PPL Ride

Don’t get confused by the title of the post. PPL Ride = Pune Pawana Lonawala Ride. The plan of this ride was made on Friday, 25 May 2007. Finally 4 riders (Alok on P180 DTSi, Me on Fiero, Praveen on P180 DTSi and Suyash on Avenger) started the ride on Sunday around 6:15am from Chandani Chowk. As per our initial plan it was supposed to be a small ride to have breakfast on the way to Mulshi and then ride back home.

When we reached our breakfast point, just ahead of Paud, we were told that it will take another hr or so before we can be served food. As we were deciding what to do next, Praveen suggested a new route to Lonawala via Paud, I never knew about this one, so without loosing time we were riding towards this new route. For this route one needs to take a right turn (if coming from Pune side), next to the Paud bus stand.

The road is a mixed bag, with a couple of broken patches and some normal (potholes galore) narrow road. The scenery though made it worth the ride. During the ride, it was confirmed what I knew long time back – best time to ride around Pune is during rains. :-)

As we climbed up the first ghat, I stopped to click this pic.

View from top of ghat

At this point we decided to get off the road and take a narrow path, where we saw a few four wheelers parked to get the great view of Pawana and Tung fort. We parked our bikes after riding for a km or so on this road.

It was time to walk around, enjoy the view and some chit chat.

Tung fort and the Pawana.

After a small break we resumed our ride to the breakfast point. Riding through the narrow, bumpy twisty road we reached “Pawana – boat club”. Order for a couple of rounds of onion pakoras, pohe, tea was placed. Once we filled our stomaches and me taking a few rounds of cat nap (didn’t slept previous night as I was not sure of getting up at 5am for the ride :D so it was almost 24hrs since I got up previous day), we ventured out towards the bank of Pawana. There Alok and Praveen decided to soak their legs in water while camera guys (me and Suyash) clicked some pics.

By the time we decided to leave, it has started to get hot and weekend tourists have started to come in big groups. Now we were heading towards Lonawala and due to shortage of time conquering Lohgarh fort, we had to give a miss.

On the way to Lonawala, Praveen took us onto a path which got us onto the top of expressway.

After spending some time watching “slow” moving cars, we headed towards Lonawala. Town of Lonawala was full of weekend visitors and it was tough getting to RK for our post ride munchies, where we meet Akhil and his friend. By the time we were done, it was getting too late to reach home for some of us hence a rip started on the boring section of NH4. At the bypass we stopped for one last round of liquids before we seperated out. By 1pm I was in my house parking having covered exactly 141km’s.

One more route added to my database which needs to be ridden on, once the rains have started in full flow, waterfalls have started to run down at their max velocity, and nature has put a green carpet to welcome those who don’t worry about broken/washed away roads.

Tyre Ramblings

With rains knocking on the door, it was time for me to switch from the 2.75×18 Continental from the rear of my Fiero to brand new 3.25×18 M45 (with odo reading at 5,864km) . On dry surface Continental did well that too with slight uneven wear at the center but on wet surface it was handful to ride, may be due to unever wear, as I have ridden bikes with 2.75×18 rear in rains without any issues.

As soon as I got the bike back with new tyre, I felt the bike to be a bit heavy in turning, really missed the thinner rear tyre. After over 100km’s with the new tyres I found the following difference:

  • Cornering: With 2.75 rear the bike would slide at speed over 80 in a leaned position, so had to shift my weight a little bit to reduce the lean angle. With 3.25 I can lean as much as I want.
  • Braking: With a wider contact patch the bike is more stable under hard braking with 3.25 as compared to 2.75 but can’t really compare as 2.75 was a really hard tyre whereas 3.25 is a comparatively softer.
  • High speed stability: I have often read that wider tyre = more stable at high speed. So it holds true, the bike was more stable with 3.25 on the highway but with 2.75 it was slightly less stable, making you feel all the time that you are “riding” a bike.
  • Performance and mileage: Haven’t got time to put the bike in front of gun but will do it soon and update on this aspect.

So what do I want? If I knew about so much of a difference (since 2001 I have used 3.00×18 and 3.25×18 M45 on my Fiero) 2.75 tyre would make, I might have gone with a 2.75×18 M45 instead of 3.25 as that would have helped in rain’s as well.

More so, after reading this post on RearSet and my exp so far, I am convinced that these fat tyres we are getting on our Indian bikes are really not needed. A good quality (sticky) and smaller sized tyre would do well but then there are some issues with that:

  • Tyre life: There are people who don’t buy a bike just because it gives 5km/lt less mileage than other bike. So once they start to get a tyre which lasts less than half of what the current tyres last, they might have a heart attack.
  • Poser points: A wider tyre always looks cooler than a thinner tyre. So how will those poser boys will survive if there are only thinner tyres available? Look around and you will see many Rossi’s on their bikes with tyres as wide as what you will see on some 100+bhp machines.
  • Cost fastor: M45 costs now over Rs 1,500 and in 2001 it used to cost around Rs 1,000. At the same time other tyres cost well under Rs 1,000. So a cost difference of almost Rs 1,000. I don’t think even 1% of the majority of people will be ready to shell out these few hundered bucks for some better tyre. Welcome to India.
  • Lean angle problem: With thinner tyre you can’t lean the bike as much as you can with fatter tyre. So what will happen to those poser points of claiming that how many times you scrapped your foot pegs while coming to college today?
  • All terrain handling: In India we ride our bike on all kind of surface with the same tyre. The place where even a good quality thinner tyre made for tarmac use will fail is during offroading, where the wider tyre always do well. Not many people will be keen on having two set of tyres – one for tarmac and one for offroading, hence go for the compromise and fit the fat tyre.

In short, though “bigger is always better” but in case where the smaller is technologically superior than the bigger, smaller is better. Its hard to convince previous point to those who knows only one thing “bigger is always better”.

Sunday ride’s Rambling

Warning: This is not just another ride log.

This ride was getting delayed due to several reasons, some of them beyond my control. So this Sunday, 11 March 2007, I got a small opportunity to do the ride, I grabbed it with both hands. The main aim of the ride was to get my Fiero’s engine oil, oil filter changed and also try to get the heandlamp’s custom made mounting adjusted to focus the beam. My plan about this ride was to leave Pune early morning and reach Bombay by 10am. 2hours for the bike work and then leave by 12pm towards Mahabaleshwar for a delayed lunch. Satisfy my soul with Pizza and Strawberries at Mapro Garden before heading back to Pune.

I got free by 10am to start the ride so decided to leave the Mahabaleshwar plan for some other ride. This was the first time I was riding out my Fiero with a new’ish 2.75×18 Modi Contenental rear tyre. Cruising at around 80km/hr mark on the great surface of NH4 between Pune and Lonawala was nice and my concerns about straight line stability been compromised were long gone as I was enjoying my ride. On the way I checked the accuracy of the Apache odometer and found it to be around 2-3% optimistic (compared the distance shown on odo against the distance marker on road).

After crossing Lonawala as I approach towards the Khandala ghats, it was time to test the bike handling in twisties. As I enter the expressway section of the road (two wheelers are allowed on some section), I decide to stick to middle lane and let the fast cars enjoy the uninterrupted fast lane to cream a slow bike at will. While I was taking corners I saw that some of the fast driven cars were not able to stick to their lanes, the drivers were going so fast that they were either running wide and hence going from middle to right lane or if they were already in right lane then forced to do correction and land up in middle lane. Basically mid corner lane changing was hapenning, so much for the skills of the person controlling the machine, who was going lightning fast on straights.

This kind of thing I have seen many times in past. Many people who got the money to afford a car often are ill equipped with the skills to handle the machine properly and often land up driving the machine well beyond their capabilities. This sometimes goes un-noticed on straight roads but in twisties they are exposed badly to the hard reality about their poor driving skills. If they are luck to drive on a road like Pune-Bombay Expressway, many times they escape unhurt but in a normal mountain road often they run wide, go into opposite lane and CRASH !!!

PS: Same is also applicable with two wheeler riders as well.

