Thursday, 23 October 2008

Muffled roar..

More on the bike, avoidable :
i've been listening a lot to the sounds i hear on the road lately, and have come to the conclusion that the sound a bike makes is its most interesting bit, its defining quality. You could build a bike thats so fast its lunacy to ride it, you can make one thats so beautiful that it demands hara kiri if you scratch it, but unless it has a sound that matches it, its all but useless. or so i think. based on some random observations on the road.

take the yamaha r15 for instance. its a good looking bike if you ignore the thin tyres (which you cant, really, since it looks like scwarzenegger with skinny legs) and the puny engine inside (same schwarzenegger with congenital heart defect?) but once you hear its sound.. well thats like old arnie caught a sore throat and has been asked by the doctor to whisper for the next few weeks. this is not to say that i love those bikes(especially smaller two strokes) where the stock silencer has been replaced with a free flow can and you hear their racket from a distance, making all the noise in the world to do a mere seventy kmph. They tick me off even worse. I sorta think that these are like babies farting. I mean, the sound is so disproportionate that you can't quite wrap your head around the fact that something so small can produce something so loud (and foul).

what i'm talking about is the appropriateness of the sound. harleys are so loud they could probably bring down some old buildings as they ride by, but the image of the harley is such that the sound to match it couldn't possibly be any lesser. same with enfields. the enfield, while it does possess a certain charm, wouldn't ever be accused of being a beauty contest winner. but the sound makes it beautiful. you're cruising along, and the thump the bike makes goes perfectly with the image of a heavy old bike being ridden by a content guy.
then again, loud doesnt have to do it. the honda activa is proof of that, i think. that thing takes you around so smoothly and effortlessly, and is such good fun to ride. and the soft hum that it makes seems tailormade for it. or even the mopeds that you usually see near beach resorts.. i used to have one, and it makes this continuous putter that irritates the hell out of everyone. but i loved that sound, cos most people cant admit that mopeds are fun, and some people i know were especially irritated to see me having fun on one. so the irritating putter was more than apt.

which brings me to my current bike, the zma. before i bought it, one of my friends told me that it has a problem with the end can, that it rattles after a few thousand kilometers on the odo, producing a distinctly metallic din as you rode by. and to be fair, apart from the fuel efficiency (im thinking of buying shares in that iran oil pipeline) the only other complaint i had of the bike was the sound. so i added a k&n filter. this is my first ever admission of this fact, but i added the filter mainly to improve the sound. i couldnt care if it gave me added acceleration and lesser fuel efficiency,i needed a better sound. and now it has this muffled roar, which gives a sense of restrained aggression, which is perfect for a sport tourer that takes me on unending roads at more than respectable speeds.
and i'm a pilgrim of that muffled roar :)

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