Wednesday, July 20, 2011
MOTORCYCLES.......All the way....
The first thing that comes to your mind( or rather anybody’s mind) when it come to Motor cycles are mean machines trying to rev hard where ever possible but very few people realize that this has been a wonderful creation by man and a giant leap in the history of mankind.
THE EMERGENCE OF MOTORCYCLES
In order to discuss the present day scenario, we need to know few bits and pieces of Motorcycling History. Present day Motor cycles are descendents of the cycles, was even termed as the “ safest” cycles by few Automobile historians. The inspiration for the earliest dirt bike, and arguably the first motorcycle, was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Bad Cannstatt (since 1905 a city district of Stuttgart) in 1885. The first petroleum-powered vehicle, it was essentially a motorized bicycle, although the inventors called their invention the Reitwagen ("riding carriage"). They had not set out to create a vehicle form but to build a simple carriage for the engine, which was the focus of their endeavors.
However, if one counts two wheels with steam propulsion as being a motorcycle, then the first one may have been American. One such machine was demonstrated at fairs and circuses in the eastern United States in 1867, built by Sylvester Howard Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts. There exists an example of a Roper machine dating from 1869, but there is no patent existing and nothing proves it was a working model. It was powered by a charcoal-fired two-cylinder engine, whose connecting rods directly drive a crank on the rear wheel.
THE NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT
By early 1900 the World War had its greater impact on the science and technology sector with every country pouring in millions of dollars towards development of bigger and meaner machines. Once they found out that when this big machines could not be useful in difficult terrains, they were restricted to use smaller machines to ferry men and ammunition. That is when Companies like the ROYAL ENFIELD,TRIUMPH and HARLEY DAVIDSON came into picture.
In 1901 English quadricycle and bicycle maker Royal Enfield introduced its first motorcycle, with a 239 cc engine mounted in the front and driving the rear wheel through a belt. In 1898, English bicycle maker Triumph decided to extend its focus to include motorcycles, and by 1902, the company had produced its first motorcycle—a bicycle fitted with a Belgian-built engine. In 1903, as Triumph's motorcycle sales topped 500, the American company Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles.This period was very critical in the development of motorcycles. The demand for such machines to be used in wars shot up to an all time high. There were around 80 different motorcycle manufacturers in Britain alone during the late 1920’s and early 30’s. One of the greatest innovations were the 125cc motor cycles manufactured by Royal Enfield which could be dropped by a fast flying aircraft to the ground using a parachute fitted tube cage. BY now the automobile companies started catering not only to the armed forces but also civilian population.
MOTORCYCE FOR THE COMMON MAN
The motorcycle market was timed spot on for the baby boomer generation. In 1944-46, servicemen (and women) were returning from World War II and has a thirst for life and living and wanted to do more than settle down. Motorcycles were popular in WWII and people wanted to try them, and they did and they sold in good numbers. But it was not untill the 1960's when their kids grew up that motorcycling took off like a rocket. 1962 argueably the most famous and successful motorcycle campaign was launched on earth from Honda and it changed everything. The “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ads took North America by storm! In just 3 years (1965), the number of registered motorcycle doubled, 5 years later (1970) doubled again, and 5 more years in 1975 doubled again! From 646,000 to 5 million in just over 10 years, thank you Honda!
So to fully understand the BUST you need to understand the BOOM. For argument sake the average motorcycle buyer in 1962 was 16-18 years old, they were happy with the cheap 50-450cc motorcycles of the time. Roads were being expanded on a massive scale across the world as years propressed. They gained riding experience and wanted to go faster and futher than the small bikes would let them. So they moved up to larger motorcycles as they grew older such as the 1969 Honda CB750K (750cc) and thus sales increased again. As the 1970's were here, even larger and more specialized motorcycles were produced and again they bought. Standard motorcycled ruled the earth.