As I was approaching the exit from the expressway, I enter the second last turn before the exit (a long left hander). Was doing some 80 before I slow down to 70 for the turn. Got myself in position to take the turn and vola, taking such a turn was never so much of fun. By the time I exit the turn I was doing in excess of 90.
For the uninitiated, I was just trying out some lessons learned from the book called “Twist of Wrist” by Keith Code.

There is nothing to talk about the route till Panvel, traffic was less and road in great condition. As I reach Panvel I realised that my cell phone’s roaming is once again disabled, not this hasn’t happen for the first time with me :-) . Thankfully I was knowing the route (I thought so) till Goregaon. The moment I crossed Panvel I was greeted with more disciplined (as compared to what we got in Pune) and fast moving traffic. While I was overtaking a couple of trucks, following a car in rightmost lane, I hear someone honking from behind. Having got stuck behind a car and trucks on left and divider on right, coudn’t do anything (can’t use my NOS button and someone disabled the “Take off” button on my bike :( ) but to wait till I get space to allow the GP racer chance to put me a lap down. As I got space I let the racer go by, not surprisingly the car was spotting Pune registration number :D

As I crossed Vashi bridge traffic lights were more frequent and it was nice to see people sticking to their lanes and not jumping the stop line while standing on a red light. This was in a city just under 2hrs drive away from Pune, where such kind of discipline is unheard of. Agreed, I might not have seen even 1% of Bombay traffic but whatever i have seen is not at all visible even at a single traffic light signal in Pune. Why so big difference between two cities which are hardly at any distance from each other? People might say Bombay got wider roads, etc etc but what do jumping traffic lights gotta do with road width?

Enjoying the wide roads with fast moving traffic, I missed the turn off point so pulled over next to RK Studio to call up Arpan to get directions. Now I would be riding till Sion and then take the wide ‘n’ fast NH8. It was fun riding on such roads in middle of a city and soon I was at Goregaon to get the work done. While the bike was worked upon we went to have food.

On the way back meet up with Arnob to see his HID setup on ZMA. It was around 4:30pm when Arnob switches on his HID lamps and man what we saw next was just amazing. The white light was visible on the wall on opposite side of road, must be at a distance of 20 feet or so. Can’t wait to see it function in night and on my bike(s).

After a small chit chat session at CCD next to IIT, we split and I head back to Pune via the route I was supposed to take while coming. Having already experienced the fast moving, somewhat disciplined traffic of Bombay I was feeling sad to return the chaotic traffic of Pune. As I was climbing up the Khandala ghats (which are one way only), the whole fun factor was spoiled by few smarties who were coming down the ghat in wrong direction forcing me to drop pace to avoid running into one such joker.

By the time I reach Lonawala it was getting dark and time to test the well focused new headlamp of my bike. It was still some time to put the lights on but then I saw three monkeys who happen to have escaped from a zoo riding bikes wearing dark glasses and black color wisor and have possibly forgot to take them off and hence riding bikes with headlights on and that too in high beam mode.

Once it got really dark I put my headlight on and it didn’t dissapoint me. Ofcourse its not the best of lights but can’t expect anything more than this from a 35W headlamp.

As I was riding back home one more thing I observed. It is possible for one to ride/drive in night in low beam as long as the person is willing to ride/drive within the limits, which means slower pace than what is possible in daylight. Once a person decides that he/she is taking park in a 24hr race and hence want to go as fast as possible lands up switching to high beam. Now to me it has two affects, one you are illuminating your path but at the same time you are also blinding other people and the second is that you are not leaving any scope for mistakes, what if there is a section of road which you want to lightup more due to oncoming vehicles headlight is stronger, since you are already in highbeam you have no options left but to just go on and hope the road ahead is clear or drop speed.

Finally by the time I reached home i was richer in riding experience and poorer in my pocket :-)

In end my favourite part – the statistics.

10:15 0km Home
10:53 53km Lonawala
11:20 71km Khopoli
11:53 112km Panvel
12:20 138km RK Studio

13:30 166km Goregaon

Trip Up: 166km, 3hrs 15min

17:05 14km CCD next to IIT
17:53 54km Panvel
18:17 94km Khopoli
18:36 111km Lonawala, a 5 min break to shop Chikki
19:40 165km Home

Return Trip: 151km, 2hrs 35min

Total Trip: 331km

Mileage: ~43km/lt.


Broken Fairing

If the post topic was not enough, I assume the picture would have given you a complete idea, what this post is about. Now you must be wondering what kind of a person would like to write a blog entry for a crash of his. By God’s grace I’m not a fast rider and hence don’t tend to fall too often (Remember the saying, “If you aren’t crashing, you aren’t riding fast enough”? – Though I don’t belive but many “fast” riders do belive in it).

Like all my falls in this one also I coudn’t have done much to avoid it, except for not riding in the first place, and this was probably the fastest off all my falls.

Today morning I leave my house on my Fiero for office. Its 7:30am, roads are almost empty and fresh after a small ride on Sunday I was keeping the needle between 60-80 as I approach my favourite section of ‘S’ curve. After negotiating it safely at 80+, I start to slow down as I’m approaching a bit bumpy section of road which also happen to have some human population near by. Speed must be around 60 when all of a sudden I see a dog coming on the road few feets ahead of me. For no reason we call those creatures dog, instead of walking across he decides to stop in middle of road leaving me with no choice but to brake as hard as I can, as it was too late to dodge him (with no guarantee that the smart boy will not start to move into my path again forcing me to crash in a leaned position).

Next thing I remember is that my front wheel has gone over him and the bike has lost its balance. First I almost flies off the bike over the tank, landing on the road on my stomach with my face, inside helmet, hitting ground. I slide for a feet or so before the back side of bike falls on my legs. What happen to bike during this time, I had no idea. A few seconds later when i gain senses, I see people running towards me and lifts off the bike off my legs. Dog has ran to roadside and is joined by his friends, as I limp to road side.

Time to inspect the damage. My right knee is paining but the pant hasn’t got torn. My right elbow is also hurting but the leather jacket is all well at that place as well. The right shoe has lost a layer or so of leather at my toes position, trying to protect them successfully. About bike, the brand new fairing is cracked and badly scratched (as you can see in the picture), handle is bend but a few hits and it gets back to normal.

No way I could ride ahead so I ride back home where my little daughter is similing as she finds her dad back at home. Too young to realise that her dad has just come down after kissing mother earth. Well the right knee and right elbow is bruised a little bit, thanks to the jacket. Helmet has got a deep scratch at the forehead position and the air vent switch in front of mouth is broken. Right leg from back side is burned a little bit due to hot silencer. Neck is strained at left side and upper side of back is also paining.

On giving it more thought I realised, had I was not wearing my leather jacket (wearing it in Summer many people find it odd) my stomach would have got hurt, as there are lot of visible scratches on the leather jacket. Also if I was wearing anything less than a full face helmet, from mouth to full face would have badly got hurt, as I landed on my face. Had it was not the shoes I would have lost a few nails in my right foot. Had it were not my pathetic gloves, my hands would have also dripped some blood.

Buying knee and elbow guard is a long pending item on my list. Well I’m buying it this weekend, no matter what. Time to buy a new helmet as well as its already over 3 years I’m using this helmet.

One thing I would like to thank God is that it was a dog that came in front of bike and not a object of a superior species called “Human”. My past experience has taught me that there are lots of people who can give such dogs a hard time when it comes to score the lowest of IQ points. Had it was a human instead of dog to come in front of my bike, it would have been difficult for me to escape the accident scene. As opposite to all friends of dog who gathered for him and then walked away peacefully, few well wishers of that human would have beaten me down trying to teach me how to ride on road, instead of teaching their dumb friend how to walk on road.

So a small request to God, if I have to go down in future. God, I’ll prefer a dog over a human because though low on intelligence, animals do accept when they are wrong, unlike humans who will fight till the end trying to prove that they are not wrong.

Now let me just take this as an oportunity to list down all those instances when I went ahead and kissed mother earth.

