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Old 18th October 2007, 18:09   #1
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Default 1000 kilometers, 781cc, 12 hours, 1 rider. The beginning of something special.

The lead up.

As most here know, I sold my Kawasaki ZZR400 last month. I loved that bike, but had explored every limit it had and really needed a bike with more power for more enjoyable long distance riding.

So the search began. One thing I was clear off was that I didnít want to be left bikeless for years again while I looked for a bike that suited my needs. I wanted a comfortable bike, clean papers and decent power. It started off slow. Seemed like the market had dried up for bikes in the price range I was looking at. An old CBR600 here and there, but nothing worth looking at.

Then a glimmer of hope. News of a í99 ZX9r filtered in. I was not to keen on it at first, but Manson insisted that I take a look at it. I did. And I liked it. But I was not in love with it. So waited some more. Then with patience running out and the monsoonís over, I started getting restless. I even lost hope of finding a clean bike out there an considered doing the unthinkable Ė going in for a Swift! But then one morning I log into BHP and there is a thread in the new posts list. First ride of the Season it reads. And I donít have a bike! Any thought of a car went out of the window. I needed a bike.

Call up the ZX9r guy after having decided on buying it. Sorry, bike was just sold! Whaa! I was not ready to hear that! Hopeís shattered. But then I figure, everything happens for a reason. I tell an angry Manson those very words as heís cursing me out for missing a good bike. Those words of mine were oh so true, as we find out later!

Then I get wind of a VFR800 for sale. Silver/grey one in Aurungabad. I have always loved the VFR, especially the 750/800 (4th 5th generations). They are the most complete motorcycle you can buy. If you had to have just one bike for all purposes, it would have to be the VFR. However, not too many of them in India, so I didnít really have any hope of finding one, let alone in my budget.

But this silver one seemed to be it. The bike itself looked clean from the pictures I was shown. The owner seemed to have looked after it properly, and was very honest about every small detail and scratch. I liked that. The downside (yes, there usually is one) was that the bike had KA plates and no papers to speak off. Sure it had an RC book, but there would be no way in hell (legally) that I could register the bike on my name in Mumbai. It is a sign of how desperate I was that I actually called up the owner and told him that Iíd buy it!

Not even 5 minutes had passed since I confirmed the silver VFR when my phone rings again. The person on the other end says, ďyouíre the lucky oneĒ. No, itís not some pervert, but the owner of a red VFR I had my eyes on for a long time, when I still had my ZZR. The bikeís history was well known to me. Imported in 1999 by a parsi pilot. Duty of almost 3 lakhs paid. Everything original. All paperwork in order. 2 original keys, original toolkit and original owners manual. At the time, I had made a passing offer safe in the knowledge that the owner did not want to sell. A few months later I find out that the VFR was indeed sold to a guy in Bangalore. This same person now has the bike on sale again, as he is off to the US for college in November. It was him. Calling to tell me that the bike was mine. If I wanted it. Hell yes I did, butÖ.it was a good 50K over what I had planned. Hesitation. Comparison with the silver VFR which was 75K cheaper. Would the 75K cover any legal problems I may face? Is it worth the extra money for clean papers and one of the best examples of a VFR I have come across in India?

As the old man trademark line goes, life is for living. Mind is made up. The Red VFR it is.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:11   #2
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Token money paid up, I needed to find the time to get to Bangalore, inspect the bike again to make sure it was still in the condition I had last seen it in, then bring it back.. My schedule at work was really tight. Event in Cochin meant that things were on hold. 5 days of working in the sun, heat and humidity of Cochin took its toll on me. I was drained. But I knew I had to go this week or else I would not get the time. I had miles with Jet which I cashed in for a ticket. Rs.470 is all I had to pay to get there.

October 16th, I arrive in a surprisingly warm Bangalore at 5.30pm. Hop into a cab (itís a mess outside the airport!) and sit in the enjoyable Bangalore traffic for a good 1 hour to get to a place near Hotel Ashoka (hotel is stuck in my head for the fabulous naanís they serve!). Reach his house at 6.45pm. Heís not there. He will be there in 15 minutes. The bike is parked downstairs, under a sheet. I spend some quiet time inspecting every nook and cranny of the bike. It is clean. Cleaner than I thought it would be. The aluminum frame is perfect. Not a spec of imperfection on it.

The owner shows up, we take a short spin. It runs well. Really well. Enough. Iím ready, lets end this here so I can ride off. Rudra shows up after his work to join us just as we finalise the paperwork. He seems impressed with the condition of the bike as well. And we all know what an eye for detail he has. That only reassures me. Deal done. I am now the owner of a bike I have loved since a long, long time. Itís a strange feeling to have one of your dreams come true. I canít describe it. Maybe someone with who is better with words (ala Sam) could explain it. Iím not even going to try.

