Happy new year! A promise for 2019
Welcome to the new year and I'm going to start by asking to make me a promise. It's a simple one, I promise. And that's this. "I will not buy a motorcycle without taking a test ride on it." And I will tell you why this is perhaps the most important resolution of all when it comes your life with motorcycles.
My job happens to be test riding motorcycles. I ride them because I want to buy them, but mostly I ride them because I've to help people like you make up your minds about them. The honest truth is that I ride them because there is literally nothing else I'd rather be doing.
But riding so many motorcycles gives you perspective. It tells you about the comparative aspects of motorcycles. It crystallises your preferences for sportsbikes, as opposed to dirt bikes or adventure tourers. It tells you whether you're thrilled by aggressive bikes, or peaceful ones. These are important decisions that help guide you to the bike you really, really want. I cannot help you reach these conclusions - you must make the trek all by yourself.
But it's important. I know today that peaceful motorcycles - like the bone-stock Street Triple I had, Ferine, do not hold my attention. I modified it to a state where the showroom guys trembled at the prospect of having to test ride it at the end of every service.
You see what I had to do there? I had to bring the motorcycle closer to my expectation. There's a lot to be learnt and enjoyed in this process, but I understood that I want motorcycles that are natively aggressive and then I can mould them to my taste. Taking a sleepy thing and turning it into something widely awake and frothing at the mouth isn't something I want to do too often.
Do I judge everything I ride from the perspective of whether I will buy it or not? No. I'm way too poor for that. But sometimes bikes will surprise you. The Interceptor felt very real as a member of my garage. The KTM and the Ducati, on the other hand, were automatic. They more or less demanded their spots. And lucky, both times, I had just enough money.
The point I am making is this. Notice that the spec or the price hasn't been introduced as an element of this. Because for me, it isn't. These are the hygiene factors that must be considered after the primary parameter has been met.
That factor would be, did it make you feel alive, desirous, desperate and sizzling with joy or not.
And you cannot discover that without riding a motorcycle first.
Why do I write this now? Over the past two months, I've had numerous people write in to say that they'd booked either the Royal Enfield Interceptor/Continental GT or the Jawa Jawa/Forty-Two and that after my review came out, they were worried/had questions/wanted to know more. The questions ranged from the issues I raised in my review to whether it would be reliable or not.
But these questions aren't important. The first thing should be "How did the motorcycle make me feel?" And if you don't have the answer, you shouldn't be giving your money away! In both cases, considerable money flowed under the bookings bridge long before test rides became available. I appreciate how the heart won over the mind, but I think the heart needs to be minded a bit more.
Motorcycles are engineered products with roles, segments, engineering and all that. But that isn't why we treasure them. We love them for what they give us. Freedom to roam. A reason to go out and see our wonderful world. A way to allow even the most unfeeling to feel. A catalyst for a thousand emotions, a million memories, and a billion people to find expression.
That's the thought I would like you and me to start the new year with. To resolve to find more motorcycles that make my soul tingle.
None of this comes from a spec sheet. It comes from your heart. So don't spend because the spec sheet or my review looks good. Spend when your heart tells you that the right one has come along.
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