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Start 'em young

25th Apr 2016 4:20 pm

To get hold of the perfect motorcycle for a little biking enthusiast is no easy task, Kartikeya finds out.

I have been obsessing over this bike for a while now. It’s an Oset. Specifically, the Oset 12.5 Racing 24V. It’s got all of 500 Watts. Yes, it’s electric and no, it's not for me. It's for a little someone in the family who is about to turn three.

“He’s only three!”, most friends exclaim when I admit that I am running out of time to get a motorcycle for junior.  Well, not running out of time. But I feel that the time is ripe. I have spoken with a few racers – Miguel Oliveira, formerly of Mahindra’s Moto3 squad, and championship contender in 2016, who started off when he was three; and World Trials Champion Dougie Lampkin, ditto. 

If you haven’t noticed, kids are like sponges. They soak up everything that’s thrown at them and that lets them learn quickly. Also, it makes it faster to internalise, or hardcode, the best practices as sheer reflex. And well, what better way could there be for them to spend all that excess energy than getting an adrenaline kick while kicking up a storm of dust, sweat and slides. Getting them to try something is pretty easy too, unless, they have obstinately decided otherwise.

In our case, the echoes of “broom-broom” being mouthed all day suggest that obstinacy has taken a different course. So the hunt for a mini off-road bike has been underway for some time now. Sadly, the options are very limited and very expensive. Only a few enthusiasts have imported bikes for personal use. Manufacturers, meanwhile, are struggling to find a way around the red tape that would allow them to sell these in India.

The relatively ancient but hardy Yamaha PW50s, the gold standard, still cost over a lakh and relatively newer KTMs cost nearly Rs 2.5 lakh. There are a few cheaper “China-made” and “local” options, but nothing that has hit the spot yet. For now, fingers crossed, the hunt continues and I’m hoping I can still make the three-year cut-off. If not, there’s Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi to look up to, after all they started off with karts when they were four and five. I’ll admit I do have an ulterior motive. No, it isn’t to see him compete. Instead, it is in the hope that one day we can hit the road together as friends, fellow riders, as equals and partners in adventure. What a day that would be!

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