Category Archives: automotive

Perils of Using the Hazard Light

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So, here I am in Jamshedpur, as my sister had broken her knee and needed to be operated on. During the course of helping out around the town, one of the requirements was to take her to the hospital and back. As the wound were still fresh, it meant that I had to drive the car very slowly. As per my knowledge I used to switch on the hazard lights to indicate the same so that I don’t hold up traffic unnecessarily. Here starts the dilemma.

Ever since I started using it, I found that either people had no idea why I was using it, or like in some cases people came up and even told me, “bhai sab, apka sara blinker ON hai”. I found it weird and surprising. What blew my top was when I saw someone else zip straight through a crossing with the hazard lights on. I was confused now. I came across my neighbour who had the explanation that you should use the ‘straight’ lights to indicate that you are going straight in a crossing. The explanation hit me flat on my face and I started wondering why someone would use the hazard light in this manner. I was trying to figure where they got this information from? It definitely wasn’t the motor training school. I soon found that most of them learnt the same by seeing others use it. This also highlighted the fact the most people who drive cars are actually not licensed legally. They get touts to get them their licenses’ without any training or tests. I can’t really blame them that they don’t know the basic rules. The administration, namely the traffic police are to blame.

I’m not sure if this issue is there in any other cities. I haven’t seen any in the metros but not really sure about the smaller cities. I wonder how one can get this awareness among people regarding basic road rules and vehicle usage.

I realized that not much could be done from my end and resorted to putting up print outs declaring that stated, “Patient On Board”.

Just to be sure of what is the actual use of the Hazard Lights, I dug up some information from a leading automotive lighting manufacturer. It stated the following:

Hazard flashers

Also called “hazards”, “hazard warning flashers”, “hazard warning lights”, “4-way flashers”, or simply “flashers”. International regulations require vehicles to be equipped with a control which, when activated, flashes the left and right directional signals, front and rear, all at the same time and in phase. This function is meant to indicate a hazard such as a vehicle stopped in or near moving traffic, a disabled vehicle, a vehicle moving substantially slower than the flow of traffic such as a truck climbing a steep grade, or the presence of stopped or slow traffic ahead on a high speed road. Sometimes, they are used in severe fog conditions. Operation of the hazard flashers must be from a control independent of the turn signal control, and an audiovisual tell-tale must be provided to the driver. In vehicles with a separate left and right green turn signal tell-tale on the dashboard, both left and right indicators may flash to provide visual indication of the hazard flashers’ operation. In vehicles with a single green turn signal tell-tale on the dashboard, a separate red tell-tale must be provided for hazard flasher indication. Because the hazard flasher function operates the vehicle’s left and right turn signals, a left or a right turn signal function cannot be provided while the hazard flashers are operating.

Bumblebee ~ Pulsar 200 NS ~ Calcutta to Jamshedpur

Bumblebee! That’s the first name that pops up in my head the moment I see the golden-yellow Pulsar 200 NS. The resemblance doesn’t end with the colour. If you look at the bike head on, the headlight looks very similar to the face of the Transformer’s character by the same name.

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I had been itching to test this offering from the Bajaj Auto team since it’s been launched. So, I pounced at the opportunity the moment my friend Talha, requested me to get his Pulsar 200 NS from Calcutta to Jamshedpur. His bike, which he christened as Zaira, had clocked around 3000 kms and just out of routine servicing when it got dropped at my end two days before the trip. I wanted to ride it around town to get used to the riding posture and also check the bike for any issues before the trip.

I have had a Pulsar 180 Classic, round head lights, steel rims, and the first model. I loved that bike a lot; however I was very disappointed with what Bajaj Auto had to offer all these years. When Bajaj launched the Pulsar 200 NS, I liked the fresh look and feel, however wasn’t really sure if the engine had much changes. On further probing found a lot of similarities between the 200 KTM Duke and the 200 NS. Even though the company officials might give you a twisted answer, we all could see where the lineage comes from.  This link got me interested, had the Bajaj Auto guys managed to find a way to offer the 200 Duke package in a cost-effective way. There is a difference of a little over 50K INR between the prices of the two.

