Thursday 15 November 2012

Vintage Motorcycling Posters

While surfing online (for no apparent reason..oh it started with my search for new set of tyres for my bike) I came across these two retro posters, which I liked so much that it would be mean of me not to mention it in my motorcycle journal. Well mind you, the first one you might find interesting, but I had to get a prior approval before posting it:)

"Love is the feeling you get when you like something as much as your motorcycle."

This picture depicts my childhood dream to own such a garage where I have all my tools and more importantly I get to use in on my motorcycle. So this poster will be a reminder to work towards making my dream come true.

I wish I could get my hands on a hardcopy of these posters to put on my walls.

Sharing makes the world a better place,

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Royal Enfield Wheels - 19" or 18"

While looking online for new set of shoes (read tyres) for my Enfield, came across this ad in

A year and half back when I was digging online forums before buying a Classic 500, I had come across this news, but got suppressed as sales were high and definitely as a owner you just can't keep talking about a design flaw which can't be changed in any way. But I got the hint that the classy design was not a result of a thoroughly tested prototype, it was rather a cosmetic re-innovation, which somehow worked. Nevertheless Classic 500/350 is a good bike, especially as it carries Royal Enfield DNA. And it's great to know that it can be stabilised by using bigger wheel size.

Personally am happy to know that 19 inc rim size has it's own advantages, which soothes the pain caused while trying to find a set of decent tyres. Speaking of which I come back to the point I was writing this post. Yep am looking for good (*subjective*) tyres and will post as I find some good options in Bangalore or online.

Keep Checking Back,

Happy Diwali 2012 to All Bikers:)

Hi Folks,

Officially Diwali was celebrated yesterday, but hearing the Booms, Bangs and Dhooooms outside my building in Bangalore I can't tell for sure that it has gotten over for all yet:D Anyways belated Happy Diwali and hope all of you had a great time with family and friends.

I had an invitation for Dinner and chose to take my shining Enfield out for a short spin on the Diwali night:)

[Note: Nothing adventurous here, the distance travelled is roughly 500 meters and had to go through a wide main road. Otherwise I personally wouldn't recommend anyone riding a bike in India on a Diwali night, considering the fireworks happening on the streets.]

Photo Courtesy:

Best Wishes,

Sunday 11 November 2012

Moto Guzzi California 1400

I kinda like this bike:) Not sure if there is enough leg space with the V-twin engines popping out laterally.

Here is some info I could get from Wikipedia on this breed:

The Moto Guzzi California (aka Cali) is a motorcycle manufactured by Italian company Moto Guzzi since 1971, bringing together the company's heritage, their iconic air-cooled 90° V-twin engines and styling that evokes the classic American Cruiser motorcycle.

At its introduction, the California was part of a trio of motorcycles that included the Special, California and Ambassador and was based on a model sold to the Los Angeles police department. The bike features a standard seating position, footboards, heel-and-toe gearshift, and linked Brembo brakes.

Here is a news update from Telegraph UK on the launch of California 1400:

And then upon a bit more search came across this new talking about a Cali 1400 prototype a year back:

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Royal Enfield Branded Gear

Hi there,
Today am not in my usual energy levels. For obvious reasons, like I got this not-sure-where-I-got-it-from feverish feeling. Glad yesterday's throat ache is gone:) Feel better now to write this post. So my day started late at around 2pm when I decided to step out for lunch, as well as had to get that rear grab bar fitted, which was removed while putting on the new saddle. Got that done n had a good lunch. Damn that weak feeling we get, and haven't actually got fever yet, that is something I really don't like much. So just to keep myself out of home (literally and on purpose) thought of accompanying my neighbour (another enfield owner dude) to shop for some motorcycle accessories. But that plan didn't work out. So instead of heading home, I though of dropping in to 'Royal Enfield Brand Store' which is located in Jayanagar 9th Block (next to East-End bus stop), just before taking the flyover on the left hand side of the road.

RE Brand Store at Jayanagar East-End, Bangalore (South)

