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Old 7th August 2010, 00:29   #1
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Default Living with the Yamaha MT-01 : 20,000 Km report

A little more than 12 months ago I booked the MT-01 through Bangalore Wheels after months of deliberation and balancing my passion for motorcycles and need for speed while keeping an eye on practicality and usability in India.

I wanted a big bike to compliment my generous physical dimensions. It had to be quick, look good and help me ride along all-day at 130-150 Km/h without strain. It had to feel at-home in stop-go city traffic and it had to manage the Indian heat without complaining. I needed a comfortable saddle and riding posture and I wanted it to be able handle 2-up riding without making a big fuss about it. Above all, I wanted to buy character and exclusivity without attracting too much attention.

The MT-01 with it's big air-cooled engine and unusual styling struck me as the best choice among the bikes that were available in the market back then. Now, 20000 Km later, I take a step back to ruminate on the validity of my selection and see if it was money well spent.

I am not your typical SBK rider who does 100Km on a Sunday, installs every accessory available on the face of the earth and shies away from bad weather and bad roads. I am the enthusiast who rides 1000Km in a single day and likes to do distance everytime I take the trouble to suit-up and head out. I prefer riding with my buddies who themselves ride Indian bikes like the Karizma, R15, RTR and Pulsars. I love telling people who ask that the MT-01 is a modified Pulsar and that it cost me 1.5L to do all the modifications from a fictitious mechanic named Pintoo in Dadar. I love showing Mumbai cops the flow of the exhaust headers and the music that the MT-01 makes through it's aftermarket Akrapovic exhausts. I enjoy talking about the "average" and spreading misinformation about the cost of acquisition...

In short, I am part of a clan of riders who don't care whats underneath them as long as it moves the heart and the soul.

20,000Km later I must confess that the MT-01 does indeed move...and it is something to be shared with my fellow enthusiasts just as a work of art is exhibited for everyone to see.

Owning an MT-01 is like owning a Maruti Gypsy or a Jeep. A large percentage of the population cannot understand why I would buy this bike over the other superbikes that litter the road, classifieds and DRI impound lots. You see...when you ride the MT-01 you feel it's heart beating and you hear it breathe and when it moves, it is no longer a machine...it is ALIVE!

If you haven't had a chance to ride a motorcycle with a big V-Twin motor then you haven't lived yet. Inline fours are fantastic and frightening machines but they have all the charm of an Electric Shaver. Going fast gets old when you reach your 30s and you want to go fast but you want more than just outright speed.

I have spent upwards of 25000 rupees in the up-keep of this motorcycle in terms of servicing costs in 1 year alone. This includes multiple services with bills ranging from Rs.2K (during the free service camps that Yamaha runs for CBU owners) to Rs.80K (for when I dented my front wheel during a Mumbai-Bangalore ride -AND- replaced both my tires at 15000Km). A full tank of 91 Octane costs around Rs.800 and lasts only 240Km. Yes the MT-01 runs happily on clean 91 octane fuel and it will not complain even with lower octane ratings as long as the fuel quality is good. Getting 97 octane for the other superbikes is so difficult in India and I wanted the freedom of riding anywhere. I can do this on the MT-01.

The bike can pass for an FZ-16 to someone who doesn't know better. The black color is understated and helps me blend into the traffic as long as I keep a lid on the LOUD control a.k.a the Throttle. The moment I wring the throttle though...there is no doubt in the vehicles in a 50m radius that something BIG and BAD is in the vicinity. The Akras let the MT-01s dual cannons bellow out a deafening and intimidating note. They crackle and pop on the overrun as excess fuel is burnt in the exhausts and escapes at the tip with a blue flame.

Mechanically there have been NO faults with my bike. The MT-01 engine is derived from the road warrior engine which is as bulletproof as they come. The frame is built to handle the abuse that is par for the course on Indian roads. After swapping from the Michelin Road spec tires to the Michelin Pilot Roads 2CT (dual compound) the ride quality has improved and handling is much sharper with more aggressive turn-in.

So what kind of riding have I done?