  • In 1999 I was riding back to Pune from Pirangut on my LML NvSpl. I was very new to the world of two wheels and hence was wearing only the helmet and a thin wind cheater for protection. While I was negotiating twisties of Pirangut ghat, right after a bend, I see this dog in the middle of road. In panic I pressed the front brake before the rear brake and doing this on scooter was sure enough to call for trouble so there I goes down for the first time in my life. Result was damage to scooter body and bruises on my knee and hand. Since I was climbing the ghat the speed was thankfully under 40km/hr.
  • In 2000 on a Monday morning, I was riding down to office after watching MotoGP the previous night. I decide to lean harder into one of my favourite curve I take daily on my way. I forgot that it had rained last night and hence there was a small puddle of water right in the middle of curve. Too late to do anything and I goes down in a slow motion. Speed was under 20km/hr and hence no injury to me but a minor scratch to the bike fairing.
  • In 2002, on the ocassion of Holi, I’m riding down to my friends place when I find myself on the edge of road as a six seater is racing with a Honda City on a empty road, coming from opposite direction. With no space left for me, I had to get off the road but it was all loose surface there and hence me and my bike goes few feets down the slope. Front fairing of bike is damaged beyond repair and I’m covered all over in mud, no physical damamge to my body. Again the speed was under 20km/hr.
  • In 2003 the rains have just arrived. I was riding down to meet some friends on FC Road in Pune on my Fiero with worn out tyres. Knowing the tyres need replacement I was riding really slow, in 3rd gear at 20km/hr as the road surface was a bit slippery. Next moment I find myself down with no one near me to knock me down nor have I applied brakes. After I get off the road, I see traffic coming and next moment few more riders go down. First round of showers combined with oil + mud has made a nice slippery paste over the road.
  • In 2004 on my way back from Rohtang Pass, I’m crawling through frozen water on road. Speed is under 5km/hr and trying to balance my bike. I loose the balance and go down on frozen ice.
  • In 2005 on the way to home in night, I’m blinded by the powerful headlight of a car standing on the signal in the opposite side. I was not able to see that a old lady is crossing the road, ofcourse thinking that she is walking in her private park and hence not thinking about the traffic on road. By the time she and me get out of car’s headlight focus, its too close. With worn out drums to stop the bike, it didn’t happen in time and we all three go down. Bike handle, levers, fairing suffered damages with me and lady some minor bruises.
  • In 2006, as I come out of my house a car which was parked on the other side of lane suddenly takes off for a ‘U’ turn and comes and hits me from side taking me and my bike down. After the crash I land up on a layer of bricks, thanks to the leather jacket not much damage is done. Bike’s fuel tank is dented and mounting of side pannels are broken.

I know its already said many times but let me still say it one more time, “Ride Safe” :-)

So close yet so far

One dream
SS1600K – a long awaited IBA ride I wanted to do. Having spend a couple of years discussing and planning about it, as another year was coming to an end, I decided that I have to attempt it before the year ends.

Initial plans were to do the ride on my Bullet but after my last ride to Goa, bike showed signs of needing some attention. During this time I got to ride Unicorn, thanks to Dilip Bam. Riding the bike for a few days I knew that it is a good alternative to Bullet for such a ride, though the seat was not so comfortable nor light so bright, but it was the best I was having as a choice.

After Arpan and Alok returned back from their Bangalore ride I got an update on the road condition of NH4 between Pune and Bangalore. The 200 odd km long stretch between Hubli and Chitradurga is still under construction with lots of diversions, crossing through towns via the old NH4 and some stretches of broken roads.

Christmas weekend was chosen for the ride. Got the bike inspected for the ride. As I was about to start the ride, I fell sick and had to postpone the ride. Now with only the New Year weekend left, that was the last chance for me. Luckily for me I recovered enough for the ride by the New Year weekend. By now Arnob has also done the same route for his Bum Burner ride (another IBA certified ride) and he advised me not to take the route due to the bad stretch which I’ll have to cross twice, wasting a lot of time. Still I decided to do it on the same route.

Ride preparation
On Friday collected some spare parts (Spare tube, Fuse, Spark Plug, Head light bulb, Chain link), replaced the fused tail light bulb, replaced the rear 3.00×18 Zapper with 90/90×18 Zapper Q and packed the required tools. Cleaned the visor and decided to carry the brand new spare visor along to replace during the night time. Went to sleep early on Fri, 29 Dec, the ride was planned to start as soon as I get up next day.
Ride day – Pune to Bangalore

At 7am I got up fresh to start the ride. Took bath with warm water and started to prepare myself for the 24hr long ride. I decided to wear four layers of clothes on top (T shirt, Thermal, T shirt and leather jacket) and two layer at bottom (Thermal and jeans). By 8am I was down in parking warming up the bike and fixing the small luggage with the help of bungee chord. I quickly set off towards RTO gas station as my start point. All the way was trying to hear for some unwanted noise coming from the bike which might trouble me during the ride.

At 8:30am I reached RTO gas station and started to call my friends as start point witness. Sadly no one was able to come and the attendants at the gas station were not too convinced to become the start point witness. As I was thinking of what to do, I meet with an old time friend at the gas station who readily agreed to be my witness. I quickly tanked up and took the fuel bill. It was 9am with odometer showing 9410.5 on the bike.

Coming out of city was not too difficult and soon I was on the bypass. Slowly I started to pick up speed and decided to keep the tachometer needle between 7k to 7.5k rpm (with Unicorn speedometer having too big of an error, it was not good to get carried away with the false sense of high speed).

Thanks to the newly opened Katraj Bypass I was able to avoid the pathetic Katraj ghat and soon was riding through small towns outside Pune. The traffic was not too much with majority of traffic being of fast moving cars and crawling busses. Till Shirval there were some slow sections but after that it is 4 lanes all the way.

Bike was feeling nice and happy cruising easily at around 7k rpm. As I started to climb up Khambatki ghat I came across a bunch of egoistic car drivers who were not willing to give way to a faster vehicle. They couldn’t digest the fact that a bike which they just creamed on the straight road is asking them for side in the twisty. It was tough passing each of those car divers with over inflated ego. As I crossed the turn off point to Mahabaleshwar, I knew I’ll not meet with the weekend travelers on road for some time now.

With every passing km I was enjoying my ride on the highway after long time. My first aim was to see how much time I take till Satara. At 10:45am with odometer showing 9534, I rode through the town of Satara, on schedule. There was not too much of trouble passing through Satara, thanks to the bypass.

Now next was a very fast stretch of road to Karad. In this section I upped the pace a little bit. At 11:20am with odometer showing 9583 I was passing through the town of Karad. After crossing the town of Karad I was heading towards Kolhapur, munching mile like a runaway from Somalia. This section of NH4 is also great to do some high speeds. With sun starting to warm the environment, I kept on with the hot pace as I have to do these good sections in day time as fast as possible. At 12:10pm with odometer showing 9653, I was passing through Kolhapur. There was a bit of traffic so I dropped the pace to safe limits.

As I crossed Kolhapur it started to get a bit hot and the route become monotonous. I was now heading towards the Maharashtra border. The road at many places is too straight to make even the fastest of bikes feel slow. Fighting with the boredom I reached Belgaum at 13:25pm with odometer showing 9753km.

Right after crossing Belgaum I took my first stop to click a picture of the highway distance board, on which the distance to both Pune and Bangalore was shown. After a small 5min picture break, I resumed my ride. There were a few diversions in this section. Soon the bike hit reserve as I was closing on Dharwad. At 18min past 14hrs, on reaching the Reliance gas station just before Dharwad I decided to tank up.

After a small 5 minute break to fill fuel and have water with some chocolates I resumed my ride. I was feeling a bit hungry now but didn’t want to waste too much time in having food on a road side dhaba, so decided to keep on going till the next A1 restaurant. Soon I crossed Dharwad and headed towards Hubli. This section was a bit windy with some road repair work going at a few places. By the time I reached Hubli, I was very hungry and couldn’t wait to reach the A1 plaza. As I reached Hubli, signs of bad stretch started to show, with the main junction missing and have to search for the road towards Bangalore.

