Monday, November 26, 2012

Amboli ghat

Met our friend Rommel at Amboli Ghat for a chai on the way back from Rider Mania

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Day of Freedom - Spy shot

In 2010 I was in Glenorchy (population 465) a small settlement on Lake Wakatipu in the south island of New Zealand. The wife was there to shoot a film and I was just hanging out with her on the Pier there was a motorcycle being shot by a japanese camera crew. I got my camera out and took a shot and forgot about it. Only yesterday after Harsh posted The Day of Freedom video it hit me it all looked a bit familiar and you can see why. I was there.  



Friday, November 16, 2012

A Day of Freedom

Honda's promo for the CB1100 (fast becoming a Helmet Stories favourite motorcycle) could have been an ad for the Helmet Stories and India Bike Week Chai and Pakora Run this Sunday. Have you signed up for your day of freedom?

KTM-BAJAJ 390 DUKE


We are salivating over the launch of the KTM Bajaj 390 Duke in India and so should you - 373cc, 44bhp, 139 kg (without fuel) and expected to cost between 1.8 lakh to 2.1 lakh. It looks the same as the 200 Duke, with the same WP suspension and chassis but a slightly larger tank, lower seat height and Bosch ABS braking. Expect it to launch around the middle of 2013.
Enjoy the video meanwhile...



Technical Specifications of the 2013 KTM Duke 390
Engine: Four-stroke liquid-cooled, 4-valve
Displacement: 373 cm
Bore x stroke: 89 x 60 mm
Compression ratio: 12.6:1
Power: Bosch injection
Lubrication: Wet sump
Frame: Steel trellis
Front Suspension: WP inverted fork Ø 43 mm
Rear Suspension: WP monoshock
Front Brake: disc 300 mm, 4-piston radial caliper
Rear Brake: 230 mm disc, 1-piston caliper
Tyres: front: 110/70 x 17, rear: 150/60 x 17
Angle: 65 °
Trail: 100mm
Wheelbase: 1367mm
Ground clearance: 170mm
Seat Height: 800mm
Weight: 139 kg dry, less than 150 kg at the curb
Tank: 11 litres

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Test Ride

Photograph by Vir Nakai

A tried-and-true motorcycling Swiss Army Knife, Royal Enfield has long been the bike du jour for dyed-in-the-wool Indian adventure motorcyclists. The recently launched Thunderbird 500 employs a multitude of improvements to achieve higher levels of performance, comfort and, above all, practicality. To discover some of its potential, Royal Enfield invited us for a 2-day pre-launch ride from Bangalore to Ooty and back routed on superhighways as well as some tasty sinuous backroads of the Nilgiris.

Photograph by Harsh Man Rai
On first look, the Thunderbird has a brutish appearance, far removed from the rather effete appearance of its previous iterations. Clad in all black, including the powder-coated 500cc, 27-bhp engine, the only relief is found in the winking chrome of the fenders, exhaust and headlights. A fat 20-litre tank tapers into thickly padded quick-release stepped seats, the rear one easily detachable to stack up luggage for longer trips and lashing points for bungee cords are thoughtfully provided on the sub-frame. Round folding foot pegs now occupy a slightly more forward position and the handlebars swoop high and back making for a comfortable and upright riding stance. Nestled between the beefy 41 mm front forks is a distinctive projection type headlight with twin 55w lamps, a cat’s eye light guide surrounding the lower bulb—a shame really then for the ugly brackets that hold the headlight in place. The bazooka-sized silencer is not going to find many fans and hopefully Royal Enfield will offer an optional silencer as they did with the upswept exhaust on the Desert Storm. For the first time Royal Enfields comes with a 240 mm rear disc brake and an oval section braced swingarm, both very welcome additions.

