“Why do you want a motorcycle?”

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Panorama of the famous Kerala backwaters with the bike at the center.

It’s such a profound question, and the answer can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Some would choose it for the basic need of personal mobility. Others would want it for status, to portray a certain image. For me, the answer was simple : to go touring on my own bike!

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Atop a small hillock covered with tall grass.

It doesn’t matter what motorcycle you have. Whatever be the specs and features, what matters is that it is YOUR bike, and yours alone. Every machine has good and bad aspects. There is no one perfect machine. So be proud of your bike, and cherish it – this is my motto!

When it was time for me to purchase my bike, I decided to focus on the 125cc category. They had more power than the 100cc, while they also had more mileage than the 150ccs. Thus I bought my first bike – a black Bajaj Discover DTSi. It was a (relatively) fast and small bike which gave me good mileage. However, the bike was unreliable and had a lot of complaints. The service from different Bajaj centers was also pathetic. I felt that it was a wonderful bike doomed by quality issues. Thus, I reluctantly sold it and started to look for another bike.

Since the Discover had only 4 gears, I decided to choose a 125cc bike with at least 5 gears. This ruled out the Hero Glamour, Hero Super Splendor and the Honda Shine. The Suzuki twins (Zeus & Heat) and the TVS Victor both looked too small for my frame!

The Honda Stunner was a newcomer and I went for a test ride with high expectations. However, I felt it was not as refined as the Shine, and it sounded definitely unlike the famously smooth Honda engines. Also, I didn’t appreciate the fixed fairing or the split-seats. While it did look very sporty, I wanted a more conventional design.  That left me with the Yamaha Gladiator. It looked really beautiful and had all the features I was looking for. It was also very reliable being a Yamaha. I settled on the more expensive RS version, simply because I loved the “Yamaha Racing Blue” color first seen on the R15!

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A long trip across mountains and valleys.

It has been more than four years on my Yamaha Gladiator. I have enjoyed it’s “big bike” feel, especially for a 125cc. It still gives me a consistent mileage of 55-58 kmpl. Even now, the paint has not worn off, showing extremely good quality. The gears are still butter smooth, and the handling still is impressive. It’s also quite comfortable for both rider and pillion. The disc brake has helped avoid many dangers because of it’s superior braking power. The seating is spot-on and doesn’t give any strain on the palms or the spine. I have ridden it over all sorts of terrain, and in all sorts of weather. Not even a single day goes by when I don’t think about it. My day feels incomplete when I don’t ride my bike.

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On a cold February morning amidst tea estates.

On the negative side, there is a lack of outright power when compared to the Discover. Also, some vibrations are apparent above 70kph. This can cause palm strain when riding consistently over several hours. The lack of a heel shifter may be a concern for some (though not for me). The headlamp is rather weak at night, and the lack of a tripmeter is sorely missed. Plus, the resale value is lower than a Bajaj or Hero/Honda… sigh.

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At land’s end!

But despite all this, the best part is the sheer joy of taking the bike to unknown destinations. To feel the wind in your face, and be thrashed by rains and winds, to squint and blink on the night highway, to stop for a cool lemonade while riding in the afternoon sun… these are feelings best experienced and not described.

Most of my weekends (before marriage) were spent in taking the bike and my camera and going to random destinations. I have come back with several nice photographs and lasting memories. This is the sheer joy of motorcycling. This is what life is all about. This is what is meant by the quote “Four wheels move the body, while two wheels move the soul”.

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Checking out the view.

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Backpack, camera and bike on a Sunday.

Overall, I have had a good experience with Yamaha service in Cochin. They were courteous and attentive to any complaints from day one. This is a big incentive to stay within the Yamaha family, because many other manufacturers offer good bikes but spoil up in the service departments. This leads to customer dissatisfaction in the long run.

So far, I have covered more than 40,000 km and the engine is still as smooth as always. Apart from proper service, I always refuel from the Reliance petrol outlets. Though it is slightly more expensive, the engine sound is so different and quiet when I fill from there.

I have enjoyed reading BikeAdvice.in for a long time. I felt it was time to give something back to the community; hence this write-up.

You can contact me at https://www.facebook.com/rajvision
Wish you all a happy and safe riding!

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