Riding Season!

From autumn last year through to spring this year, I’ve been riding out on the bike every chance I can get. We’ve had a long dry spell with little or no rain. Our merry band of motorcycle mates has been great company for short escapes beyond city limits. Call it revenge motorcycling if you will- but if 2020 shocked us into submission, 2021 gave enough dire warnings lest we got too comfortable, and 2022 took all our energies to get back to normal life, then 2023 surely calls for some bravado! With this objective in mind, we’ve been stepping out eagerly, on two wheels and four. 😊

All manner of bikes. All manner of rides.

A company offsite in mid December to the coffee country of Coorg, provided a good opportunity to create a motorcycle trip for ‘official reasons’. We would save on fuel, get there faster, be environmentally friendly, etc. The office folks did not have much say in this and were readily convinced. Acceptance of the same reasons by la familia was another matter altogether. I was in the middle of elucidating the benefits of two wheels over four when my kid cut to the chase with “ Daddy, you just want any excuse to ride out don’t you?”. 😊

Cold, fog, dawn, open highway. ETA 60 min to rendezvous.
Rendezvous. A foggy start to our official tour.

It’s a great feeling when you thumb the starter before dawn in your empty parking lot. After weeks of planning, anticipation and excitement, that calming sense of purpose as you roll out on the exit ramp is incredible. I think it’s one of the essential joys of motorcycle touring, to see it all come to that moment, when you start the ride. You’re sort of done with the rigours of…

All the gear? Check.

Pannier balance? Check.

Tail bag strap adjustment? Check.

Phone mount secure? Check.

Did I forget my sunglasses? Third pair of underwear? Check.

Charging cable? Check.

Did I lock the house?

Darn it, let’s just ride!

An early start and meet up with my fellow riders on the Hassan highway was interrupted by heavy fog within a few miles. Don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but fog + motorcycling is a bit of a no go. It’s a complete dampener (no pun intended). In less than an hour we were chilled to the bone and begging for that hot cuppa.

After some delicious dosas and piping hot filter coffee- perfect antidotes to frozen fingers- it’s all smiles.
We moved off the highway to explore a short trail in an ageing forest.
Dry leaves and mulch littered the landscape. But the forest was beautiful, with that mid morning sun filtering through the haze.
A Scram 411, A KTM 390 Adv and my Royal Enfield Himalayan. All have adventure in their genes but are configured completely differently.

We reached Coorg around midday. An incident en route which I’d call amusing and terrifying at the same time, became the unusual highlight of my ride.

My friend on the Ktm decided to gun the throttle at the first sight of the twisties. Snaking through coffee plantations and tall silver oaks, the ghat section approaching Madikeri is a joy to ride on. While the Ktm disappeared, the two of us took on the bends at a gentle pace enjoying the scenery. As we approached town, Google maps announced a short cut to our place of stay. I heeded Google mausi and followed her advice down progressively narrowing lanes which ended in a super steep 45 degree incline leading right into the tiny courtyard of a very rudely awoken Kodava gentleman. With barely a few feet left to spare, I managed to turn the bike around just to see my friend on his Scram following right after!

Now the only way out of that courtyard was that steep 45 degree incline down which we’d just come down. I was suddenly aware that my bike was loaded with panniers and easily tipping the scales upwards of 220 kgs or so. That’s typically the weight of a large 1000 cc adventure bike. The point to note is the large adventure bike comes with a really powerful engine and truckloads of torque. It would have made short work of that incline in front of me. A meagre 32NM of torque mated to just 24 odd horses on the Himalayan suddenly made the task ahead really daunting.

I let the Scram go first. It’s a lighter bike and had lesser luggage. The rider pulled up without much hassle. My turn. A silent prayer on my lips. Engage first gear. Build up revs. Twist of the wrist. Release the brakes. The Himalayan jumps forward. So far so good.

Halfway up the incline I think I hear the engine knocking- I wring the throttle as far as it can go, my heart in my mouth…uh oh.. if I lose traction now, it’s a long long way down to the valley floor beyond the homestead. From somewhere in the depths of its heart the bike pulls out a last reserve of power and tractors up to the top. It takes agonisingly long seconds. But it gets me out. Hats off to all the brilliant engineers at RE! 🥵

It was ironic that our four day trip to Coorg involved a nice ride in on day one, three days of conferences and sessions with office folk behind closed doors and a rain soaked ride back to Bangalore on day five. But in the end it was all good.