Photograph by Harsh Man Rai
Slip into the thickly padded saddle and the Thunderbird 500 feels comfortable for an average-sized rider even though it feels short front-to-back and might not be the most accommodating for longer-legged folks. The Thunderbird 500 weighs in at 195 kg but in spite of its added girth, it is still easy to manoeuvre at parking lot speeds. Once on the highway the bike really sings. The handlebar placement and slightly forward placed  foot pegs put you in a comfortable upright position. Rock solid at triple digit speeds, the TB500 displays none of the rear end waggle that plagued the Classic 500 variants at high speeds. Comprehensive instrumentation provides data like average speed, two trip meters, besides the usual speedo and tach displays. The display is difficult to read in bright sunlight as it is deeply recessed into the twin pods and the blue on black numbers don’t provide enough contrast. Another first for Royal Enfield motorcycles is vibration-free mirrors at all speeds!
In the short 30-km ghat section just before our destination of Ooty, the TB500 feels remarkably adroit. The chassis feels much stiffer it feels much solid when ridden aggressively and the wide handlebars ensure quick responses as the bike dives into corners with remarkable composure. The Thunderbird 500 is definitely the best handling new generation motorcycle from Royal Enfield so far.
Like any motorcycle, there are some things I’d like to see changed or improved. More compliant rear shocks with better rebound damping, a power point to charge electronics while on the move, a more accessible place for the hazard light switch and of course a more reliable fuel gauge.
Styling preferences notwithstanding, the Thunderbird 500 is a ‘many roads’ bike that can competently tackle city streets, highway slog and a little dose of dirt with a proficiency that can’t be found on any other motorcycle in Royal Enfield’s stable. - HARSH MAN RAI
Thunderbird 500, Rs 1,83,000, Mumbai

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chai and Pakora Breakfast Run

After popular demand Helmet Stories and India Bike Week is back with a Breakfast Run. What better way to spread the word about the festival than riding out for breakfast with the people behind the scenes of India Bike Week. So come join us on the 18th of November 2012 and ride out for breakfast. Check out the details on facebook.

Helmet Stories: The films we love

For a long time we have waited for a motorcycle festival in India that welcomes all bikers to come and hang out and party, sans the politicking, just a common ground to share the biking camaraderie. The India Bike Week in Goa on 2-3 Feb 2013 promises to be just that with fun events, custom bike competition, vintage motorcycles on display, a flea market just for motorcycles and many top music acts.
For us, at Helmet Stories, the most fun is in riding to events like these with buddies, a common song in our hearts. And at the end of the day looking at our parked bikes, engines ticking cool in the dark of that night, there's that quiet joy of another perfect day. And of course a fine Scottish beverage.
So here are a few of our favourite  films that inspire us and make the call of the open road so much more desirable... - HARSH MAN RAI, Mumbai

It's Better In The Wind - Short Film from Scott Toepfer on Vimeo.

MUSIC VIDEO RIDING SEPTEMBER from SAGS on Vimeo.

LONG LIVE THE KINGS - Short film documentary - from SAGS on Vimeo.

PETROL-FOOD-BEER: Around the World with Austin Vince from Make Your Bones on Vimeo.

Helmet Stories and India Bike Week

So listen up! We would like to welcome aboard the fine fellows at India Bike Week, or IBW in Helmet-speak, on our humble little blog. They asked us to spread the word about India's biggest motorcycling event to be held in Goa, 2-3 Feb, 2013 and who are we to say no? IBW is a great fit for our philosophy – Cogito, ergo Zoom. We belong to a community that is brought together by a common passion for motorcycles and riding. There is no rich-poor, old-young, male-female, or even fast-slow, just those perfect fleeting moments on a motorcycle that we try again and again to recapture. As one of Helmet Stories favourite writer, Melissa Holbrook Pierson, says in The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles : "I rarely think of motorcycles without a little yearning. They are about moving, and humans, I think, yearn to move-it's in our cells, in our desires. We quiet our babies with cyclic movement, and we quiet ourselves by going."

So gather around all ye lovers of the joy of speed, freedom and the smell of gas and leather for we are going to the India Bike Week in 2013. It doesn't really matter what you ride, the wind in our faces is the same...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Helmet Stories by Sameer Dubey

We love it when we get emails from readers of the blog telling us that we were the inspiration for a ride. Just yesterday we received an email from Sameer Dubey he writes "Hi, Just wanted to share my clicks with you, did Dodra Kwar in June and solo ride to Sach pass in October next day when your team passed that route, it just because of the motivation I get by following your blog." You can check out his pictures for Dodra and Sach Pass.
Sameer Kudos to you man.
Keep on riding.