Faster than an F1 car

BBC world takes the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed. 407kmph ! Wow ! However, they don't have pedestrians rushing across the roads or cows squatting in the middle.


P200 review

The 200

As per my last post, we were at Chakan plant for riding their pulsars. We got to ride the 200 for a couple of laps each and here's the upshot on that. Please keep in mind that it was only for 2 laps (or around 7kms ) that I was on the bike, so the reivew is based on that.

First Impressions

The first impression was based on riding Sid's bike. It was a black bike, standing inocculously with the other bikes outside the dhaba where we met. Sleek, shiny and looking like a pulsar but not quite like a pulsar. Broader rear wheels, a 200 sticker, split seat and a different silencer are what are immidiately discernable to the eye. I had just reached there on nalin's pulsar which is one of the first lot with a few changes for stability.

Took the keys from Sid (thanks man for letting me ride the bike!), took a few pics of me on the bike , and off I went. I guess it was not more than 2kms up and down on the pune bypass highway.

The first few things I noticed were:
  • Higher seating than the older pulsars
  • Rock solid feel of being planted while ripping, but feels kind of awkward while braking as your stance is more forward (like a racing bike, but your butt feels kind of a bit high).
  • Turning radius is smaller than the normal Pulsar because I can lean the bike more easily without feeling queasy.
  • Throaty engine sound (after riding a Zma , anything feels throaty!). more than the classic i felt.
  • Braking was ok, but since I was on public roads I could not really brake all that hard as: (a) I did not know the bike, (b) I did not want someone to bang me from behind, (c) It was not my bike or even a test bike.
So, this was a gentle ride on the traffic roads. I did get a feeling that the bike was not like the normal pulsars. Was looking forward to take it on the Chakan test track where I would not be bothered with uncles cutting across me, or dogs or cows parked on the road.

Riding on the track

Chakan Track from Google Earth

We got only 2 rounds :( , due to time constraints. The BAL test track is a fun one with a couple of straights, lots of bends and a shocker of a hairpin bend (see pic above). The first round was a test round. I did not exceed speeds. Tested the brakes. Tested the leans in the corners gingerly as there was quite a lot of gravel and sand on the roads. The next round was a bit faster one, crouching on the straights, braking hard at the end. What I felt was :
  • Bike brakes well. I was quite impressed. As per the BAL guys there, the front disc is smaller than the one in the ZMA. I tried some hard braking and did not get any fishtailing.
  • Leaning is ok, but still does not feel as comfortable as the ZMA. It could be because I was not used to this bike.
  • The bike accelerates fast till around 65-68kmph on the speedometer (which is digital btw, unlike the zma, where the odometer and trip meters are digital).
  • When crouching, I cannot go behind the front visor , unlike the Zma. I am peeping above it.
  • when crouching , I cannot easily read the speedo, I have to tilt my head down a bit to read it. I use a full face helmet and the lower jaw protection was blocking the view. No such issue in the ZMA.
  • Taking the curves was ok. I could not really test it out as much as I would like to due to gravel . So, no hanging off. Swinging the bike from side to side seemed easier than on a classic pulsar, which does not really want to change direction from straight.
  • The seats are split seat. I did not have any problems, but Nav , who is considerably heavier than even me, did have issues of fitting into it.
  • The bike seat is high. For me (5'8") , I could not plant both feet properly on the ground.
  • Hanging on to the tank with the knees is a problem. The point of contact with the tank is the knee only, and not the thighs, so holding on can become a bit of an irritant.
  • The bike gives a viberation above 68kmph. Its not a resonance for that speed and which will then pass, but more of a viberation which keeps on increasing.

Comparison with the ZMA

So, the moot question, which got asked a lot to me from they guys and also from the BAL guys on track and later on in the evening - am I a convert ?

