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.

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.

Kawasaki India, you’ve finally done the right thing

The 13 Kawasaki customers who were duped by Satyen Karandikar, finally got the bikes that they’d paid for. Kawasaki India organised a small ceremony to deliver the machines to their respective owners, the total value of the loss to them is upwards of a crore, which I’m certain they’ll pull out SNK’s ass, one coin at a time. They have the legal power and resources that the customers don’t, which is exactly why this could end in no other way.

The issue is still not completely resolved though, there are a few more people whose claim is being verified by Kawasaki. SNK’s web of lies is far thicker than you can anticipate.

The good part is that Kawasaki is also registering the bikes for the customers, which’ll save them from paying the extra taxes that had increased while this trouble was going on.

Good job Kawasaki, good to see you aren’t half-assing it.

This is a happy end to a sad, ugly event that never should’ve happened to begin with. Here are a few lessons that manufacturers can learn from this experience to help prevent such disasters in the future.

  1. Don’t give dealerships to someone already known for financial mismanagement.
  2. If for some reason, you must, keep some deposit for such eventualities.
  3. When the shit hits the fan, be quick in publicly informing the customers about the fraudulent dealer to make sure that as less number of people as possible are affected.
  4. Proactively keep the affected customers in communication, tell them what you’re doing, and why. Don’t ignore calls, don’t ignore emails, use your social media channels.
  5. Definitely don’t tell them “You’re on your own”. Don’t try to wash your hands off, don’t try to brush it under the carpet, it never works. The amount of time and money wasted in denying what has happened is far better used fixing the damn issue. An added bonus is the value your brand imbibes through such an experience.
  6. Most definitely don’t threaten your own fucking customers with legal action when they send you a legal notice. I understand you were just trying to frighten them, but you are the manager of a giant multinational brand, you should know better.

Sadly, as far as the general public goes, I don’t think this event will make much of a difference. People are fucking stupid, since morning I’ve seen so many statuses on Facebook, where retards are actually praising Kawasaki India, like they never did anything wrong to begin with.

On top of that, they seem to be implying that everyone who criticized Kawasaki India during this fiasco was wrong, that they were never at fault, that this was entirely a dealer thing, that Kawasaki is just giving away bikes because they are awesome.

If you actually believe that, you are an idiot and you should kill yourself.

The only reason Kawasaki India gave the bikes to the customers is because of the social media pressure, they understood that their brand image was taking a hit, and they responded to that. You really think that Kawasaki would just randomly give a crore worth of bikes for no reason, other than sheer goodwill and purity of heart?

Apart from proving how many monumental morons there are in this world, this fiasco also proved just how much in control these big brands are of our respected automotive websites. Over time, I’ve slowly stopped reading most of them, not just because of the sheer boredom that their articles produce, but as a matter of principle as well. All of them purposely ignored reporting on this issue. When they did, they always took Kawasaki’s side.

One site that I still continued reading from time to time was Overdrive, mainly because of the articles of Shubhabrata, and some of Vaishali Dinakaran’s work. However, during roughly the half-year that this scandal raged, Overdrive didn’t publish a single article that even raised a little finger at Kawasaki. In fact, they just published 2, in total. One, when Kawasaki terminated SNK’s dealership, and two, when the customers received their bikes.

The reasons for doing this are rather obvious, but I had expected more from them. Maybe that wasn’t such an intelligent thing to do after all, the entire business model of such magazines and websites depends on the advertisements paid for by big brands like Kawasaki.

How in fucks name can they ever question their literal boss’s behavior?

There was only one positive that came out of this shitfest, that there are still a few people who genuinely care for their fellow bikers, and are willing to do something meaningful for them.

It’s almost sad that all such catastrophic events always begin at Team-bhp, that’s where all the useful content is, that’s where all the relevant conversations happen. It’s only when a thread goes viral over there that you start finding little news stories elsewhere.

Think about it, if you ever get duped by an automotive manufacturer or dealer, the only place that might give you some sort of hope is Team-bhp, a forum filled by random bike and car lovers, all of whom have actual jobs in a wide variety of fields, who are still able to do far more useful stuff in their free time, than some of our respected auto journalists do for their day jobs.

If that doesn’t tell you how insanely idiotic this entire system is, you might as well be dead.

Tushar Burman of Thrill of Driving also came out as a personal hero to me through the course of this thing. Dude can’t only make hilarious, impromptu selfie videos, he also seems to have that sense of reason and responsibility that everyone else has long before sold for a small test ride of a big bike. Kuri Abraham, who was referred to me by Sachin Nair, also helped raise the issue with Kawasaki India people from a unique perspective, one from the side of current Kawasaki owners in the country.

The biggest surprise for me was that online petitions aren’t an entirely useless exercise in wasting online space! This one seems to have helped in solving this issue, although the fact is that it’s impossible to tell what really changed Kawasaki India’s mood, it could’ve been the threat of legal action, or a number of other things. The opaqueness of this entire enterprise means that we’ll never know, there might have been people in the background who made all the difference, yet we’ll never even know their names.

I know I should be happy, this is probably the least appropriate time for a rant, but the problem is this, such things will happen again. Some asshole will always try to run away with someone else’s hard-earned money.

The first line of defense in such a case would be a strict manufacturer that knows its shit. The second line of defense would be an honest media ready to report the facts. The third line of defense would be bikers who are willing to help each other out, for no other reason than empathy.