I’m out on the same highway in the following month. This time on a Ninja 650. This is a seriously fast bike.

More rides followed in the next couple of months. I seriously considered purchasing a friend’s Ninja 650. On a ride out towards Bellur cross, I’m cruising at 150kph plus speeds on the Ninja. It’s a seriously fast bike and eager to input. The sense of speed is enormous, the feel sporty. This bike impresses with its smooth bulletproof engine. My friend’s machine is nearly nine years old but none of those years or wear and tear have affected its performance in the slightest way.

When the Ninja has smoked the horizon, and the Himalayan no longer has to play the underling in the ‘catch me if you can’ game, I take it down to its comfort ground- a dirt trail by the water. (it’s where the Ninjas dread to tread) 😊
Rocky Ridge Cafe and the environs beyond are revisited with a team mate on his Interceptor 650.

I followed up on the test ride of the Ninja 650 with yet another breakfast ride to Rocky Ridge Ridge Cafe, this time with a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 for company. To know more about how we came to discover this place read this.

The backroads leading to Rocky Ridge are a delight to ride the Interceptor on.

The beautifully surfaced back roads leading to Rocky Ridge, are full of gentle arcing curves which beg you to take them at full throttle. These roads are mostly devoid of traffic (except the odd farmer on his newly bought tractor). As I lean into one of these sweeping curves at 80kph, I realise what it is about the RE twins that the Brits are going ga ga about. You see, at these speeds, on roads like these, with gentle twisties, the 650 twin engine is an absolute gem to experience. Think of a B Road in England, lined with hedges and the hawthorns on a sweet summer day. And a happy motorcyclist wearing smiles in an open face helmet just trundles by on his Interceptor, scattering the dragonflies. It’s idyllic. That’s the notion the RE’s engine lulls you into. A gentle idyll. It promises more power on tap, but is happy to chug along sweetly at 60 to 70 mph. It’s perfect for what they call ‘lazy riding’. When you’re never short on power, but never in too much need of it.

A B Road somewhere in the UK. Perfect for enjoying an Interceptor or GT 650. Back home in Namma Bengaluru you can head out on the smaller state highways and back roads beyond city limits. For more information go here.

The perspective here is that the RE 650 Twin is not about all out performance like the Kwacker’s 650 twin. I feel, the engineers at RE had a different goal in mind. The Kawasaki is a high revving engine with more than one and half times the power output of the RE. It’s decidedly smoother at high speeds. And although it’s not bad on roads described above, it’s not so endearing at low speeds. It’s at these speeds of 80 to 120 kph that the RE 650 twin comes into its own. It’s buttery smooth gear shifts and even engine note, and promise of generous low end torque is an absolute dealbreaker. I’m sure it sustain a top whack of 160kph or so easily, but it will be way past its enjoyable nature at that speed.

Papa Himalayan Baby Himalayan face off!

Umm, is that a larger Himalayan? Heck no, it’s gorgeous! You have to tear your eyes away from this beauty. A friend of a friend who joined us on the next ride had brought the Ducati Desert X along. A few jokes ensued on the resemblance of the Himalayan to the Ducati. Did Pierre Terblanche have a hand in shaping them both? Brothers from another mother?

Add some white fairing to the Himmy, and you’d be fooled for a few seconds. But only a few. The Desert X is incredible!

Well the Ducati is striking to say the least. And an easy crowd puller. So much so, that it almost overshadowed the raja bike. The BMW GS 1200. The undisputed king of Adv motorcycles. And how.

I surge ahead as the lights turn green. The big Beemer is mightily comfortable. It’s an open highway and on this Sunday, Bangaloreans are at their motoring best. I can hear some howling super cars behind me, had spotted an Audi TT and a Porsche 911 Carerra going neck and neck a few miles back. They’ve caught up.