Unfortunately no. For a person owning a ZMA it makes not sense of moving to the 200, unless you are so desperate for a new bike or you want something with a better mileage (as claimed by BAL). Here are my reasons why I wont be going for it (unless I get it for free ;-) ) :
  • Differentiation value not high enough. The ZMA though not the best looking bike around (CBZ used to look better), stands out of the crowd. When I plonk down the money, I want people to know that I have a different bike. As a pulsar I get no such feel. Also, I am sure people will say to the 200 owners - 'modification accha hai'.
  • Its not that fast. Acceleration kind of loses out in the middle. Going above 100 is slow.
  • Electricals had a problem. We faced another of the gremlins with one of the bikes speedo console going haywire and the LCD panel displaying gibberish.
  • Handling through corners not as comfortable as on the ZMA. But i may be biased here as I did not ride this bike long enough. But I remember taking low speed banks on the ZMA when it was new without second thought. Here, I had to feel out how things were.
  • The grunt though good for short stretches will probably not be so nice on long rides. For this reason I really like the stress less feel of the ZMA engine.

Should you get it ?

50-50 kind of answer.

Here's the thing:
  • If you already have a ZMA - no point.
  • If you have a p180 - no point. Why would you want to upgrade by a teeny-weeny 20cc ?
  • If you have a 150cc bike, then you can think about it. But then why not wait till June for the 220cc pulsar to come out ?
  • If you have no bike at present, and want to get one right now - best value for your money.
Other links & Blogs
- brick bats, comments welcome -

What a Weekend !

At chakan with the BAL team

So, what did you do on the weekend ? Movie ? Slept ? Shopping ?

Nah.

We were riding the new Pulsar 200 at Bajaj's Chakan Plant. 29 of us rode/drove/bussed/flew from across the places to meet up the teams developing Bajaj's latest power horses and then got to ride the 200 in their test track.

And as a perfect finalee to the weekend, Rossi won in the Spanish GP.

The buildup

The planning for the weekend was started a few months in advance. Pestering Venkat in Bangalore to float to the BAL guys the plan for a Chakan visit from end of last year. With the upcoming news of the launch of new bikes, it was a good chance of getting a visit to the manufacturing plant.

After much cajoling and talks, finally Venkat called me up to say that we have a go ! Unfortunately we got a very short notice - of about 2 weeks to set up everything. Another problem was that we could take only 30 people to the track as that was the max number that Bajaj authorities were comfortable with accomodating for the visit. Understandably this caused a lot of heartburn on the groups, as lots of people hopeful of joining got left out.

So, what is Chakan ?

Bajaj Auto Limited has a R&D division, where they design and manufacture the Pulsar bikes. This plant is located at Chakan in Maharashtra , near Pune. That was the place where we were to go to.

In nov 2003, we had our first meet there. This was our 2nd one and we named it Chakan07.

The weekend begins

I took a flight to Pune from hyd. There was no time for me to get away from office and ride up. There is only one flight which is between Hyd and Pune - Deccan Airways. The first problem i faced was that the DA people said i could not take my helmet in the plane ! I had to go and talk to the security chaps to get the helmet through - and fyi - helmets are allowed as hand baggage. I checked in my shoulder bag.

My cousin Nalin was waiting for me at Pune airport for the ride back to CRPF camp. We decided to just ride all the way to Toni da Dhabba where the others were having dinner first.


Arriving at Toni Dhaaba

The guys from Bangalore, Pune and a few from Mumbai were already there. I run the BN group, but it was a first meeting for many of us. Over dinner we swapped lots of bike stories.


Dinner with BNers and BPers

The next day we all met at Joshi dhaba on the Pune bypass for breakfast and pre-ride briefing. Sid came on his new pulsar 200 ! Was the first time we saw the 200 and I wanted to check it out. Took it out for a short spin.

Riding Sid's 200
The bike feels higher because of the changed riding posture - more like the CBZ . I did not really test out the top end as it was a new bike, but it manages to reach 60 easy - but more noise than the zma.