We have none of them at this time. Our manufacturers can’t seem to be able to give a shit, even about little things like verifying the guy they are handing their “Premium” dealership to. Our media is dead, more or less. And the biking community, in spite of all the “brotherhood” bullshit, is a tattered and torn piece of dirty cloth that does more harm than good when you try to wrap it around a bloody, festering wound.

Take for example the vast number of unbelievable geniuses, who actually got angry with me for writing critical articles against Kawasaki India. They are the same butt lickers who got outraged when I made fun of Triumph’s CEO during their detuning fiasco. Some of them are simple fanboys, others are just annoying little shits.

Their logic is this “It’s not your money, what the fuck is your problem?”.

Seriously?

The entire reason why I even have this shit little website is so that I can upload my frustrations on the internet and get them out of my brain. You really expect that a turd sandwich like me, who cries about every little thing that happens in a 100 parsec radius, will keep quiet when a bunch of bikers don’t get the bikes that they paid for?

Keeping aside for the moment all the logical reasons why I would do such a thing, like empathy, responsibility, and the fact that I surprisingly seem to have a beating heart, you really think that someone like me, who routinely jacks off during such ragegasmic writing sessions, would let this one go, just because you have a misplaced sense of brand loyalty?

Fuck off.

When YOU don’t get the bike that YOU paid for, when YOU get stuck in such a situation, then you have the right to stop me from crying about it. As long as the people who were actually affected find it to be useful, shut your shit covered mouth.

If you do wish to open it, write a blog, rant about me as much as you like, at least that’ll do something useful, it’ll help make more people aware that something is wrong.

In fact, send it to me, I’ll publish it on this website, there’s never enough stupidity over here anyway.

The legend of Dilip Bam, a man after my own heart

The brightness produced by TWO bulbs being supplied thru a 35 watt cable is NOT as bright as a single bulb alone being supplied 35 watts. To understand this, just imagine: it is like one man marrying TWO nine-year old girls instead of ONE eighteen year old girl !

This is a piece from Dilip Bam’s review of the Yamaha R15. Many people might find this offensive, some might even find it downright derogatory, sexist, misogynist. To someone like me, who regularly uses even more disgusting language in his own articles, this is a brilliant comparison, crudely funny, yet beautifully poetic.

Through the course of this story, you’ll find many such items that stand right on the border between written artistry, and total fucktardery. From time to time, you’ll also feel really weirded out by the unnatural SMS-slang, combined with seemingly freakish hinglish words that’ll make little sense to those not in on the private jokes.

If either of those things make you unhappy, please stop reading right now. This is a post written about someone who never gave a single fuck in his entire existence, written by someone who’s desperately trying to follow the same path in life. Political correctness is something neither of them excelled at, and there’s no reason for you to take a dip in this river of vulgar filth and raw, creepy, unhinged imagination, unless you enjoy letting your mind wander into the dark corners of human depravity.

The beginning

Born on January 4, 1947, he cleared his 12th exam under merit in 1964. The next 4 years were spent at IIT Roorkee studying mechanical engineering. After a brief stint with Kirloskar working on diesel engines, he did his MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur, finishing among top 5 in his batch. This was followed by a series of jobs in apparently unrelated companies, ending as the CEO of Flexican Malaysia, which he left in 1987 to return to India.

Back in the country, he started working as a professor at BITS Pilani, while conducting evidently strange programs like “Presentations, Practice, and Decision Making based on the TV Serial Star Trek”, at respected institutions like Symbiosis, BIMM, ICFAI, IMDR etc.

As a guest lecturer on Personality Development at Symbiosis around 1995-1997, he was well-known for driving his own Auto Rickshaw to the campus everyday. He even wrote an article on making Auto Rickshaw the official vehicle of the President of India.

In June of the same year, he began his automotive career with Car and Bike International magazine as their road test editor. 6 years later in 1993, he switched to Auto India magazine. Then he wrote for Indian Auto Journal, Bike2Car magazine and Motorindia magazine, while also posting regular two-wheeler columns for Times of India, Indian Express, Eenadu (Telugu), Aikya (Marathi) and Pudhari (Marathi).

He was an Associate of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers of U.K., a Corporate Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, USA as well as a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Engineers, India. He spoke Hokkien Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Marathi, Hindi and English, and could also read and write Urdu.

I don’t generally care for such facts, boring numbers and abbreviations that don’t mean much on their own, but in the context of this man, they are everything. Combined, they give you an idea of his vast intelligence, his grasp over multiple languages, and his acumen for taking up jobs that involved both risk and responsibility. This will become relevant as we sweep through his life, and see the choices that he made with time.

But more than anything, in the giant web of distinct jobs that he did, the countries that he visited, and ideas that he pursued, I see a man brave enough to experiment, not afraid of the inevitable failures, willing to do anything to follow his drifting mind. The fact that he didn’t give a single flying fuck about anybody’s opinion is too obvious to mention here, and it’ll keep getting more and more pronounced as this biography progresses.

The legend grows

Within the first few years of his articles getting published in the Car and Bike International magazine, he was already famous as that skinny eccentric man who writes the way people talk. His reviews were unique not only in the language used, but the methods involved as well.

For example, one of his standard tests for any scooty’s capabilities was to see if it could carry a fully laden LPG cylinder in the foot well, tucked neatly between the rider’s legs. This might seem like a stupid thing to do for today’s generation, but back in the day when cars used to be absolute luxuries only a few could afford, this was the easiest way to bring home that fire which gave you food, heat and light.

