering how much I was punishing them, and that all the time there were 2 people humping the shit out of it at places it was never supposed to see.

The fuel tank like I said, is quite tiny though, 100 kms is the maximum that you plan for before you gotta stop. This decision was probably made considering the fact that the scooty is designed to do some 20-30 kms a day inside the city, and hence a 100 km range might last a few days, if not the week.

3. Quick acceleration

Yes the throttle is snatchy as shit, but that also means that it’s quite easy to win red light races, at least at the start. The 0 to 60 kmph acceleration on it is quite fun, although the fun falls off a cliff the moment you cross 60.

When I used to live in Chandigarh, and rode around on my Pulsar 150, this used to be a very painful thing for me, to watch girls pull off the light and fly away into the distance, while I was still juggling with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. I did always catch up to them, but was never able to beat them off the line, no matter how perfect I got it.

This acceleration is also useful on the highway, when you want to overtake big trucks on narrow roads. Most of the time, you are getting overtaken left right and center by almost everything, thanks to the sorry top speed, but when you do hit the behind of that overloaded truck doing 30 kmph, a tight twist of the throttle takes you past it quite quickly.

4. Flickable

When I rode the Activa, and tried to swing it in that small space between 2 cars, did I realize why squids do that weird left-right slalom thing with it. It might be fat and uncomfortable, but you can countersteer the shit out of it, and it very happily goes left and right, to some ridiculous angles.

It might be the weight distribution or tire size or something else, but it’s very easy to change directions, the scooter feels very agile on its feet. The tires also work rather well, I never faced any issues with them skidding or losing traction, both when accelerating and braking.

In short, the handling of the Activa is the kind of experience squids masturbate to.

5. Well built

When I took it off-road, I was quite convinced that parts of it are going to fall off very soon. The suspension was bottoming out, there were rattles and weird sounds from every direction, and the vibrations in my body were hitting orgasmic levels. Even so, nothing happened. I was surprised to see all the panels where they were supposed to be, and nothing was broken.

This might be the positive side of the weight, but I’m not certain of that. The kind of torture I put both the Activas through should’ve easily cracked at least the mudguard, if not destroyed the entire suspension, but it didn’t. That’s miraculous, to put it mildly.

6. Reliable

I rode it for hours on end, with the throttle pinned all the way, the engine screaming. I was quite concerned that the weight of 2 people plus luggage, and the speeds that we were doing, would cause massive engine damage, but it pulled through quite nicely.

Honda is known for making bullet-proof engines, and it does show in this creation of theirs. The engine never over-heated, never lost power, never made any awful sounds, and that is very impressive in my eyes.

The entire reason why I rode this godforsaken thing over such a long distance was so I didn’t have to go in a bus, however, if it had broken down in the middle of nowhere, that would’ve kinda spoiled the fun a bit. It did not, and I respect that deeply.

Honda Activa review: Verdict

Honda Activa is the Bullet of the scooter world. Nobody knows why people buy it, and yet it keeps selling like toilet paper. What irritates me most is the fact that any new entrant in the scooter section gets compared to it, which is ridiculous. The Honda Activa is not a scooty, it’s as opposite to one as it gets. Every requirement that a scooty owner has is purposely not served by Honda, and yet there’s a waiting period to pick their Activa.

A scooty is meant to be comfortable, the Activa’s riding experience is like trying to take a shit out the window of a moving local train. A scooty is meant to be light, the Activa weighs more than twice of what most of its prospective owners do. A scooty is meant to be easy to ride and control, the Activa is about as easy as Counter Strike Condition Zero with Expert bots on a system with lag.

Honda sold 13,38,015 units of the Activa from January till June 2016, the Activa sales account for almost 15% of the total 2-wheeler industry. That’s fucking insane! Considering the price you pay for one, and the value it brings to your life, I’m surprised anybody buys it at all, and that should tell you a lot about how much I understand the world of two wheelers.

The biggest buyers of Activas to me seem to be teenagers, who use them to go to tuitions, school, college, and rave parties. All of them force their parents to buy them one, and their parents do, since they don’t know any better, and watching everyone else make the same mistake seems like a good enough reason for them to.

Why do these kids buy them? Because other kids buy them. You cross in front of any coaching center in any city, and there would be a line of thousands of Activas in front of it. Kids are morons, they just want to fit in, and buying a TVS XL Super Heavy Duty is not going to do that for them, although in reality, there’s nothing more raw, more masculine, more panty destroying than that little fireball.

In the end, the only reason Activa seems to be so popular is because it is so popular, its sales have crossed that point where people no longer think about buying a scooty as a complicated decision with many choices and factors, it’s just the Activa, and that’s the end.

Which tells you a lot about the way people think, and why Brexit happened, and why Trump happened, and why people make such ridiculously stupid decisions on a daily basis just because they’d rather not spend their time researching that tiny little bit, preferring to waste it jacking off, or posting selfies online, which I guess are the same thing more or less.

I don’t know if there’s a better scooty in the market right now, the Aprilia SR150 looks like a lot of fun, but I haven’t ridden it yet. All I can tell you is that the Activa isn’t the scooter you are looking for, you’d be better off buying literally anything else in the market.

Can’t get worse than this.

The philosophical argument against wearing a helmet

There have been a few insightful articles written recently about helmets.

Here’s an interesting one that talks about why a girl commuting on a Dio in Pune decided to invest 4000 bucks to pick up an LS2. Although I don’t agree with the choice of the lid, rest everything else is spot on.

