Sunday, October 08, 2006

Time for a new set of wheels

After six years and over 1,00,000 gruelling kilometers, my Fiero is finally showing signs of wearing. The electricals seem to have a mind of their own. The chain and sprocket play dandiya while I ride. The engine seems tired and not very eager to go. The chasis is rusting from the outside. Well, all this despite spending a cool 5,000 bucks on maintenance just in June. When you find yourself spending more money on the bike's maintenance than it's fuel, it is official. It's time for a replacement. If I had it my way, I would give a twelve-gun salute for the kind of service she's given me before turning her into the scrap yard. But unfortunately or not, I see that she can easily run another 25,000 kms before going on life support. And moreover, my panwallah seems ever interested to have her. At least he'll have her riding on his daily rounds rather than his ancient BSA cycle.

So that being said, comes the question- what replacement? Going for anything less than 150cc would be a downgrade and no fun to drive. I'm not the mileage-conscious kinds. Haven't checked the Fiero's fuel efficiency in the last four years. And so I set my target segment as 150cc and above. And in this segment, I shortlist (in no specific order):

(a) Pulsar-150 v2 (with alloys)
(b) Pulsar-180 UG3 (with LED tail lights & digital speedo)
(c) Honda Unicorn
(d) Bullet Electra 350 (with electric start & disc brakes)
(e) TVS Apache
(f) Hero Honda Karizma

The Pulsar twins go straight out, thanks to their short-stroke, high-revving engines. In my opinion, the Pulsars sound like someone put a 50 paise coin in a tin can and shook it violently! Buying a Pulsar would be joining the rat race. Besides, there are more Pulsars in Mumbai than rats!

The Honda Unicorn with its docile looks and silky-smooth powerplant makes for a delectable option. However, with its poor build quality, cheap quality plastics, and bad service, one tends to think twice about a Unicorn. And so did I. Adios, amigos, my friend!

Many of my friends who own Bullets have suggested to me that I grab the opportunity and a bike for life - The Royal Enfield Bullet. The Electra or any other bike from the RE stable fails to impress me. Besides a huge displacement, these bikes have nothing spectacular. They do not perform as good as other bikes in their category nor do they use fuel frugally. However royal the name seems, these World War II technology monsters are only good for the Bullet Experience, for whatever that means! If I spent 87k on an Electra, I'd also be probably trying to convince myself about the ownership experience of a Bullet rather than its 0-60 times and top speed, let alone fuel efficiency. Premium pricing for a machine selling on pure goodwill!

The TVS Apache, rightly fits its tag line - It's now or never! I have to buy a new bike. It's now or never! With its super sexy looks, black alloys, and gas shocks, Apache is a formidable choice. Further strengthening the Apache's hold is the same, reliable Fiero engine - albiet a little more refined and more powerful. For once, TVS has got it's design and engine spot on! No wonder Apache become my first choice and it already is. Tarun already has a black Apache and having another one under the same roof makes no practical sense.

So finally everything boils down to the Karizma. Being Hero Honda's only long stroke, unstressed engine, the Karizma makes a whopping 17bhp at just 7000 rpm. With oodles of low-end torque and a maximum torque of 18.35nm @ 6000 rpm, the Karizma comes across as a no-non-sense, reliable, long term performer. The Pulsar 180 might be just half a bhp behind. But as they say, there is no replacement for displacement! Priced at 81,475 (OTR, Vashi), the Karizma does burn a big hole into my pocket! With a maximum expectable fuel effiency of just 35 kmpl, the Karizma is sure to demand a lot of pampering. But as they say, everything comes at a price. Currently, no other bike fits my bill. How I wish they began producing the good old Fiero again.

Ideas, anyone?


At 11:36 PM, Anonymous jedi said...

figure out for what u want a bike. if its for city riding and speed bursts down palm beach road, pick any bike. the new cbz 225 or the bajaj 225 are due anytime soon. if ur serious about touring, then a modified pulsar 180 or the karizma are good bets. but serious serious touring, nothing can beat the enfields. trust me. have done 760 kms in one day and am none the worse. try doing that on any of ur 'other' bikes. as for braking, with the discs, the new REs can match any of the 100-225 cc bikes. and i love watching the other bikes move aside when i stand at a signal :D

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous jedi said...

oi. fazer 250 is due to be out soon.
around70-80k i think.

At 1:16 AM, Blogger mErCuRiAn said...

@jedi: Thanks man! I think my primary use for the bike would be commuting in the city. Having good power at my fingergrips will help surge my adrenalin when needed. As for touring, don't think I'm gonna do a Ladakh, Hyderabad or even a Goa! Maximum I'd go is Lonavala/Pune.

Also, the CBZ Xtreme turns out to be another piddly 150 to replace the HH Acheiver!

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Vivek said...

Nice to know you like cats. Get a real bike, not some Pulizmapacorn. BTW I ride an RD.

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