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The best exercise for an old bike - the HIGHWAY
Mar 14, 2008 07:36 PM 2983 Views

This is the the 4th time I am taking a bike on a long ride from Bangalore. First ride was last year to Coimbatore(Splendor+, one-way only), then two rides to Chennai and back(RX135) and this is my most recent, RX100 to Chennai and back. In case you guys are using an old bike / used bike and are having problems with it, you might find this review by me interesting to read. The best exercise for an old bike is a looooooong ride.

Initially I was apprehensive about the ride with the RX since I thought it was way beyond its prime. Though the bike had the best pickup and best top speed in all I have owned, reliability was one big drawback that made me not think about this trip, until I was forced into it!

The RX100 in question is a 1994 4th hand monster! I have named him Street Hawk. Initially bought for ferrying me between Koramangala and Whitefield. And a few occasional trip to the Nandi Hills whenever I get the fancy for it.

Last month I had to go home urgently. Bus and train all quashed, since I work nights. Going by either would make me waste several hourse waiting for the train/bus to leave the next day! Hence good ol' Street was the only option.

But Street was no sprightly college lad. He was a middle-aged rough-and-tough crusader set out for sale, till I "rescued" him from a Banashankari used bike showroom. Among its many faults, it had no control over its exhaust. Travelling at 70+ for more than 5 mins would give rise to a smoke screen behind. And the electricals were never reliable. The mileage was its strong point. A Yam giving 35+ is called a "High Mileage vehicle". And Street gave 41 for Extra Premium Petrol. More than satisfactory. But its strong points were the brakes. Much more reliable than the 2005 Sp+(first hand) as well as the 2001 RX135(2nd hand). And no skids at all. The vehicle had not seen a single accident through all its 14 years as well as through all its 4 owners(me included).

Accordingly I decided to do it warm the bike properly. That meant taking a few "mini-rides" to Nandi Hills / Krishnagiri / and other regions arnd Bang to make it shipshape for travel.

Then came the day of travel. Tanked up with enough Petrol to last till Kancheepuram. After Kancheepuram I didn't see any good fuel pumps. And they don't accept cards. So if you have a Yam make sure you stop at this spot - at the 100km stone from Chennai. After that no good enough bunks. Some bunks though existing won't have petrol.

The ride was a pleasant one - as usual. Decided to take breaks every 50 kms. To stretch the legs. But that depends a lot on what bike you are doing - and on what type of person you are(tall/short etc). Since I am short I could afford to take brks every 50 kms.

When taking these marathons try your best not to throttle too hard and rip(though the road invites it). Highway riding is like test cricket. You need to plan your overtakings. You also need to plan your stops well. A good foreknowledge helps. The other thing is about night riding. For one, try to avoid night travel. And even if you are forced to, make sure you have white clothing / white helmet. Also try to get these stickers that reflect light and stick them here and there on bike / helmet. Have anti glare glasses - you'll realize it on a night ride.

Plan the travel so you don't have to leave in the rain. However, in case you are forced to travel through the rain, don't panic. Just DON'T stop when it rains. Because after that 2 out of 10 the bike will start. And if it doesn't, well you're in the midst of nowhere with a bike that won't start!

And if you are biking on the day, one thing you need to guard against is the sun-burn. Full sleeve dress / jacket will take some of the pain away. Dehydration is never an issue as long as you stop for coconut water in the way. This route has several coconut-water fellows. Stop whenever you are thirsty.

If there is one thing missing in the router, it is hotels. Not as many hotels as perhaps a ride within Chennai or the Bang-Mysore router. And even the few hotels here are not really that great when it comes to quality.

A Yam-rider is not used to giving the way. He is used to throttling hard and being among the first few bikes after every Traffic Light GP. But over here you have to take it slow. For one, always give way when challenged. The other fellow honking behind you is usually the more powerful vehicle. There are a number of spots on the road where there are spaces in the median. Watch out for vans taking turns there. They have NO control.

Fill your Petrol whenever you could because the route to Chennai consumes a lot of Petrol owing to direction of the wind. In the way back a full tank takes you all the way to Bang and you wouldn't need to refill at all. Another thing that you need to watch out for is the sudden disasters that could come on speeding. There was one point where I was flying at arnd 105 kmph when suddenly I saw a blip in front. Bought it to a screeching halt just in front of a cow crossing the road. Only risk involved is the loneliness of the stretch that makes someone feel like pushing the pedal to the metal(cars).

There will be some small towns by the side of the route. The only proper stop on the way is Vellore. The typical stops in this route would be Hosur(40km), Krishnagiri(90km), some stops on the highway(don't know the names), Vellore(200km), Kancheepuram(100km near Chennai), Sriperumbudur(50 km from Chennai).

The way back is more sedate than the way forwards. Because while heading to Chennai you feel "I'm heading home" whereas on the way back it is "I'm off to office".

The effects of the trip can be seen in a weeks time. For one your b_tt will be biting - in the region where the edge of the seat meets the b_tt. And about the bike - there will be an initial problem. The chain needs to be tightened. But it becomes a lot smoother. And the wheel might be bent. And the electricals will be hit big-time. I had to change 4 bulbs - 2 indicators, headlamp and tail lamp!

But the maintenance of the bike becomes a lot lesser. After the trip, the already good mileage has gone up to 44kmpl. And the engine tone is smoother too. After this trip, whatever you do to the bike it still goes on. It has passed the trial by fire. And the most important. After the trip I have never got that smoke screen when raising the throttle at high speeds.


So the next marathan is a ride to Madikeri. Probably in the next 2-3 months'. Let's see how things go.


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