Suzuki Shaolin Ownership Review by Akhil Sunny

Rides are more than just pieces of metal and plastic. They might have been made of lifeless matter, but when formed into a ride and when its starts rolling, something magical happens. It is more of a spiritual feeling, like meditation. It doesn’t matter if it is Harley or an Agusta or even a 50cc TVS Excel but it’s the passion that matters, especially when it comes from the heart.

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My first ride was not a motor cycle. It was a 94 model Mahindra 500 Jeep on which I learned the basics of driving at the age of sixteen. Few years later, another car came to my life when I was in the second year of my Engineering. It was a 96 model Maruti Esteem 1000 which I bought along with three of my friends.

About cars, It’s more spacious, more comfortable, you won’t get drenched in the rain but something is missing which is ‘A rare feeling that happens only when the right hand twist the throttle’. There is an old saying “Four wheels move body, but two wheels move the soul”.

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I was fascinated by bikes from childhood itself. The good old bullets, road kings and awesome RD 350 which ruled Indian roads back then, and the roar of the bikes on the ‘well of death’ during village carnivals and other festivals ignited my biking passion.

Then came the cable TV with a channel named ’Travel & Living’ which showcased choppers with mind blowing designs, stretched handlebars and biker lifestyle. Till then, only movies were the source to see imported rides, especially movies like Easy Rider which featured bikes as a symbol of freedom.

About my ride, It’s a 98 model Suzuki Shaolin which I brought from Coimbatore. It’s an amazing ride. The car we brought got messed up after some minor accidents and our pocket money just vanished into the maintenance. At last, we became fed up with pushing the car around and sold it from the workshop itself.

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Then I was really desperate to get a ride, since my collage was far away from highway and buses where a pretty rare scene over there. So I started searching for a ride. I finally found this one from a second hand dealer. And the moment I did my test ride, I fell in love with it. It has got the shear acceleration of Suzuki shogun and riding comfort of a five speed gearbox.

I brought the ride and started to use it on a daily basis. It is literally like a Shaolin monk (small yet powerful), no wonder Suzuki gave that name. I had my first accident on the first week itself, as I was trying to scare a dog which came to me. But I popped the clutch and the ride wheelied for about 10 meters; I lost control and fell down.

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Even though I’ve learned the basics of driving on some other bikes, this is the one which I learned riding. And ‘the raging pit bull’ has just kept its pace ever since. I still have this ride in my garage. And the beauty of the ride is that, even after being kept idle and dry for months, when fuelled it never lets me down on starting, even without a battery.

The major problem with this ride is its braking. The old school drum brakes are never a match for its power and acceleration. About fuel economy, I’ve got a maximum of 42kmpl and an average of 36kmpl even during rough and hard usage. Other than some minor maintenance, It’s almost perfect and never felt its age.

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It still has got that 15 year old stock stickers and even now it shines better than some of the rides we see every day. And the funny part is, while he is on the village roads, I can see many eyes staring at me – some youngsters who like the sound of two stroke and some grannies irritated by its growling. My ride is definitely not big league, but it still keeps my biker heart pumping.

Akhil Sunny