Coming back on track, the first thing you would notice apart from the striking looks is the height of the bike. The rider seat is pretty high and I, at 5.8 feet, had just managed to keep both my feet on the ground while sitting on the bike. The seat is very comfy, both for the pillion and the rider. High seating is very similar to that of the Duke and also provides a good view of what’s ahead, especially in stop and go traffic. Really helps finding gaps to squeeze through. That brings me to the point of control. The upright seating and ergonomics make the bike very flick-able and cutting through traffic is a breeze. The bike is light weight at just 145 kgs, which is evident from a lot of fibre and plastics used for the cosmetics of the bike. It would also make it cheaper to replace in case of accidents.

Riding around Calcutta traffic was fun with good amount of torque at the twist of the throttle. Initially though I made the engine knock at low speeds, I noticed that the low-end torque was less compared to my regular bike. After some trial and error I found that the power delivery is evident post 4K on the RPM.  So, the trick was to keep the engine running above that to avoid knocks. The gear shifts are smooth, short and sweet. The clank and false neutrals of the primitive range of Pulsars’ are nowhere to be seen. Due to the traffic I really didn’t get the opportunity to open the throttle to get a feel of how fast it could go. That had to wait, till I hit the highways. I was still trying to figure where the 23.52 PS were hidden.

The digital meter console had the usual tell-tale lights and also a clock additionally. I found this a very useful feature. The ‘low fuel’ indicator is on the face scaring you to fill the tank with around 2 litres left in the tank. All the switch gears are highlighted with blue backlight, which makes it visible, even in the day. Apart from being functional, it sure is eye candy.

Till now the bike had kept me interested, with only a couple of things nagging me. The rear view mirrors are useless. It’s small, cumbersome to adjust for adequate rear view. In fact you can see everything, except the rear of the bike. The way it’s positioned, it’s honestly of no use. You have to adjust your head to get a hang of what’s behind you.  The tires … Bajaj Auto, I’m disappointed. I really wish you guys had given the MRF Revz at least. Sure, the tires are beefy at 100/80 -17 & 130/70 -17 at the front and the rear respectively. But it sure lacks the chipkoo feel of the Revz which come standard on the R15s. It’s like you have given the massive breaks to stop the bike, but what’s the use if you don’t have the tires to complement. ABS would have been a plus point in such cases though. I hope they at least add it as an option soon.

So, the next day I gear up and leave Calcutta at 4 AM. It’s dark and the head light is good, not great, mind you. It was good but not good enough. You can’t blame me when Bajaj has spoilt us with the projectors on the 220. I wonder why they chose to keep away from projectors on this offering.

The roads till Kharagpur (NH6) are amazing, part of the Golden Quadrilateral. I was trying to do this stretch of 130kms at the earliest to compensate on time that would be lost in the bad stretches beyond Kharagpur. The Pulsar 200 NS DID NOT let me down at all. It is a beast beyond 6K on the rpm. Cruising at 120kmph on the 6th gear, yes you read that right, this baby packs six gears to transfer all that power on to the wheels; So, cruising at 120kmph and you feel like overtaking something, there is no need to downshift, just twist the throttle and the surge you feel is exhilarating. I could now figure what they did with the triple spark plugs squeezed in the head of this engine. Each of them kicks in only when required. That, I believe, would also make it overall a more efficient engine. I obviously did not have any instruments to test the theory but the surge in power is evident at 4K & 6-7K on the RPM. It seems like the 2nd and the 3rd spark plugs kick in at these RPMs respectively. I had already touched 150kmph and it still felt like there is more to go. This beast is a hooligan and I was grinning all the way inside my helmet.

But Mother Nature had other plans, just 50kms away from Kharagpur and around 35 minutes from the starting point, I encountered heavy fog, speeds dropped to a mere 50kmph and by the time I was 35kmph from Kharagpur the fog was so thick that I had to stop. It was 5AM already, so waiting for the sun to rise was the best option.

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For people who know the route, the New Kolaghat Twin Bridge has been opened and now we no longer need to wait for the traffic jams to clear at the old bottle neck, the old rickety Kolaghat Bridge.