Here’s another one written by someone with far more motorcycling experience than me, that tries to answer a number of common helmet related questions. Again, the gist of the article is correct, but one specific section is not. The writer feels that comfort is not a part of safety but something entirely separate, and that SHARP’s inclusion of comfort in the final rating is a mistake. Here’s an excerpt from the article.

Of these SHARP is considered the most well-rounded standard. It incorporates things like comfort in addition to safety and protection. I disagree with this approach. Helmets should be certified for crash performance alone. If any other attributes are assessed they must, in my book, go into a different rating. I cannot imagine buying a helmet that gets a superb overall rating because it has average crash protection but outstanding comfort. That’s crazy!

This argument is incorrect on 2 levels.

First, the SHARP rating does not include comfort as a factor in deciding the number of stars a helmet gets, that is based solely on how it performs in the impact tests, hence the author’s basic assumption is false.

Second, this belief that safety and comfort are unrelated is wrong. A proper fit, comfort of use, and safety in operation are three sides of a crash security triangle. An uncomfortable helmet is more likely to be a bad fit, which means that it is more likely to either entirely come off during the impact, or not provide the optimum amount of protection when you really need it. Here’s what SHARP has to say about this topic.

It is important that a helmet fits well if it is to provide its best protection – studies estimate that between 10 and 14% of fatal injuries occur when the helmet comes off in an accident. This is why the SHARP website includes a video that offers advice on helmet selection. Comfort is also important and should be considered when making a purchase. An uncomfortable helmet can distract you when riding and a poor fitting helmet may offer reduced protection in the event of an accident. The safety rating is a third criterion that can help make this important purchasing decision. Other factors may influence the purchaser but SHARP offers no opinion on what are largely subjective assessments.

In any case, the point of the discussion till now is this: Helmets are awesome, and everyone should get one. The recent crash and death of a teenager at Kari has raised a lot of important questions about helmet safety, but the major issue with that conversation is oversimplification.

Yes a young guy lost his life while wearing an MT helmet, in what appears to be a rather slow crash. However, the obvious deduction everyone seems to have made from this tragedy is that MT helmets are bad, or that the ones being sold in India are fake. This has also started some debates about the old cheap vs. costly helmet question, however most of the people taking part in these debates don’t appreciate how intricate the art of helmet safety is, what doesn’t help is the fact that a cheap helmet for me might be extremely costly for someone else.

The number of variables involved in a helmet being able to save your life in case of a crash are numerous. Here’s a look at some of them.

  1. Helmet quality, design, impact absorption ability.
  2. Retention system’s ability to keep the helmet on your head throughout the crash.
  3. Proper fit that helps the helmet perform as designed.
  4. Helmet’s behavior with respect to multiple crashes. A helmet that has taken a major impact once may not be able to provide the same level of protection in case of a second hit.
  5. Helmet’s behavior with respect to time. A helmet may lose its ability to save you in case of a crash depending on how long it’s been in use.
  6. Speed, angle, force, and type of impact.
  7. Any changes to the basic design of the helmet, like GoPro mounts and cameras attached to the helmet etc.
  8. G-forces subjected to the brain through the crash.
  9. Protection against penetrative objects, as demonstrated by Massa’s crash in F1.
  10. Safety against neck and spinal injuries.

You could write whole books about each one of these points. For example, there’s an ongoing debate between hard vs. soft helmets. Some people believe that helmets that are soft may subject the brain to less G-forces by destroying themselves during a crash. Other believe that hard helmets may cause more severe brain injuries, but will save the skull against penetrative objects.

For example, in the photos of the helmet that the unfortunate teenager wore at Kari, you can clearly see that the shell is cracked open. Some people feel this was bad, shells are supposed to be sturdy and unbreakable. Others feel that this is the way the shell is supposed to work. The energy absorbed by the shell that forced it to crack was thus not transmitted to the brain.

The point of this monologue is this: Helmet safety is an extremely complex issue that can’t just be defined by the few experiences you had and the many assumptions you made during your brief riding life. The fundamental problem is that crash-test dummies are great to tell you about bone fractures and lung ruptures and spine injuries, but they can’t tell you much about how a brain would function after it has been subjected to a particular amount of acceleration/deceleration inside the skull.

The reason for this lack of knowledge is obvious, nobody wants to sit in a controlled environment, with probes and electrodes attached to their heads, and then see what happens if they go head-first into a wall, waiting to tell the scientists all about it later over some beer.

The brain is an exceptionally intricate organ, and so is its safety. Science is continuously working to improve the ways we protect it, but the current technologies that are used to understand the brain, to create helmets, and to test them, have a long way to go.

If your question then is, which helmet should I buy? The answer is not simple. Costly helmets are more likely to save your life, but there’s no guarantee. Fit and comfort are extremely important, for which you’ll need to test the helmet first before buying, which might be hard for the costlier helmets. I’m saving up for a Shoei next, but I’m also bugging my friends so I can try their different Shoei models before I eventually order one online.

You’ll have to research, spend time, effort, and money to get the helmet that you’ll trust with your life, and even then there’s no guarantee it’ll work flawlessly.

Which brings us to the title of this article, why a lot of people oppose mandatory helmet laws, and could there be a philosophical argument in their favor, since as far as I’ve researched, there’s no physical, biological, or logical argument that helps their case.

Let me reiterate that, there’s nothing scientific that you can say to me that’ll conclusively prove that mandatory helmet laws are bad, in any conceivable way. Most of the arguments either misconstrue available data, give completely illogical and often contradictory reasoning for this behavior, and finally, resort to the hilariously stupid “I don’t want the government to tell me what to do” argument.

