A motorcycle is a motorcycle, it is ridden by using a gear-shifter on the left and rear brake at the right with a handlebar to steer it. Fair enough! But, it is time now people start considering other aspects that set motorcycles apart, give them different personalities. You don’t deal with every person you know in your life with the same mannerism, do you? Similarly, motorcycles too need to be treated according to their personalities. For example, if you suddenly go full throttle on a Bullet 500, I reckon you’ll be alright, however you do that on a Suzuki GSXR1000, it will actively try to kill you.
Point is, the Indian motorcycle market has not had big motorcycles, we all turn our heads to look at, since very long. It is only recently that a sudden surge in performance motorcycles has taken over. Massive power figures have not been a part of our motorcycling appetite.
Someone who has just passed out from college, and was genius enough to land himself a Rs 25 lakh package, may want to revisit the passion he had for motorcycles as a child. Now, this man rode a Pulsar 180 in college, and now that he has money, he buys himself, a Kawasaki Z900. Not to say that things will definitely end in a catastrophe, but the percentage will be a lot higher – say 70 to 80% higher.
It was in 2007 when Hero Honda launched the Karizma, which was considered a very cool looking, powerful machine. Back then Karizma owners gawped at rare sightings of Yamaha R1s and Honda CBR1000s from a distance. Litre-class motorcycles were a thing for the elite. And they still are. But then, there are now multitudinous options in other segments – sub 500cc, 650cc, 800cc.
About four to five years ago, there were three motorcycles – Kawasaki Ninja 250R Honda CBR 250 R and KTM 200 Duke in our market, but now the CBR 250 R and 200 Duke are accompanied by KTM 250 Duke, Kawasaki Z250, Yamaha FZ25. Moving slightly higher, there is Kawasaki Ninja 300, and TVS and BMW Motorrad plan to launch their 300cc motorcycles too. This is only about 250-300cc bikes, our market is now littered with motorcycles in any displacement to ask for.
Graduation in moving on to bigger displacement engines may be a life saving decision. An experienced rider will never have a crash, will never fall from a bike, this is also a widely believed notion that needs to be dealt with. Falling off a bike is inevitable – it has two-wheels, what do you expect! Guy Martin and Valentino Rossi crash too, but that’s because they push the motorcycles to the limit humanly and mechanically possible, a limit most of us are far away from. This limit is shorter for someone who has no or less experience with fast motorcycles.
A Bullet 500 will take well over 10 seconds to do 0-100 kmph, a Bajaj Dominar 400 will do it in 8-9 seconds, the CBR 250 R will do it in 5-6 seconds, a CBR 650F will take under 4 seconds, a Z900 will need a little over 3 seconds and a GSX-R1000 does it in 2.5 seconds. With acceleration figures like these, your reflexes need to be calibrated accordingly, which will only happen if the move from the 10-second motorcycle to a 3-second bike is made gradually.
If you currently own a TVS RTR 200, and need a move on, buy a 390 Duke. If you already have a 390cc bike and are looking for an upgrade, buy a CBR 650F. Bringing home a litre class motorcycle straight away could end in catastrophe. Invest heavily in protection gear, it is as important as engine oil in your bike. Respect your motorcycle, I could make my point clearer if I had a picture of that boy I saw riding a Yamaha R1 in slippers and goggles through a crowded marketplace!