I took the brand new bike all over NH4 as follows:
1. Bangalore - Chennai
2. Chennai - Bangalore
3. Bangalore - Mumbai
4. Mumbai - Bangalore - Chennai
5. Chennai - Kolhapur - Mumbai
6. Mumbai - Bhandardhara - Nasik - Mumbai
7. Mumbai - Malshej - Shivneri
8. Mumbai - Lonavala - Malshej - Mumbai

and many more memorable rides both solo and with friends. I ride mostly solo because few are willing to do the big miles. They all say yes but nobody (till date) has turned up on the day of the ride. I guess that says a lot about my confidence in the bike and in the confidence of my backside.

I have ZERO complaints about Yamaha's service. Yes sometimes there is a bit of a wait for the parts to arrive but everything is transparent. The service quality is great but you HAVE to take a personal interest and stay with the bike while it is being serviced to make sure that everything is done to your expectation. Yamaha is very supportive in this aspect.

It is a big decision for any Indian to buy a motorcycle that costs more than a car. In this case the MT-01 costs as much as 4 new Maruti Altos. After spending that kind of money you cannot tolerate disappointment and 20K Km later, I have nothing to be disappointed about.

It may not appeal to everyone and it takes a mature rider, who has been there...done that, to appreciate the sheer brilliance of riding on an open road without looking like their hinie is on fire. I've owned a Busa and although I LOVED that bike, here and now...the MT-01 is hard to beat.

20K Km later I am looking forward to the next 20K with the same enthusiasm and eagerness I had when I first started out with this machine. Some say that a bullet is for life and I know that first hand. I have a 1962 model RE-350. I can safely say that the MT-01 is of the same mould...with a twist.

If you see me blasting by on the roads of MH, do wave at me. Just don't get in my way because this is one journey where I don't stop for anyone.

Thank you Yamaha

Last edited by Eddy : 18th April 2012 at 12:46. Reason: removed invalid links
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Old 7th August 2010, 00:31   #2
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The title says it all about you Guru, i have not seen many people riding the "Super Bikes" like this.

havent read the post yet but it is nice to see that you have done the 20K mark on it
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Old 7th August 2010, 00:43   #3
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I'm blown away on the Mumbai - Bangalore - Chennai run with the air cooled MT01. Appreciate if you can share some of your experiences on that, 'cause I'm under the impression that big air cooled engines & Indian summers are no no.

Some information on service intervals, warranty, what can be done as DIY & the support provided by Yamaha will be of good help. I heard Bajaj/Kawasaki provides an awesome support for Ninja 250R with service advisor & all top level guys phone number with 24 X 7 support. Are there any such things with Yamaha?
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Old 7th August 2010, 00:48   #4
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wow ! not many gobble up 20000km in a year on a 10lac rupee bike.\m/
I like to use anything i own till it falls apart, glad to see you using your bike well.
Why the exhaust? more power? or the sound?
Is ladakh doable on it?
I want a ride on it someday.

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Old 7th August 2010, 00:57   #5
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Service intervals are as follows:

1st Service - 1000 Km (did this within a week of taking delivery at Orion Motors in bangalore. Bill was around 3.5K)

2nd Service - 5000 Km (I did this service after Chennai - Mumbai and back from Mumbai - Chennai at Ambal Motors in Chennai. Bill was around 3.5K)

3rd Service - 10,000 Km (got this done at Yamaha service at Malad. Bill was around 3.5K)

4th Service - 15,000 Km (done at Yamaha at Malad. Bill was 80K including new front wheel and front/rear tires among other things. insurance was claimed for the wheel at 23K INR. Tires cost me 20K INR. Changed spark plugs during this service).

5th Service - 20K (pending...)

In between I have done numerous services for routine tightening of fasteners, cleaning and I have attended service camps where labor is free and parts are discounted. I have changed the head lamp bulbs to OSRAM Nightbreakers for better lighting as the stock lighting is below expectations.

I have the phone numbers of all Yamaha Regional Service Managers (RSMs) in the country. I also have the phone number of the Country Service Manager who I interact with regularly to keep him updated on the status of the vehicle. They take personal interest in the wellbeing of the bike...and me. I have the phone numbers of the higher-ups at Yamaha but haven't had any reason to call them yet.

DIY there is very little you can do because there are specialist tools involved here. Torque wrench, plug pullers etc. Yamaha has full-fledged service centers at many cities (Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad to name a few). These are dedicated CBU service units.