The tacho climbs as I rev the bike- I know it’s a matter of seconds before they pass me in a blur. The big Beemer is not ready to give up yet. I can see 156kph on the speedo and the cars have gone ahead. Flashing brake lights fill my vision ahead and I can hear squealing tyres…what’s going on here? A large speed bump. They are skirting this cautiously now. Crawling underwater as far as I’m concerned. I’ve throttled down to about 120kph but there’s no time (or space) to brake or cut speed. I’m on pegs. The Beemer squeezes between the two cars and sails over the speed bump. There’s no wobble. No lurch. Nothing. A clean landing which I almost didn’t feel. Behind me, my friend following on his Ninja 1000 observes my rear wheel in the air, and gawks as the moment passes. Later, at breakfast he recalls the moment and how he uttered something so profane, I can’t write it here. 😀

I repeat, Mightily Comfortable.

My friend takes me through a pre ride checklist as I sit on his bike. It’s more akin to a Captain and co-pilot exchanging notes and running through flight controls prior to takeoff. The BMW has electronic suspension which is activated at the touch of a button. It has multiple modes for (wait for it) turn signal indicators! There’s on the fly selectors/ toggles/ switches etc etc. I’m in a cockpit.

On the ride, we enter a small village which hosts a legendary breakfast place. In one narrow village lane, the bike stalls. At this point in time I’m expecting a dozen warning lights to pop up and completely fluster me. None of that happens. I downshift to neutral, thumb the starter, pop the clutch, drop first gear and off we go. Yup, it’s still just a lovable old motorcycle underneath it all. And May I say. Mightily Comfortable. 😃

Enroute to Sabbanahalli lake. The little Himalayan in the company of biggies.
Mirror mirror on the wall. Who’s the smoothest mill of them all?

Which brings me to the Ninja. Nope this is another one. The 1000. Is it fast? Yep. But I didn’t feel it like I did on the 650. Is it smooth. Yep. But I didn’t feel it like I did on the 650. Ok. Wait what?

Yep. It’s fast. But it’s not manic. It’s mature.

Yep it’s smooth. Too much to qualify. So you don’t feel it.

Is it like a car? Far from it. You feel everything. Enough said.

In an elusive quest for the perfect bike, for his current and future needs, another colleague and friend has recently settled on a 2023 Ktm 390 Adventure. This is easily the most talked about, most versatile bike in the adventure segment in India right now.

An early morning ride out to Murugan Idly, which serves lip smacking dosas from 6:00 am. We are witnessing this strangest phenomenon. Every few miles I’m alternating between dazzling sunshine and a light fog. It’s a bit crazy. The sky when visible, is a brilliant blue. My friend has switched to sunglasses. We pause and admire this freak of nature.

The cloud bank in the distance signals another area of fog we will be crossing. But right here, we are in glorious sunshine.

While the dry spell lasts, before the summer really scorches us, we intend to ride out to the mountains. That’s something to look forward to. Riding season ain’t over yet!

Yonder blue mountain calling! 😊

Happy Sundays in the saddle…

Brilliant weather, a gorgeous route, great company and a British Twin to make your day. Happy Sunday!

The monsoon had been making its way rapidly across the South when we first decided to go for a spin down into neighbouring TN. This would be a slightly longer ride than the usual breakfast sortie, with an interesting route and a promising breakfast at the Rocky Ridge Farms Cafe (https://www.rockyridge.in). I’ve now done the route twice already, where the second ride had more friends join in- such is the allure of the route and the breakfast place. 😊

Stop for a breather, a bit of a view, a little banter, with the crew.

Now if you live in Bangalore and are tired of the usual dash to Bellur Cross or halfway to Hyderabad for a bite to eat, then think of this place as a welcome respite. Be cautioned however, that this route is best enjoyed at a slow gentle pace, with lots of scenery along way, places to stop, soak in and build your appetite.

An early start had us cruising down Hosur road post dawn. After the toll, we soon turned off towards Thally. I’ve been on this road before, quite a few years ago, on my first outing on the Himalayan. You can read about that ride here- Lost in the hinterland. The road to Thally has since undergone a massive transformation. The broken two lane blacktop from our earlier ride was now replaced with a smooth four lane state highway, which cuts travel time in half.

