Saturday, 1 September 2007

An Honest Ode..

This one's about my bike, so u might want to skip it.

Its been over a year now since i got my bike, and while its rather premature to bill it an old soldier and write a sentimental ode, its probably the right time to look honestly at it and find out why i like or not-so-like it. As you can see, i still can't hate it. And that's not just because i've bought it, no. Right after i'd gotten it i had written about the same topic, only i was rather smitten by it then and had lost my objectivity and was crowing about it. Today i hope to take an objective look at it. As i set off writing this, I'm still prone to lose my way and objectivity again. In which case I'll try again a year later. For now I'll look at those not-so-good aspects first.
Like all bikes its got hundreds of little problems that are unique to it. Unique not to the make of bike, but to the individual bike itself. Mine has met with fifteen accidents (1 major, 3 worthy of note and 11 minor) in the space of the last one year. The major one has left its mark on the bike, with stability problems cropping up at high speeds sometimes. Then there are irritating problems like the right-hand driving mirror that keeps coming loose, the silencer bolts coming loose at the cylinder end, the rubber padding on the insides of the fairing that just refuses to stay in place etc. These are all minor irritants. Its probably what happens in a marriage as well. just like you look at other people's lives to figure out how they're coping, i look at other zmas in parking lots to see if they've got the same problems. Nyet. These problems seem to be mine alone. But i dont grudge the bike for these, for these are far smaller than problems i've seen with others.
Then there are the problems common to the make of bike. I know only of three. One is the silencer, the next is the cam tensioner chain, and the third is mileage. I've been spared by the silencer problem, in a way. The increase in noise due to the K&N filter I had installed overwhelms any rattling the silencer can muster. Not that it rattles much anyway. But i agree that the rattling is a blemish on the stock zmas which are rather silent, since sound is one thing HH didn't bother to design. I have a loose cam tensioner chain that creates a throaty rattle as we drive along. Its a problem that the company wont even give a guarantee on after replacement, i.e. even if I replace the tensioner there is no guarantee that it wont repeat. Noise aside, this is not a big problem since normal driving is unhindered.
Mileage is the third problem. If i look at the trade off, which is a high voltage commute to office everyday and the occasional high speed long drive, i don't mind shelling out for the petrol. The numbers could have been better though. No matter how much you convince yourself, you have doubts whether other similar bikes are giving their promised paper figures which are miles ahead of the purported figures for my bike. I mean, i honestly accept that i get only 24 kilometres to a litre on my bike in the city. Other zmas claim even 40 on online forums, but the owners i've met in real life admit to 30. This bike is probably breeding a lot of liars and idiots in this country i suppose. True, i told my dad it's gonna give me 50 to a litre, but then that was to get the bike. I've been more or less honest about my figures after that.

Whats the greatest posiitive about this bike? One word. Reliability. No matter what the problems, no matter what the road throws at it, this bike was meant to run. I have so far not had a single occasion where the bike was rendered immobile due to any problem, except for accidents and punctures. Whatever be the issue, it has not let me down before reaching a service centre. I drove a 500 kilometer road trip while it was leaking oil. I badly wanted to go on that trip, and i knew that i should have fixed it before leaving. But i also know that no other bike would have given me the confidence to just leave and take things as they come. With regular topping up of leaked oil she did fine on the trip.
I had an accident that left the bike drowned in four and a half feet of storm sewage, along with a couple of other bikes. I fished it out of the water and pushed it a quarter of a kilometer to dry land where the other bikers parked their vehicles and went home for the night, while i could revive her ans ride back home on it with minor hiccups.
It can take punishment on a regular basis, with nary a whimper in protest. Take my commute to the office for instance. Its usually an adrenaline packed high revving drive with a couple of fast straight stretches and a few noteworthy corners. If i beat the morning traffic its a full speed dash to office, and if i dont its a low gear high rev traffic dodging exercise. Either way, i couldnt have asked for a more reliable ride, for she has yet to let me down. Even when I was having serious trouble with a chain that was stretched loose from all the stunting, the bike plodded along to the mechanic's where i could get it repaired. The bike is not designed for offroading, but took 3 kilometres of high speed offroading daily for two months and the only problem was that of the silencer coming loose, which was something i could fix myself.

And then there is looks. I know looks are subjective, but then i still like the zma over the new pulsar flagships, simply because it looks as heavy as it is. It does not look dainty, it looks firmly planted, and each time i ride this makes me place my full trust in its inherent stability. The pulsar might be just as stable, but i sure dont trust it. And i sure wont trust it to stand by me when i eventually do bangalore-mumbai nonstop. The zma has been my steed of choice, and a year later, i think i made a good choice.

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