Lining up.

Breakfast over we had a 1/2 an hour pre-ride briefing on the dos and donts and how we were going to ride to chakan. I was the point, and then numbered all the people behind me. Explained the staggered riding formation we were to follow and off we went.

Group riding - Staggered formation

Riding in formation.

Bajaj chakan plant

We reached the Bajaj plant and met Sudhir Kamat who was in charge of the rowdy group of riders who had just come in ;-) . Started off with lunch and then a factory tour. This was followed by a Q&A session with the BAL Marketting and R&D teams. A lot of heated discussions followed.

Then we went on the test track.

There were 4 beauties lined up - one of each colour. Gleaming, waiting to glide on the tracks. The bikes are already on the road, so you would know what they look like by now. We got a big disappointment that there was no 220. Nav was ready with a cheque in his pocket that if he liked the 220, he would ride out of the plant on it - but he never got his wish :(

Initially it was decided to have 2 riders on the track for 3 rounds each. But with a big group of riders, and the steadily approaching evening, we had to shorten it to 2 rounds each from the 3rd batch ( which was me and kedar :( ). The first round also had a bad incident with Hrishi going off the track. On my rounds I saw that the track had not been swept clean and there was a lot of sand and rubble on the tracks which probably caused the issue. The offroading experience of Hrishi also meant that everyone after that were going slower than what they would have been planning to go at.

Group pics.

The last rider was Venkat on his ride on the 200, and then a picture session with the BAL guys and the bikes. We gave a rousing 'Hip Hip Hurrah' to the BAL team to give us this opportunity . Then we left for Panchsheel club for dinner hosted by BAL. All done. Time to leave.


Riders in the night.


Chilling out at Panchsheel club

The evening plans finished by 10:30pm or so. It was too early to sleep, so a few of us decided to go to Lonavala for tea :)

Rocking weekend I must say ! Thanks to all the guys who made this possible , and the guys who came and made the meet a success !

Hurry Home


Crossposted.

DCE dudes to set British GP on fire !


CNN IBN has the following article on the achievements the guys at DCE are making.
Amazing going guys ! Best of luck !

Details on British GP track ( Silverstone) at :

Plea for help

Do we live in a tolerant society ? Do we really follow what we preach ? Guess not. Indian society has a lot of inhuman faces hidden deep inside. This is what happened recently to a friend of mine :
If you can do something, or you know someone who can help, please contact Shantanu on his blog.

Install hindi fonts on Windows

Actually this started off as a search for the Indian budget. Over at the government site I found that the budget was available in the hindi version also. However, the instructions on how to use hindi fonts was minimal, and unless you are one of those people who meddle with the comps a bit too much (like me), it would probably be a bummer for you.

So, I thought a step by step guide will be good. Here's how you go about doing it. This is the windows version, I will come up with the linux version soon.

Step 1: Download the font from here, and unzip it to a convenient directory. I unzipped into a directory on my desktop. See the address bar location as you will need it later in the coming steps.

Step 2: Open fonts. Click the 'start' button -> Settings -> Control Panel. Locate the 'Fonts ' in the jumble of things there. Double click it to open the fonts directory.

Step 3 : From the file menu, select 'Install New Font'.


Step 4 : This opens up a new window with 'add fonts' (hmm... QA is not paying attention to the small details). Now, this box is a very old box and you will not see the paths like 'Desktop' etc. So, you will have to manually go to the place where you unzipped the fonts in step 1. Once in the correct directory, it should automatically select all the font files. Click on 'Select All'. This should select all the fonts. Click on 'OK' and it will install all the fonts.

Step 5 : Download the hindi version of the budget (It requires Adobe Acrobat to read so hopefully you have that also, otherwise just download). You will need to click on each link , go to download the hindi version. As a quick check the hindi version of Key to budget can be got from here.


That's it. Now you are ready to read it in Hindi ... unless you are like me ... who can read faster in English !