Road now is full of diversions and single side of the 4 lane in operation. Getting used to the changed road condition I saw the A1 Plaza in some distance and couldn’t stop myself from pulling into it. It was well past 3pm. I opted for Idli for lunch and bought a water bottle. It was a small 15min break and I was back on road. The road, whatever is made, is really good but since only a single lane is operational, I got a bit worried on the thought of riding here in night. Thankfully the traffic was not much and hence I was still able to maintain a good speed. On the way I happen to cross a couple of railway crossings while the bridge is still under construction. Now I was riding on the old NH4, on which I have ridden in 2003 on my Fiero. The diversions were so bad at places that I missed one diversion (thinking it’s a broken road) and carried on the old NH4 which started to take me towards a town. Luckily I found an old NH4 bypass section this was the same place where I took a small nap during my ride on Fiero. Soon I was back on the under construction road which has now gotten really bad. With lots of stretches of stones, gravel and dust there to ride through.

Sun has started to come down and I was probably now on the near completed section of road just before Chitradurga. Negotiating the last few km’s of the bad stretch I entered the limits of Chitradurga city at 18:15. By the time I crossed the city limits and approached the A1 Plaza, it has started to get dark. So I pulled into the A1 plaza for a small break. I was feeling a bit tired and hungry. I ordered dosa and coffee as evening snacks and got freshen up in rest room, as well as cleaned up the visor. Didn’t expected the break to stretch to over 30minutes but it was well taken break.

Now it was complete dark and as I came out of the plaza on road, traffic was unexpectedly low. This section is well made 4 lanes so I was able to cruise at over 6k when I decided to stick to the back of a jeep. Unfortunately the driver pulled into the next town, leaving me to ride on the almost empty road, which I didn’t find too difficult to do. Maintaining close to 7k I was hurrying towards Tumkur, was hoping to make it to Bangalore in around 12hrs. As I approached Tumkur, one last section of bad road was waiting for me. It was already past 9pm and couldn’t do much now to make time till Bangalore. After crossing Tumkur the traffic has increased but thankfully it was all fast moving one. Soon I was passing the toll plaza just before Nelamangla. Right after crossing the toll plaza I got stuck in a slow moving traffic where one flat out going truck at 40km/hr was trying to overtake all the trucks moving in the left lane, in one attempt. Result was a crawling progress for couple of km’s. After the distance marker showed me 23km to Bangalore I took the next ‘U’ turn and headed towards the Reliance gas station which was right next to that 23km mark. It was almost 10pm now.

Return Leg – Bangalore to Pune
Filled up fuel quickly and collected the printed fuel receipt. Asked the attendant to click a few pictures and gulped some water along with chocolates. After a 10min break I was now heading back towards Pune, feeling a bit strange. Luckily the traffic was not much as I rode out of gas station. It was a slow progress till Tumkur due to little bit of traffic and then further slowed down due to the bad stretch at Tumkur. Once crossed Tumkur, I started to increase the pace with vehicle count reducing with every km I was going away from Tumkur. I was now riding almost alone on the road with occasional tuck, Volvo or a rare car to be seen. Probably the loneliness got to me and I started to feel tired. So I pulled over to road side to freshen up, washed face with water and resumed the ride after a 5min break. Since I resumed the ride I was feeling that the rear tyre is wobbling a little bit. Got scared on the thought of a puncture. But since that feeling was coming while going over uneven road surface, I decided to play it safe and fill in some air at Chitradurga.

Though it was closing on mid night, still I was not feeling much of cold probably thermals were doing their job well. At around 30 past mid night I reached Chitradurga and pulled into a gas station to get the air pressure checked. To my surprise the rear tyre pressure was 28 (instead of 32) and front was 23 (instead of 25), I inspected tyres for any nail but found none. After a 5min break I was back on road feeling more confident with scare of a puncture gone away. Now I was accompanied by slow moving occasional trucks making it difficult to ride with them and riding alone was a bit scary in middle of night. Soon I was passed by a jeep and I didn’t waste any time in following him. With almost no traffic on road even the bad stretches were easy to ride but at slower speed due to night time. As I crossed the first 100km I realized that it has taken me over 2hrs to do that and hence I’m running a bit behind schedule. To help me a couple of Volvos caught up with me and I parted away with the jeep and started to ride along with Volvos. Sadly soon we were brought to halt at a closed railway crossing but thankfully it didn’t last for more than couple of minutes. As we started few km’s later we were again stopped by the second railway crossing, resulting in wasting few more minutes there. Once crossing it I was escorted by two Volvos towards Hubli, though I was faster than Volvos but decided to stick with them till Hubli, after all I was in no mood to miss a diversion due to 35W headlight and then go for a offroading session in the middle of night.

It was just over 4am when we reached Hubli I pulled over to get fresh while Volvos were stuck at the toll booth but they got free before I expected and vanished into darkness leaving me getting ready to jump on bike. Now it was for me to see if Volvos were really slow or not. As expected halfway down the road to Dharwad I caught up with the Volvos, ripping on the empty dark road. This time I decided not to be slowed down by them and went ahead of them. I was really running late and hence have to make as much time as I can. In the process of that I decided to tank up just after Dharwad so that I can do a flat out run in an attempt to make it in time.

After I resumed from Dharwad it was already close to 5am and now I was felling a little bit of cold. The revs were almost close to 9k while I was zipping on the empty, dark and cold stretch of NH4. Don’t remember for how long I rode but soon I felt a bit tired and sleepy, not wasting any time I pulled over to a road side tea stall I saw (probably was close to Belgaum). As I removed my gloves and helmet, could feel the cold air in hands and face. Gulped down a couple of cup of hot tea and took a small cat nap. After a 10min break I was fresh again for the rest of ride.

There was almost no traffic on road still which was helping me in doing the pace I wanted, I knew I might not be able to make it in time but didn’t want to give up so early after putting in so much of efforts. Around 6:30am it started to get a bit bright and suddenly I felt as if mercury has gone for a bungee jump. It went cold all of a sudden and I was shivering due to it. Then I realized some water droplets on the fuel tank – early morning dew. As I was closing towards Pune I forgot about everything except that I need to try and reach Pune as early as possible. Sometime during this crazy rush to reach destination I crossed Kolhapur as if it didn’t exist, thanks to early morning time and no traffic on road.

It was around Satara when I realized that I’ll miss the mark by a very small margin as I was close to 9am when I crossed Satara with still 100+km’s to be covered to complete. Now I dropped the pace as it was humanly impossible to complete the needed distance in available time. As clock showed 9am I had just crossed the town of Surul and heading towards Pune. Suddenly I was feeling a bit tired and went into slow cruising mode. Around 9:45am I was crossing Katraj ghat thinking about nothing but my bed. Soon after bike hit reserve and I decide to head back home while filling up fuel.