I wanted to know if they have any RE branded accessories, as I couldn't find anything online (even discussion forums discuss this as a ghost topic. Some say they have seen it, yet no official trace online.). Anyway, so I thought of giving it a try and just rolled into the sub-lane next to the showroom to park my bike. Much to my surprise, on the side lane there was this fleet of new Thunderbirds (both 500s and 350s) lined up, for servicing I guess. From the rear tale light it looks futuristic. Quality of build looks good. Not sure what path of evolution RE is walking at the moment, but I hope it's all for good. After having a good view of this cruiser I stepped on to the glass walled showroom floor. A medium size high ceiling hall with around 10-15 bikes on display, not to mention all with UCE types. So glad that I still have 'The Real Kind' CI engine:D Anyway, let's save that UCE vs CI discussion for another day. After scanning the floor I could only see few helmets in the corner. So thought may be that's it. But slowly as the crowd in front of me dissolved I could see a tiny corner of the floor holding racks and some leather jackets and tees on display. I just walked straight into the corner to have a better look at what we have at hand here. Here all the list of stuff they had:
  • Leather Riding Jacket
  • Nylon Riding Jacket (with Mesh)
  • Leather Casual Jacket
  • Riding Shoes (High Ankle and normal)
  • Round neck t-shirts(Black,Yellow,Burnt Orange)
  • Polo Shirts (White,Gray,umm one more colour I don't remember)
  • Full Face AGV Helmet with MLG (Made Like A Gun) stickers (glossy white and matte black)
  • Retro Half Face AGV Helmets (RE branding)
  • Buff (a multi-purpose piece of cloth. Can be used as a muffler or bandana, etc )
  • A multi-purpose riding glass with accessory set (ear clip, strap, etc)

Well having been to and shopped at the best motorcycling brands(Dainese, Alpinestars, Hein Gerike, you name it) in UK, I could tell the products are overpriced. Which is to some extent expected. Indian buyers mentality is 'if it's cheap it ain't good'. To some extent it's true as well, as ideally the cost shows the effort and quality that must have gone into the product. But whatever the case until the quality part of the accessories are prove, I find the stuff pricey. However I ended up picking up a tee for 1k:) They gave me a catalogue for 2012-13 RE branded gear (all that was there in the showroom). The regular size riding shoes was 5999 INR (I guess), which I would think twice before spending, as RE has no expertise with shoe making for sure and there is no other sign of the manufacturer I could see whom I know. Well other than the tee, I liked the full face helmets, and may pick one later sometime. Helmets inner liner was nice and had a brown leather finish. Seems like it'll be quite comfy to wear. Cost was close to 5k. Well it just stays in my wish-list till then. Had a chat with the kid at the counter and got to know, it's only since last october they got these stuff for sale. RE may introduce some more products in it's catalogue in the coming months, after seeing the market response. Good to hear that. So I picked up the tee and rolled out like a happy camper:) Hope u ppl had a good read and some of you might already be ogling over the pics below;)

Happy to help,

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Bullet Mod - Customised Stock Seat

This is a quick update. I was fiddling around with the idea of a split seat for a while, but was not able to finalise one. As I have shifted my focus to the maintenance side lately (remember Zen.. ), I though of getting the existing seat re-conditioned (replacing the sponge n stuff). Upon a visit to a seat maker, got to know that the seat base is pretty rusted and it's not a wise idea to spend money on that. After seeing the amount of rust under the seat, I decided to get the base plate replaced with a new one. A new Electra seat (with cushion and cover) costs 1300 bucks (I guess). I wanted the contours to be customised, so decided to do the following:

1. Get a new base plate
2. Get the seat built from scratch (or modify a stock base foam layer)
3. Customise the contour as per my requirements
4. Select a good skin (rexine)
[5]. Pick a set of split seats later [optional]

I got it done today after office. Here are some pics taken during the make over and few after it's complete:

just after the seat is removed. It's dust on chrome. It was looking great after a bit of wiping with a cloth, but alas my mob battery was drained out by then, to take any pictures.

I loved the way the bike looks here. I could think of a custom bobber or (The) Indian type custom built ride based on this frame. Or simply a set of retro styled leather split seats may be;)

Side View: You can notice the contour I was talking about. The level from the front goes like: Mid High > Too Low > Too High.

If you hadn't noticed, the chrome rim(they call it bead I guess) which was around the seat is removed now. It was nice of that fellow to put a leather/rexine trim around the seat, which is subtle yet looks quite nice. I think I have seen such a thing on older Royal Enfields.

I picked a dimple textured rexine which was quite thick and soft. It feels great to touch, compared to the smooth black rexine that the bike had earlier.

Rear grab bar is removed as it's height is falling short due to the heightened rear seat cushioning.

The seat looks awesome and feels good too. Though not too soft compared to the old seat. However, thats a good sign considering after some use it is expected to soften more. This whole thing did cost me 1350 INR (roughly 25 US$ in current exchange rate of 54 rupee/$).  I will need that grab bar to pull the bike off parking or from any low ground, so will check out at the Bullet Accessory Shop in the coming weekend. 