Warranty is 2 years unlimited miles (nothing else would work in my case ). I have installed Yamaha approved and distributed aftermarket exhaust (the Akrapovic stage-1 exhausts) with full knowledge of Yamaha. No issues with the warranty. The headlight upgrades, Scorpio i600 alarm etc. are also not an issue with Yamaha. I also have the single-seat kit that comes with the Akrapovic although I have not yet installed this because I frequently ride 2-up.
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Old 7th August 2010, 00:59   #6
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I'm not a biker, but damn. I will buy a Yamaha MT-01 one day. More pics and videos please
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Old 7th August 2010, 01:04   #7
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I was certain this thread was going to be yours when I read the title.
Lovely overview, but I was hoping for a more detailed one covering your long distance rides.
I have ridden an MT a couple of times but did not feel any of the 'alive' feeling in the brief rides, infact found it a little boring compared to the Thunderace that I owned then. It probably takes a more seasoned enthusiast to cherish the V shaped motors than an average squid like me who would back in the day look at only acceleration figures and more attention to the exhaust note than the purring sound of the motor.
Ride safe Guru. Look forward to a short ride with you sometime in near future.

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Old 7th August 2010, 01:47   #8
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Lovely thread GSferrari. This is in complete contrast to what a normal superbike ownership report would be. One question - is this your daily ride?

Please do post with more specific details of yout trips and service.
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Old 7th August 2010, 02:19   #9
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Thanks for answering very briefly on the service & this justifies that Yamaha is serious about their customers who purchase their premium products.

What's the continuous or non stop ride you've made so far? I mean, I like to know how the air cooled engine performs in Indian summers. Should be pretty normal, but have you taken any breaks? Any temp gauge instruments that you follow on the motorcycle?

Also appreciate to share the riding comfort. I know its comfortable, otherwise 20K on ODO is not possible in a year. What I'm looking? Is it a laid back riding, atleast like sportster 883 or straight posture like Boneville/GT100 or forward leaning posture? I hope its in similar lines to Monster isn't it? What's your say on this?
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Old 7th August 2010, 05:18   #10
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Great writeup, the sound of an MT01 is really something else.
You are right twins always have a much nicer sound than 4cyls.
Something like bass rumble from 8cyl engines in cars.

You are enjoying it the way it is meant to be enjoyed, looking forward to more updates.
OT- what dogs are those, they look amazing too.
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Old 7th August 2010, 10:07   #11
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Great writeup. Glad to see you covering long miles on your bike. Always great to read about someone who rides with passion!

Just a small question, how does the air-cooled engine deal with stop and go traffic?
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Old 7th August 2010, 10:31   #12
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If you want to know what the MT-01 is on long rides...ride with me!

The dogs you see running around in the pictures are Great Danes and the Harlequin (her name is Lulu) was found on Google. The family was giving away the puppy, we saw the ad on google and rushed to pick her up. The most loving family member we've ever had. She is also an amazing mother and had a litter of 9 pups. We gave away 8 of them and kept the white one because she is completely deaf. Her temperament and intelligence makes up for this and she is taking after her mum in every way.

When I ride long distances my range is usually governed by the tank limitations. Like I said before, the MT will do 240Km per tank from brim to dry. Therefore you have to start planning those fuel stops well in advance on the highways. The first time I rode from Chennai to Bangalore I stopped over at Bangalore at a friend's place for the night. The next morning I left at 6:00am with a friend giving me backup in a Bolero with a 40L fuel can filled with 97 Octane. These were early days and I wasn't sure about how the bike would handle lower Octane fuel and I wasn't familiar with the layout of gas-stations along NH4 so I decided not to risk it.

As it turns out there are gas stations every 100 Kms barring a few areas in Karnataka where the frequency is down to 200Km (especially near Chitradurga). The next time I did this trip I was confident I could do it alone and did a solo ride from Mumbai to Chennai. The idea is that if you are past 150Km and you see a quality gas station - MAKE the stop

This can slow down the ride quite significantly and nullifies any speed advantage you may have over an Indian bike. For example I can do Mumbai to Bangalore non-stop (only fuel, snacks and water) in 12 hours on the MT-01. I can do the same trip on the Karizma in 11.5 hours. These times will keep dropping as the roads improve...when I rode through they were HORRIBLE once you are in the patch between Haveri and Chitradurga.