At 10:45 I entered my home, looking and feeling tired with brain ready to hit the switch off button any instance. End of a ride I will not forget for a long time to come and a ride which showed me its really fun riding all along in the middle on a winter night. So till next time its sleeping time :-)

Some numbers to munch ;-)

  • Pune (09:00, 9410) – Start Point.
  • Satara (10:45, 9534) – 124km, 1hr 45min, 70.86km/hr.
  • Karad (11:20, 9583) – 49km, 35min, 84km/hr.
  • Kolhapur (12:10, 9653) – 70km, 50min, 84km/hr.
  • Belgaum (13:25, 9753) – 100km, 1hr 15min, 80km/hr.
  • Post Belgaum, picture break (13:35, 9763) – 10km, 10min, 60km.hr. 5min break.
  • Bike hit reserve at 9,793km.
  • Pre Dharwad at Reliance gas station (14:18, 9815) – 52km, 38min, 82.11km/hr. 5min break.
  • Post Hubli – At A1 Plaza for Lunch (15:10, 9869) – 54km, 47min, 68.94km/hr. 15min break. Food (Idli Sambar and Aquafina) for Rs 24.00.
  • Chitradurga (18:15, 10058) – 189km, 2hrs 50min, 66.71km/hr.
  • Post Chitradurga – At A1 Plaza, Food and Fuel Stop (18:25, 10064) – 6km, 10min, 36.00km/hr. 40min break. Food (Dosa and Coffee) for Rs 22.00.
  • Post Nelamangla – At Reliance Gas Station, Fuel Stop and Turn off Point (21:40, 10233) – 169km, 2hrs 35min, 65.42km/hr. 10min break.
  • First Leg Summary
    • Time Taken 12hrs 40min.
    • Distance Covered 823km.
    • Avg Speed 64.97km/hr.
    • Time in breaks 1hr 5min
  • Post Tumkur – Face wash and pee break (23:00, 10300) – 67km, 1hr 10min, 57.43km/hr. 5min break.
  • Chitradurga – Air Pressure Check (0:35, 10405) – 105km, 1hr 30min, 70km/hr, 5min break.
  • Hubli – Refreshing break (4:15, 10615) – 210km, 3hrs, 35min, 58.60km/hr, 5min break.
  • Post Dharwad – Fuel Stop (4:40, 10640) – 25km, 20min, 75km/hr, 5min break.
  • Pre Belgaum – Sleep and Tea break (5:20, 10686) – 46km, 35min, 78.86km/hr, 10min break. Tea for Rs 6.
  • Post Surul (9:00, 10981) – 295km, 3hrs 30min, 84.29km/hr.
  • Final Leg
    • Time Taken 11hrs 20min.
    • Distance Covered 748km.
    • Avg Speed 66.00km/hr.
    • Time in breaks 40min.
  • Trip Stats
    • Time Taken 24hrs.
    • Distance Covered 1,571km.
    • Avg Speed 65.46km/hr.
    • Time in breaks 1h 45min.
    • Fuel Consumed 50.68lt.
    • Fuel Cost Rs 2,700.
    • Mileage 32.08km/lt.
    • Food Cost Rs 52.

Lavasa – A Dream Fulfilled and some laws redefined


Lavasa – After Amby Valley, another dream city coming up near Pune, for those who have overflowing supply and reserve of green bucks, so what do it has for us? Well Richie rich’s do not travel on bad roads and hence along with exceptional houses, they also get great roads to reach there. Where in city, tax payers travel on roads providing them a free experience of traveling on lunar surface, just outside city we have some great roads for villagers to enjoy.

In past I missed a few chances to ride to the gate of Lavasa city, so when on 25th Oct 2006 evening a plan was made, I decided not to miss this chance and just simply ride. This was a ride to Lavasa where people from a News channel wanted to do a small program between the 150cc four stroke bikes from the current generation. Members of a local stunt group were riding the bikes to be featured in the program. I decided to explore the unknown territory on my trustworthy Fiero.

26th Oct 2006

News channel crew was coming from Bombay and hence the start of ride was delayed. After meeting up with the crew members and members of the bikers group, we headed towards Lavasa from Chandani Chowk.

From Chandani Chowk we took the road towards Mulshi. The surface of this road is a total contrast of what we have in Pune. In Pune where the tax payers are punished by giving them lunar surface, Villagers living on the road to Mulshi are rewarded with exceptionally great road surface.

Enjoying the ride, soon we reached at the start of Pirangut Ghat. There are two routes to reach Lavasa from here, you can either take a narrow road going to the left side from the start of Pirangut Ghat or you can rip down the Ghat at lightning pace, boosted by help from gravity and then take a left turn after Pirangut city.

We took the left road which is also short in distance. The road is wide enough for a car and a two wheeler to go side by side but the scenery and the winding road makes you forget the narrowness of the road. Few kilometers later we come out on a wide road which goes to Lavasa. This is the same road which comes from Pirangut city.

As we come out on the wide road, we start the climb to Mutha Ghat. The surface is great, road is well marked and very little bit of traffic. Possibly one of the best Ghat near Pune. A small halt was taken just after the climb of Mutha ghat for some shooting.
Mutha ghat Mutha ghat

View from Mutha ghat View from Mutha ghat

After spending some time, we resumed the ride towards Lavasa. Right after we come down Mutha ghat, road changes to wide, winding, unmarked road, still good enough to enjoy the ride.

As we reached the end of this section of road, we were greeted by a huge dam, under construction. There is a road going towards left which will take you to Lavasa city. As we take this road, the surface again becomes great, with proper markings and almost nil traffic.

As we took this road, lots of surprises awaited. As expected curves were all over the place but as I went a bit more ahead, hairpin bends greeted me. Having taken hairpin bends in past, I was well prepared but these hair pin bends were different. As we are in the middle of the turn and try to accelerate out of it, road suddenly vanishes in front of you and head towards sky.

While I was enjoying the ride, I made one basic mistake. Since I was following couple of riders, I mistakenly, instead of concentrating on the road, looked at the rider in front of me, who happen to miss the turn somehow and started to go straight, I followed him, perfect example of “target fixation”. Thankfully, as the road was going upwards, the speed was not too much and hence we both got enough time to correct the basic mistake made by us.

After we finish the hairpin turns, we have climbed to some height, which can be noticed by the slight drop in mercury. Soon the road was flat with twisties, as I was taking one curve I got a glimpse of a rider going off the road (enough run off area to park a few planes). Having just learned from the mistake made, I continued to concentrate on the line until I was out of the curvy section. Looked back, the rider was back on road after a small off-roading session. Hugging some more curves we reached the gate of Lavasa city being guarded by a bunch of security guards. While the media guys started to get back to work, I decided to sharpen my photography skills.

Lavasa Lavasa

Lavasa Lavasa

Lavasa Lavasa

After spending some time there, we headed back as it was well past lunch time of normal human beings. On the way back media crew stopped at one more location to click some quick shots. In the mean time I once again got busy with camera.

Lavasa Lavasa

As we were coming down there was a board asking us to check our brakes as a steep down hill section was about to begin. Coming down at high speed without good brakes is a adventurous way to take a nice dive into the Lavasa dam’s water.

With hunger has hit almost everyone, the speed was increased with the single aim to reach some hotel in quick time. The nearest hotel was at Pirangut. Around 4pm we reach the hotel for lunch and then called it end of day.

Since the shooting was not complete, people were going to come back next day as well. This presented me with a great chance to visit the great roads once again, under 24 hours.

27th Oct 2006

It was decided to start the day a bit early so that things can be wrapped up quickly. Once again we all grouped at Chandani chowk. While I was waiting for people, sun came out to give me company.
Sunrise Lavasa

Once everyone came, we all headed towards Lavasa. Today with couple of big bikes giving us company, I had decided to take the CBZ on the ride.

Though I was doing similar speed as compared to previous day but the sporty riding position and the exhaust sound was giving the ride sporty feeling. As I enter the winding roads, CBZ was in its element. Where Fiero, the previous day, was keeping me on the edge all the time, today riding the CBZ was a bit lazy, in the sense that not much feedback was required to be given to bike to get through the curves.

For today the shooting area was planned closer to the dam, preventing us from climbing all the way to the gates of Lavasa city.
Lavasa Lavasa

While the camera crew was setting up the equipment, some of us decided to pay a visit to the Lavasa gates. Better handling of CBZ combined with the experience of the road ride was mistake free and enjoyable. Soon we reached the Lavasa city gates. Me having some important appointment, started back soon. Riding down hill the better braking of CBZ’s disc brake was noticed. Where the disc on Fiero was feeling a bit spongy, CBZ disc was feeling strong.

By the time I finished my work in city, TV crew has finished their work so instead of returning back to Lavasa, I called it end of day and headed back to home.

29th Oct 2006

During a meeting with Dilip Bam previous day, while I gave the CBZ for servicing and took Unicorn from him, another plan to ride to Lavasa was made. The plan coincided with a ride plan of RDDreams members.
Sunrise Sunrise


The ride started early morning, once again from Chandani chowk. We were four of us on RD350, ZMA, Unicorn and Apache. It was a bit cold as we headed towards Lavasa.