Now as the new seat is in place, I think I should do a long ride to test it. You must be thinking I just need a reason to ride!! bet;)

Ride Safe n Ride Far,

Tuesday 6 November 2012

My Meeting with 'Zen of Royal Enfields'

After a long time I am feeling relatively free from my usual work clutter and hence bit in a mood to write. So this post is gonna be a wordy one. To make it interesting for you all, I will tell it in the form of a story. Don't yawn as yet, you would like it. You can grab a cup of coffee/tea or horlicks, whatever suits your style of reading. Well then here it goes..

The story starts in one of the corporate office buildings located in the city of Bristol, south-west England. There was this guy, who was on a call for quite sometime. Such calls are pretty common considering the type of job he had, which required him to interact with his team back in India on a daily basis. But this time it was different. This time it sounded more like an aggressive sales negotiation, where in there was lot of pitching happening from the guy's side to sell an idea to the person on other side. Well the item under discussion was the (then expected) Hyosung GT250R and the person the idea being attempted to be sold was my dad:) Now it doesn't take a genius to know who must be attempting the sale;)

Well  It's obvious no parents (especially in India) would prefer their kids to be riding a sports-bike, that too when the concepts and the need for such a thing (A Sports Bike) is still un-explainable (by us) to majority of population (a.k.a parents) in the country. Before you jump to conclusion, that whether the sale was made that day, lemme tell ya...Sid never lost a negotiation. ever! (ahem well except for the gazillion exceptions when the conversation went else where. Lollzzz) Well, coming back to the story, I was considering my return to India and I was looking forward to getting a bike for my touring as well as day to day commute to office (I enjoy this thoroughly).

[Flashback: Till couple of years back I was pretty obstinate and dad  used to resist every idea of mine, especially when it has to do with motorcycles. Due to obvious reasons of course. But during my last ride (check my older posts on this blog) finally dad realised that I am no more wanna-be-rossi types on the road and rather have become a matured and sensible rider, with an immense passion for motorcycle touring. I consider this as a  great breakthrough in my life.]

So I was checking for bikes about to be launched in India and if any of those catch my fancy and more importantly suit my purpose (i.e. of touring in India). To give you an idea of what kind of a buyer I am, let me tell you this, if a bike is having too much sales, no matter how great a deal it is, chances are that I may give it a pass. Herd attitude ain't my thing. No offence to anyone as I say this. I like customisation, I like uniqueness in a product I don't give a damn about any trend! So I was scanning the web reading reviews and was closing in, on few (rather very few) bikes and GT250R topping that list. But my conscience pricked me when I thought of the places that I have already been to and how much this fully covered sports oriented bike can take me. Think of off-roading, think of riding on sand, think of river crossing (yep have done all these and know that if you really are a wanderer you gotta experience 'em all!), etc. So the only reason I was sharing my thoughts (that sales pitch described earlier) with dad was to know his opinion. But as he heard the term *sports* he started changing the topic and my obstinate nature kicked-in and I started defending 'sports genre' itself. After calming down a bit, dad told that he is planning to change his ride as well. I didn't know this, so this update just caught me off guard a bit and I started listening calmly. He was thinking about it for a while, as he has decided to move to a lighter vehicle for health reasons and I completely understand that. So he may sell off the Enfield Electra 5s that he has. Now this was a shock for me, as I loved that bike so very much. It had that classic cast iron mill which now we can't get our hands on through any showrooms. Again if dad has used a bike during it's run-in period I could bet the whole world that it is one of the best maintained machines (I was never so appreciative of this skill of dad, till I owned a bike myself). So I suggested dad 'lets keep that bike in our garage' and you go for a non-geared one as you may like. I will ride that whenever I come home. He said no it's not a good idea, if it has to be kept in a good condition it must be ridden regularly, else it's better off at someone else's parking lot. No way! I had done few trips on that and I just love the way it used to feel. I knew it was my call now, wait and buy a new bike (GT was out of question at this moment, as I was sure that won't be able to go places that I wish to go) or bring the Bullet from home. Finally I decided to bring this beast with me, when I return. This time dad won, and I was happy having to keep dad's bullet:) Such losses are sweetest when the other party is close to your heart and you end up with goodies:D

Deep down I knew I wanted to own a Bullet, but my last experience of test riding the Classic 500, was what, was making me look away from Enfields. To tell you about my test ride experience in brief C5 was powerful indeed and it went from 0-60 in say 3-4 secs. Considering the fact that it's not designed not meant to be a sports bike, you can imagine the power that it has. didn't feel like an enfield. Not to me at least. So instead of booking the bike I came back home confused  or rather bit upset that I will not get to buy an Enfield which always had caught my fancy as a kid as well as when I was riding other bikes. But after this perception that I built about the new breed of Bullets, I just parked the thought of buying one, at least not a new one.