However, could there be a philosophical reasoning that could convince people that not everyone should be forced to wear a helmet? Yes, there could be, but it’s already a huge controversy in itself.

The right to Die.

Let’s say you are out on a ride. The scenery is beautiful, the clouds are fluffy, and the corners are epic. You are having the time of your life, when suddenly you find a rider crashed by the side of the road. You stop to help.

He isn’t hurt much, it wasn’t a major accident, he just pushed too much and laid the bike down gently. You help him pick up the bike, brush the dust away, and he happily gets back on the saddle, ready to ride again. At that moment, you notice something strange, something you missed till now somehow.

Dude! You aren’t wearing a helmet!
Yes, I know. 
Well, why not? 
Well, why should I? 
You just crashed! It was nothing but luck that you didn’t hurt your head. 
So?
It could happen again, and next time you might not be so lucky. 
So?
You could die!
Ah, that’s alright friend. It’s my life, and I have a right to end it when I please.

If you are like me, someone who supports Euthanasia, this is the end of the road. There are no further major arguments you can make, apart from a few secondary ones which we’ll discuss in a while.

First, let me share an experience I had during my latest trip to Himachal a few weeks ago. Me and my brother-in-law were exploring some remote locations close to the Bhakra Dam, on an Activa. We had been denied direct access to the dam due to some “terrorist high-alert” bullshit, and we were determined to have some fun regardless of government stupidity.

While riding on one of these trails, we spotted an unbelivably beautiful spot, a place from where you could see for miles in every direction, the kind of place where one sits and contemplates the meaning of life. The only problem what that it was a rather dangerous place to be, with steep sheer drops on 3 sides, and just a narrow patch of earth to sit on.

There was no question in my mind that I was going in. I understood the risks, and decided this one was worth the rewards. As soon as I stepped onto the top, I heard a loud voice from behind me.

It was an old local guy. He was transporting some grains back home on his cycle, noticed me climbing up what clearly looks like a suicide point, and shouted. I turned back, and the following conversation ensued.

What are you doing up there?
I’m taking photographs.
Why are you taking photographs?
Because it’s so beautiful.
Why are you taking photographs?
Because I can.
Where are you from?
I’m from around here.

Then he seems to have lost steam for a while, and kept quiet, although he didn’t budge from his position, kept watching me all the while I was there. This meant that I wasn’t able to just sit down and absorb the view, and had to come back down when I was done with the photos and video.

You shouldn’t do these kind of things. Your parents have given you so much, and you waste it on such stupid actions?
I don’t understand what your problem is. 
What if something had gone wrong?
What could go wrong?
Anything could’ve gone wrong. Who would be responsible in that case?
If I am standing at that rock and I fall and die, I am the one responsible obviously. 

This cooled him down a bit, but didn’t shut him up, and I simply picked up the Activa and we rode away.

Later, I realized something. If I was willing to kill myself for a breathtaking view, it would be hypocritical of me to lecture other people to wear helmets all the time. I don’t know what pleasure they get out of it, but it’s their life, and I have no right to tell them to keep it safe.

However, such arguments have to be dealt on a case-by-case basis, generalizations never work. For example, there’s another similar argument that talks about SaddleSores and other such endurance runs on public roads, like the Kashmir to Kanyakumari Limca record. This discussion is a bit simpler to handle, the grey area is very thin, but still there’s huge controversy over what’s right and what’s wrong.

The supporters of SaddleSores say that it’s nobody’s business how much distance in how much time someone decides to ride, it’s your road as much as it’s mine, and it’s up to me how little I want to rest, and how quickly I want to cover the kilometers, while obviously trying to stay under the speed limits. If I die while attempting to cover a 1000 miles in 24 hours, that’s my problem, and you should have nothing to say about it.

For the opposing side, the first argument is about the speed limits. In a country like India, it’s simply impossible to stay under them when you’re racing against time, not that many care for the limits to begin with. However, the bigger argument is this: Rights and Responsibilities go hand in hand. It’s a public road, you certainly have the right to use it as much as you like, but the objective that you have, and amount of stress you are putting on your bike, mind and body to achieve it, might lead to catastrophic disasters, in which case it’s possible that you’ll take someone else out, crash into someone who had nothing to do with your little speed run, kill someone who didn’t even know what a SaddleSore is.

Here I would like to introduce the Law of Personal Space, which should help clarify the details of such arguments, and a number of others in the future.

The Law of Personal Space states that you are free to do whatever you wish to do, as long as it doesn’t affect someone else’s personal space. 

For example, if you’re a homosexual individual who likes to do what your heart desires inside the privacy of your house, you are awesome and you should keep doing what you are doing. In case you’d like to get married, you should go ahead and do that as well, since who you marry or don’t marry has nothing to do with me.

However, if I’m sitting at a bus stop and you decide to have sex with your partner right there on the bench next to me, that’s a violation of my personal space, not so much because your actions will in any way disgust a heterosexual male like me, but solely because I would not like to start my day with an inadvertent shot of semen sent straight towards my arm, which is a distinct possibility.

With SaddleSores, a distinct possibility is that you get so tired on the bike that you simply doze off, jump over the divider, and plough straight into my car’s windshield, killing me and my wife, in addition to yourself. Your death is irrelevant, since you were prepared for it, mine and my wife’s isn’t, because we were not consulted.

Your action could violate my personal space in certain scenarios, which is why it is the wrong thing to do.

You could say that such arguments pick the worst possible outcome and then build on that, but the undeniable fact remains that those outcomes are still a possibility. There’s no way to predict what will happen and what will not, if it’s possible, you have to go forward with the assumption that it will happen.