We head back to Rudraís house for a celebratory drink. Rudra knows the roads to avoid so Iím following him. Man, his Optra moves! His Potenzaís keep that car stuck to the ground and I was really impressed with the way it cornered! On the maze that leads to his house, I had a hard time staying with him on the unfamiliar roads!

I neatly park the Viff (as it shall now be called) between his Amby and a tenants Aveo. Rev it up one last time and the sound echoing off the basement garage was really music to my ears. Being an inline 4 guy, I never thought a V engine could sound so nice!

You know Rudra likes something when he says that he wants to photograph it. So after the first drink, we head back down and Rudra makes me move his Optra out, and put the bike in various positions so he can do his magic. After heís done, we head upto his workstation where he sits in front of a huge 30Ē screen which probably costs more than my bike, and starts his post processing. It was eery. We had Floyd playing on the terrific speakers, rum in hand, watching this guy make a great shot look even better! Reminded me of Space Odyssey the movie! Lol!

Unprocessed:


After 30 minutes of magic:


Before we know it, itís almost 2am. And I have a 1000km ride ahead of me tomorrow.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:18   #3
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The ride.

Iím up at 6am. Before my alarm goes off. Weíre out of the door by 6.50am. Rudra will lead me to the Tumkur highway before we part ways.



From here on, itís solo for the next 1000 odd kilometers.

The first 200km pass without too much incident. A lot of tourist buses and mini buses crowding up the highway meaning my average speed was low. I had planned to hit Belgaum, the halfway mark by noon. My first stop is for fuel at the 200km mark. At 9am. There is a reliance pump with the attached A1 joint where I have an idli. I had noticed the road conditions deteriorating, but didnít think it would be too bad.

First fuel stop


9.40am I set off after the snack. And I am thrown straight into what can only be termed as hell! No, Iím sure hell has better roads. I use the term road loosely here. I canít really say these are bad roads, as that would mean there was a road to begin with! But here I was, with a new bike, and riding km after km on nothing but dust and sharp stones waiting to puncture my tyres leaving in the middle of nowhere! It was exhausting, traveling at 25kmph for a hundred km, having large trucks past inches away from me leaving me blinded and choking in the dust. The few paved stretches there were had unmarked speedbrakers (on a national highway!!) and 1-2 inch changes in the level of the surface which would send a horrid WHACK through the bike. I was sure that if I escaped without a puncture, I was sure to end up with a bent rim! I get passed by an E270 CDI. Oh what I would have given to be cocooned in that car at that moment! This continued for what seemed like an eternity. It took me more than 2 hours to complete this stretch, leaving me exhausted and behind schedule. But, I guess this is just part of touring Indian highways.

Making conversation at the railway crossing.


Notice the road. This was 10 times better than the next 100 kilometers!


I head past Hubli, and the road gets better. Much better. Iím enjoying the ride again. The kilometers roll off. I pass Belgaum at around 2pm. 2 hours later than I expected. But the roads have now improved a lot. Excellent visibility, smooth surface and not too many trucks. Speeds have increased. Iím making up time.

The roads improve:


Iím so into the ride, that suddenly I notice something flashing on the LCD on the dashboard. Itís the fuel gauge. Iím into the reserve. And there is nothing around for miles! Crap! I go into fuel save mode. Speed drops to 90-100kmph, revs at 3.5-4,000 rpm, steady throttle. Try and predict the traffic to minimize braking. Damn truck makes me brake, which means downshifting, then accelerating again. Precious fuel wasted. 20km into the reserve and still no sign of a pump. GulpÖ

Nothing around for miles!


And then I see it. An IDB pump. A tiny one. I donít usually fill up at these pumps, but beggars canít be choosers. I pull in and ask the attendant how far the next pump is. He tells me there is one about 2.5km ahead. I think for a second. I decide to go for it. Luckily he wasnít kidding and there is a nice BP pump where I tank up on Speed and clean the dead bugs off my helmet. That was a close one.

I cross Kolhapur at about 3.15pm or so. The roads are now familiar to me as Iíve traveled this stretch many times before. Speeds are high. The sun is behind some clouds and the temperature drops. This is what riding is all about. You feel every minute change in your environment. The smells of the fieldís you ride past, yes, even the smell fresh manure! In a car, you watch this like you would watch television. On a bike, you live it.

Lovely!



Out of the darkness that is the New Katraj Ghat tunnel and I am in Pune by around 4.30pm. I contemplate spending the night in Pune, but decide to push on towards Mumbai.

On the other side of the tunnel.


