You're favorite 150cc Indian Sport Bike?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Check out the GF170 Laser Community on Orkut

I had earlier started a community on orkut dedicated to the Kinetic GF170 Laser where I wanted people who liked this bike or owned this bike to come and share their views. This led to me starting with this blog later...hence I would like you all to see from where this blog had actually started from. You're more than welcome to join the community by visiting the following link: Kinetic Gf 170 laser Sport

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Comparative review of the Pulsar 200 &180 with the GF Laser

Having spent considerable time testing the new bikes from Bajaj primarily the Pulsar 180 and also the Pulsar 200, I can now safely pen down my thoughts and observations about the same. The new Pulsar 180 DTSi is a far-cry from the 1st generation of 180s in terms of both good and bad. It's now more refined and powerful at 16.5bhp it's the leader in it's segment and almost matches the Zma in terms of specs., atleast on paper. Bajaj has considerably improved ride quality, handling characteristics, plastics and it's beyond doubt the best looking Pulsar ever. Having completed the initial running in period I took the bike to the highway to get an idea of what the bike was indeed capable of offering. Although, I didn't clock the timings but 0-60 was pretty fast through the 1st couple of gears. The bike does 63kmph at 5000rpm and at 6000rpm it does 74kmph. I pushed the bike all the way till 123kmph after which acceleration was sluggish so I didn't push it any further. One of the things that I was surprised to see that NVH levels were almost non-existent at such high speeds. One of the areas where the bike did fail to convince me was the inconvenience of shifting gears. The gearbox makes a lot of noise while shifting down from higher gears and trying to find the neutral is an "art" one has to learn. The 2 valve motor was designed for the city with very good initial torque and initial acceleration but it manages to give you good company till around 8000rpm where it attains max power. Max torque is achieved at 6000 rpm and you can feel it best when your on the 3rd gear, the bike behaves like an arrow. Ridden at 4000-6000rpm without too much stress on the motor the bike returned a decent 46km/ltr mileage in the city with ample usage of clutch. Ridden to the fullest and with sharp acceleration she returned around 40km/ltr.
Coming to the Pulsar 200 I must say all that I have written above is true for this bike but this bike is beyond all that atleast in terms of the goodies and changes it comes with. I don't remember now but one day I was comparing the 200 with the 180 and found out twenty new changes Bajaj made on this bike over the 180cc. There isn't much difference between the two bikes as far as specs is concerned apart from the fact that the 200 is liquid cooled has an engine which is 20cc larger and has about a couple of bhps more power. But there are two remarkable differences that I could notice between the two bikes:
i) The rear-set gear shifter doing duty on the Pulsar 200 are lightyears ahead of the ones that come with the 180cc. These have been newly designed by Bajaj for the 200 & 220 and are uniquely placed on the side subframe and hence give that rear set feel. Shifting gears is extremely smooth an operation on the 200 DTSi compared to the 180cc.
ii) The split seats that comes on the 200 aren't just to enhance the looks of the bike infact after riding the 200 I felt that the split seats were ergonomically designed to give the most comfortable riding position with the rear-set shifters something one could only think about in a CBZ (older version) or a Zma.
Finally, coming to the GF170 Laser I must admit that it's an older generation bike and lacks heavily in terms of refinement. This bike was always infamous for high NVH levels in the riding rpm band of 4k to 6k. But, then again there was always a difference between the these bikes and the GF170 it's a typical 4-valver hence the motor was expected to behave well after 6000rpm and it always did. It was a magical change to see all the NVH disappear once you go beyond 7500rpm on the GF. The motor redlined at 9500rpm possibly the only Indian made bike to do so bike was meant for high rpms with 14.6bhp being developed at around 8000rpm from a 165.12 mill was like a rocket science back in 2003 but was completed ignored by the Indian market. City riding wasnt that bad unless and untill you wanted to do a quarter mile drag with a RX135 5 speed. Like the typical 4 valver the initial acceleration was although way better than the 100-150cc bikes of that time but was no where to compete with the likes of the Zma. The motor was never good in terms of fuel efficiency but the bike certainly had it's share of niggling problems. I warranted regular attention and maintainance which is not required in modern day bikes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

There's a new kid on the block...