I have a lot of memories of sitting behind my dad’s Bajaj Chetak, trying to balance the awkward 30 something kg hunk of liquid filled iron between us both. I couldn’t keep it pulled towards me, because that hurt my thighs, but I couldn’t push it too far forward either, because I didn’t want dad’s shirt to get dirty. If he had one of the Bam-approved scooties, I probably wouldn’t have had to go through this torture, although as far as tortures go, this wasn’t all that bad, the suffering was interspaced with some good father-son bonding time.

Another bizarre methods of his was the way he tested for fuel economy. Unlike a normal human being who’d do the brim-to-brim test, he carried around his neck a 1 liter bottle filled with petrol for this purpose. The weirdness didn’t end there, here’s an excerpt from his review of the Kinetic SYM Flyte:

FOR FUEL TEST YOU HAVE TO TAKE OUT THE SEAT AND FULL DiCKY, AND DO THE PiPE-GiRi NATAK AS PER MY UNGLi POiNTiNG VICH U KAN SEE IN FOTO. UNGLi IS POiNTiNG TO WHERE THE YELO PiPE OF MY MEASURiNG BOTTLE IS FiTTED TO NiPPLE OF KARBURETOR.

I don’t understand either what he is trying to say, or why he’d do any of this rather than follow the simple way. However, it’s not hard to understand why someone of his talent did such idiotic things at certain times, the cost of following your heart for so long is the occasional and uncontrolled loss of awareness, a situation where you are so confident of yourself that logic is no longer a necessity of life.

Below is an actual screenshot of a real excel sheet that he used to calculate the fuel economy of the TVS Apache RTR 180

And here’s another one of those places where he explains the details of how he prepares the bike for fuel efficiency test:

I fill up the tank, upto 2-cm below the top rim of the tank neck. Close the cap. Shake the scooter front and back by locking the front brake. Sit on the scooter and hump it like riding horse. Tilt it to 30-degrees on both sides. I do all this to get rid of any air bubbles. I open the tank cap again (bike parked on level ground at the same spot) and see that the level has gone down (no fuel has been used bcoz the engine is off). I fill it up again upto 2-cm below the rim as before. I then again do the same shaking and tilting actions to remove more air bubbles if any. I do this three-four times, until no matter how much I shake or tilt, the level does not go down. This means there are no more air bubbles left, which means greater accuracy.

His busy schedule of teaching, testing and writing, never stopped him from answering queries that absolutely random people fired at him through all sorts of mediums, websites, messages, Facebook, even postcards. His replies to these questions only helped elevate his myth and stature through the automotive community, mainly because of their clarity, honesty, simplicity, and with time, sarcasm.

He was known as an opinionated guy who had some sort of strange love for TVS bikes, and highly recommended them above all else. He also liked Royal Enfields, though not in the divine sort of way that most Bull owners do it today. One of his most famous articles, certainly the one that remained etched in the memories of many a young bike aficionados. was a review of the Diesel Bullet.

This review contained epic sections, like the one where he tried to reduce the mileage of the bike by riding it with 5 people onboard, and even going long distances with the fuel cap open! His conclusion was that didn’t matter what you did, you couldn’t possibly get anything below 60 kmpl, which was rather insane for such a heavy bike.

Here are a few more excerpts from this review:

Enfield has chosen to name it the Enfield Diesel rather than the Diesel Bullet. It probably did this considering the pickup of the bike. The pickup is kaafi pathetic. I actually raced against a bicycle, and the cycle was ahead for the first 150 meters.

The quality of parts is in line with Enfields philosophy on quality………”our lips are sealed”!! I wonder why Enfield doesnt use the same seals on its front shockers as that which it uses to seal its lips.

Safety is an inbuilt feature of this bike. There is no need to lock this bike, Nobody can steal it because nobody can start it.

Though vibrations dont bother Dilip Bam, they do bother the bike. Nuts and bolts come loose and parts keep falling off.

As far as the vibrations go, the author notes that every time he took a pillion, he asked them to grab the tail lamp. After an incredulous look from the pillion, he would explain that it is not for the pillion rider’s safety but for the safety of the tail lamp, which seems to come loose every few kms with all the vibrations, and hangs loose.

At that time, and even today, it’s quite literally impossible to find such straightforward reviews of any motorcycle. Everything that you find online nowadays feels like a sad handjob, something that was supposed to be inherently fun, but became something violently boring, thanks to the manufacturer’s tight grip on the writer’s balls.

The legend of Dilip Bam took a flight to space with his 1992 trip to the Sahara Desert. During this unbelievable adventure, he became the first person to ride across the largest desert in the world on a non-geared, small-wheeled scooter, the pathetically comical Kinetic Honda. During this trip, he also became the first person to get kidnapped in the desert, and then use sand to wipe his shitty ass.

I was lucky enough to watch him talk about this trip live at the MTM 2015. Here it is.

I wish you were there. Even with the faltering projector, and his age, the storytelling skills he displayed were absolutely captivating. Also, while talking about the skin color of the natives, the guy he pointed at was me.

In 1997 came probably the biggest push to fame that Dilip never wanted. In the October issue of the Auto India magazine, he reviewed the Hero Winner, under the title “Winsome Lose Some”. At that point, Auto India was one of the leading magazines of its genre, and sold more than 100,000 copies a month.