Riding Unicorn on open and winding roads was a totally different experience as compared to Fiero and CBZ. For me the mono shock worked exceptionally well, giving me a comfortable riding experience. The slight increase in torque and bhp also showed its difference. So do the Honda chassis. If you can go fast on CBZ, on Unicorn you can go even faster. Handling of Unicorn has moved the bar to a level higher than where CBZ has put the bar to, this was noticed right from the climb to Mutha ghat and all the way through the hairpin bends to the gate of Lavasa city.

While we were taking those hair pin bends, call it luck or someone taking my exam. Rider in front of me, missed the same turn where I also ran wide on the first day, while following another rider. This time I retained my concentration on the line and as I came out of the turn, didn’t have to look back to see my co-rider as the roar of his RD closing on me signaled that he is back on the road.

By the time we all reached the gate of Lavasa city I had fallen in love with the handling and engine of Unicorn. Felt like riding up down Lavasa till bike runs out of fuel.

While we all were chatting at the top of Lavasa, I tried one more time to get a ride on Apache. Asked Dilip if I can ride down on Apache, after initial hesitation he agreed to swap the rides. Few minutes later we were riding back. The low sitting position (as compared to Unicorn) and slightly different riding position of Apache took me couple of turns to get used to. Once I got a hang of the slightly different riding position, I was spellbound by what happened next.

While I was going into a turn at 80+, I was about to ease on the throttle just before entering the turn when I got some sort of feedback from the bike and I just pointed the bike into turn at the same speed. As I was going in the turn and coming out of it, I was shell shocked by what happen. Have never ridden a bike taking turns like this. With every turn the confidence was climbing to a new height. The bike was taking the turns in a completely different but well behaved manner as compared to CBZ and Unicorn (two of the best handling).

What spoiled the fun was the spongy feel from the brakes while coming down the slopes. Missed the braking of CBZ/Unicorn. In couple of downhill turns when I carried too much of speed, as I shifted down, the rear TVS tyre showed their symptoms by sliding a little bit, few years back I would have loved this feeling but I’m getting old now. After crossing the hairpin bends, stopped to control my excitement.

Here when I told Dilip about the rear sliding during changing gears while the bike was leaned. I was pointed at another mistake, of not changing gear or applying brakes while bike is leaned into a corner.

Once we crossed Lavasa dam and headed towards Mutha ghat, there were plenty of ‘S’ bends and Apache has by now redefined the laws of riding on winding roads. Have not ridden a bike going through ‘S’ curves like Apache. I wish one day I could ride this bike on a race track.

Have not ridden through twisties at such a hot pace for quite some time now. One more place where Apache disappointed was lack of top end grunt, as compared to Unicorn.

After a lip smacking ride back, we headed towards Mulshi to stop at Dilip’s favorite place to have Missal-pav. After food, I was in no mood to hand back the keys of Apache to Dilip, so I got to keep the bike during the ride back to town as well. Normally my ride back home is slow and lazy but today with Apache for my company we rode back with the same excitement as if we are just starting a ride.

By the time I reached Chandani chowk, I was always waiting for the moment when I will be able to ride Apache for a longer duration.
So in past 4 days I have ridden to Lavasa thrice on 4 different bikes. So a quick summary about the experience on bikes.

First Fiero, though its fun to ride in twisties, the same rider will go faster on any of the other three bikes. Once the smoothest engine of Fiero now has to share that crown with Honda. In short, the newer bikes have improved to an extent that it will take better riding skills or dare devil acts to match the other bikes on Fiero.

Next is CBZ, the performance king of the 150cc segment. Bike which redefined the rules of handling, the crown bike owned for so long. Now has to share the crown with the two new kids on block (Unicorn and Apache). Engine really shows signs of age and need some upgrade to match the slightly more powerful new kids. Still this is the bike with the best riding position one can get for sporty/spirited riding.

Unicorn – The first bike from Honda in India. Mono shock, which does the job very well. Chassis and engine showing what Honda stands for. Over all an excellent bike to ride. Be it the twisties or be it the lunar surface. Only disappointment is the thin rear tyre, making it a bit scary to ride over gravel and loose surfaces.

Apache – I wish TVS came out with this bike instead of Fiero or at least F2. Though it’s no more the smoothest engine (Unicorn has grabbed the crown with both hands), it’s more fun to ride (Crown taken away from CBZ). The suspension is not as comfortable as that of Unicorn, over bumpy roads, slightly on stiffer side. But a bike, I’ll take any day to ride in twisties all day long.

Dilip asked me to make a decision which bike today I would like to own out of these four. Well there is no single bike I can buy. Back in 2000, I was in a similar confusion, my heart said CBZ but mind said Fiero and today, heart is saying Apache but the mind is saying Unicorn. This just shows one thing, though I have gotten old, my heart has remained young.

Disclaimer: The comments about bikes are based on my personal experience of riding them in twisties. Except for handling, braking and perfromance none other factors are considered.

Don – The Story


06 June 2000: After a brief survey of bikes in market (YBX, CBZ, Fiero), on a sunny afternoon in June 2000, I rode out of showroom on my First bike. The odometer was showing 4km on it.

06 June 2001: First year was completed, with odometer showing ~21,700km. During this period, bike was used mostly for commuting. After ~12,000km, I replaced the stock rear tyre with 3.00×18 Michelin M45 and what a difference it made on the wet roads of Pune.

06 June 2002: Second year was completed with odometer showing ~40,900km. Started to venture out of city limits, though not too far still :-)

06 June 2003: Third year completed and the odometer moved ahead to show ~61,000km. The rear M45 was gone by 42,000km and due to non-availability of Michelin tyres, I went and put a 3.00×18 Dunlop at rear. By the time odometer showed 60,000km, I was able to find new Michelin in market and replaced the stock front with 2.75×18 M45 and rear dunlop with 3.25×18 M45.

06 June 2004: Fourth year completed with the odometer showing ~78,000km. By now I got a brand new Electra and a modified (by Ron @ RDDreams.com) RX to share the garage with Fiero. During this year, touring bug bit me badly and I broke free from commuting in city and riding to some near by places. My first long ride was to Dharwad (via Goa) with members of Pulsar Yahoo Group, for the multi-city meet of members. Later went on a solo ride to Bangalore-Chennai. During this time I replaced the chain sprocked (~72,000km)

06 June 2005: Fifth year completed. With the arrival of Electra in garage, the running of Fiero was once again reduced to within city limits and some near by places. The odometer ticked to ~87,000km. I finally changed the clutch plates (~80,000km). During this year I replaced the front drum brakes with the disc brake kit of Fiero F2.

06 June 2006: Six years completed. Bike has started to show signs of stress and fatigue. Performance has started to go down. Front fairing, side pannels, etc have got a few scratches. Paint has started to fade a little bit. With CBZ of my friend joining Fiero, Electra and RX in garage, the running of Fiero has gone down drastically, with odometer showing ~92,500km. So at ~92,000km I decide to open the topend and replace work parts. New piston rings, new valves and valve springs and new timing chain were put in to replace the worn parts. Also the old exhaust was replaced by a brand new exhaust of Fiero. I also replaced the rear hydraulic shocks with the gas shocks of Pulsar. With the engine changes done, I took the bike to Bangalore to take part in AutoCarIndia organised Drag event (along with RX). As expected, due to 90+kg of weight I didn’t do well and clocked a time of 22.843 (RT 1.191, ET 21.652).

(Pictures courtesy member(s) of BikeNomads)

Towards the end of sixth year, a small speed session was arranged as part of RDD meet, in Pune. Did few runs on Fiero and managed to push the bike to 111km/hr (in 720m) on the speed gun. Below Arpan clocked 107km/hr (in 540m) on the speed gun.

(Picture courtesy member of RDDreams)

During Aug 2006, I started to think about the future of my beloved Fiero. Bike was in not very good condition, as per cosmetic goes. I had two options, sell the bike and buy a new bike OR put in some money in the bike and get it to a good condition. With the first option discarded without giving a second thought, I started to prepare a plan, with help of Arpan, for the remaking of the bike. Finally in Sep, 2006 it was decided to take the bike to Bombay at Reddy’s place for the work that was planned.