This place is a hidden delight and a restful haven. Serves great grub for many a hungry biker!
At Rocky Ridge Farms Cafe, the owner has thoughtfully provided racks for keeping your riding gear away from the eating tables. 😊
Breakfast at Rocky Ridge Cafe is a yummy buffet spread washed down by loads of good coffee, juice or tea.

After a sumptuous breakfast at Rocky Ridge we moved on towards a 50km circuit that promised a lake, a forest and a waterfall. This route is the highlight and also includes a narrow and twisty hill section, with equal parts tarmac and gravel, which is a delight to ride on an adventure bike.

Riding the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC. What a brilliant, playful machine this is!

I rode my friend’s Triumph Scrambler 1200XC, for good stretches on these rides. With Mark Knopfler belting out ‘What It Is’ in my Bluetooth headset and a roaring twin cylinder pumping oodles of torque under me, I was having a ‘best of the British’ time! This is a bike that redefines ‘easy with an attitude!’. Roll slow and it purrs to your input. Wring the throttle and it jumps like a startled hare- the rear slides, traction control cuts in arresting it in a fraction, I strain to keep the front wheel pointed straight while feeling an adrenaline rush! All transpires in a few seconds. Cruising at 80kph or 120kph is pretty much the same. The tall suspension flattens everything in its path. The bike’s fantastic geometry and handling belies it’s big engine weight. In all of this, however the bike is super friendly and comfortable. Takes some getting used to, but you never lose the feeling of being in complete control, at all times. Compare this with the other two bikes I rode the same day- a Ducati 1100 Scrambler and a KtM 390 Adv. These are power hungry, raging beasts and do not want to be tamed!

This lake is a few kms down the road from Rocky Ridge Cafe!
Sunday idyll.

A beautiful lake with a solitary fisherman’s skiff was the first point of interest, on the circuit. This was a gorgeous setting, with wind blown grass and native wildflowers all round the lake shores, surrounded by hills. We spent a short while here taking a few photos.

Motos by the water!
Wayfinding in the countryside

Beyond the lake the circuit climbs through some hills with narrow switchbacks, that is pure adv motorcycle territory. For this stretch I had the 1100 Scrambler. The Ducati is super aggressive to throttle input and would be a blast on city streets. However here, I was having trouble keeping up with the Triumph, the Himalayan and the GT. This was because the narrow hairpin bends occurred one after another every 100 metres or so, such is the nature of the hill track. What this implied was me having to downshift at the corner, rev the throttle when half way through the turn, shift up and then immediately cut down on speed and downshift again in half a minute at the next corner. This was tiresome. The Himalayan and the Triumph in comparison, lumbered on smoothly through the bends in one gear, right up to the top. The smaller wheels on the Ducati also were not reassuring on the gravel edges of the asphalt. It was hilarious. I was easily on the fastest motorcycle in the group. Yet I came up last.

View from the top!

The views at the top however, were very rewarding for any latecomer. What’s also nice is that this trail is not on any tourist map. It’s just a road that leads from one village to another, with a hill range in between.

Riding a spirited bike like the Scrambler up to the top was challenging but fun!

On the way back, three of us, riding in close formation, had a scary moment. A snake suddenly tried to cross the road ahead of the leading bike. Panic braking ensued. We were more concerned about whose wheel the poor creature would get wrapped up under! Luckily, all of us (snake included) just about managed to dodge each other. Whew! Just one of those things to consider when riding in India- expect the unexpected!

Heading down into the valley.
Adv Moto heaven.

This reptilian encounter notwithstanding, we had a great ride! We’ve discovered a new hideaway with great food and beautiful back roads to explore beyond. Can’t wait to return to the neighbourhood and catch up on what else it has to offer!

The route offers plenty of spots to take a breather and revel in natural beauty around you.
More folks join in on the second ride. A KTM 390 Adv and a Scram 411!
On the 2nd ride, the lake has changed character after the first rains. Gone were the grass banks, blue skies and clear water. It was still nice though!

Hot damn! It’s a Scram!