The folks at Hero didn’t seem to enjoy such harsh criticism of their beloved creation in such a casual manner, published in a popular auto magazine. They responded with a legal notice threatening to sue Dilip, the magazine, and the printers, for an absurd 100 Crores, apart from initiating criminal action against them.

Why they did what they did has always remained a mystery. They obviously didn’t think these magazine writers, owners and publishers carried 1,000,000,000 bucks in their bank accounts, so it’s safe to assume that the number was just meant to be a large enough sum to psychologically pressure them into submission.

However, given the reputation that Dilip already had in the market, combined with the super-relaxed way in which he thrust his arm into Hero’s asshole and pulled their guts out, they should’ve known better, they should’ve understood that slapping him with a notice for a such a comically absurd amount is only going to make him more famous, which in turn is only going to make more people want to read that very review Hero wanted to suppress.

As expected, it backfired spectacularly. Dilip, in his usual no fucks given way, went ahead to create a hand-written response to the legal notice, which was then used by the lawyers to reply to it. Hero probably hadn’t expected this outcome to their childish impunity, and had to quickly abandon any hope of legal help. Dilip on the other hand, had become an overnight sensation.

As it always happens, his fame brought in a number of mythical stories attached along with it. One of such stories said that Sunil Gavaskar, the cricket legend, personally dropped Dilip’s motorcycle and bent its front brake lever. Since then, every time he came across a bike with a front brake lever that wasn’t ergonomic, he would joke that it felt like “something designed by Sunil Gavaskar”.

In 2000, he was involved in a bike accident and lost a large part of his left ear. Here’s the story of how that happened:

“I used to stay in Prabhat Road and I have been riding bikes since 1967. Bike testing is my profession and I take all the required precautions while riding. Whenever I ride a bike I make sure that I use a helmet and other protective gear. Somehow, on that particular day I forgot to wear a helmet. It was probably the biggest mistake of my life.

In the year 2000 I got a new bike to test. It was the Hero Honda CBZ with disk brakes. On May 27, 2000, I decided to go to my friend’s house in Bremen Chowk in Aundh. I left without my helmet. Soon after I reached his house, it started raining, so I decided to wait there till it stopped. It was late by the time the rain stopped and I left his house. Although it was not raining, the roads were still wet. Despite this, I was driving at a high speed.

I had reached near Symbiosis, when a car suddenly came onto the main road from one of the lanes. I saw the car at the last moment and applied the brakes. Since it was a disk brake and I braked sharply, the bike skidded badly on the wet road. I fell down on the left side. I fell on the left side of my head and my left ear was completely sliced off. My head was also badly injured. When I got up and tried to check myself, I saw my ear lying on the road in front of me. I fell unconscious.

Later, a passer-by named Prakash Kunthe took me to the hospital. A huge blood clot had formed in my brain. The doctor operated on me and removed the clot. It’s been nine years and I am now living a normal life but I still regret that I lost my ear because I was not wearing a helmet.”

All through this time, his reputation as a fun and honest motorcycle reviewer kept steadily climbing up. Here’s a response he gave to someone who asked him the question “How can i modified my cd dlx?”

THERE ARE 291 DiFFERENT TYPEs OF MODiFiKAiONs WHiCH CAN BE DONE. WHiCH ONE YOU WANT? YOU HAVE TO TELL NO? HOW CAN I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT? EVEN IF YOU PUT A SEAT COVER, WHETHER BLACK, BLUE OR YELLOW, THAT IS ALSO A MODiFiKATiON COSTiNG ONLY Rs.50/- THE MOST EXPENSiVE MODiFIKATiON WOULD BE TO GET THE BiKE GOLD PLATED, FiT A SOLiD SiLVER SiLENCER (It is best bkoz Silver is the best conductor of heat in the world). THiS WOULD COST ABOUT FiFTY CRORE. APART FROM THiS THERE ARE 289 OTHER MODiFiKATiONs WHiCH YOU CAN DO.

At this point, it’s important to talk about the strange, half-literate language that he slowly moved onto in the later part of his career. As you can see from the example above, some of his replies are just unreadable. The Is are always in lower case for some reason, the Os are always replaced by zeros, he uses the caps lock far too much, the grammar was all but non-existent, and the sarcasm is bordering on sheer anger. Why did he do this? Why did a man of his credentials and education talk like a total imbecile?

The answer is quite simple, he was tired of the stupidity in this world. As a man who had been answering people’s motorcycle related queries for well over 2 decades, you can imagine the kind of retards he would’ve encountered, and the amount of frustration that would’ve built up over time in an attempt to still try and help these poor sons of bitches.

I have first-hand experience of this shit, and the only way I’ve found of dealing with the level of assholiness in this world is to be sarcastic, all the time. I’ve more or less lost complete control of this reflex now, it’s not up to me to decide when sarcasm is appropriate and when it is not.

Dilip’s language is a simple middle finger to all the shitty street racers and the half-eaten words that they use to express their skill. It’s true that this silent protest of his against the stupidity of the younger generation did make reading his articles quite a pain in the ass, but like all beautiful things, he never asked for attention. If you can’t get over the words he used and focus on the sentiments he wanted to express, you can go fuck yourself for all he cares.

Another mythical story about him says that he actually owned all the bikes that he reviewed, and that his garage was filled up with bikes of all shapes and sizes, some 50+! How much truth there is in this statement is hard to test, he was a genius in the true sense of the word, had some staggering educational credentials, held top posts in giant MNCs, and spent little, if anything, on his personal appearance and clothing. This would mean that he would’ve been a man of sound means, money shouldn’t have been a hurdle in filling up his house with motorcycles. His belonged to a well-off family as well, his father used to be a GM in the Indian Railways.