Here is a inital list of work that was planned (almost all of it is done).

1 If Apache Tank and side pannels can be fitted on Fiero frame. Denting + Panting cost of Tank and Side Pannels = ??? Apache Tank, Side pannels, Tail light assembly, rear indicators, grab rail cost = ???
2 If Speedometer fault is big to fix and Tacho can be fitted to Fiero Apache speedo console
3 Cost of Apache alloy rims = ???
4 Frame got bend? New frame = ???

1 Frok tubes

2 Disk hub and spokes
3 Brake and Clutch levers
4 All metal parts, oil lines, etc

1 Front and rear rims
2 Bar end weights
3 Fuel cap
4 Silencer weilding point?

1 Crank case in existing color
2 Tank and Side pannels – Black color, without damaging SUZUKI and Fiero stickers
3 Rear grab rail in existing color
4 Frame painting

1 Front mudguard of Apache/Fiero – Black color

2 Check and replace Wheel bearings
3 New brake pads?
4 Front fork overhaul. IF springs too loose then new springs
5 Check and replace cone set
6 Speedometer not working
7 New front and rear number plates
8 Apache Front fairing and indicators
9 Check and replace handle bar. Apache/Fiero
10 New switch gears and hand grips (Stock Fiero)

11 Disc brake level play not smooth
12 New left side RVM bracket
13 Remove dent from tank, fix right side crowl mounting, fix tank mounting on frame
14 Crank check
15 Fix 4th gear noise
16 Fix timing chain noise or whatever it is. New timing gears?
17 Replace all engine bearings
18 New engine foundation bolts
19 Battery belt

20 If required change the wiring harness
21 New fuse box
22 New brake rod and brake lever (rear)?
23 New footrest (just rubber possible?)
24 Victor swing arm, victor chain cover, F2 axel
25 Greese treament to drive chain
26 New rear brake shoes and hub
27 Topup gas shock
28 Replace all worn out/damaged/rusted nuts and bolts

On 9th Sep 2006, I rode down on the bike to Bombay with a two page list of things to do, to bombay. The list included mostly cosmetic items along with some engine work (to remove the noise from gear box when riding in 4th gear).

It took around 2 weeks of work (denting, painting, etc) and on 25th Sep, 2006. I rode the bike back to Pune (still in running in). The ride back was slow (not exceeding 60km/hr) but I enjoyed every moment of it. Also I put in 2.75×18 Zapper FV at front and 90/90×18 Zapper Q at rear. The total cost of work came out to Rs~23,000.

A special thanks to Arpan, Reddy and their friends to build the bike as I wanted.

Now let me shut up and let you guys enjoy the pictures.


On the move

Mahabaleshwar, 16 Sep 2006

Went for a small ride to Mahabi on Saturday. Nothing much to write about the ride, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking ;-)

Started around 9ish in morning. I had CBZ for the company. Right after I start the ride, CBZ odo hit 33,333.3


Tyre check, right after practicing cornering at Khambatki Ghat. Front is 2.75×18 Zapper FV and rear is 100/90×18 Zapper ‘Q’.


Right after I climbed the ghat from Wai to Panchgani, went off towards a table top land. A view from there of the valley and hills.

View View View

Food: Pizza at Mapro


Some view between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.

View View View View View

On NH4, riding into “heavy” rains.

On NH4 On NH4 Shades of clouds

Few meters before I enter into a rain zone of such magnitude, I have never ridden in my whole life on NH4. Rain was so strong that due to poor visiblity even cars had pulled over.

Rain zone Rain zone

On the way back, got a chance to ride thru the newely constructed but yet to “officially” open Katraj tunnel.

Distance covered = ~220km
Mileage = 31.74km/lt

Bidding adieu to rains

Rains are almost gone after creating havoc (exposing how much money to build roads, went into pockets of our politicians) in and around Pune city. So, we at BikeNomads decided to have a intercity meet (Bombay and Pune) at Tamahini Ghat. Nomads from Bombay took NH17 till Kolad before turning towards Tamahini Ghat whereas we Pune Nomads took the amazing road towards Mulshi from ChandaniChowk before heading towards Tamahini Ghat.

Looking at the condition of road to Mulshi from Chandani Chowk, which was build before rains, one is left wondering why do Pune roads are in such a bad condition whereas almost nothing has hapenned to Mulshi road. Specially when it rains much more in Mulshi area, as compared to Pune.

We were 5 Nomads from Pune on three bikes (Captain Nandu and his wife on Red Avenger, Me and Arpan on Black CBZ and Biswa on Red Pulsar 180 DTSi ‘Black’ edition). We started from Chandani Chowk at around 08:40am. Keeping the speed to around 60 for most of time, we enjoyed the greenery which will soon be gone. Our first stop was just before descending Pirangut Ghat, where Biswa and Nandu filled up their machines. Road were almost perfect and hardly wet due to no rains. So the twisties and straights were enjoyed by all the riders.

As we approached Mulshi gate the road got bad, still better than many of Pune roads. While passing the Mulshi gate, we stopped to take a view of the valley (sadly I lost all my pics clicked here due to a corrupted memory card). Next item on our agenda was to have breakfast. This time we decided to give our regular breakfast place a pass and stop ahead at Quick Bite. The place is much more cleaner and food is also tasty (looks like this will be our new halting point during future rides).

After breakfast we continued our ride, the road got bumpy and not in best of condition at many places. Potholes, gravel, stones (from landslides) were more frequent now, as we moved more and more away from civilization.

Nearing Tamahini, clouds started to gather and soon it started to drizzle which didn’t take too long to turn into rain, forcing us to take shelter. Time for another round of tea with which we enjoyed rain and clouds, which were all around us. (Again all the pics I clicked here are gone due to a corrupted memory card). As rain stopped we headed towards Tamahini, the road at the start of ghat was good but as we start the descend, potholes started to appear. Stopping everynow and then to admire and try to capture the beauty in our cameras, we headed towards the bottom of Tamahini ghat.

Reaching Ville we stopped there for Bombay guys to join us. It was all sunny with some dark clouds visible at horizon. It didn’t took long for those clouds to come closer and shower water all over the place.

After waiting for sometime, Bombay group consisting of One Gladiator, Two yezdi’s and a Fiero, arrived. Round of introduction with some discussion over tea followed. It was time for the combined group to ride up Tamahini ghat towards Quick Bite for lunch. Climbing up, while clicking some pictures, my camera’s memory card got corrupted, so I formatted it and lost all the good pictures I have clicked so far). Here are some pictures which I clicked after formatting the card.

Water fall at Tamahini Ghat Water fall at Tamahini Ghat
From top of Tamahini Ghat From top of Tamahini Ghat

The progress of group towards lunch destination was a bit slow but with not many stops, lead group stopping for the backmarkers (me and arpan being at the end of group) to catch up. Arpan now decided to take more roles than being just a pillion. So he started to count how many times the rear suspension of CBZ bottomed out going over the bumpy roads and also shared some of his photographic skills.

Towards Mulshi Valley of Clouds

Like always, the lead group has once again stopped just before the turnoff towards Lonawala for us to catch up. Here I decided to venture out on the route towards Lonawala to click a valley I got to know about on my office discussion forum. Arpan was not too keen to ride as pillion looking at the road condition but Biswa was interested to come. So Arpan and Biswa swapped positions. Praveen also followed us with his wife on Gladiator, while the rest of group headed towards lunch destination.

The road was bumpy and the climb was steep at many places that CBZ needed to be pulled in 1st or 2nd gear with pillion. With the road being wet and broken at many places, bike could loose momentum at crucial places. Finally after a couple of km’s ride we reached the destination. We parked the bikes on road side and started to walk towards valley. The route was slippery enough that one mistake and one would spend his whole life at the bottom of valley living like Tarzan (in case he survived the fall).

Amazing Valley enroute to Lonawala Golf course?

After spending a few minutes near the valley we headed to meet up with the rest of group over lunch.