With helmets, such arguments do exist, but they aren’t particularly strong. For example, you could say that if you ride without a helmet, the chances of you getting some dust in your eyes, or a bug in your mouth, or a bee in your ears are very high, which would distract you from the road, and hence increase the chances of a crash with fellow road users. However, the counter to this argument is provided very easily by none other than helmet manufacturers themselves, in the form of half-face helmets.

If someone’s wearing a half-face helmet, the chances of them getting some dust in their eyes, or a bug in their mouth, or a bee in their ears are more or less the same as someone who isn’t wearing a helmet at all. In that case, if you wish to force everyone to wear a helmet, it follows that you must also force all those helmets to be full-face, and nothing less.

This quickly becomes problematic. What do you do with modular helmets? Sure they can work as full-face helmets, but with that comes the distinct possibility of opening up the entire front section, thus essentially making it a half-face helmet. What about off-road helmets? Most of them are used with goggles, which don’t improve the bugs in your mouth situation by much.

When you make a decision, you have to look at not only the direct impact of it, but the numerous indirect ones too. If the end results of your decision end up contradicting your basic assumptions, you are in trouble.

Some people make this interesting argument against mandatory helmet laws, that letting people ride without helmets is awesome, because that way evolution will quickly remove all the stupid members of the gene pool, and what you’ll be left with would be only the intelligent ones who’ll always wear helmets. This argument ignores the fact that not wearing a helmet has to do with much more than just stupidity, and a process as slow as evolution can never be trusted to help with any issue that needs immediate solution.

The end result is this.

If you wish to make helmets mandatory, you must also make it mandatory that all helmets should be full-face. If you can’t do that, you can’t force people to wear helmets, at least not on philosophical grounds. 

If there is any moral to this entire article, and I’m not really sure that there is, it could be that people tend to look at things as either good or bad, black or white, this or that. Generalizations and oversimplification doesn’t even work for something as exact as science, how the hell do you expect it to work for something as chaotic as life?

No matter what issue you are talking about, thorough research, full use of your brain, and most importantly, the ability to look at the world from someone else’s perspective is essential. It naturally follows that this tendency to share random stuff you find on the internet, the very basis of this “viral” culture that we’ve started, is flawed on so many different levels.

No matter how much trust you have in your own opinions, trust me, you are wrong far more often than you think you are.

Xiaomi Yi action camera review: China kicks ass

October has been a rather bad month as far as writing 5 articles a week goes. I did it in September, and thought once the habit was in it would be easy to carry the momentum. In reality, I was burned out by the end of September, wanted to stay away from a laptop and from my bike as much as possible.

I can’t say October has been a very productive month, but then again I’m not a very productive guy to begin with. November’s aim then is even less exciting, to write no more than 3 articles a week. This month was spent watching TED talks, listening to Audio books, going on trips, and generally thinking about life and what I’m doing with it, apart from having an Instagram baby of course.

In case you’re not aware of how far today’s technology has come, allow me to awe you with the beauty of an Instagram baby. All you have to do is publish a photo of you holding a random baby’s tiny hand, just because it’s so creepily tiny, and everyone will instantly assume that it’s your baby. As we all know, anything which happens on the internet is by default true in reality, and what you end up with is an Instagram baby, a baby you didn’t know you had, a baby that didn’t hurt your wife at all, a baby that brings you all the benefits of being a father, without all the disadvantages of poop and piss.

For example, my sperm had never been this appreciated till date in my life, nobody had commented on the speed of my seed, nor had they valued its virility. The Instagram baby brought me so much of such admiration, that I was left with no heart to tell the admirers about the truth. I hope this knowledge will not change their behavior towards me, since after all, the primary aim of evolution, and in all seriousness, life, is to have your jizz treasured, respected and cherished through generations.

In light of the glory of my ejaculate, here’s a small video of the things I did with the Xiaomi Yi action camera lent to me by a friend, that should give you some sense of its capabilities in a wide variety of conditions.

Unfortunately, I would not be able to tell you much about the sound quality of the Yi. The owner of the camera is an engineer, with a fetish for soldering things. The camera that I reviewed had a 3.5mm microphone wire soldered directly into the jack. This meant that unless you connected a mic, no sound was recorded, which is why I can’t tell you how good the Yi’s default microphone is.

Xiaomi Yi action camera review: Positives

For the price, and for the moment forgetting about how much extra you have to pay for the mounts and accessories and stuff, the Yi is really impressive. Here are some of the reasons why I thought so.

1. Simplicity

After using GoPros in the past and then the SJCAM 5000X Elite, I can tell you, with authority, that the Xiaomi Yi is the most OCD satisfying of the 3. This has been achieved in a number of different ways, some of which you’ll understand as you read through to the end.

The camera is as simple as it gets, 3 buttons – Power, Start/stop, and WiFi, no screen, bright lights at the right places, and full control through the app only. Although I enjoy gadgets that let me tinker with their most settings a bit, an example of which would be the fact that I’ve never used an iPhone till date, it’s such a beautifully uncluttered experience when you don’t have a thousand things to think about.

The camera buttons give you the most basic controls, start camera, start video, stop video, shoot photo, start WiFi and stop WiFi, that’s it. For everything else, you go the app, which in itself is splendidly simple. Once you are connected, the interface is very basic and easy to understand. If you want a bit more detailed control of the camera, there’s a separate menu for that. And finally, if for the deepest level settings, there’s a separate place.

There’s plenty to hate in this camera, but one thing is for certain, the people who designed it, especially the user interface, knew their shit well.