Royal Enfield have aced it again. The internet is abuzz with the good looks, nimble manners and all round worthiness of the new Royal Enfield Scram 411. Inspired by a few reviews- I went in for a test ride and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a fun bike with a peppy, retuned engine, great body balance, very agile dynamics (was filtering easily in peak hour traffic, thanks to that smaller front wheel) and confidence inspiring on-road manners. Have compiled some feeds from my favourite YouTube Channels below, where the motorcyclists are coming back grinning from ear to ear! 😊

Image copyright- Royal Enfield





Best of what’s around…(B’lore)

Over the past 11 years, I’ve pretty much covered almost every exit route out of Bangalore, in the format of lazy Sunday breakfast runs. These early morning rides have enabled new friendships fostered by our common love for motorcycles, exploration of some great back roads and discovery of some excellent places serving delicious local cuisine. You can read more about some of these rides here- https://yonderbluemountain.com/tag/back-road-beautiful/

Have captured below, images from rides in and around rural Bengaluru that I’ve done over time. Most of these areas are not more than a couple of hours ride from the city centre, so depending on where you live, some of the spots may be closer than an hour for you! Next weekend, if you are craving that mouth watering thatte idly or shavige bath all washed down with a hot kaapi, at the end of a short and sweet ride, do look up these places on Google. Give a shout to your moto mates and get going!

En- route to Manchanbele Dam
Nelligudde Kere
Wind Hill, Ramanagara. Savanadurga in the distance
At Sabbanahalli lake
A trail near Nandi hills
En route to Chota Ladakh off Kolar Road
Chota Ladakh!
Off Berigai -Shoolagiri road
Muningara Dam
Sanamavu Reserve Forest, Thenpennai River
Ragihalli State Forest
Savanadurga State Forest
Harohalli Jigani Road skirting the Bannerghatta Wildlife Reserve
Jawalagiri Forest
Manchanbele Reservoir


2016- Stock Bike 😇
2017- Scrambler 🧐
2018- Enduro ‘chichora’ bike 😈
2019- Adventure Tourer 🤠
2020- Retro Tourer 🥸

Essential Highway Companion…

Every once in a while, work, weather and pandemic permitting, my family likes to drive out of Bangalore, for a break in the wilds. In this post, I will talk about my family vehicle- a 2014 Renault Duster, which we’ve driven more than 50000kms over the last seven years.

On the shores of Kabini Reservoir…

At the time, I was happy with the ‘all I can afford’ base model, which seemed a significant step up from our outgoing Chevy Beat. It did not have much in terms of safety equipment and as we realised over time, was disappointingly basic on interior features. Today, it probably qualifies more as a ‘truck’ than the trailblazing off-roader that started the SUV revolution in India.

Somewhere in the Western Ghats

Still, I feel old Dusty has endearing characteristics that warrant its legendary status. It’s  torquey diesel engine is pretty frugal when it comes to fuel consumption. Seven years on, the fabled ‘magic carpet’ ride quality endures. A decent mile muncher, its a pleasure to drive on the open highway. All round visibility in the vehicle is one of the best in its class. There is no raked window line, subduing occupants into car sickness. As a driver, I’m  more confident piloting the Duster through narrow bylanes of Shivaji Nagar (an old neighbourhood in the city) than my wife’s little Honda hatchback. The car is a bit of a ‘carry it all’, like American station wagons of the 70’s- the boot space is surprisingly large! I’ve once transported a single bed in it, with the seats folded down, the boot half closed and a passenger beside me! The Duster is no fancy frilly, loaded to gills, gizmo flaunting Korean ‘softroader’. It’s a joy to drive off tarmac, with its 30 degree approach angle and 205mm ground clearance. It’s built tough and can take punishment. And because it handles dirt with aplomb, it WILL get you from Point A to Point B, wherever they may be.

Duster loves distance. Its great for sunsets too.

Exploring the beaten trail off Coonoor, Nilgiris.

Good for impromptu picnic drives, soaks in the wild.

Amidst tea plantations in the Blue Mountains

On a back road near Wind Hill, Karnataka

All round visibility ensures you see the end of your bonnet (and everything beyond!)

Hill climb? No Worries!

Somewhere in Tamil Nadu, enroute to Madurai

In coffee country, Coorg.

