Two-wheelers Old and New

Ok, I know I’ve blogged about my “new” bike quite often already, but somehow I just can’t get enough of it. It’s just crossed its one-and-a-half year non-birthday, and at over 5500 km, it has averaged a little more than 10 km per day. Every day. I just got it serviced and tanked up and now it’s purring like new. It’s a vastly different riding experience from my previous two-wheeler, largely because it has an engine that’s twice the size and the power it generates is fantastic. After 5500 km, I still can’t get enough.

I never loved my previous two-wheeler, primarily because it was a Scooty. Ever since I became aware of such things, I’ve wanted to ride a big bike – and I mean BIG as in Harley Davidson, or perhaps one of the Kawasaki mean machines. As far as I’m concerned, every biker – those who really love to ride, as opposed to those who do it merely to get from point A to point B, which is actually a secondary by-product, if you ask me – every biker secretly dreams of a big bike. After all, biking is all about power, and power is all about size.

I started demurely enough with a Kinie when I had just passed my eighteenth milestone. I would have started earlier, except that there wasn’t a two-wheeler in our family and one had to be bought specifically in my name, which required me to be all of eighteen and not a day less. It was bought, after a great deal of talk and consideration, with a big chunk of my parents’ savings, and a small chunk of some money that had been put aside for my “education”. In those days, 25 K was a big deal, but, as far as I was concerned, education wasn’t.

Needless to say, I loved my Kinie. For a start, it was red. Red is absolutely the only colour for anyone who’s passionate about any vehicle. Not blue, not black, not yellow – it’s got to be a bright, blazing red.

Then, since it was a Kinetic, and in those days it was a Honda as well, it was an easy ride and required almost zero maintenance. Getting from my home, in Panchkula, to my college (GCG) in Chandigarh, a full tank would last me exactly a week. Other than tanking up weekly, I did practically zero maintenance on it and it worked well, despite me dropping it a couple of times when it was brand new (I seem to make a habit of that).

That Kinie gave me a great sense of freedom, independence, adulthood, “hep-ness” and all things good. I might have been the only girl in the whole of Chandigarh wearing a helmet (it was the only condition my parents laid on me when they bought it), and every other college girl (and guy) might laugh at me for it, but for me, if the price of riding a Kinie was wearing a helmet, I was ready to wear ten of them!

That red Kinie went with me from Chandigarh/Panchkula to Delhi and later to Bangalore. It saw me through my abortive attempt at college, my first few jobs as a journalist, and the early days of my married life. It took me to distant and unwholesome corners of Delhi (which has many distant and unwholesome corners) and saw with me many things that might have been better left unseen. Through sizzling heat, numbing cold, and drenching rain, it never let me down.

I was practically heartbroken when I sold that Kinie – at a throwaway price, too. I only did it because at the time I thought we were leaving the country for good. As it turned out, we were back in less than a year, and I needed another bike. That’s when I bought my Scooty.

I never loved my Scooty. For one, it was blue, and it didn’t even have the luxury of an electric start. But mostly I never loved it because it was a step in the wrong direction. If you want to ride a Harley, you don’t go from a Kinie to a Scooty. But, it was all we could afford at the time, and I rode it for six years, the longest time.

Buying my bike – my Unicorn, I mean – was a completely irrational, impulsive, indulgent decision. It isn’t a girl’s bike, it was too big and too heavy for me, and I didn’t even do a proper market survey of the other bikes in its category. I ruled out Pulsar purely because its tagline is “Definitely Male” (talk about irrational!), Yamaha and Hero Honda because they seemed staid (!) and didn’t even consider any of the others. I did the briefest of test rides, during which I managed not to drop the bike, and, still doubtful that I could really handle the beast, I signed away upwards of 60 K. By my standards – cautious, careful, sensible – it was a crazy thing to do.

Now, 5000-odd km down the road, it doesn’t seem quite so crazy. After all, riding the bike is a major incentive to go to office (!) especially when the traffic is not too maniacal. Oh, and my bike loves to go fast! The Scooty hated it. But my new bike, when I put it in second gear and crank up the throttle, zips off as though it’s got a train to race.

Of course, it’s not a maintenance-free bike – I’ve had a few small problems with it already; nor is it red. It could have been red, but my neighbour had a red one already, and I didn’t feel like being a copycat – a frivolous reason, considering that I don’t even see that bike around any more. But it just goes to show – colour doesn’t really matter.

Best of all, I finally sold my Scooty to a colleague and guess what – she loves it! She’s never had a two-wheeler before, and she doesn’t drive a car so it’s given her a huge degree of independence that she relishes. The other day she came up to me grinning and told me that the mechanic had adjusted a screw on the Scooty and now it was “the best Scooty ever!” – this for a rattletrap 7-year-old vehicle that needs servicing practically every month just to get her from home to office, a distance of about 2 km each way. But, the Scooty finally found an owner who loves it, and I finally got a bike I adore, so everyone’s happy.

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