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Monday, December 22, 2014

11 benefits Hero Splendor has but Harley Davidson street 750 doesn't!

You may call me insane. Who in his right mind would compare a Rs 50000 Hero Splendor with a superbike like Harley Davidson Street 750, which is 10 times more expensive? Bikers will probably hit back for coming up with such a pointless comparison. But irrespective of whether you like it or not, India's largest selling motorcycle, Hero Splendor has to its credit certain features and benefit that Harley Davidson Street 750 that I rode recently can't boast of.

Read this post to know more about Harley Davidson rental in Bangalore

So without wasting much time, here we go
Hero Spendor Benefits over Street 750

1. Splendor has a Fuel Gauge, Street 750 doesn't
Street 750 doesn't have a fuel gauge to indicate how much fuel is left. It only has a low fuel warning. What this means is when on a ride, you have no clue as to how much fuel is left and how far you can go. There is no main/reserve lever either. Probably HD believes in Man Maximum, Machine Minimum philosophy wherein rider is expected to know everything and shouldn't be counting on the machine much. So you should either keep refilling every few hundred kms or should carry some extra fuel for emergency purposes, or be ready to rush to a fuel station as soon as you see low fuel signal.
In self drive rental business the practice is to return the vehicle with same amount of fuel as it was at the time of taking delivery. Prithvi from Wickedride opened the tank lid and showed me "See, this much fuel is there". When I said "How do I measure that?" he offered to fill it up and give me full tank, as there was no other way of measuring fuel quantity.

Thankfully Splendor has a fuel gauge and also 1 litre reserve.

2. Splendor has Headlight that can be turned off

Street 750's headlights are permanently switched on, as and when ignition is ON, Day or night. This is same with few other imported bikes like Kawasakis. In certain western countries, motorcycles are required by law to keep their headlight turned ON all the time. This is probably because everyone there uses cars and no one will be expecting a motorcycle, so if there is one, headlight helps in easy identification. Also because of fog etc headlights are often needed there.

But this is not required in India. Keeping headlight ON all the time reduces bulb life greatly. If used only during night, bulb may last several years, if used all the time, it will need replacement much earlier. More maintenance expense.

The other nuisance is that everyone on the street will blink their fingers at you advising that your headlight is ON and you need to turn it off. You will feel helpless not being able to signal back that it can't be turned OFF.

A simple change in electric circuit and an ON/OFF switch could have been provided while assembling the bike for Indian market.

3. Hero Spendor has both Main stand and side stand
Street 750 only has a side stand. This is the case with many superbikes as well (Some expensive cycles also don't come with a stand). Sidestand, though convenient, takes more space. Also if you have to rotate the wheels and check the tyres or other things, main stand (centre stand is convenient. Simply not available in street (Given its weight, it might be very tricky to design a main stand that can work with manual effort)

4. Hero has Chain transmission while HD relies on Belt
While all bike manufacturers are using chain transmission, Harley Davidson still uses belt transmission for its bikes. Belt transmission is less effecient and very difficult to maintain. Chains can be tightened easily, one or two sprockets can be replaced and lubricated well. But Belt transmission, if fails midway, the journey comes to an end and bike has to be towed back to service centre, as most of the local mechanics will not have the spare belt or the know-how to fix it.

5. Splendor has a Kick start
Splendor can be kick started. (It is carburetor engine). HD is Fuel Injection and has no kickstart (Even new Yamaha FZ FI has no kickstart lever). While FI technology is fairly reliable and will work in all weather conditions and for long duration, should it ever fail, bike will be completely stranded.

Of course most of us won't be able to kick start a Harley- we will have to train an elephant to do that.

6. Peace of mind
Park a Splendor anywhere, no one bothers. Park a Harley Davidson and within minutes few people will surround the bike. You will have to keep worrying 'What if someone topples the bike', 'what if someone sits on it, damages things'. Unlike a car, all parts of the bike are exposed. So safety will be a concern as bike draws lots of attention.

7. Better ground clearance
Harley Davidson Street 750 has 145mm of ground clearance while Splendor has 159mm. I find that though 145mm of street is farily adequate, it requires that you clear speedbreakers with extreme caution. If approached with speed or if speed breaker is too big, you might end up scrapping the underbody.

8. Better service network
Any roadside meachnic can quickly fix a broken splendor, but if Harley breaks down, you will have to put it on a truck and take it back to service centre. Local mechanics won't be able to fix as they won't have tools, spares and know-how to work on Harley. This means your ride needs to be cut short if at all bike breaks down.

9. Rear brake that works!
Harley Davidson Street 750's rear brakes are hardly effective. One has to rely 75% on front brakes and very little on rear ones. They can stop indeed if there's enough straight road, but if you're doing some high speed maneuver and counting on your brakes in case of emergencies, then don't. It is like that unruly kid in the class who won't listen to class teacher unless accompanied with heavy scoldings. Simple push on the rear brake lever brings no change in bike's momentum. An unskilled rider might panic in this kind of situation, which can cause more damage. Some effect can be felt only when pressed hard or in combination with front brake. In simple words, Street 750's braking power is NOT proportionate to its engine power. So be careful.

On the other hand, Splendor's rear drum brakes are adequate for its power.