Southbound Again! Enroute to Kodaikanal

We have roamed a fair bit of the South in our beloved family ‘truck’. Its always been a trustworthy, accommodating and fun vehicle to explore the outdoors. But with diesel phasing out and electric the way to go, I’ve been thinking of what’s next for good ol’ Dusty. Some days ago, I came across some Youtube videos which certify this car as a popular camper van conversion, especially in Europe, Russia and South America. And that is giving me exciting ideas for the long run!

In Avalanche, Nilgiris

At Harangi Reservoir, Coorg

Essential Highway Companion.




take me Home Country roads…

Sal (Shorea Robusta) forests abound in the region

Jharkhand. Loosely translated, this name means ‘Land of Forests’. The state has witnessed rapid infrastructure changes in the last few years. These changes are most evident in the smooth, well laid state highways connecting the districts. Add beautiful vistas of abundant forests, gushing waterfalls, rolling hills and winding rivers that these roads lead to, and it’s difficult to ignore this region as the perfect motorcycling destination!

The state is home to some lovely tarmac

One fine Sunday morning, in late October, my cousin and brother in law decided to explore some back roads around Ranchi. The weather had been glorious for the past few weeks, with warm, sunny days and starlit, chilly nights which heralded the onset of a cold winter.

I had an unusual ride for the day, borrowed from my uncle, who has an interesting collection of motorcycles. The maxi scooter themed Aprilia SXR160 is the latest entry into India’s burgeoning two wheeler market. It looks terrific and is a promising little runabout.

This scoot is a hoot to ride!

The route to the waterfall was through an idyllic country road that skirts the main highway and passes through some lovely villages. This route is best approached from the newly built Ring Road that bypasses the city and had little or no traffic. Not wanting to get left behind in the company of a Bonneville Street Twin and a Honda CBR250R, I was able to comfortably stick to 80kph, and the Aprilia seemed to promise more. Once we turned off the Ring Road, there was no real need to hurry, and we soaked in the scenery at a gentle, rambling pace.

At the start of the forest section

Motorcyling country!

Its not the right bike but the right attitude, that matters! 

The route has enough beauty spots to park your moto!

Oh glorious day!

These Sal forests were a joy to ride through

Hills and rivers aplenty!

It felt great to be outdoors on such a brilliant day, made better by the fact we were riding. The waterfall was spectacular and an absolute treat at the end of the ride. It’s a must visit, if you are ever in this neck of woods. At the parking lot to the falls, I did notice a cross-country rider from Kerala on his kitted up Himalayan. Led me to think this place was getting some traction on the motorcyling circuit after all…



Dassam Falls, so named after the ten (Das) waterfalls that merge as one.

Its a pity I only had a week off in Jharkand. This little sojourn was a glimpse of the many charming places the state has to offer. We made plans to regroup in a few months time and head out further inland. Back in Namma Bengaluru, I get greeted by grey skies, pouring rain and generally gloomy weather as I step off the plane. The forecast is not friendly either, more rain to come…ah well, back to the grind!


5 Years On…

2016-2021 Evolution

In the midst of another lockdown to counter the deadly second wave, the humble Himalayan has turned five. I think back to all the negative attention the motorcycle garnered in its early days. Luckily, mine persevered and with a little help from Royal Enfield, we managed to overcome mechanical and quality issues. Five years on with some minor upgrades, it has remained a fun, endearing and purposeful motorcycle. Here’s to many more rides ahead!

On the horizon…

It’s December, 2020 and here in India, scientists say, we have peaked the pandemic. We have learnt to live the ‘new normal’.  Being cooped up, working from home, ordering groceries in and living the socially distanced life, takes physical and mental toll. Eventually we got fed up. We started venturing out, with due precautions, either for a drive to my sister’s place out of town or for a spin around the neighbourhood. I also started riding, mostly on Sundays, with a group of old friends from the workplace.

Motorcycling is a great way to maintain social distance. Inside my helmet, behind my mask, I’m in my own little world, away with thoughts, munching miles at 70 kph. I’m comfortably snug in my riding gear, the tall visor doing a great job of deflecting windblast. The big hearted Italian twin I’m riding is purring gently along the highway that connects Bangalore to the west coast. A slight twist of the throttle, catapults me to 168kph in a heartbeat. The torque on this engine, is enormous! And man, this stallion is fast, as is sure footed. I’m riding my friend’s Ducati Multistrada 950, while he’s trying hard to keep up on the bike I switched, a Honda CBR 250R. The little quarter litre single is smooth and can whack up a good pace, but its 26 horses are no match for the 113 raging stallions of the Italian. It’s such a beauty, this gleaming red firebird on wheels, and I can’t help but grin from ear to ear, everytime I feel the torque wave. 