2. Video quality

This is what matters in the end, a camera that vomits flaky, blurred, bland videos is not a camera worth spending your money on, no matter how good it looks, and how easy it is to use. The Xiaomi Yi performs ridiculously well in this department, at part with any GoPro/SJCAM footage that I’ve seen till date, in all conditions except too dark, where it gets very grainy.

The output video is crisp, colors are rendered correctly, brightness/darkness is handled quite well, and the overall look and feel of it is brilliant. I didn’t face any issues with the Yi as far as the final uploaded video quality goes, not with the field of view, not with clarity, bit rate, vividness or anything else.

I hadn’t expected this. Although Xiaomi is already known for producing good products at a very low price point, logic dictates that something must be wrong. However, in the few weeks that I spent with the camera, I couldn’t find any place where Xiaomi cut corners to price it the way they did.

In everything that matters, especially the video quality, the Yi performs outstandingly well.

3. Value for money

The first 2 positives naturally flow to this third, especially when combined with the nice build quality of the product. For a small fraction of a GoPro’s cost, what you get is a well made, sturdy looking, rattle free camera that does its job well and is a pleasure to use. That’s as value for money product as it gets.

Do keep in mind that comparing the price of the Xiaomi Yi directly with the competition, something like an SJCAM or even a GoPro, is not entirely justified. When you buy the Yi, you are only paying for the camera and a few basic accessories. You’ll still have to cough up a lot more for the mounts and screws and stuff. If you already have the bases and mounts sorted, you’ll be very happy with this camera indeed. If not, do keep in mind that just buying the camera is not enough, you’re still missing a big part of the picture.

Even so, at this price point, it’s hard to complain about the camera, not that there’s much to diss on anyway.

4. Ease of use

The Xiaomi Yi is a great slave, but a rather bad master. What I mean by that is if you use the Yi as your secondary camera, like something fixed on the handlebar that just keeps looking at you, or something mounted to the back of the bike, basically any fixed location from where the camera isn’t moved around much, you’ll have an extremely pleasant experience.

However, if you plan to use the Yi as your primary camera, which will be the case if this is the only one you own, then you might end up getting a bit frustrated from time to time. This is because every time you change the location of the camera, like from your helmet to the fuel tank, you’ll need to re-calibrate the view the camera is shooting. Since the Yi does not have a screen, this is a bit of a time-consuming process.

Start the camera, wait a few seconds for the power button light to stop blinking, push the WiFi button, start the camera app on your phone, wait as it slowly connects, adjust your field of view, stop the app, stop the camera WiFi, and you are done. If you don’t stop the WiFi, your battery life is severely reduced.

Yes I do sound like a bitch with giant first-world problems when I cry about you having to push a few buttons and wait a few seconds, you have to understand that for someone like me, who likes to capture a lot of different angles for one video, this is a pain in the ass. However, when I used the Yi at just one location, it was awesome, just set it up and you are done, since now the physical buttons on the camera can be used to start/stop the videos.

On the even brighter side, the app is fantastic, whoever was the design head of that thing deserves a sloppy kiss on the cheek, followed by a tissue paper or something. Someone who designed such a beautifully organised app must suffer from uncontrollable OCD urges, and consequently wouldn’t want a bit of someone’s wet saliva near their mouth.

The app is extremely intuitive, very easy to use, has all the options neatly organized in levels of depth, and just feels like a well put together product. I haven’t used the GoPro app, so I can’t tell you how good that is, but the Yi app is in total contrast to the SJCAM one, which feels like something designed by a cow in painful labor.

5. Light weight

This may be a bit of a pointless point, all action cameras are light weight, that’s kinda the entire point of this technology. Nevertheless, the Xiaomi Yi is tiny and doesn’t weigh much, I mounted it on my helmet’s chin and it wasn’t any more uncomfortable than the rest.

6. Battery life

The battery life of the Yi that I got was kick ass. I once charged it to full and took it to the terrace to shoot a timelapse of the upcoming storm. It kept shooting for more than 2 hours, I was so bored, I really wanted it to be over, but the damn thing kept shooting. After a while it started raining, and I was like “Cammmaaaann”, and then it finally died after 20 minutes.

It goes without saying that the credit for this goes to the lack of a screen, and the overall simplicity of design. Do keep in mind that keeping the WiFi on will eat up the battery real quick.

However, there have been plenty of reports about the large differences in battery lives of cameras originating from different countries. For example, if you get the Yi from the US, it’s great. If you get the China version, the battery life can be as low as half of what you get from the US version.

Since the batteries are replaceable, this isn’t a major issue, but it’s kinda weird that there should be so much difference between the same product when bought from different geographical areas.

Xiaomi Yi action camera review: Negatives

I’m nitpicking in these negatives. Whenever you look at a product, you must first look at the price and then see what you’re getting for the money you’re spending. With the Yi, the initial investment is so small that it’s hard to complain at all. Even so, here are a few little things that wrinkled my butt.

1. Lack of a screen

Like I said before, even a small, tiny little screen would have made the task of moving this camera around very easy. Even something as basic as one of those minuscule windows in front of a GoPro would’ve been great, at least you would’ve known what mode you are in, how much battery is left, and how many more videos you can take.

If I was in the designer’s situation, I would’ve probably made the same decision. Removing the screen makes the camera light, consumes less battery, makes it thin and just makes the overall design easier and simpler. This shouldn’t stop you from giving at least some sort of indications for battery, mode, and space though. Connecting to the app every few minutes is not something I would like to do.