On long rides I carry a magnetic tank bag filled with energy bars, electral, gatorade and boiled candy. A spare set of clothes, wallet and phone in a waterproof pouch and loose cash in different spots for easy access in case locals/cops/naxals give you trouble. The Naxal problem on this sector is now moved out thanks to rapid development of the highway. This tank bag is a two tier bag with a clear plastic layer on top where I keep the vehicle documents. If a cop stops me there is no fumbling around, removing helmet, gloves etc. - just point to the documents laid out clearly here and usually they just wave you on because of the bike and the organized approach which tells them you know what you are doing.

The tank bag also serves another purpose which I discovered quite by accident. When I used to ride a Busa I'd installed a double bubble windscreen to keep out of the wind. The moment I got on the MT-01 I knew this was going to be a problem on long rides because anything beyond 100 and the wind-blast was simply too strong to be comfortable. You could manage for a couple of hours but by then your shoulders and arms would be aching and your neck would hurt like crazy. Throwing the tank-bag up front immediately solved this issue for me. Thanks to the height of the tank-bag I could also lean on it slightly to rest my back and glutes occasionally.
In addition to the tank-bag I carried a gym-bag strapped down to the tail of the MT-01. Not a very elegant setup this…but it did the job because I could now carry clothes for a week. I also carried my laptop in this bag.

I wear Oxtar racing boots, alpinestars gloves and knee pads, DSG jacket and a Scorpion EXO-400 helmet. I have retired the HJC AC-12 helmet that you see in the pictures which served me well for close to 5 years. The comfort and feeling of security offered by wearing the right gear cannot be disputed especially on long rides. The wind strips away any warmth…even during summer and gives you the chills. I wear a full-sleeve Tee under the jacket to prevent direct contact with the skin. Inside the helmet I wear a balaclava (alpinestars) for that extra level of comfort and sound insulation.

Ear-Plugs are a MUST regardless of what bike you ride because the wind-blast can turn you deaf after a long ride like this. It also becomes VERY irritating and if you don’t believe me, I invite you to try it out (please carry ear-plugs in your pocket all the same). Sometimes I swap out the ear-plugs for my Shure E2c or E5 and listen to some music. I now have the Razer Moray+ headset which can also be connected to my mobile phone to take calls on the go which is useful for me if I have taken leave from work. This way I can stay in touch with important clients/partners and they won’t miss me as much as if I were to go into communication blackout for 12 hours at a stretch. I don’t recommend having an extended conversation on the phone while you are on the move and I usually pull over if I feel the conversation is going to extend beyond a minute or two. It beats having to remove your gloves, helmet and all just to speak on the phone.

More recently I have installed the Cardo BT headset on my helmet which connects to other rider’s helmets and also to the mobile phone. This beats wearing a IEM (In Ear Monitor) and I can make do with just ear-plugs. I still wear ear-plugs and the Cardo speakers are loud enough to be used even with earplugs in use.

The hardest part about long rides is getting in and out of cities. Leave as early as possible (not earlier than 4:00am) to beat the traffic on the way out and after 10-12 hours you may still beat the evening traffic at your destination. I can blast through Mumbai in 20 minutes instead of the usual 1 hour it takes me during peak hours and this doesn’t just save you 40 minutes but postpones the effects of “fatigue” which would otherwise set in very early. There is nothing worse than starting a ride in frustration and traffic…add bad weather to this mix and you will not have the gumption to go past 500km in a day.

I keep drinking fluids through the day and I am not ashamed of fertilizing the roadside whenever I feel like it. The boiled candy works brilliantly because it gives you something to work on without having to spit out (like chewing gum) and it gives you an instantaneous burst of energy and sharpens your senses. Chocolates also don’t spoil that easily and the new energy bars from Horlics etc. are amazing to eat on long rides. I don’t stop for “meals” during rides because they consume a LOT of time and also reduce your energy and concentration levels by taking blood away from the limbs and head to the stomach. Eat light and drink regularly. I don’t have a camel-back and I make do with bottles. Save the bottles for your overnight stop where you can fill in some more water and electral.