We are headed back to the city from an early morning ride to Belur Cross. Today was a good day, out here in the open, after many dull, housebound days. A long ride out in the country, was just what the doctor ordered. For once, I did not wake up to more depressing news, but was up at dawn with eagerness that befits a long awaited motorcycle ride. We have two friends on Ninja 650s, and another Ducati 950 Multistrada to keep us company.


At Belur cross we stop for coffee. I take the newer Ninja 650 for a quick spin. This is such an incredibly friendly bike. It puts you at ease immediately. The bike is extremely flickable, and I remember an earlier occasion where I rode comfortably through town in dense traffic, without breaking a sweat. The second big positive is the heat management- I never felt the engine heat near my legs. I would venture so far to say, that the cooling system is better than any other similar bike I’ve ridden. I prefer the bigger bike feel and touring friendliness of the older model – we had a 2013 model on the ride with us. This one with its single sided rear monoshock, taller windscreen and flamboyant green and black livery, is to my mind, a beautiful motorcycle. This would have also been a great bike to pick up as a second owner, had it come with ABS as standard. In this day and age, for a decently agile and fast sports tourer like this, it’s a big miss. The latest Ninja 650 has righted these wrongs, and is a delight to ride, but somehow is not as evocative as the previous model. 


This breakfast ride in the company of larger bikes, and a subsequent one on which I rode my Himalayan to TM Hills, with the gang, got me thinking. While for the moment, the Himalayan is an answer to all my motorcycling needs, some time in the near future, I do aspire to add a larger hearted sibling to give it company. Which then, would be the second set of wheels I should start planning for?


When thinking about the another bike, I’m certain about this. The bike has to be a machine for everyday use. I know enough motorcyclists, who’ve spent big bucks to acquire their dream machine, but use it sparingly on weekends to avoid struggling in city snarls in the ever evolving traffic situation. The seasonal condition of our highways dictates the route chosen for these weekend outings as a straight run down the interstate to a coffee stop and a boring, straight run back. Head off the highway, onto smaller dirt roads, and the bikes start showing their limitations. If they’ve bought a large cruiser (read Harley Davidson), its a beast to handle. If they’ve bought a sports bike, it starts showing its delicate side. The suspension’s not up for it, and neither are your wrists or butt. Granted, my friends on their Multistradas would be grinning and gunning at this point. But they would be cautious too, as the trail gets tougher- the last thing they can afford is the thing ending up on its side. This is where I feel, the Himalayan has been a really good fit for me. Its a daily use bike. And it can take punishment without punishing your wallet. But it has its own limitations. On good roads, I need it to be generating upwards of 40 horsepower, which it woefully does’nt. And its fabled low end torque, is just not enough for a full fledged tour with pillion- as many folks have told me. 

The Himalayan is great on trails…
and adequate on tarmac… as long as you are riding solo. With a pillion its 20 horses short, at the very least.

All this ruminating has got me convinced, what I really need is decent middle weight. A 500cc to 800cc twin cylinder motorcycle that does’nt weigh a ton. A bike that’s as easy to flick round a street corner, as round a bend in the trail. A motorcycle that has enough torque to carry rider, pillion and hard luggage all the way to Timbuktoo, at a decent clip. A bike I can improve my DIY skills on. A machine to look long and hard at, every time I come back from a ride. A machine to love more, every single day. A choice of wheels that does’nt warrant second thought for the tarkari run to the bazaar, or to a client meeting in Bangalore’s Central Business District. A vehicle that’s always preferable to my car. 

It’s a tall ask. And these are trying times. However, 2020 has been the year of some promising new launches. And 2021 promises to be even more so. So I’ll keep adding to the brief. And hope that some day soon, in sunnier times, little Himalyan can ride out with a bro he can really look up to.