Category Archives: Bikes

The Beautiful Chaos of Indian Roads

I’d like to introduce you to an Indian motovlogging channel called “Biking In India“. It’s a YouTube channel that explores the streets of Chennai, and beyond.

I’ve ridden the same bike for 11 years, and been through quite a few silly incidents with it in that time. Like this one. Through it all, one experience that has not been diluted is the experience of travelling on Indian roads. If anything, it has only become more intense.

Motovlogging YouTubers from India

“Biking In India”┬áis one of the new wave of Indian Moto Vloggers who have started posting their videos on YouTube. Take a look at the channel trailer. I think it summarises this motovlogger’s channel quite decently.

Some of my favourite Indian Motovloggers

Some of the other biking vloggers in India that I find have something interesting to talk about and contribute are:

This list is in no particular order of preference and hopefully will be updated. I can see that the inspiration to motovlog has come from the west though. While in India riding a motorcycle is very common (although not sports or higher capacity bikes), it isn’t so common in the west. However, higher cubic capacity bikes are making their way to India and leisure riding is becoming more common, and with it comes the need to be a part of a unique group of individuals. Riding clubs are becoming more common, as are weekend getaway trips.

Documenting all these are the motovloggers mentioned above. Many of them also just document their daily commute to and from work, all the while showing off our ‘unique’ roads… Cows, Cops, jaywalkers, people who are unaware of the rules and more craziness.

Now go ahead and watch that video. You should also check out the other motovloggers that I’ve mentioned because their work is unique, and needs your support. See you around soon.

Vlogging and Motovlogging around the world

Note: I forgot to mention some of my favourite western motovloggers. Top of the list is Walteriffic, followed by others like Motonosity, Chase on 2 Wheels, and others. I distinctly have a preference for vloggers who don’t swear. Walteriffic is like that, as is Motonosity. Among the daily vloggers who keep things clean is “Casey Neistat”…

Amazing work by all these people, and I’m constantly amazed by the quantum of video content that is going online every single day! It’s a torrential downpour!

Now, like I said… Go watch those videos.

Coasting your bike to save fuel

I don’t know whether this ruins the engine or not, but when I’m low on fuel, I like to let my motorbike just coast along on it’s own momentum. I just give it a tweak on the throttle and glide down the road.

It’s taught me a couple of things.

  1. You don’t really realise how much you’re braking until you consciously stay off the brake lever. Try this; but be careful about how you ride when you do, it could be dangerous.

    When you see the road ahead is clear of any traffic, tweak the throttle until you’ve got a nice cruising speed. Then let go the accelerator, and clamp down on the clutch. Coast until you’re going quite slow. It’s surprising how long a well maintained bike will maintain momentum.

    If you’re cruising down a scenic highway, this is a great tip.

  2. It made me realise that I’m not using my motorbike to it’s maximum fuel-efficiency. I don’t need to be at 4,000 RPM all the time. I could let my engine idle at 1,000 RPM and still get where I want to get; though admittedly, it would be slower.
  3. I usually get around 47Km to every litre of petrol when I ride in the city. Using this fuel saving technique, I can get up to 60Km per litre if I am not travelling in an area with a lot of traffic and gear shifting.
  4. I’ve found that sometimes, I’ll be coasting along, and bikers around me slow down. They slow down while throttling their engines, and braking. I’ve found that coasting alongside them, knowing that they’re burning up more fuel than I am is a comforting thought.
  5. It’s taught me the dangers of braking late in traffic. This could become seriously dangerous if you’re not an experienced bike rider. I discourage you from doing it. I, however, will continue to do so.
  6. It’s taught me the advantages of braking late in traffic. Sometimes, when I’m moving relatively slowly, I avoid braking until I absolutely have to. This keeps me moving longer, and each second that I’m moving with my engine in idle is a little more petrol saved.

    In terms of plain biking skills, it’s taught me to gauge other driver’s possible actions, and ride based on that. It’s taught me how to be more alert, and to keep moving inspite of drivers ahead of me changing their lanes, directions and speeds.

  7. It taught me that I also like to rev my engine and hit high speeds sometimes. And that riding a bike at slow speeds can get boring.

Feel free to mix up your bike-riding techniques from time to time. Try it out sometime, but remember, it may not be good for your bike’s engine. I’m no mechanic. Also, you’ve got to becareful if you try this in traffic. It could get dangerous.

WARNING: This could be dangerous to life and limb. Try it at your own risk, and even then, only if you have at-least two years of frequent bike-riding experience.

A Journey Begins: 14-01-08 Pt.1

Balaji booked train tickets to Umesh‘s wedding. It was to be held in Kerala, near Umesh’s hometown, Ottapalam. He booked the tickets a month in advance. I wondered why. I found out a month later. It was 2 days before Pongal, that’s why…

We left Chennai on the evening of the 12th of January, 2008. It was a Saturday and had been a full day for me. I packed my bags early in the morning, when I was leaving for office, carried it with me, and managed not to forget anything. Toothbrush, Shirts, Underwear, Formal shoes, everything was in the bag.

That afternoon, at office, we had a studio rental scheduled. Sudhan, a photographer introduced to us through Rajasekar, was hiring the studio to update the portfolio of a musician that he’d photographed a year or so ago. Sudhan is about my age, maybe younger, is losing his hair (like me) and is very conscious about the fact (I’m not). He asks me whether I’m getting some treatment for my hair-loss and I always reply, No.