However, I doubt that he was a hoarder of 2 wheelers, his personality and his general vibes made it look rather unlikely. Having said that, it’s not impossible either, and we’ll just let it be another one of those stories that don’t really matter.

One example of why this may not have been the case is the way he used the word “Munny”. This was one of those personal jokes that Dililp seemed to incessantly crack to himself, and probably laugh out loud. His reference to money as “Munny” might in some way point to his disdain for it, which was rather obvious in the way he dressed and behaved generally. For a man who in some sense hated the concept of money, spending a shitload of it to own a bunch of different motorcycles seems out of character.

All this while, his hilarious retorts to people’s queries continued. Here are a few examples.

Question: hi, I am planning to go for a Pulsar 180.But I heard from someone that in Pulsar,the seat design is such that if u apply sudden brake and become a bit unsteady,your reproductive organ can perish.In fact somebody cited me few cases as well.Can you please suggest?? Surajit

Dilip’s Answer: NO SUCH THING. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN. HOWEVER, IF AXIDENT, THEN ANYTHING KAN HAPPEN ON ANY BIKE. EVERYDAY IN HINDUSTAN, HUNDREDs OF BIKE RIDERS ARE DYING ON ALL BIKES, NOT ONLY PULSAR 180. THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOT THAT YOUR REPRODUKTIV ORGAN IS GETTING CRUSHED. THE IMPORTANT THING IS HOW MUCH YOU USE IT BEFORE IT IS CRUSHED, BCOZ FINALLY EVERYBODY DIE==CRUSHED!

Question: Are all gas filled shock absorbers filled with nitrox(nitrogen?)?

Dilip’s Answer: Not necessarily. I would say it is 99% pure hot air. 0rdinary air is also a GAS by definition & contains 14% nitrogen in natural air. So you can call it Nitrox / Botox / or any other tox. It is just a catchword for media hype. When natural air is FREE, why will anybody spend money on fancy gases? I think nitrox / botox is just bullshit media hype. it is just ordinary free air – inklooding all the pollutants, which also come free!

One of his most identifiable characteristics was the way he compared motorcycle related stuff to something totally outlandish, usually involving boobs and actresses. Here’s a collection of few of his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects:

Dilip on Buffaloes: These are the stupidest of God’s creations. A buffalo’s brain weight is the lowest among ALL mammals. Thus when a buffalo is in motion it will NEVER change its mind, simply because it has no mind.

Dilip on Cats: Crosses roads in a flash. So unless you are superstitious, let it cross first. Even if you ARE superstitious, let it cross first and then let two other vehicles overtake you so that they carry away the bad luck.

Dilip on the Bullet 500: If the 350 is ego, the 500 is ego plus. Though slower and much less powerful than the Yamdoot (RD350) this is more than just a bike — it is something that has to be owned to be believed. It is not the fastest, nor the most powerful, nor the prettiest, nor the most ergonomic. It is also not many other things. But it is a name. Like Helen of Troy, you’ve GOT to have her. That’s all there is to it. All else be damned.

Dilip on mileage: Truth is, each bike is designed for a specific performance. A Cheetah, which weighs 50 kg, can run at 120 kph (bhp) but you cannot ride it. It does not have the carrying capacity (Torque). An elephant can carry 20 people, (high torque) but cannot run faster than 40 kph. A Cheetah lives for 12 years and an elephant lives for 100 years. The giant turtle of Galapagos lives 500 years, but its speed is just 20 metres (65 feet) per hour and it eats very little. The quantity of food (fuel) which these creatures eat (consume) is also very different.

It is the same with bikes. The faster you drive, the higher will be the rate of fuel consumption. That is why the “STANDARD CONDITIONS” at which most manufacturers advertise their bikes’ fuel consumption is at steady 40 kph. Indeed, fuel consumption at 20 kph in 4th gear would be even lesser (turtle).

Dilip on looks: I am generally averse to commenting on looks. Personally somebody may like Bipasha, others may prefer Aishwarya. How to say? My personal choice is Pamela Anderson, which in bike terms is Bullet==fully naked. No faltu paneling-baazi. Just front mudguard and rear mudguard==Bra & Panty. Other people may like Yamaha FZ or Pulsar. It is a very personal thing.

Dilip on the Toro: One curious thing about this bike is that it has a distinct tendency to pull on one side. I tried three other pieces. Thus, out of four pieces, two pulled to one side, while two did’nt.Therefore, if you decide to buy a Toro, go to the dealer, try out two/three pieces, choose the one that does not pull to one side and note down the engine and chassis number.

Dilip on the Honda Eterno: Being a geared scooter, more solid males would opt for it than liquid females.

Dilip on the TVS Wego: But the pushlever of the side stand is not visible from my stance. If the pushlever had a different stance or been longer by two inches, my report would have been shorter by two sentences.

Dilip on the Hero Panther: If I changed my name to Bruce Lee, wore a kung-fu suit (paint job) and put on a helmet (fairing), could I hope to beat up Dara Singh? They did this to the popular 240DX model and called it Panther.