Don’t laugh! Nivea cream is your best friend when it comes to postponing the effects of saddle-soreness. Apply liberally to the glutes, thighs and crotch and it will keep you comfortable for the entire trip where otherwise you would be shifting around and writhing in agony within 5-6 hours. Once the pain sets in then every minute you spend on the saddle becomes a NIGHTMARE so don’t take this lightly. I carry a large tub of nivea carefully marked “For Guru’s Privates” so nobody else takes a dip in it. If you visit me at home and see a tub of Nivea please ask me before you “dip” into it because once you do…it might be too late

The MT-01 is extremely well behaved once you head out. 5th gear at 120 Km/h the engine is still in standby mode awaiting further instructions. Give it a bit of throttle and it wakes up and does the “wet dog” shake and gallops ahead to 140 Km/h and it is most comfortable between 130-140 on the highway. I have taken it to the claimed top-speed of 210 Km/h on the Kolhapur – Dharwad sector but it is not sustainable at that speed. If you are so inclined you can stick it at 180 Km/h but we don’t have the roads where such speeds can be sustained for any length of time.

Cornering in the dry is like any other bike and the MT-01 will hold it’s line rather resolutely requiring a strong hand on the bars to move it from the prescribed course. It is a lazy bike to tip into corners initially thanks to it’s considerable mass wanting to stay upright thanks to Gyroscopic effects of the wheels. With the Pilot Road2 2CT tires it is more eager to tip into corners. If you should pull on the brake lever mid-corner the tendency to suddenly pitch itself upright is MORE pronounced than on a 600cc or 1000cc bike because you are playing with more than twice the mass here. If you’ve had a chance to ride a Busa you will know how braking mid-corner is avoidable. In the MT-01 it will stand up and head straight on so be VERY sensitive about the brake force when you are leaned over.

In the wet I ride gingerly until I get a feel for the grip and then I am riding at 80% of my dry speeds. The tires do slide but you can rest assured that they will bite and keep you moving forward. It is an unusual sensation and you have to wrap your mind around the fact that these large heavy bikes WILL slide in the wet. If you cannot…then you will be riding along at 50% of your dry speed and villagers on their 2-strokes will be waving as they go past you. Nothing to be ashamed of…ride at the speeds you are comfortable at.

The most dangerous time, and I am sure this holds true for any bike, is when the rains have just started because the Oils in the ground will not have been washed off yet and they form a super slick surface which can be deadly. I remember my ride from Pune to Mumbai when the monsoons had just started and the surface was so slick I was doing 30-50 km/h in Lonavala. Concrete roads are AWFUL in the wet so be very cautious on this surface…Tarmac is more predictable and grippy.

On long rides on the MT-01, thanks to the slightly less insane speeds you are doing, you get time to enjoy the scenery instead of becoming a blur on the highway. Talk to people when they interact with you at toll-booths and they will remember you whenever you pass through (where you don’t have to pay. I think it is inconceivable that a 1670cc bike doesn’t have to pay toll while a 800cc car has to!  ). The toll attendants at MH-KA border remember me so well they all wave with a HUGE smile on their face when I blast past.

In the city the MT-01 is every bit as usuable as an FZ-16. In light traffic you can make a HUGE scene by going WOT from low revs where the engine bellows and the gunfire sound of the Akrapovic exhausts will startle anyone around you. If you want to attract attention…this bike will do the job nicely. The best part is that you can sneak up quietly into a gaggle of unsuspecting commuters and then whack open the throttle and watch their eyes go wide in horror as you belt away at triple digit speeds. It is ENORMOUS fun and a total hoot to ride in the city…
That is until you get to a traffic signal!

Traffic signals in Mumbai are more like those inane sales presentations that take forever to end. They are interminably long and the MT-01 starts to warm up and that’s when you realize your gentleman’s vegetables are very close to the rear cylinder of the bike. Once you get moving things cool off rapidly. I switch the bike off when I see more than 90 seconds on the digital timers at traffic lights. Takes 10 seconds to turn on ignition, start the bike and let the fast idle settle down to normal idle before you depart from the signal.