By 6AM I had crossed Kharagpur and left the Golden Quadrilateral heading to Baharagora, the border town between West Bengal & Jharkhand States. Now, it was time to test the Pulsar 200 NS’s competency on bad roads. The ground clearance was more than needed, at the only other time I have felt this comfy, on this stretch, on any other Indian bike is on a Bullet Classic 350. In that case it was a heavy bike and spring seats. Here, it was however a different story altogether. The suspension which felt adequately firm for high-speed cornering was doing an amazing job cushioning the potholes and the uneven roads. That combined with the comfy seats gave a combination which was soothing to my bums. I soon realised that I could actually manage good speeds even when there were practically no roads and I was happily going off-road to negotiate the pot holes. The standard MRF Eurogrip was great on loose gravel and I will surely add that slides & drifts were fun. I sure missed ABS a lot; I hope they will soon add it as an optional offer. In less than an hour I was across the border in Baharagora.

I surprisingly didn’t feel any fatigue, which I usually do, probably due to bad seats and a super firm ride, on my regular bike. I was still grinning at oodles of power and the trip was far from over. I still had 100 Kms of the worst roads on this route left. I was still able to keep an average of over 50kmph and I was mostly where the bike felt at home. Off Road! Keep the engine running over 3K on the RPM and the bike just takes off after every breaking. By the time I reached Jamshedpur at around 8:20AM I had done close to my fastest nonstop run yet on this route of 4 Hours 10 Minutes on my Yamaha R15v2. Please note that I was slow and standing for around half an hour due to the fog.

Over all I would say that the Pulsar 200 NS is an excellent buy at the south-side of a Lakh in INR. A bike with an amazing capability of handling whatever you throw at it. Be it smooth roads or the worst off-road possible. The Pulsar 200 NS will chew it and spit it out.

To sum it up, did the Bumblebee make me grin all the way from Calcutta to Jamshedpur? Hell Yeah!!!
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Alcohol & Roads DO NOT MIX

This was posted by a fellow Bike Nomad … felt it is a serious concern, hence posting it here.

I feel compelled to post this after reading 4 trip reports on 3 different forums where alcohol consumption has become the high point of the report!

Many of us on a forum like this love to head out on the open roads, head out into the hills and beyond. Putting the windshield down, flooring the throttles and feeling the wind on our face gives us a high! I am no tee-totaller but do we really need to add alcohol and drugs to this mix?

So alright, we have a few drinks and maybe some other barely legal intoxicants! After a hard days ride, alcohol may help relax the mind a little bit and help us get some sleep so we are ready in the morning for another day. But can we at least promote a culture of safe riding/driving and responsible drinking?

Many bike clubs, especially those with *ahem* “bigger bikes” in particular, seem to promote a culture of this kind of unsafe behavior. Maybe not openly but more subtly by making consumption of alcohol and drugs seem like the cool macho thing to do. Despite publicly professing a responsible position, forum signatures like “A real rider should have no blood in his alcohol stream” (or something to that effect) and organizing night-rides/drives where the consumption of alcohol and drugs seems to be the raison-de-etre of the ride make the claims of being responsible rather hollow sounding. The typical “night-ride” goes something like this: ride out towards Tamhini Ghat after 9 pm, sit at a chosen location with some fantastic views and then… pull out the booze and polish off a large quantity of alcohol before riding back the 65 odd kms in the wee hours of the morning. I have been on some
rides like these and have been deeply uncomfortable about the situation. A night-ride to Tamhini is a lot of fun, especially on a full moon night. But do we need to add alcohol and hash to the mix to make it enjoyable? Is this responsible? The first gift i received on my birthday from the club was a hip-flask! And atleast one such bike club actually has a separate thread running on its yahoo-group on arranging for alcohol before the “Independence Day ride” which happens to be a dry day! Without going into naming and shaming, there was this bunch of RX riders, some of them members of this forum, going out for a round of rubber burning near Bandra-Kurla complex after a drinks session. I can never forget being cornered on a TV show (NDTV) while trying to unsuccessfully defend the biker community after this shameful incident. I mean where are we getting to people? What is this culture we are promoting?

But its not just bikers on “big bikes” being irresponsible. It applies to many 4-wheeler drivers as well. I have earlier posted about an experience where a Silver colored Scorpio with TBHP stickers swerving to the extreme left on the expressway and throwing out an empty beer bottle! The dudes inside were clearly drinking but by throwing an empty beer bottle they put others at risk as well. It could have hit the vehicle coming from behind!