There are so many other examples I could give you that’ll show the extent of this genius’s grasp on your imagination. Here’s a link to his Linkedin profile, scroll down. Here’s a 15 page thread about him on Team-bhp, here’s a 6 page thread about him on The Automotive India, with the full text of many of his reviews, something that’s really hard to find nowadays.

The end

Dilip Bam died on October 13th at the age of 69, I’m sure he had decided long ago to die at that age, given the significance of that number to the slang community, a place that where he truly belonged.

Over and above everything, he was a thrill-seeker. He traveled far and wide, repeatedly put his life in danger, trekked like a boss, and dedicated his life to do the things that made others uncomfortable. He started his career when I wasn’t even born, peaked when I was learning to walk, and died when I have just about started my own. In that sense, it might be hard for me to understand his mentality, but then again he wasn’t someone who’s easy to understand at all.

In more ways than one, he was an extremely selfish person. He wrote for himself, never compromised, never gave in to pressure, never changed, and in fact progressively kept becoming worse, farther and farther away from what was expected of him, running in the opposite direction to the world. When someone asked him why he had stopped working for major auto sites like he used to in the past, he said “Because nobody will hire me, everyone is afraid!”. That was the price he paid, or that would’ve been the price he would’ve paid if he gave a shit.

Dilip Bam spent 26 years of his life reviewing bikes, talking about bikes, telling people which bikes to buy, which bikes not to buy, and why. Much of the language he used in those 26 years was crude, immature, full of creepy examples, objectified women, made fun of pedophilia, and generally fell far short of what a man of his education, talent, stature, age and experience should’ve used.

Many of the test methods he used to review bikes were grossly illegal, many others were illogical, most were irrelevant. He did not care at all for what the consumer wanted, he cared only for what he wanted, what he thought a bike should be, how it should run, how it should look, how it should feel.

He did not care for your opinion, he did not care for my opinion, he did not care for the manufacturer’s opinion. His entire life’s work is nothing more than the ramblings of a narrow-minded man who couldn’t see past his own prejudices, and that’s exactly why I loved it all.

I’m sure he had his fair share of troubles too. He was married, kept a job for most of his life, had his father’s expectations to meet as well. It’s easy for us to look at his life and see one straight line, one path that he followed because that’s what he wanted to do, but I’m sure the reality would’ve been far different, the line much curved, broken, jagged.

It’s impossible to find people like him nowadays, people who spend their entire lives as one individual. It does not matter how insurmountable the odds, how gigantic the pressure, how massive the rewards, people like him don’t change who they are, simply because it’s never worth it, and also because they can’t. In a world where “adaptation” and “compromise” are supposed to be positive qualities, it’s not hard to understand why beautiful souls distort themselves into grotesque shadows of themselves. Dilip Bam didn’t, and there’s no bigger achievement in life as far as my thoughts go.

I obviously don’t agree with everything he said, nor did I enjoy all his ideas, but that’s not important. Any individual whose sole aim is to do what he wants to do, will at some point or another step on your toes, simply because he wanted to. The more intoxicated you get on freedom of thought and independence of the mind, the more number of people you want to piss off, the farther the limits you want to test of human conformity. The end game of this thought train is total and absolute hate for all humanity, the belief that everyone else is either a dick or a pussy, and you alone are the ONE. He displayed the symptoms of being at that stage from time to time, but thankfully he managed to claw down to reality more often than is expected.

He was, in my opinion, the only real 2-wheeler journalist that ever existed. Many people called him the Clarkson of motorcycles, but I believe Jezza is far too decent and under control when compared to this mad fucker. The reason why I think he was the only bike journalist who ever lived, is because he didn’t give a single shit about bikes.

His motorcycle reviews were just meant to be an excuse for him to be able to tell his weird jokes, information about bikes was just an unintended side-effect of his exercises in humor. If not for 2-wheelers, he could’ve dedicated his life to eggs, coolers, mosquito repellents, condoms, plastic chairs, talcom powders, tiles, or shoe laces, it wouldn’t have mattered, his words would still have been the same, his attitude would still have been the same, just that a completely different set of humans would’ve found his work interesting.

Dilip Bam’s life is a rare example of one well lived. He rode a shit scooty through the fucking Sahara Desert, got kidnapped, sold Hashish in Vietnam while being constantly under attack from the Vietcong, fucked in broad daylight on a boat in the middle of the sea, got sued for 100 crores by a giant motorcycle company, studied in some of the most prestigious institutions of India, taught in some of the most prestigious institutions of India, cleared the IAS exam, cleared the personal interviews, and then said “fuck it”, worked at some of the most prestigious companies of the world, wrote for some of the most prestigious auto magazines of India, drove an Auto Rickshaw to teach everyday, lived life as a Taxi driver, smoked like a chimney, took his 60 year old wife on the back of a Hyosung GT650R, became an icon of the Indian automotive journalism, lived life on his own accord, and died at the age of 69.

I don’t think most people will get inspired by his life though, our priorities are fucked up nowadays. People would rather have big houses and fancy cars, than sail pirate-infested seas on a tiny sailboat with Janet, Janice, and Jim. We have far too much shiny stuff to distract us from the real purpose in life, to live for yourself, to foolishly and selfishly follow a path of your own making. It’s also true that “following your heart” has become too much of a cliche to be something truly remarkable, but I hope you understand what I’m talking about.

In the end, none of this matters anyway. You will read this, probably get emotional for a few minutes, and then get back to existence, soon forgetting everything about the man and what he stood for. What doesn’t help much is the fact that Dilip wasn’t the sort of guy who wanted to “inspire” anybody, the whole world could burn and die for all he cared. There was nothing he wanted from anybody else, nor did he believe he had anything to give.