The misconception is that air-cooled bikes are worse in summer/traffic and I can tell you that this is absolutely false. LC bikes need constant air-flow and they need to MOVE to shed heat. The R1 for example becomes uncomfortably hot within 30 seconds of stopping at the lights. The heat is then generously distributed over your legs and once you get on the move through that shapely fairing. The situation is worse with bikes like the Busa, 14R and most owners switch them off at every traffic light. I have ridden the MT-01 through PEAK Bangalore traffic from Vijaynagar to Silk-Board without turning the vehicle off. Yes it gets hot but the temperature light has never come on for me yet.

Air-Cooled engines are better at dissipating heat when not on the move. Just step back on the seat and move away from the engine and you won’t feel the heat anymore. There has been just one time when the heat got so bad I was forced to pull-over and stop and this was when I was returning home from work on a Friday evening and got stuck in Sion. The heat became unbearable! The warning light still hadn’t come on so the bike was fine but my balls weren’t.

I use the MT-01 to commute to work regularly. It is cheaper and faster than taking a car and do I need to stress on the “Fun” factor? Waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to work knowing that an interesting ride is on hand makes “work” a helluva lot more fun!

Yamaha service center in Malad is well equipped to service these bikes and if you are in the market for one and you want to check out their service center just to be sure…give them a call. I am one of the few CBU owners who has had their bike serviced at almost ALL Yamaha service centers and I can tell you that they are all equally well equipped and the RSMs are very very good guys. Just make sure you are around to ensure things are done the way you want. This is India remember?
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Old 7th August 2010, 12:48   #13
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That's a beautifully shared experience that very very few people do. Thanks a million? Billion? Much more than that @GSFerrari.

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
This can slow down the ride quite significantly and nullifies any speed advantage you may have over an Indian bike. For example I can do Mumbai to Bangalore non-stop (only fuel, snacks and water) in 12 hours on the MT-01. I can do the same trip on the Karizma in 11.5 hours.
I can't believe this!!! Yeah, unfortunately we have pathetic roads that makes riding time on MT01 & ZMA almost the same, but, the fun factor? Nothing comes closer to big boys bike.

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
Thanks to the height of the tank-bag I could also lean on it slightly to rest my back and glutes occasionally.
I couldn't well understand this; Google images doesn't justify & I couldn't imagine this. Any pic will help understand better.

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
retired the HJC AC-12 helmet that you see in the pictures
Are we missing a pic here?

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
The comfort and feeling of security offered by wearing the right gear cannot be disputed especially on long rides
+100000... motorcycle & gears are really cool. Much better than driving an Audi/Merc

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
Ear-Plugs are a MUST regardless of what bike you ride because the wind-blast can turn you deaf after a long ride like this
Thanks for the tip. But will it not affect the hearing sense? I'm usually sharp with ears when riding so as not to miss any morons who ride reckless

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
Nivea cream is your best friend
Thanks for the tip; will try this next time & share you the feedback

Originally Posted by GSFerrari
Air-Cooled engines are better at dissipating heat when not on the move
I've heard this in HD forums often that air cooled engine fairs better over liquid cooled engine & you too confirm the same. May be I should experience this to understand it better.

Last edited by aargee : 7th August 2010 at 12:51.
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Old 7th August 2010, 15:07   #14
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Thanks for the detailed impression, pictures would have gone nicely with the report and would have lifted the mood of the thread.
Thanks(again) for sharing
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Old 7th August 2010, 22:43   #15
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What a fantastic thread. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every bit of it - refreshing approach straight from the heart and solid experience.

Do you think the Ducati Monster 796 could provide comparable thrills as well (I don't mean vis a vis MT 01 but compared to the SBKs).

I saw the MT 01 at Kamala Yamaha and it is far bigger than I imagined from the pics. With a sub 5 1/2 foot frame, I am simply not big enough to deal with this bike. I think the Ducati Monster 796 might be more managable for me and I prefer this option to SBKs for many reasons roughly similar to the advantages you mentioned with the MT 01.

My understanding is also that air cooled engines don't have the heating up issue the way liquid cooled full faired SBKs can pose in city traffic.

Please do keep posting. This thread has got me hooked.
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