The Indian bike industry is going through a silent revolution in recent times like one it has never seen before. Thanks to massive competition among the major players to cater to the demands of educated consumers motorcycling in India is no longer a means of cheapest form of personal transportation from Point A to Point B. Infact, we enjoy a sort of unique to India classification of motorcycles sold here starting from 100cc commuters to 200cc+ premium bikes. Hmm, so you would say nothing much has changed over the years just that we have graduated from 100cc to 200cc that's about it...which is no where close to the developed world's understanding of motorcycles where a motorcycle is something with a engine of 400cc or above. Well not quite, the Indian scenario is a lot different from the developed world. There are rigid mindsets that oversee the pricing, mileage, power, maneuverability and other queer issues like status that come in to play when we talk motorcycles in this country. Main reason for people buying a motorcycle in this country is need for transportation and not weekend leisure riding. Further, as the bridge between the price of a motorcycle shorten with that of a car the owner would be swayed to buying a car, if he may not be able to afford a car then he shall buy a cheaper bike to suit his needs....hence we may draw a conclusion that motorbike market is still not matured enough to handle true premium bikes (i.e. the quarter liter to liter class bikes).

All said and done, coming back to the point few weeks back I had the opportunity of visiting the Bajaj Pro-biking showroom in Calcutta and state-of-the art showroom dealing ONLY in Bajaj's Premium range of bikes which fall within the 180-220cc category. There were a couple of bikes in the dyno. room a Bajaj Pulsar 200cc and a Pulsar 220cc.

The reason why Bajaj Auto is on a winning streak is because they got their act together long time back and started depending a lot on R&D and after sales service. This is where companies like Kinetic lost a lot of ground. The reason behind this discussion is that the Pulsar 150 and the GF125 were launched nearly at the same time. Both were good bikes. Infact in the beginning the GF was a better bike if you compared specs. but then Pulsar motorcycles have gone through a sea change and they are a brand new lot of bikes filled with gizmos, tech, refinement and decent build quality. So a Pulsar 200/220 today happens to lightyears ahead from the Kinetic GF170 in terms of specs., which used to be a good bike say about 5 years back. Infact I was reading an old issue of Auto India (may be May/June 2003) which carried out a comparison between the P180 classic and the GF170, the later turned out to be better bike in certain parameters back then. But today, I have a latest generation Pulsar 180 DTSi, which when compared to the GF170 completely outweighs the GF in terms of merits. Bajaj is the new kid on the block w.r.t. the Indian Motorcycling Industry and are soon going to rule the domestic markets...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Strictly OEM stickers only...

I was always very particular about a certain type of paint job...and this is it...a complete RED body with strictly Black/Red stickers OEM stickers only...I took the priviledge of adding the K&N stickers as well since they were sent by K&N all the way from the USA. The Original K&N stickers also add to the bling factor. The current paint job is a great contrast from the combination paint job that came as stock feature but I think this looks way better. Wanted to get Matt Black on the Engine & Gearbox but then again this isnt a Comet's still a GF170 Laser Sport Edition so retained the OEM paint scheme for the Engine and Chassis.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tulsyan Automobiles - The face of Kinetic in Calcutta

Kinetic could'nt have found a better match than in Tulsyan Automobiles - their dealer and service center in Calcutta. There is not a single word in the English Dictionary that will be able to express how bad they actually are. Since the last 4 years that I have known them and had dealt with them innumerable times I have come to a conclusion that they can win the Worst Automobile Dealer's of India trophy with great ease. Nevertheless Kinetic will the leading the pack as the Worst 2 Wheeler Manufacturer in the World trophy. I will have a heart attack with uncontrollable anger if I try to pen down the incidents I had with them till date but I will highlight today's incident:

I drove to the their workshop(a makeshift shelter in a factory compound which used to be some kind of a storehouse before) this morning at around 9:30am only to find out the security guard ( of the factory which houses the workshop) at the gate told me to come after 11:30am. I was literally shocked to hear that the Kinetic Workshop opens at 11:30am. When I asked him since when has it been opening so late he said he had no idea and suggested me to come back at the said time. Now since I was passing through the area I thought it would be a good idea to take a pitstop at the workshop and I might be lucky enough to find a few of the spares I needed badly. But then again I didn't think it was prudent enough to wait for nearly two hours only to find that the workshop still didn't have the spares that I wanted so I turned my car around an drove off...

Someone asked me the question today....

I took the bike to my friend's workshop today which is the only utility for my bike since the past 1 year. Yes, I now take out my bike once a month and ride it to the workshop where we desperately try to fix niggling problems but eventually fail to do so since certain issues require replacement of parts with new spares which are never available. There in the workshop someone finally asked me the question today..."Do all Laser owners face so many issues like I do?" Well frankly speaking the answer to that is "I don't know.." But one thing I can say with conviction is that there are only a handful of owners who still ride the Laser anymore. Most of the bikes that were sold are no longer road worthy IMHO due to lack of support from the Company in terms of After Sales Service and spares. My bike is badly in need of certain spares and believe it or not I'am not not able to source neither of them as the Company has stopped manufacturing spares for this bike.