If you are passionate about motorcycling like me, I need not tell you how we (gearheads) build our lifestyle around our interest. I used to have a CBZ (original 2002 model) and it had subtle hint towards being a street fighter. But now I was  going to have a retro bike (Enfield, what else!) in hand, so I had to redo the thinking of the possibility of customisation and what clothes and accessories will go with it, etc etc. You know what I mean. After this initial rush of adrenaline, something interesting came to my mind. Let me tell you, it was another childhood dream of mine. I always dreamed of maintaining my bike, but not sure why during my 6 years ownership of the CBZ, I really never got my hands dirty. Initial years it was Castrol Bike Zone and later it was at Fyaz's Garage. Both these parties did such an excellent job at maintaining it that I never really felt inclined to check it myself. But now there was a huge opportunity as Bullet is kinda old school and if you are a geek (like I have been), the moment you see it you know it's calling you to pick up the tools. But it's been years since I last did anything on a bike, other than riding and wiping it with a cloth. So I just put this idea of tinkering with the Bullet aside and continued with my work as usual. But as my days of return to India came closer I started looking for somebody who is good with Enfield and who can help me maintain it myself. I prefer riding alone or in smaller groups and knowing how to fix the bike scores real high on my book. Again I have come across the usual breed of Mechanics who know nothing about motorcycles other than hammering it, sharing some stupid a$$ logic which has no base and robbing you off your money stating technical faults in the bike which never existed. Well if you have owned a bike, you surely know what I am talking about here. For more visual idea of what I am talking about click here :D So I was very clear on the kinda person I was looking for. After few sleepless nights and non-stop web surfing I came across this video:

I knew there was something about this guy, may be it's his honesty which is evident in the video, his simplicity, his educational qualification or his passion for Bullets, that told me, that I gotta meet this guy once I am in Bangalore. With this thought I started focusing my search more on this guy and came across his site:

It was a long time since I learned something new and this page just woke up that kid in me who used to be all fired up about something interesting, something exciting, something he is going do with his new toy. I read up the whole site in two days:P But as fate had it could only get 50% of the details, as rest all were so technical (yes, so much so that even I couldn't grasp it in one read!) that I had to park that reading work until I meet this scientist and see his lab. Without delay I shot a mail to him asking if he still conducts the programs mentioned in the site. I was a bit sceptical, as the site layout was archaic and I was doubtful if the contents are up to date. Days went by and there was no reply, which made me to assume that the site is indeed old and the people and places described can now be called fictional with no relation to anything living or otherwise. Lollz I had few travel plans up my sleeve so I got busy and I  forgot about this whole thing. I came back to India, joined work in Bangalore and got the Bullet along and got busy with office. A month went by, one day I just saw that un-responded mail in my sent items and as I was in India, I though of trying out the mobile number on the site. my luck had it, no one picked up. So I parked the whole things and started looking for another such mechanic who can help me. After two days, I was in an Hotel for an event and I got a call, well it was ghost. As the name displayed on my BB screen was 'B R Gurunandan'. With surprise and bit of skepticism I picked the call and there was this familiar voice I had heard in that video. After a round of formal introduction we sort of hit it off. The call went on for one hour and we spoke about Royal Enfield motorcycles. You can tell when like minded people meet. Well it was one of such events. He told me that he is waiting for a set of such interested people to start a batch and would let me know when it happens. May in a month or two. I was in no hurry, as my work was pretty demanding those days and I needed some time to come out of it. So that call got over after some time and I went back to my work all happy and waiting for that date when a batch will start. Well I got that mail on October 25, asking details of the make and model of my Bullet and also on the location for the meet. The first meet was planned on 4th of November on a Sunday, which I attended. Best part of this whole experience was meeting Mr Gurunandan (or 'Nandan' as we call him now). I found him quite knowledgeable and an amazing person. His enthusiasm and eagerness to share (as well as to learn from others) is highly infectious. We met at his residence (shown in the video) and got to see his collection of Bullets kept in the hall. I got to meet many other Royal Enfield owners who share the same passion for motorcycling as well as for Bullets. It was a day well spent. I have decided to share  my learnings and experience on every session (possibly) with Mr Gurunandan here in this blog for all my biker buddies to learn from and enjoy.

Thank you for your time and patience to go through this story, I really admire your patience:) and more than that your interest in Motorcycling/Bullets that made you visit the blog. Keep coming for updates on our future Bulleteer's meet at Mr Gurunandan's residence.

So by now you must have understood that this story tells about how I met 'Zen' and the future posts of this series will talk about the 'The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. Which co-incidentally turned out to be one of the favourite books of Nandan.

Until next time..

You keep rolling,