Then again, I have been on so many OTR’s where after a hard days work on Saturday evening, we head out for an OTR session. The idea behind leaving on Sat is to maximise the amount of time available for the OTR on Sunday. Instead we find people drinking through the night getting little or no sleep whatsoever, and then heading out for a punishing OTR session in the morning! Consider the situation: Heading out for a physically and mentally challenging OTR session having had little or no rest in the past 24 hours and having consumed alcohol barely 3 hours before! I have seen some people, while heading back from one such OTR swerving wildly from side to side on the expressway trying to fight off fatigue and alcohol induced sleep! Is
this safe?

Like everything else in life, alcohol is best enjoyed in moderation. There is nothing “macho” about drinking and driving/riding or punishing our bodies by sleep denial. On this Independence Day, let us resolve as a forum to desist from promoting such irresponsible behavior and instead promote a culture of safe driving/riding. Let us resolve to keep needless references to alcohol out of our trip logs. While on OTR’s/Rides, let us actively promote safe riding/driving practices.

Regards
Roy Skaria
Cougar Rides
Live to Ride – Ride to Live

The Helmet

thank u Jayaram Krishnamurthy for sending the following

Got this mail from someone who was saved due to the helmet he was wearing when he got into an accident. Read on…

Hello All,

I am fine now, recovering at a faster rate with complete rest along with medicines. It’s because of your prayers and fingers crossed that has enabled me to communicate with you in the form of this mail today. A Huge Thanks and Best Wishes from me and my family to you.

Today, I take this opportunity to share a short but very important experience. Please do read when you get free time from your work or while taking Trivedi’s Uncle’s tea (for Team working @ AFOUR) in evening. The Subject Line is “THE HELMET”.

Confused or shocked? Please don’t be, else you will not get what I want to share with you now.

Guys, it all started when I never used THE HELMET for last 2 ½ years of my driving. Many people used to tell me that I should use it, but I used to give stupid reasons that so and so are the problems with it and used to drive without it. Even Mahesh Sir himself asked me the reason for not wearing it for 3-4 times. Then as the traffic situation become worst at Hadapsar due to the BRT and new over-bridge construction, I soon realized what I was lacking. Then during my last 2 months tenure at one of our clients Reflexis, I finally purchased THE HELMET.

I started wearing it now and then while driving for office, going outside for shopping, etc. I got so used to it that I even wear it when I visit my Grandma’s place, which is just 750 meters away from my house. Then on 20thOctober morning, when I was driving on my vehicle along with my sister to Lohegaon Airport, near Blue Diamond hotel and at Koregaon Park turning, I had just taken the turn with a speed of perhaps 15-20kmph, I had a collision with a 2-wheeler which rushed to me directly from wrong-side with a considerably high speed. I stopped by applying vehicle’s brakes, but perhaps the impact was already done from opposite side. Luckily my sister went un-hurt but I was thrown over my bike’s handle over the road, directly on my face. Due to this, THE HELMET’s glass broke off and fractured my face. But 99% of the functionality of THE HELMET was already worked out, i.e. saving the Brain. I was admitted immediately by my alert and strong-minded Sister to the nearest hospital and then because of immediate First-Aid by doctors the things were brought to control. The MRI-Scan reports clearly stated that there is no danger to the Nervous System.

Now, THE HELMET will remain in the show-case or perhaps will be used to plant seeds in it, but it has already proved the commitment to save The Brain. It will be replaced by a new one soon once I will be 100% fit for driving, but this accident will always be considered as learning for me.

All the people who are using THE HELMET continue using it, you are doing a great job. While the people who are still not using it, I sincerely request you right from my Heart as well as Brain, PLEASE USE IT. I would always expect that such thing should never happen again with anyone else. Even if you drive slowly and carefully, you never know how the people around you drive and also the roads with a poor quality. For example, even if you are traveling from our AFOUR office to Vertex, which is a 5 mins drive, there are 4 speed breakers, 7-8 potholes on the road, the most dangerous one just in between Croma and Vertex, worst turning near ICICI bank and near the School corner and many more.

Remember guys, life hardly gives a Second chance to anyone, so please wear THE HELMET; you are precious for us and also for your families.

I am very much thankful to Mahesh Sir; who helped me in realizing the importance of THE HELMET due to which I started wearing it. Also, he immediately arranged help by informing the concerned people at runtime to look into my health matter.

Also, I am thankful to Rajan, we spent almost 2 ½ hours on a Saturday evening searching for THE BEST HELMET in 3-4 shops.

I am sincerely thankful to Pradnya Mam for supporting me and my family during our bad-patch and communicating with the doctors now and then so that I can get maximum medical help.