MOTORCYCLING AS A SPORT
With the competition for building faster, stronger and reliable machines, lead to a new clan of motorcycle enthusiasts, developing a new sport of “Motorcycle Racing”. Post World War II, it gained immense popularity among the American crowd. On the other hand European companies concentrated on economical, reliable and practical means of two wheeler transportation. The term used for such sports was “Rallying”. A road rally is a navigation event on public roads whereby competitors must visit a number of checkpoints in diverse geographical locations while still obeying road traffic laws .The sport gained more forms over a passage of time, which are more evident to this present day.
In a other part of the world, just recovering from the fury of Atomic explosions, made its mark on the two wheeler arena. Japanese automobile manufacturer, HONDA,Yamaha and Kawasaki made a dominant entry against the European and American rivals. The concept of making powerful machines with a lower cost was an immediate success. The Japanese manufacturers became a house hold name around the world.
THE DECLINE AND ASCENT OF MOTORCYCLESUnfortunately, as the 1970's grew to a close the motorcycle industry was suffering as sales dropped drastically. Those 16-18 year olds in 1962 were now wanting to start families, settle down and raise their own kids. Their spirit of adventure was put on the back burner. They stopped buying and Motorcycle manufacturers started to panic. Motorcycle magazines from the time (1979-1983) and manufacturers didn't know the cause (we do today) and it was spelling DOOM for the motorcycle industry. The manufacturers even tried new designs such as the Cruiser, Tourer and Sport Bike, but few were listening. New motorcycles sat on the sales floor for years, dealerships didn't want to order more because they couldn't sell what they had already (even with very steep discounts). The manufacturers needed to sell what they had too many of and discounted new motorcyles lower than the previous year(s) models. It was bad...
That is why it is hard to find a good used 1980-1988 motorcycle.
THE DARK SIDE OF MOTORCYCLING
With the Harleys, Hondas, Yamahas etc …. Ruling the motorcycle arena was a great contribution to criminal activities. Brands like Harley(mainly in the US) and Yamaha(of the RD fame here in India) became synonymous with criminal activities. There were a lot of incidents like drug trafficking, Robbery, Murders and the like involving motorcycles. The law enforcement agencies had a tough time tracking these Biker gangs. There came a stage where many biking groups were termed as an anti social group.
THE PRESENT DAY MOTORCYCYCLISTS AND MOTORCYCLE.
Motorcycles and motorcyclists have come a long way. The present day motorcyclists, more knowledgeable, more responsible sees motorcycles more than just a mode of transportation. Also, the manufacturers have started analyzing the customers priorities and preferences which would help them design the vehicle accordingly. The motorcycle arena worldwide has been instrumental in breaking the socio economic barriers worldwide.Now we have Doctors,engineers,Teachers,Artists who share their passion for motorcycling, unlike the criminal biking gangs of yesteryears.
With the decline in availability of conventional fuel, manufacturers are looking out for alternative sources like bio fuel, solar powered, Electricity etc….But the widespread usage of such inputs might be a distant future, though developments are on the way. The near future can witness motorcycle operating on a hybrid system. With the present scene, it would be very difficult to imagine how would be scene around 20years from now.
With factual inputs from
Monday, July 18, 2011
It had been almost a year and a half since i had been to Nandi hills , though its a short distance from Bangalore. Had no plans of riding till Praful asked if anybody willing to ride with him on a Saturday. The initial plan was to ride to Nandi hills on a afternoon, be there till the sunset and head back. But going by the rains hitting bangalore over the past few days, we were very sure that the sunset part was not gonna happen. When asked Praful, how about a morning ride , he was busy with some "Minor Service" that had to be done on his machine.Asked Gautham if he was willing to join on his ZMR.Within a matter of few seconds i get a reply "Roger that ,meeting place and time".Then came the idea of some for hunting in the twisties, as it had been a long time since i enjoyed them. So told Praful that i am gonna meet him directly at Nandi sometime in the afternoon. After sometime I get a call from Tejas saying he wanted to join us for the ride to Nandi but would confirm his prescence by the night. We also had some chat about the "DABUGALI" which he had done the week prior to this. I was having a good feeling to ride with Praful and Tejas. These guys are dammgood on the twisties. Had a wonderful ride with them during the Munnar ride earlier this year.
