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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ken.One - The Bike

There are days when you wake up, do your chores, meet people, smile, laugh, cry, fight, love and then go back to bed as the same person who woke up some hours earlier. But then, there are some days, when you wake up as one individual, but by the time you go back to sleep, you are a change or should I say you are an enlightened human being, who learned and experienced a new chapter in life, a day when all of a sudden you realized that what it's like to jump from 18 Bhp to 180 Bhp, a day when you ride the Yamaha R1.

But above anything else, your greatest learning comes from the interaction with some of sanest minds on saddle, and on 5th, December, 2010 I came up close and in person with Krishnendu Kes a.k.a Ken Da and his 2007 Yamaha R1.

The Inception
It all started with me sending a friendly request to Ken Da, if he would be interested in allowing me to do a photo shoot cum review of his R1 and to my utter surprise, he readily accepted my request (goes to show the immense sense of camaraderie of the person) and after some discussions and planning, we decided to meet on 5th, December, 2010 outside Ducati Gurgaon showroom at 7:30 am.

Needless to say that the my senses were brimming with excitement and the thrill to get such an opportunity was evident in every passing moment I prepared myself both mentally and technically (be it prepping my camera or concentrating more on my riding)

5th, December, 2010, 6:00 am.... I don't remember when was the last I time I woke up without an alarm. Got ready, had a munch, and by 7:00 am I wished my Lady bye and off I went for the meet the moment I was so eagerly waiting for.

The Introduction
Having reached the spot early, I started setting up my camera. I was intending to capture Ken Da approaching on his One and therefore I had to have the right settings, as I knew I won't be having much time to get the shot.

All of a sudden I heard a very distinct buzz amidst of all the vehicles hustling through and only one sentence came to my mind with a smile on my face - "It's here... be prepared" and before I could even raise my hand, I saw Ken Da waive to me and zipped through the opposite lane with a couple of shaken cars behind. When his approach towards me, I was prepared this time and finally I got the shot I was waiting for.

After a quick greeting, we decided to move towards the Gurgaon-Faridabad connecting road, as the tarmac is in much better condition over there and on early Sunday morning, there were good chances of it being adequately less populated.

So, we started towards our decided spot and very soon enough I found the first evidence of what genre of cultural shock a Super Bike is on roads. I had to keep the throttle full open on my bike just keep up with Ken Da, who seemed to be very relaxed on his bike and the One also sounded in no hurry.

We reached out spot and Ken Da very humbly said "All Yours"

Meeting up with the One
Anyone who knows me, knows what rapacious fan I'm of the One and coming up close and personal with it outside track is an opportunity I couldn't have missed.

Super Bikes are more than bikes. They are million dollar concepts which can change every perception you had about biking in a wink of the eye. If you want to know how powerful these bikes can get on road, you don't even need to ride it. Just switch on the bike and while the bike is idling, just hold the throttle (well just that would be your first introduction to the awesome power waiting to be unleashed) and give your right wrist muscle the slighted possible flex.

The tacho goes berserk and the engine note changes into a roar and your sense are taken aback in shock as the thousand horses make their presence felt and that's when the respect steps in and you start looking at the bike more seriously as if your pride has just been brought down to your knees.

Needless to say that all this vigor has been brought together in the most gorgeous manner and the bike looks a stunner in every possible angle. You see the machine from any angle and you fall in love with her all over again. Long story short, the 2007 Yamaha R1 is the best possible Shakespearean description of a woman you can ever read.

Well I can write Terra Bytes describing the beauty of this machine and still not run out of words.

So many miles covered and so many smiles given, the bike still looks in splendid shape and every bit of it is a gem.

It was time for a ride
Well the gem of a person Ken Da is, he surprised me one more time. I seeked permission for a test ride on the bike, and bang he said "Sure go ahead, you want to feel it as to how it rides, it's all yours, but be careful with your right wrist"

That's it. It was time to taste one of the ultimate fruits of motorcycling on Indian traffic conditions (well there was hardly any traffic to mention about, but yes as I said earlier, that there is a world of difference between the serene track conditions and the sucker road conditions)

I sat the on the bike, Ken Da cranked the bike for me and the first things I noticed -
  • The riding position - Track oriented!! It's certainly not for day to day commuting. So, the bike clarifies it's intent with this very basic property. At the same time, at my dimensions, the bike is quite roomy and I felt very comfortably tucked behind the Double Bubble Wind shield, grabbing the tank. Also, I had some seat space to adjust my riding position as per my requirement, if the need be, which was a good thing.
  • The Engine - 180 Bhp at crank, humming through 4 cylinders with 4 valves per cylinder, can be easily felt on the thigh region. This time of the year is perfect for riding these fire breathing dragons as the ambient temperature helps a lot to cool down the engine.
  • The Throttle - The throttle of a bike is where all the fun lies. But grab hold of the throttle on this bike (and you don't even have to twist it), and you are made aware that even though this is seven skies cross fun, but if you cannot appreciate the respect that hides within, you are in for trouble.
  • The Levers - The best placed levers I've laid my figures on till date. I know that Super Bikes have adjustable lever positions and I'm sure that Ken Da might have adjusted them to his comfort, but I found them absolutely perfectly placed for immaculate operation for me too.
  • The Rear Sets - The Rear Sets on the bike are places somewhere were the pillion foot pegs on my bike is. It took me one or two attempts to get that framed on my mind, but those rear sets helped me to position my torso better on the bike so that I had the least possible strain on my back and wrist.
It was time to ride. Concentration was the word of the moment here. Everything that I've learned till date from my riding flashed passed before my eyes within Milli seconds. I squeezed the clutch, tapped the foot down on the gear  and I goofed up!! I tapped the gear as per my habit on my Pulsar 200 and the bike quickly made me realize that. Ken Da said it's not done and I need to make sure that I tap my foot all the way. This was again a lesson, that this is nothing like anything.