Mulshi Lake

As we reach Quick Bite, the rest of group has already ordered lunch, making it easy for me to decide which is the best dish to order. As it turned out the “combo” meal was the most favourite amongst us. During lunch I got to know about one Nomad (Ronaldo) who has walked all over from Pune to Bombay. It was really nice meeting up with so many people for the first time. After lunch, it was time for a group snap.

(L to R) Nandu's Wife, Captain Nandu, Arpan, Partha, Praveen and his wife, Duke, Roaldo (person who has walked from Pune to Bombay)

Bombay group has decided to return via Lonawala and for that they will take the road from Mulshi. Like always me and Arpan were right behind everyone and while trying to shoot this picture we missed the opportunity to see off Bombay group.


Ride now was going to be borin as we were heading back to city limits which means, traffic, pollution, bad roads and what not. Around 05:00pm we reached Chandani Chowk, covering around 170km round trip (Bike gave an average of just over 34km/lt during the ride). After a small chat we all dispersed towards our destinations.

Shining to Victory


Do not get bemused by the title of the article, there is no race report being penned down here. After riding the 125cc TVS Victor Edge for over a month when I got chance to switch to 125cc Honda Shine in the middle of a ride, I could not stop myself from grabbing this chance to compare Shine with Edge.

The moment I got myself seated on Shine for the first time, immediately I notice the difference in sitting posture. Where the handle of Edge is comparatively smaller and lower, Shine got handlebar placed slightly higher. Though both bikes got different handle position but both of them are comfortable to ride with.

Gear shifting on Shine and Edge are smooth and got the same shift pattern. Though both bikes got brakes with same specifications, front disc of Edge is more powerful than Shine. Not that brakes on Shine are inadequate but after riding Edge it takes some time to get used to the slightly lesser powerful disc brake of Shine, if you have never ridden Edge you will find no problems with the brakes of Shine.

Since the roads are wet I never got chance to explore either of bikes in twisty on wet but both bikes are comparable to take turns at speeds up to 60km/hr depending on the road surface and curve.

Suspension on Edge is slightly on the stiffer side as compared to Shine. Ride over broken or non-existing roads on Edge after the speed of 50km/hr gets a little bit bumpy, not bumpy enough to rattle your bones, whereas the same stretch on Shine can easily be done at speeds up to 60km/hr without any problems but then the people who are the target buyers for these bikes will never go at such speeds over broken roads. A point to note here is that Edge got gas charged shocks whereas Shine got the conventional hydraulic shocks. Reminding me of the comparison I did between CBZ’s hydraulic shocks and gas shocks of Pulsar both used on the same CBZ, where the 6 years old CBZ shocks were as good as brand new gas shocks of Pulsar. I rode the CBZ over incomplete road (just layer of stones no layer of tar present) up to the speed of 80km/hr and there was hardly any difference between the shocks.

With Shine just 500 odd kilometers old, I did not push the bike to check its top end or revved the bike hard to check the pickup but still bike felt peppy.

Both Edge and Shine got little bit of vibrations. On Shine there are vibrations which can be felt on foot brake level and gear lever at speeds as low as 40km/hr and as the speed approaches 60km/hr the vibration are also felt on the foot pegs, as the speed increases vibrations start to appear on handle bar also. I took the bike up to 80km/hr just once for a very small time and the vibrations on foot levers, foot pegs and handle bar were present with very little bit of them coming from tank also which can be felt as you grab the tank with your knees. On Edge there are no vibrations up to the speed of 50km/hr. As the speed approaches 60km/hr vibrations start to appear on tank, which can be felt when you grab the tank with your knees. As speed is increased further, vibration starts to appear on foot brake lever and little bit on handle bar but nothing on foot pegs. Neither of these bikes come with bar end weights, which might have helped in reducing the vibrations. These vibrations on either bike are not of the intensity that one can not ride the bike but just that they are present making you reminding that the engine is running. Even with vibrations there, I feel one can easily cruise at 80km/hr comfortably on either bikes.

Where Edge is easier to maneuver due to 17?-18? setup Shine is not that easy to dodge potholes etc due to its 18?-18? wheel setup. Seat of Edge is slightly on harder side as compared to Shine, none of them are uncomfortable to sit on. Having astride Edge for over an hour non-stop and 3 hours with breaks and on Shine for close to an hour without breaks, both seats are comfortable to sit on. Exceptionally wide seat of Shine reminds me of my bullet seat.

None of the engines are right candidates for the most silent engine competition but neither of them makes noise which can be disturbing to the rider. As the speed increased engine noise on Shine increases slightly more than Edge.

Riders buying 100cc-125cc economizers prefer to shift gears as less as possible and that is one place I think not many bikes will be able to beat Shine. On Edge I (weighing 90kg plus weight of helmet and rain coat) am able to go as low as 25km/hr in 4th gear and still able to pull but the pace is slow no chain snatch or knocking. On Shine I was able to go as low as 15km/hr (below that I did not try) in 4th gear and the bike still pulls easily (much easier than Edge). The surprise came while climbing up Pirangut Ghat. The bike was pulling up the Ghat nicely in 4th right along with few other bikes and Edge then we all have to slow down due to a slow climbing truck, could see all the bikes shifting at least 1-2 gears down to keep up with the slow pace of truck and then pass it when we got the space but me on Shine did not require to shift any gear, yes the get away was slower (no chain snatch or knocking) than the other bikes but they all were either in 2nd or 3rd gear whereas I was in 4th gear. One day I would love to climb up Khandala and Khambatki Ghats on Shine.

No idea about the mileage of Shine, have only being able to put Edge through rounds of mileage testing. Also having not ridden Shine in night can not compare the head light beam quality of the two bikes.

Another good thing about Edge is its front mudguard design. When riding in rain or over wet surface, front mudguard of other bikes (including Shine) will start to throw a spray onto the legs and pants of the rider. No such signs on the Edge. Rode the bike for over a month in rains and many times over wet roads (with no rains) and not once my legs or pants got dirty by the spray.

Victor Edge: 4 Stroke, Single cylinder, 2 Valve per Cylinder, Air Cooled, Single Over Head Cam. 124.86cc, 54.5×53.5, 9.3:1, 9.3PS @ 7000rpm, 9.9Nm @ 4000rpm.
Honda Shine: 4 Stroke, Single cylinder, 2 Valve per Cylinder, Air Cooled, Single Over Head Cam. 124.60cc, 52.4×57.9, 9.2+/-0.2:1, 10.4PS @ 7500rpm, 10.9Nm @ 5500rpm.

TVS Edge
: 1993×710×1107(L x W x H), 185 (GC), 1240 (WB), 117kg (Kerb Weight), 11.5lt Fuel Tank.
Honda Shine: 2015×730×1070(L x W x H), 175 (GC), 1265 (WB), 118kg (Kerb Weight), 11lt Fuel Tank.

TVS Edge
: Telescopic forks (Front), Double Sided rectangular swingarm, twin-gas charged shock absorbers (Rear).
Honda Shine: Telescopic forks (Front), Tabular swingarm, Hydraulic shocks (Rear).

TVS Edge
: 1.6×17 Front & 1.85×18 Rear (5 Spoke Al Alloy) OR 1.6×18 Front & 1.85×18 Rear (Wire Spoke) rims, 90×90/17 Front & 3.00×18 Rear (5 Spoke Al Alloy) OR 2.75/18 Front & 3.00×18 Rear (Wire spoke) tyres.

Honda Shine: 1.6×18 Front & 1.6×18 Rear (Wire Spoke) rims, 2.75/18 Front & 3.00×18 Rear (Wire spoke) tyres.

TVS Edge
: 240mm Disc OR 130mm Drum (Front), 130mm Drum (Rear).
Honda Shine: 240mm Disc OR 130mm Drum (Front), 130mm Drum (Rear).

So in the end, which bike do I recommend? Well none of the bike is exceptionally good than the other in any category. Both of them has some areas which can be improved upon. So ride both the bikes and pick up the one that suites your taste.