Well, today Sudhan was carrying a bag that looked familiar. It was Rajasekar’s bag that he’d taken a year or more ago, and “forgotten” to return. I called Rajasekar, as I usually do when Sudhan comes over, and put him on speaker-phone. Sudhan and I had a short funny chat with him, and then I casually invited Rajasekar over to “help” Sudhan out. Now, I’d forgotten about the bag…

A short while after the conversation, I noticed Sudhan looking a bit agitated and wondered why. He’s usually very calm about a photoshoot. Especially one with a friend… So I tried to figure it out. It was then that the “camera bag” angle struck me. I called Rajasekar, told him that Sudhan was carrying his bag, and asked him to come over ASAP, because I was due to leave for the train station in 30 minutes.

It was then that Suresh called me. Suresh, like Rajasekar, is my classmate from Loyola College during my B.Sc. Visual Communication course. We, my Dad and I, had done a photoshoot for him some days before, and he wanted to come over to pick up a colour corrected version of the images. I told him that I was leaving, but I’d have the images exported and burned on a disc, ready for him. He said, “Great, I’ll come over sometime soon.”

I promptly forgot about it. Sudhan’s model/client had come in and props, makeup staff and other unknown people started hanging around the studio/green room. Rajasekar’s little mission was also getting interesting by then. He came in, and said Hi to Sudhan, then came over to my desk, I was a but busy so I told him to chat with Sudhan and that I’d be over with them in a few moments. They went out and started arranging the model’s costumes, and props.

When I was done with my work for that evening, I went over to see what was happening in the studio. Rajasekar was looking at Sudhan’s camera and lens … ooohing and aaahing over it (he’s wanted to buy a Digital SLR for a long time, and is a great photographer, but is just too lazy to do it).

Sudhan on the other hand was sweating it out. He looked to me like he was hiding the bag … putting himself between the bag and Rajasekar’s line of view. When he saw me, he jumped at the opportunity.

He told Rajasekar, “Why don’t you go and see that website that Susheel was working on earlier… ”

I asked them not to interrupt their conversation for my sake and went running down to the supermarket… It was then that I realised that I’d forgotten my deodorant … And I cant possibly go to a wedding without my deodorant. I rushed down, picked up a bottle and rushed back up. I turned around and was greeted by two sights.

  1. Rajasekar with his bag in hand
  2. Suresh (oh damn! I’d forgotten to burn the disc.)

Rajasekar, who has no idea that Suresh is coming along, is pleasantly surprised…

Sudhan, is standing in the background, looking dejected.

3:49 PM: Me, I’m just… “Oh Damn, where’s my bag?”; “Suresh, I’m going to export the stuff onto the desktop, I forgot … you burn it, ok? It’s all colour corrected…”; “I need to get to the station! I’m fifteen minutes late… Can anyone take me there?”

Rajasekar steps forward like the Hero that he feels like. “Hey, I’ll take you to Kodambakkam station, you take the suburban train to Park station and cross the road, you’ll be there in fifteen minutes”

I say, “Great, let’s go…” wave goodbye to everyone, pick up the bag I’d packed that morning and rush off…

3:52 PM: Rajasekar is a maniac on a motorbike when you need to get somewhere quickly; scares everyone and the cop in the middle of the road half – no more than half- to death… So am I, but he knows that while I can dish it out, I just can’t take it … so he gets me to Kodambakkam station at a steady pace, his freshly oiled hair getting dusty in the process (I’m sorry da…).

3:59 PM: I got to the station’s ticket counter just as a train eased up at the platform. It has been a couple of years since I last commuted by train regularly, and I don’t have an idea of how regular the trains are, so I’m worried; I have only 50 minutes to get to Central. By bike, in traffic, its a 45 minute journey, easily…

4:00 PM (and a bit more): The train is leaving the station. I decide that getting stopped by a cop for riding the train without a ticket would be more disastrous than getting there a bit late, and stay in the queue for the ticket. A long queue. I’m worried; and the seconds seem like minutes (no, the minutes don’t seem like hours – yet!)

4:06 PM: Finally, in the train, I can breathe… The train arrives at the next station, Nungambakkam, in about 5 minutes or less (15 minutes or more by bike) and I relax. I’m going to make it. I call my Dad as I realise a couple of things. My bike key is still in my pocket, and my Dad was supposed to use it the next day. I’ve forgotten the Deo… The all important deodorant. I’d bought it, and in the confusion between Suresh, Rajasekar, Sudhan and the time, I’d left it on my desk at office. Too late now.

I get down from the train at Park station. It is 4:25 PM now. The phone rings: its my Dad… The Deo is in my bag (God be praised!) and he’s going home to get the spare key thats in the cupboard.

4:30 PM: I call Balaji, its the time that we agreed to meet at. He’s at the station. So am I! (Possibly the first time ever! ) We assemble, I’m introduced to his brother Karthick, who almost pulled out (until Umesh told him that he better come to the wedding if he ever wanted to get married himself (I think)) and find our compartment (its a seriously long train!)

4:45 PM: We find our seats invaded by a Gang Of Girls, bags piled high, they don’t know which seats are theirs, and are taking up way too much space. We put our bags in, and cram ourselves in too.

4:55 PM: I’m in the train, the Girls settle down a bit more… I go off to get a Coke. I need one.

5 PM (or somewhere there-about): We’re off… Hurrah! Karthik settles down with the India Today that he had bought. Balaji is looking out the window. He helps identify some of the places that he grew up at. I’m wondering how to get ourselves some more space and get the Girls’ bags off our seat.

5:15PM (or somewhere there-about): I get up, start moving bags around, putting them under seats, arranging them so that they’re not on “our” side.

5:20PM (or somewhere there-about): All’s well. Read about the rest of the journey and the wedding in part 2.