2. Availability

This is the biggest problem with the Yi right now. If you want one, and I’m sure you do, you either have to beg a friend to pick it up from the states, or you have to pick one up from some shit Chinese website. In both cases, a lot of time is wasted in waiting. In the second case, you may end up paying a lot of money for customs and shit. All in all, buying a Yi is a far more painful experience than it ought to be.

Xiaomi already has a huge presence in India, I don’t exactly understand the reasons why they haven’t officially launched it here. I’ve never understood their marketing strategies though, that stupid farce of their phones being only available for a few seconds was disgusting to me. I’m sure they are following some similar crackpot philosophy with the Yi, but it’s just sad.

The amount of brains Xiaomi spent in creating this camera is far higher than the amount of brains they are using to sell it.

3. Accessories

When you buy an SJCAM, you get a bunch of stuff with it, sticky mounts, screws and extenders, even remotes and selfie sticks with some models. When you buy the Yi, you get the Yi.

The sex thing here is that Xiaomi decided to make the Yi compatible with GoPro mounts, something that retardbuckets like Sony and Contour didn’t. If you are like me, who has already spent a shitload of money getting cheapass stuff from DX.com, you are sorted. If not, you’ll end up spending more than what the camera cost before you’ll be able to properly use it.

It’s obvious that Xiaomi doesn’t give you any major accessories with the camera to keep the costs down, but I’m sure a lot of people would rather prefer to pay up a bit more and get the whole shazam.

4. Slow startup speed

This is quite annoying. Imagine you are riding into some forest, there’s a calm wind flowing around, the track is meandering through the trees, and the air is full of wild sounds and freedom of the mind.

Suddenly you take a turn, and there, right there in front of you, there’s an Elephant fucking a Kangaroo, straight up from behind. You look at it, you look at them, and you realize this is gold, National Geographic will pay millions for this footage. You hurriedly start the Yi that’s mounted on your handlebar, and the light keeps blinking, and blinking, while the Elephant keeps thrusting an in out of the obviously slutty Kangaroo.

Suddenly the Elephant pulls out , the Kangaroo turns, and sticks its tongue out. You know what’s happening, you know it’s not going to last long, you press the record button a number of times, nothing happens, you must wait for the blinking to go away.

And it does! You’re so happy, you push the button to start the video, all the right red lights are going off, and it makes that nice little sound too. You look up to find the spent Elephant walking away into the trees, and the sexually satisfied Kangaroo with an unnaturally white face jumps up and away out of view.

It didn’t happen with me, but might happen to you.

5. Lack of warranty/support

Since Xiaomi doesn’t sell the camera officially in India, you can go fuck yourself for all they care if you end up breaking it, or even if you find some genuine manufacturing defect. This means that the already painful process of importing the camera from outside India is in reality even more problematic and risky.

This is one of the major reasons why I would still prefer to buy an SJCAM over a Xiaomi, the peace of mind you get knowing you are getting a genuine product that’ll be taken care of even if you screw up somehow, is worth the extra money in my opinion.

However, most of the people who’d end up picking the Xiaomi would be young, broke guys who simply can’t afford anything that costs more than 10K. For them, the risk is worth the reward. For others, not so much.

6. Lack of stabilization

An action camera by its very design is meant to be used in rough conditions. On a motorcycle, in the sea, while climbing a mountain. This means that getting shaky footage is not just a possibility, it’s a given. From that point of view, it’s strange that the Yi doesn’t come with any form of built-in stabilization.

I know, I know, the price is too low for me to demand more features, but as far as I understand, digital stabilization isn’t too complicated a thing. You have an accelerometer inside the camera which talks to the chip, and rest is done by software. Stabilization, even just something basic, is very important for any action camera, and it would be just a good thing if the Yi had it.

You can’t really expect cheap fucks that buy this camera to have enough money to invest in gimbals and shit, do you?

Xiaomi Yi action camera review: Verdict

If you are new to the world of video making, if you’ve never edited or uploaded a finished video before, if you are too obsessed with the popular motovloggers on Youtube, this is a great camera to waste your money on. I say it’s a waste of money, because the majority of you will shoot Petabytes of footage, and then never do anything with it. The few who do will probably move onto better things with time.

A lot of people have asked me if I had a very tight budget, which action camera would I get. My answer is the SJCAM M20, not the Yi. Yes the Yi is kick ass, especially the simply orgasmic app, but I’m a very conservative guy, I don’t like to take risks.

I don’t have any friends/family in the US, and I don’t have the heart to buy something from Aliexpress and then wait for it to arrive like a jackass for months, only to end up paying far more than I had initially planned to, not just on customs etc., but also the basic infrastructure without which an action camera is useless.

If Xiaomi decides to start selling the Yi directly in India, there’s simply no competition to it, in any department. Till such time that they do, make sure that your risks get you some reward in the long run.

If you’ve used the Yi, you can put your review of it below in the comments.

Bikers of India: Nikhil, Anoop, and the Motovation crew

On a very broad scale, there are 2 kinds of people in this world.

There are whiners, like me, who complain about every little thing, like a motorcycle being only 99.3% perfect for my daftly specific requirements. And there are doers, like the people mentioned in this article, who see a problem and immediately work towards solving it, rather than writing pointless, 3000 word rants that help nothing and no one in the end.

The beginning

My introduction to the Motovation crew happened more than a year ago, when I first came to Hyderabad after moving out of Mumbai. Out of the 3 founders, Nikhil, Anoop, and Mihir, I ended up interacting far more with Mr. Mihir Chadha than the others, mostly because he dropped in quite frequently at the office I worked at, with his long hair and chiseled lips and interesting stories.