I don’t really know why I wrote this 5400 word article, I read only a few of his posts while he was alive, although I deeply understood the general direction that his work took. I don’t think I was ever a fan, or still am, I find that to be a rather sad thing. I think my entire aim in writing this thing was to just process his life and his work for myself, but I could be wrong.

One of the most difficult things in life seems to be the ability to live it on your own terms, Dilip Bam showed me that it can be done, with some violently beautiful results. Rest in peace friend, you are a fucking legend.

To read more of Dilip’s incredible stories in his own words, check out his autobiographical articles here. 

If you’ve never crashed, are you going fast enough?

Subhamoy Paul died yesterday while participating in the Raid de Himalaya. The 49 year old was an experienced off-roader, and had done the rally many times before the mishap.

You could gauge his level of skill by the fact that he spent his last few months in Romania practicing to improve his enduro riding. You could gauge his level of skill by the fact that he was riding a beautiful KTM 500 EXC. You could gauge his level of skill by the fact that CS Santosh put up this status yesterday.

This is not the first death at the Raid, British rider John Mark James died during the 2001 edition, SR Thakur died before the start of the 2011 one. It’s rather hard to find data about the fatalities that have happened over the course of this event, which in some ways is a good thing, especially when compared to the Dakar, whose organizers seem to use the death toll as a proof of how tough that rally really is.

It must be pointed out here that I am as inexperienced an off-roader as Hitler was a painter, which means that I’ve dabbled in it from time to time, but the results have been nothing spectacular, to put it mildly. I’ve never participated in any competitive motorcycling event, on or off the road. Not only do I not have the skill to do that, I’m certainly lacking in the balls too. On top of that, I’m an extremely unambitious guy, very uncompetitive, the moment I see even a small number of people running towards the same thing, I have an uncontrollable urge to start running the other way.

It’s also worth mentioning that in the 28 years of my existence, I’ve never broken a bone till date, and I feel that now is too late a time to start doing that shit. If I take a risk nowadays, there better be one hell of a reward at the end of it, or I don’t see the point. This, in more ways than one, is cowardice, and I have no shame in admitting that fact.

Even though life is pain, thinking is torture, and existence is suffering, self-preservation is too strong an instinct with me, at least as of now.

In the light of these details, it’s safe to say that I don’t understand the mindset of a racer, nor can I tell you what Subhamoy would’ve felt about his life or the way it was gone. He understood the risks, probably enjoyed them too, but it’s hard to claim “He died doing what he loved” when the writer has never risked that far.

I have, from time to time, thought quite seriously about racing in at least one round of the national championship. I don’t have any experience with track racing, nor do I think I have the heart for touching elbows at 150 kmph, but it’s something I’ve wanted to experience for a very long time, most likely because of the excess of MotoGP that I’ve exposed myself to.

One of the biggest reasons why I couldn’t do it this year was because of my contact lenses. I must wear goggles inside my helmet at all times, and that’s something the race organizers don’t allow for safety concerns. It turned out to be convenient excuse to prevent me from attempting something I shouldn’t even have thought of to begin with.

On some level then, I understand why a lot of amateurs go and participate in the Raid de Himalaya. There are far too many people out there whose first encounter with competitive off-road racing is the Raid. This is obviously a tremendously stupid idea in so many different ways, but it’s not hard to grasp the reasons behind it.

Our country’s dirt racing infrastructure is quite nascent, there’s only CS Santosh’s Big Rock motopark that I know of where you can go and practice off-roading in a safe environment. The Indian National Rally Championship does have rounds all over the country, but there’s little in the name of smaller events that’ll allow the participants to build up to such major league pressure.

On top of that, we have an absurd lack of dirtbikes on which people can improve their skills. What most riders end up doing is to put knobby tires on their Duke 200s and slide around to glory/gutters. We can’t buy one single bike in this country that can be legally ridden on the roads, and then taken to dirt, jumped on, ridden over rocks. You have to build one, mostly based on road bikes that were never designed for this sort of punishment.

What I mean is that people have far too many excuses to jump right into MotoGP, without first struggling and improving with Moto3 and Moto2. The organizers are also to blame, allowing someone to participate in the toughest class of the toughest rally in the country without a single shred of experience is quite literally asking for a disaster.

I would like to clarify that this rant has nothing to do with the death of Subhamoy, he was in a different league, he knew what he was doing, just ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time. What I’m trying to say is that if a veteran racer like him can perish during the Raid, how is it logical that someone who has never even participated in an off-road event should be allowed to ride besides him in the same class?

FMSCI’s licensing system is hilariously easy to circumvent, as I came to know from a few friends who participated in a few rallys recently. For something like the Dakshin Dare or the Raid, you need a full rally license to participate. To get that license, you are officially expected to have trained first, or taken part in smaller events to gain experience. However, if you haven’t done any of those, all you have to do is approach any local motorsports authority, and get their endorsement for your full license. In some cases, you don’t even have to go meet them, everything can be done on the phone.

This is ridiculous, and in some ways mirrors our licensing system for the public roads. I had expected better from an organisation whose entire aim is to manage inherently dangerous racing events, but I guess bureaucracy doesn’t give a shit about anything.