Finally I did it right and "THUD" the first gear was engaged. With a slow release of the clutch and trying to adjust the throttle, the bike was now in motion, and I was inside the cockpit of a fighter jet.

When I looked through the wind shield, every sense of time and space smeared into non-existence. There was no time, no distance, no past no present. It was me, riding the R1 on road conditions for the first time. The trust Ken Da showed on me was coming heavy on my shoulders. Concentrating as hard as I could, I slowly whispered "Talk to me baby" and in the roar of the thousand horses beneath, and that ear tickling rear tyre note, the bike said "Let's get to know each other now and we'll have fun on our way back" and I thought so be it.

The first 2-3 km, it was a one-to-one session of getting familiar with. Here's what I felt -
  • Be easy on the throttle and the bike pampers you like a kid. Unless and until you get the hang of it, your right wrist is your key to your safe journey.
  • The feedback from the suspension is the best I've ever tasted on Indian roads. I could feel even a smallest pebble going beneath the tyres.
  • The grip of the tyres was another to treat altogether to experience. They invite your to ride properly and without any sort of fear playing at the back of your mind. But always keep on thing in mind, on these bikes, if you're scared ,you would probably live longer.
  • The sound that the rear tyre makes when in motion, is a real treat to the ears. I've heard this from my bike too, but this was heavy!!
  • Show respect to the brakes and try to adjust your finger's application on the brakes. At the very first application I could realize that there's a 10 times difference in trying to brake 18 Bhp and trying to brake 180 Bhp. Be very soft and subtle on the brakes and for me two finger application was more than enough.
  • The shoulder plays a major role in steering the bike. It's a riding technique to be learned when riding a bike of this genre. Counter steering is your best buddy here.
  • Throttle action transforms into raw speed exponentially. The slightest move of the right wrist muscle was sending the digital speedo into a fit of rage. There is no linear pattern between the both.
  • Slow turns are pain and the weight of the bike starts showing itself. Needs some serious getting used to and skill to tackle them in more traffic.
  • The rear view mirrors were very useful. They were providing ample free view after my elbow armor.
So, just after crossing the Gurgaon Delhi border, I decide to take a U turn back after the first red light. As I said earlier, slow and tight U turns are a pain and needs getting used to and practice. Thankfully the traffic was sparse and I did a descent job of turning the bike through the tight U turn.

By now I was quite at ease with bike and so I thought of playing with the higher gears. Again, Concentration was the key here, and I decided to just concentrate on my riding and not look at what speeds I'm doing and at what RPMs.

The first three shifts were smooth and I decided to pull the bike at the fourth shift. One thing I would like mention here is the gear shifting. I've heard reviews that the shifting of these earlier versions of the R1 were not that smooth at high rpms, but I found that the way I was shifting at lower rpms, the shifts were just spot on. It felt lighter than my bike. So, coming back to the fourth shift, as I was pulling more and more on the throttle, I tucked myself more behind the wind shield and the roomy ergos helped me to do that.

I didn't looked at the Speedo or the Tacho but going by the sense of speed, I was well above 130kmph when I ran out of dependable tarmac and I decide to shift down. As I saw Ken Da very patiently waiting for me on the other lane, I had already shaved most of the momentum. I decided to give it a final dash at 3rd before I reach the traffic post ahead. How well I rode, I'm not sure, and I guess Ken Da would be able to give a feedback based on what he saw while I was riding, but yes, one thing is for sure that I was riding the mighty 1000cc with more confidence in my heart than I have when I ride my bike currently (because of my bike's worn out tyres)

Well it was an eventful day and a very important chapter in the journey of ThrottleQuest. I always believed that Super Bikes are more than bikes, they are Riding University on two wheels and they actually teach you what riding is all about. It's not that if you have a Super Bike, you cannot ride them on roads, they are street bikes after all and it's this realization that you are a mere disciple to a religion, guided by the willingness to learn every second and respect every other, that makes you a motorcyclist and the Super Bike your shrine.
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  1. No words buddy.. no words.

    I am soon expecting to ride "your" R1 someday.


  2. Thanks Bro!! :) Your words have always been an inspiration for me.


Item Reviewed: Ken.One - The Bike Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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