Gradually, I got to know Nikhil and Mr. Pamu as well. We once rode together to that shitty Xbhp OLX Collector’s ride, where I got a first-hand experience of just how mad these fuckers were. I got to know them far better when I started attending the track days organised by them, but there again Mihir was the one who I spent most of the time with, the other two were far beyond my level, both in riding and in humor.

During this time, I got to know a few more people in their crew, although not beyond the usual depth of a person you never have any deep conversations with. The fact that I’m a shy stammering awkward piece of shit didn’t help either.

The first contact at any track day was made with Tanya, a smiling girl with a wide variety of hair colors, and a student who always seems to be a part of everything Motovation does. I don’t think she is a biker, from what I have seen till now she’s a beginner at best. Why then, would a person who has no personal interest in an event, be present at the venue well before sunrise, sometimes even before all 3 of the founders got there? I don’t know, it could be friendship, it could be something beyond friendship, but I’ve never woken up this early to help anybody out, not even myself, hence I don’t understand the impulse behind such behavior, although I deeply respect it.

Next up mostly came Kyathi, another student in the final year of his engineering degree, who seems to have more interest and talent with 4 wheels than in 2. He’s skilled with go-karts, far higher than I am at least, and has probably raced them at some level too. He is one of the people who marshals on the track, keeps everything safe and running as per schedule, while also lapping in a few rounds of the circuit from time to time.

Then you move around and meet Johnny, who for the most part of last year I only knew by the name “Jesus”, which made him both instantly recognizable, and entirely confusing to me. He works with Amazon in Hyderabad, and has raced Nationals and One Make in the past. He also took part in that Bajaj Pulsar RS200 race series I think, finishing on the podium somewhere. He’s one of the people I regularly try to watch on the track, especially on the last turn, where you enter into the home straight. He also seems to possess this incredible talent to get his knee down on any fucking bike that he desires, something that I’ve never been able to achieve, even on the best of the best.

By this time Jason and I are usually shaking hands, and I always end up thinking “it’s hard to find a whiter guy than him in India”. I don’t know what he does off the track, he looks too young to not be in college, but I’m famously bad at judging people and their ages. He, like Kyathi, juggles riding and marshaling duties from time to time. I once made the mistake of giving him one of my pristine knee sliders for a few laps, it came back half destroyed.

There’s Luke, Biggie, Atif, Ryan, and maybe even a few more that I don’t know by name. If you found my descriptions of the people above to be a bit vague, it’s simply because they don’t care, and neither do I. We get together, have some fun, and then go live our lives. Although it’s always fun to get to know people better, such humans, who play a brief but important role in your life, without all the strings attached with close personal connections, are far more beautiful than most friends and even family you’ll ever have.

The tragedy

When Mihir decided to fuck away far too early, the most obvious question was “Could Motovation still continue?”. He was the youngest, wildest, fastest of the lot, although his teaching methods were hilariously bad and prone to disasters. More than anything, I think it’s about the desire to continue, or rather the loss of it.

Motovation people, even till today, don’t exactly make a living out of these events. All of them are volunteers, who take the booking amounts, use them to pay for the logistics and the refreshments and the ambulance and the gear and the bikes and the fuel and the damages, organize the whole thing, and then go home to their respective jobs. In some sense, it’s just social service, and it’s hard to justify doing it if it ceases to be fun.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’d have stopped at this point if I was in their situation. Not only did they not stop, they moved higher. They organised more track days, exclusive track days, a tour of the Himalayas, dirt track days, and then even one at Chennai, featuring bomb riders like Rajini Krishnan and Sandesh Sandy. After the first place where they did the dirt track days faced issues with local Police, they recently moved onto a new location, where an event is happening in 2 days time.

Nikhil and Anoop

Nikhil used to work at Amazon, now he works at Uber. He has also raced in Nationals and One Make in the past, and might return to them in the future, although he once told me he was too old for that shit, and that I simply had no chance. If you look closely in his eyes, he seems to be in a constant state of mushroom high, or maybe that’s just the color of his iris. When he’s not riding or cracking embarrassingly sad jokes, he’s smoking, which might explain the eyes, although that does raise a lot of questions about what the hell is in those cigarettes.

He’s not a teacher in the traditional sense of the word, I’ve never learned anything from him directly, nothing that I’ve realized after he said something to me. He teaches by example, he asks you to follow him, if you can, or sometimes he follows you, if he’s in the mood. Most of the time, he’s just randomly sliding around the track, trying to defend against Anoop or Jesus, and that’s where I’ve learned the most from him.

I’ve always believed that copying someone who’s better than you is the easiest and quickest way of improving your own skill and level. It has worked remarkably well for me throughout my life, and that’s all I care for. When I first started riding at the track, for every lap that I did, Nikhil probably did 2. This was in spite of the fact that I was on a 390 and he was on a 200. After watching him, his body position, his lines, the sound of his engine, and more than a year’s worth of track riding, I’m happy to announce that I can finally keep up with him, although not if he’s on anything faster.

In my mind, this is beautiful. You don’t talk, you don’t waste time in needless discussions, you just get on with it and then quite naturally the rest happens.

Like with many things in life, you can read as much as you like about riding on the track, and then piss your pants once you do it in reality. With something that’s so visceral, that demands so many of your senses to work in coordination, there’s no alternative to experience, and that’s where Nikhil’s style, intended or unintentional, works fabulously for me.

Anoop is the opposite in many ways. His dad owns a custom signage business, where he spends most of his time off bikes. On the track, you can easily get into massively technical discussions with him, and he’s the guy you tend to talk with when following Nikhil raises some questions that you can’t quite figure out yourself.