It’s that Volga (my HELMET’s company) HELMET because of which my brain got saved. I thank to THE HELMET because of which I am again with my Team today, and will be ready to work again once I pass the fitness tests. I am hoping to meet you soon. Wishing all Good-Luck in their respective project-work. Also, be best in your health.

Thanks & Regards,

My Life @ BikeNomads.com

on the way to dalma early morning

“The reflection of the rising sun on the handlebars is my alarm. My first cup of tea is miles away from my bed. I dont have a home. I carry my world with me. Boundaries have no meaning for me. I have no time to see the dust clouds in my mirror for the road ahead calls out to me. The wind is my partner. The sun is my compass. I dont stop in the rain, I sing with it. The evening birds match chords with my thump. The neon lights of the city become blurry lines as I enter the encroaching dark of the highway. The earth is my bed, the sky is my roof. I sleep to the music of the gurgling brook. I want no glory. I have no name. I dont have a begining, I dont have an end. I am a BIKENOMAD!”

– written by a fellow Nomad …

BIKENOMADS

Dubai Jayenge (will u go to dubai)

Nothing about me has changed.  As soon as I make a to-do list, I take the time to do things like this.

I started writing this post a while ago, but stopped because I realized that I wasn’t exactly sure what I was trying to say.  Everything in my life felt messy for a moment, and I suppose I was trying to vent, but I do not enjoy public…ventilation?, so I deleted it.  My mind and eyes are wide open to everything that is new around me, and believe me, there is an abundance of newness present.  I’m not just foreign, I feel foreign, which is something new for me.

On to something new.  I’ve been going to job interviews for the last few weeks, which has entailed daily journeys between the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah.  The distance between the two should only take about 15 minutes, but because of the traffic, it can take up to 3 hours, specially while returning from Sharjah during peak hours.  Because this country does not believe in an actual system of public transportation, and I am sans vehicle, I have been taking taxis.  I’m sure you all can just imagine the joyful expression on the face of a Sharjahtaxi driver when, after hailing him, I divert eye contact and say ”to Dubai, please!” Like a small child ordered to do his chores, he whimpers and carries on.  The first time this happened, the taxi driver and I were stuck together for 3 and 1/2 hours. After the second hour, he turned to look at me and pointed his pinkie finger toward the roof of the car.  I couldn’t help but to squint my eyes in question. Understanding that I was confused, he said, “do you know what this means?” I confirmed my confusion. “It means I need to go to toilet, too much water I drink. Okay with you Sirji?” (the taxi driver was a nice  pakistani chap) Of course, I would not deny him personal relief, so we pulled over at some sort of automotive shop.  I decided not to ask about the pinkie, and store the gesture in my mind for future reference.

The small whimper and complaint I receive from Sharjah taxis is not what I have experienced from Dubai drivers.  If I tell him my destination before actually placing myself in the taxi, he will drive away quickly, leaving me to continue frying in the sun.  I think I have finally mastered the situation, though.  The first step is to place self in taxi and close door before any communication.  Then, break the news about the future you will share.  The other day I did this, and the driver told me, “no, get out.”  After some pleading, he still refused.  I politely told him that I was not moving.  We sat in silence, parked against the curb for 10 minutes, until finally I said, “listen, I’m not getting out, and I truly don’t mind sitting here for as long as it takes.”  At that moment, he reluctantly forced his way into the traffic. I WIN.

When, I tell you that the traffic is bad, I feel that some of you may think I’m exaggerating. I googled “Dubai Traffic” and found a photo that documents perfectly my commute:

Sophisticated cities have sophisticated public transportation. COME ON DUBAI! …. well after all dubai is one place that has been on the front of human development for many years but this is one area i hope they do something about pretty soon.

coming back to the point that i had delayed this writeup for long … well it was another incident in Mumbai that made me situp n think. I was supposed to catch a train from LTT Kurla at 9:50pm and left Kandivali at around 5:15pm, i still missed the train. O|O … i know people have been raising too many eyebrows… i reached the station that day at 10.30pm … of course i should have assumed that the train had left but … 😐

well i guess we can jus say that the whole world … be it Hi Tech Dubai or our very own Amchi Mumbai … traffic is something mankind is yet to control 🙂

Motorcycles, life & everything else in between.