The Old Mumbai-Pune highway is pure bliss. The sun playing hide n seek with the mountains and clouds, clean smooth blacktop ahead. No traffic and the cool evening air of Khandala. After 9 hours in the saddle this is really refreshing.

Heading down from Khandala. Almost home!


The V-four engine, they say, is the most perfect road bike engine ever made. It is so tractable; you would almost call it an automatic. The torque is amazing and the smoothness really is stunning. This is my first Honda, and until now, I thought the press and owners were simply exaggerating these qualities. But now I know better. This really is an awesome engine!

A 15 minute fuel (for me and the bike) stop at a reliance pump before Lonavala followed by another one at Maganlalís for some fudge and chikki and I head down the ghats.

I reach the Mcdonalds at the end of the expressway at 6.10pm. The joy rideís over. Now what lay ahead was 50km of dense evening rush hour traffic. Not something I was looking forward too. I just wanted to get back, have a shower and call it a day. Instead I was negotiating heavy traffic and hot, humid weather.

I reach Worli Seaface at 6.50pm. I stop near the Aarey energee vendor and down 4 cold ones. Energee, not beer. That was refreshing. Really refreshing. One last jam to negotiate at Haji Ali and I was home. Parked the bike at 7.15pm. Rear numb, palms almost blistered (my fault, I decided to try out a new pair of gloves instead of using my worn in regulars) and neck stiff. I never felt better!

Before my shower, I go back downstairs, bucket in hand, turtle wash n wax in hand and give Viff a good wash, removing all the splattered bugs (there were A LOT of them) from the front fairing, screen and lights and washed the entire bike. I just stood there, watching her dry. Still digesting the fact that she was really mine. 12 hours and 1000 odd kilometers is just the start of something big for me.

Some random shots:


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Old 18th October 2007, 18:33   #4
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Nice to know that you are back again on a bike , and congrats once again for the same . It was nice reading though your post , felt very life like.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:44   #5
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Great travelogue Robin. Did you enter Pune for a bit? I saw a same coloured VFR on Pune streets on the same day of your ride. Not too away from the highways though. Remember flashing my lights at the bike too.

Congrats on your new possession.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:47   #6
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She is surely beautiful. And, a pretty interesting travelogue too.

Why did you subject such a beauty to danger by getting off her on a rail-track?
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:49   #7
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Hey, nice to know you found your bike at last.

Although you claim not to have tried to put your excitement in words, its evident in the whole post. hehe.

Mind two questions?
1. The ride was the next day after you bought the bike?
2. Are those two shots same? The processed and unprocessed one?
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:49   #8
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Superb. so when do we hear of you doing the bun burner deluxe? You are just almost there

Minus those crap 50km that took 2 hours = you did 950km in ten hours all included. Bun Burner Deluxe ahoy!

EDIT:
Ultra dumb koshuns but you've awoken my long lost fancies

a. What range does it have? Being a '99 model, it works with speed 93 or 89 octane saada petrol will do? I notice you never mention speed 97.
b. What's the cost of a similar m/c (pm me if you wouldnt wanna reveal on forum)
c. Over say three years of riding on all sorta north indian terrain, say 36k km - what would be the kinda repairs and consumables you would expect to shell out?

Sorry to hijack the passionate log, but im already salivating myself, and calculating!

Last edited by phamilyman : 18th October 2007 at 18:52.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:49   #9
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Thanks max.

Moral, you probably saw this bike in Pune. i didn't enter Pune city.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:50   #10
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Congrats dude, neat bike. It seems to have been taken good care of, looks brand new.

I can't believe you rode that bike from Blore to Hubli. Atleast now, you know your bike can go anywhere!!! Hehe

U must have really enjoyed the Belgaum-Kolhapur stretch. It's one among the best roads in the country today.

Shan2nu
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:52   #11
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Quote:
2. Are those two shots same? The processed and unprocessed one?
They're from 2 diff angles but it doesn't matter. When Rudra works on Photoshop, it's just magic!!!

Shan2nu
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:56   #12
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WOW WOW WOW WOW OW OW WOW!!!!

robin she is beuty and i will not forgive you or ol man for not giving the ring !! just kidding

happy for ya, happy biking.
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Old 18th October 2007, 18:57   #13
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The confessions of a true biker. Would a V-Rod interest you as well?
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Old 18th October 2007, 19:08   #14
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Congrats on your new ride! Hope to see lots more of such passionately written travelogues!
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Old 18th October 2007, 19:20   #15
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That was a fantastic report Robin. Nice to see that you got a nice clean bike after all the hunting. The bike looks super and since i'm a sucker for sound pls post an audio/video clip.

have fun and ride safe.
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