He can be very strongly opinionated though, conceding to your point is not something you should expect from him. I’ve been annoyed a few times by his suggestions, which I felt were quite counter intuitive, but then as expected, quickly realized that they worked on the bike, which is all that matters.

For a guy of his size, and for someone who calls himself the Fat Flash, he is fucking fast. Part of this might be his tendency to frequently go far beyond the limits, something which Nikhil never does.

In my experience with Motovation till date, I’ve never witnessed Nikhil crashed. In that same experience, I’ve never seen Mr. Pamu not crash. I don’t remember a single track day when he didn’t lay his bike down. I recently went to check out the new dirt track that they developed, and even there he slid out of a friend’s old Karizma.

Needless to say, I’ve never lent my bike to him.

He’s rather famous for his talking sessions, which involve staying on the topic for the minimum possible time, and an unnaturally high usage of the expression “all y’all”. I love the way he laughs though, his damn eyes become tiny, even when looked through his thick glasses, and you can genuinely feel the laughter underneath, not just the disconnected and painful expansion of the lips.

Both of them have had their fair share of motorcycle related injuries. Anoop was once involved in a horrific crash at Chennai, you can still find the souvenirs on his wrist. Nikhil has fucked his knees over time, I remember him talking about an upcoming surgery a while ago.

Both are so deeply involved with motorcycles, despite every wreck they have brought in their lives, that it’s hard to mentally connect them with anything but leather suits, KTM bikes, and knee downs.

The value of Motovation

Apart from the obvious fact that their track days let you understand your own and your bike’s limits, make you faster, safer, and overall a better rider, the reason I’m writing about the people behind Motovation is that their events do so much more for the biking community than any shitfaced Ride For Safety does.

The most fascinating aspect for me at any track day is to watch the different kinds of people, some of them with their bodies completely out of shape just to get their knee down, others with their bikes barely tipped in, far too scared of touching the limit. There are the beginners, the experts, the experimentalists, the extremes, the smooth, the rough, the beautiful, the quick, the racers, the learners, and the few guys on Bullets.

I realized after just one track day how different it feels to be on the bike from watching someone else be on one. When you watch MotoGP, it all looks so easy. When you’re on the track, you think your shoulder is so close to rubbing off the asphalt, you look at other people and think what a bunch of losers they are, and then you finally find your own photos, looking like a retarded crab, your knee a few galaxies away from the Earth, your toes pointing awkwardly to the ground.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so embarrassingly disappointing.

When you look at other people, normal people on normal bikes, and not Rossi or Marquez on prototype missiles, you get a great deal of understanding about how the human body and a motorcycle work together. The best part is that every track day brings different kinds of riders, all with their unique styles, body positions, and personalities. It’s impossible to gain this knowledge by watching a race thousands of kilometers away, or by reading a book written by an obvious genius but someone far removed from your present situation.

The other brilliant aspect of any Motovation track day is the sheer variety of bikes that run. You always have the KTMs, you have a few Ninjas, 300s and sometimes even 650s, you also have FZs, R15s, Bullets, Continental GTs, Daytonas, Bonnies, Z800s, Mojos, Dios, Navis, CBRs, Benellis, and if you’re lucky, Nikhil’s old Kawasaki Caliber 110.

Even among the KTMs, you have stock bikes like mine, all the way to crazy contraptions with Metzeler M7 RRs, piggyback ECUs with traction control, Ohlins suspensions, a wide variety of fork oils, many kinds of disc pads, and one crazy fuck who actually sawed off his stock RC390 handlebar and made something even more committed.

You can clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of different bikes, how the riders cope up with them, how they adapt to use the package they have between their legs. The variety of tires is staggering, you can learn so much just by looking at their tread and wear patterns.

Above everything, the sheer diversity of sounds is a pleasure. You get to hear everything from the groaning singles, to the whining doubles, to the crying triples and sometimes the screaming fours.

Complementing all the above, the value of Motovation to me is this, their events give you an opportunity to watch other people do stuff, things you thought couldn’t be done, things you thought certainly couldn’t be done on that bike, especially not with those tires. When you watch someone else open throttle so early, when you see the sweet sweeping line they take, when you understand you can brake that late because they can, it’s all about the power of possibility.

The human experience can be incredibly narrow, even with the massive amount of exposure to foreign ideas that the internet brings in. We naturally tend to prove our own beliefs, to progressively provide evidence against those we don’t. Watching other people destroy your misconceptions is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

With extremely limited resources, in a city not as loving to motorcycles as Bangalore or Pune, and with little in the name of monetary or human support, Motovation has created a vast infrastructure for motorcycle enthusiasts like me. Without them, I’d have long killed myself by slashing my wrist with a cardboard box.

If not for their track days, I’d have slowly but surely moved away from motorcycles, solely because there wouldn’t have been anything I could’ve done with them. As much fun as touring can be, you can only go with it so far before there’s nothing left to ride to anymore. Off road is fun for sure, but how many lakes can you circumnavigate before it starts feeling like you’re a dumb and broke version of Columbus?

They’ve steadily built up on the base that was created. Their latest plan involves creating a giant motorsports and camping complex near Hyderabad in association with Yash Motorsports, which’ll include a drag strip, a dirt track, and a 3+ kms long asphalt track.

Irrespective of what you might think of them, or what might happen to them in the future, Motovation has been an extremely important part of my riding life for the past year, and I can’t thank them enough for the brilliant fun that time has been.

If you’re around Hyderabad, come meet the people behind Motovation at the dirt event happening this Saturday. I might be there too.