So, there were two groups riding to Nandi on the same day :) One[me,gautham and( hopefully) Tejas] and Two[Praful,Keshav,Mohan,Prajwal,Akshay and Ronak]
Ride day :
Had set the alarm at 4:00 but god knows what happened , didnt wake me up at all.Got a wake up call from Gautham at 5.15 saying he was about to leave from his place. I have a look at the time and in a jiffy get ready and get going. Met him at the meeting place( Esteem mall) , with out even switching off the engine to greet each other. Tejas couldnt join us for the day. The whether was brilliant for a ride. stopped at an ATM to draw cash and reached the top at around 6.15. The visibility was around 15mts. Was shocked to see the parking lot filled. Had few cups of Tea and time for some snaps.
It was so foggy that I missed out on the waterhole on top of Nandi. Climbed up ,had breakfast ( which has now become expensive up there). But the good part was the garbage thrown by tourists were all cleared and dumped in another place( which was not so good part). After spending some time clicking pics , we thought we enjoy the twisties again and have few snaps. Stopped by Curve 37, which seemed to be good place for the snaps. Here are a few of them :
When we started riding down to the base, we saw Gautham's brother climbing up with his cycling buddies.
When he was taking the pics , i ran all the way to the bottom for this:
Later we stopped at a small shack for some chai and eateries , to our luck , they served maggi and few other stuff to fill our belly. We spent sometime for the wolf pack to arrive. In the rains ,they come fully drenched, with not even a single guy complaining about getting wet. We have some more chai waiting for the 200-R15 duo(read prajwal and Akshay). Not bothering about the rains we start climbing again, for me fourth set for the day :) .As soon as we cross curve 38,its almost zero visiblity.
Here are a few pics after reaching the top.
Now comes the "TOO GOOD" part of the ride.We climb down till the big left hander, and see praful leading for the off roading patch. Gautham bids good bye to us as he was getting calls from his house for some work. It starts raining cats and dogs , but we dont stop , we reach the first section on the track and Praful asks whether we want to continue furthur. With not even a single comment , we rev the machines to the most difficult part of today's ride. About the experience , i will let the pics do the talking .
Only the three pulsars made it to the top :) By now water had started to flow like a small stream.With tummies burning for some fuel, we left the place for "U.P.Dhabha" on NH7. Gifted the stomachs with some good food and left the place around 7.The ususal Airport road traffic didn't cause much of a hinderance.as all of us reached home by around 9.
I am bored of telling "THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST RIDES I HAVE HAD I SOME TIME". With each ride , you experience something new ,in process learn something new as well
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Here is a guy,who rides a rainbow colored bike,by rainbow colored i mean a bike with such distinctive colors that it cannot be mistaken from miles away.Basically from Vietnam, yet he joins us for Independence day and republic day rides with due respect for the Indian flag in front of him. A very humble guy, a better biker is leaving for his home country ,with a possibility that he might not return to India.So today we ride with him for one last day.Destination Kanva Dam.
For those of you who dont know Eric, Here is is.........
So we planned to meet up at the regular place on SH17.As usual some people early, some people late.While having a chit chat, all the eye balls popped when these two guys arrived .......
Later we ride down to Kamath Lokaruchi .For some one who wants to have a heavy sunday breakfast,Then this is the place you got to head to. With tummies full and a small photoshoot we head to Kanva Reservoir .Some pics from the Kamath Photoshoot
On reaching Kanva, we park our bikes by the water's edge and start taking few pics.If the the destination is a waterspot ,then is time for some water-splash:) Now the shutter bags take out their priced possession to work bringing out fabulous results.
Later we form a circle, introduce each other as there were a lot of people whom we met for the first time.Was able to fix some faces to the names always heard in the virtual world.Also it was fun catching up with old pals after a long time.
Later we the place with some good memories and be back home by noon."Eric: You will be missed buddy"