Motorcycles are often regarded as unsafe, but if you ride one, you are most likely going to have a different story to tell.
I’ve been toying with the idea of buying another motorcycle and have been pondering on which one to get. As much as I love following motorcycle racing, I’m sure I don’t want a modern sports bike as they aren’t romantic enough. A classic racing bike or a retro-styled café racer are more my sort.
What I particularly like about classic bikes are their simple mechanicals, with the absence of components like fuel pumps or brake boosters. Little wonder that most owners of such bikes like to tinker with their machines themselves and are good mechanics too.
I’m a huge fan of old British motorcycles and if you are looking at starting your collection, this could be a good time to do so; bikes like the BSA B31 and Norton 16H are still available from Rs 2.5 lakh onwards in unrestored condition. Bike restoration costs aren’t astronomical and a decent job to get one in good running order can cost you another Rs 1 to 2 lakh, depending on the bike and its condition.
It’s not just exotic bikes that excite me, I have been dreaming of owning a Honda Cub, for its prominence in automobile history, for a long time. For those who remember, Hero Motors sold a version of the Cub in India in the late 1990s, called the Street, with a semi-automatic transmission; I hope to find a good example someday.
Adventure bikes and roadsters are my favourites. Middleweight adventure bikes like the Triumph Tiger 800 or the BMW F850GS today are all the bike an average rider would ever need. A quick look at performance data would tell you they are as quick as supercars in the 0-100 dash, and, in the right hands, as capable as Land Rovers off-road. Being a short rider, I’d consider the lower seat height F750GS, which would complement the F650 in my garage.
With driving becoming increasingly difficult in traffic, riding feels far less stressful. What I really want out of my next bike is something that is comfortable, reliable and easy to use, and yet makes me feel special every time I get onto the saddle. As a daily runner, I think I’m a bit more inclined towards buying a brand-new bike rather than a classic one. Another reason I want to buy a bike now is because they still come with naturally aspirated engines, unlike new performance cars that are almost all turbo-charged or hybrids.
Another bike that interests me is the Triumph Street Twin, and not the Bonneville, which may come as a bit of a surprise to you. The reason being, the Street Twin feels more honest about its appearance and looks more like what a modern Triumph should, rather than a modern bike with retro looks. Simple.
I’m going to be debating in my mind whether it’s the F750GS with its high-tech TFT screen or the Street Twin with its beautiful speedometer dial and needle that will find a new home in my garage.