Riders might not understand the level of danger they’re putting themselves into, might even try to stupidly ignore the facts, it’s the job of the organizers to prevent people from behaving like such hardcore events are leisure guided trips of the pristine Himalayan valleys. It’s nothing short of a miracle that there haven’t been more catastrophes in the past.

The gist of this article is this, don’t do something just because you can, use your fucking brain. Just because the organizers are allowing you to participate in something that’s far far beyond your level doesn’t mean you should. I get it, racing is thrilling, the risk is fun, but make sure you spend the time and money to be worthy of riding with someone like Subhamoy Paul.

RiderZone goes to INTERMOT 2016: A detailed report

Due to the massive popularity of RiderZone and the general awesomeness of me, INTERMOT organizers invited me to the event for an all-expense paid trip. I was all like “Na bro it’s cool”, and they were all like “Yeah man we love you and we want you to be here”, and so I was like “Ah shit, alright, if you put it like that”, and they were like “That’s my nigga”.

Here’s a report of the things I saw.

INTERMOT 2016: The Venue

The huge venue was divided up into a number of smaller sections dedicated to different manufactures. Here’s a blueprint of the layout that I downloaded from the official INTERMOT website, aimed specifically for the Indian journalists.

As you can clearly see, the entire infrastructure was modeled in a way to give the participants a deep understanding of each brand’s ideology and their products. For example, Stall 2 was entirely devoted to bikes that you could look and drool at, but never see riding around in India because the manufacturers don’t give a single fuck. Stalls 5, 6, and 7 were filled with brilliant pieces of automotive art, bikes that could give you massive multiple uncontrollable orgasms, but were priced purposefully in such a way that only super-rich dickholes could afford to park them somewhere inside their massive garages before completely forgetting about them.

INTERMOT 2016: The Bikes

Oh the bikes, you just had to be there to see them all. It was so beautiful to see KTM’s entire lineup right in front of your eyes, and then realize that they only sell 4 of their cheapest, roughest, ugliest products in the country that quite literally owns them. I mean it was so heart-warming to see their off-road bikes in flesh, the magnificent dirt eating monsters that would make so much sense on our fucked up highways, but which for some reason can only be bought when some KTM dealership is willing to illegally sell the demo piece to you.

Think of the joy when I looked at the Honda CB500X, probably the closest thing to perfection that you will ever find on two wheels, and then the tears of knowledge that came pouring out, thanks to the realization that Honda couldn’t give a smaller shit about anything else other than the Activa.

It was surreal to see entire company stalls and know that you’ll never be their customer, because they didn’t want me to be one.

“Oh look at that giant cruiser with a paint job that looks like the Chrome fairy vomited on it, I wonder how many kilometers the owner will ride it for without even one single item being there in those giant saddle bags”.

“Check out the latest version of one of the fastest bikes on the planet, it has one more R in it, which basically makes it so much more fun when you’re racing some random dude on the road who doesn’t even understand what the fuck you want”. 

INTERMOT 2016: Conclusion

In many ways, INTERMOT is a giant pornography meetup. People come in, check out the glistening, shining bodies, imagine the things they’ll do if they had her, and proceed home to rub one out to the memories of that chrome covered exhaust. The far bigger festival of jackoff happens on the internet, where poor sons of bitches look at these beauties, without a single shred of knowledge about the level of skill it takes to ride them, and then brag to each other about their specs and features, as if they have any idea what 200 horsepower actually feels like.

Just like porn, all that you get in the end out of so much effort, is a bunch of retards posting side by side photos of the ZX-10R, R1M, and the CBR1000RR, with the caption “Which one would you pick?”.

Sex sells, so do these superfluous, glorified missiles on two wheels. As long as manufacturers keep making affordable, usable, easy to live with bikes along with such elitist, exotic expressions of wealth and small dicks, I don’t care.

Video Vednesday: What the new RiderZone office looks like

If you read Monday’s article about how much traffic this site gets and how much money that makes, you might’ve realized just how rich I am, and how many 100$ notes I roll into joints and smoke away to glory. An unintended side-effect of so much income is that I’ve had to expand my business, had to hire a few new people to handle so much load.

So I thought of making a small video showing you guys where I actually work, and who the 2 new employees are.

I’d recently got an M20 from SJCAM India, and this video was also meant to see how capable that action camera was in terms of audio quality, and low-light performance, since this whole thing is shot indoors.

Welcome to my crib!

Disturbing is the word you’re looking for.

The M20’s audio quality isn’t bad, but I tried a few different audio level settings inside the camera to see how that affects the final volume. Turns out you simply have to keep it at 10, the max. At 9, I had a hard time listening to what I was saying, at anything lesser, it was simply gone, just slight indistinct murmurs.

The problem is that keeping the audio at level 10 also brings in some noise, which you might be able to listen to in there, but since none of the SJCAMs come with a microphone jack, you have no other option.

You might also have noticed the significant drop in audio volume when I’m facing the camera, the reason for that is the fact that the microphone on this thing is on the backside, under the screen. As long as your mouth is close to that area, things are OK, but the sound drops exponentially as you move away.

This is only just one audio test, but the 5000X Elite’s audio quality felt much better to me than the M20.

As far as the video quality goes, you can notice plenty of noise in the darker areas, which is expected. I did bump up the color in this video too, just to see how much that’d affect things, not much difference. Overall, the 1080p 60fps footage quality is acceptable, but nothing spectacular.

I’ll take it outside and shoot some ride videos next time, where the camera should really be at home. Until then, don’t go into a depression.