10. Splendor has a placeholder to keep the toolkit
Splendor comes with  a small box to keep tool kit and first aid box. No such provisions in Harley. First aid kit, tool kit etc can't be kept inside the bike somewhere so that they always accompany the bike. They need to be carried additionally.

11. Splendor can go 3 times farther for the same amount of fuel
Of course,with its lower capacity engine, splendor can give 3 times the mileage Harley can offer.

Now, what I said for Splendor is true for most other entry level bikes. I also wanted to mention about handlebar balancers that are missing in HD while many 125-150cc bikes have that. Handlebar balancers are strong protuding part of the handlebar which offer some support if the bike falls on the ground or handlebar hits something. Without it, rider's palm is exposed more to accidents.

Of course, if I make a list of features that are available in Harley but not in Hero, the list will be huge. Detailed review of Harley Davidson Street 750 for next post.

Similar:  BMW 320d- what you don't get for 38 lakhs * Chennai Blr weekend bike trip * Royal Enfield Factory visit *

Friday, December 19, 2014

WickedRide Harley Davidson bike rental in Bangalore!

Bangalore should be crowned “Self-drive rental capital of India” given the fierce battle between Zoomcar and Carzonrent in recent times. Between these two companies and not to mention many other smaller firms, there’re 1000s of cars of different types available for Self drive rental in India’s IT Capital. There’re more options at cheaper rate to rent cars from in Bengaluru than any other city, including Delhi and Goa. 
The new attraction to the vehicle enthusiasts is the self- drive bike rentals. High end motorbikes such as Harley Davidsons, Triumph and Royal Enfield can be rented now in Bengaluru for daily rates. Bikes on rental is very common in Goa, it is available in Delhi/Himalayan regions for those who ride through the Himalayas in tourist seasons, but bike rentals weren’t that known in other cities of India.

A company called “WickedRide” is offering several Harley Davidsons and Royal Enfields. I heard about Wicked Ride through a friend (Vinod Kini, thanks for the heads up) and enthusiastically checked their website. Though rentals were on a higher side (compared to cars of similar purchase price), since there’s no competition or alternative one can’t really complain about the rental rates.

Daily Rental
Purchase Price of the Bike (approx.)
Car model with similar purchase price
Self-drive daily rental for that car (Carzonrent)
Harley Davidson Street 750
5.5 lakhs
Ford Figo
INR 1500
Harley Davidson Super low
7 lakhs
Swift Dzire
INR 1800
Harley Davidson Iron 883
8.5 lakhs
VW Vento
INR 2100
Triump Bonneville
8 lakhs
INR 1700
RE Dessert Storm
1.9 lakhs

RE Continental GT
2 lakhs

RE Thunderbird 500
2 lakhs

These are some of the cheapest Harley Davidson bikes available in India. There're bigger and more expensive ones on sale but not available yet on rental. (I am told wickedride doesn't have any plans to add them either in near future) There is a 250 kms per day usage limit beyond which one has to pay 10% of rental amount for every 50 kms (Not applicable to RE. Bike will be given full tank and to be returned full tank)

Of course, cars have higher demand and better utilization, so car rental companies will be able to charge less and still make money. Bike rental business hasn’t really taken off in India like in say Thailand, so the rentals are still high and options are few.

Another possible reason for high rental is their maintenance bill. I am told a wash of Harley Davidson costs Rs 600, oil change, Rs 4500, basic service about 5k and so on.
I would never buy a Harley, as I don’t find it practical and economical for everyday usage and I don’t have the cult following mindset to spend so much on the bike. But why not rent it and ride around for some time to find out what it is worth?

Nevertheless, I booked a Harley Davidson Street 750 for 2 days, with following objectives:
·         I am not well built macho person. Can ordinary folks also ride a Harley with equal comfort?
·         What is unique about this bike that it is popular worldwide with cult following?
·         Is it practical for everyday city usage or it is good only as a touring bike?
·         And finally, kitna deti hein? Is mileage is better than cars or worse?

When I booked the bike (which I could do over phone), I was told that this is a white board registered bike and rental is not covered by insurance. Any damage I should fund from my pocket. (That is, in the worst case scenario of bike getting  wrecked, I might loose my life time savings to buy them a new bike, even simple damages/repairs can cost as much as a new hero splendor- 'whatever is quoted by the dealer' is the amount to be paid)

In other words, this particular bike rental is not legal to circumvent which I had to sign some documents which effectively 'Transfer' the bike to me temporarily.... It doesn’t have yellow on black number plates as the bikes in Goa have or other self-drive rental cars have. Govt of India has a stupid rule that one should have 50 vehicles to start self drive business- don’t know what is the rationale for it. Not practical rule.

I was asked to make payment through payumoneyPayumoney has a safeguard in place such that it collects money from us but will release it to vendor only after service is delivered. This way customers have some protection in case service is not delivered or not delivered up to the mark. But I was asked to release the money immediately to confirm booking, which meant I had to forgo any opportunity to raise a grievance. (From service provider’s perspective, they don’t want  a situation where someone books but doesn’t turn up to collect the bike and then doesn’t release payment also, causing them loss of business). A solution to this catch 22 situation could be to release say 50% before and pay the  balance later.

On the specified date & time I went to WickedRide’s office in Jayanagar 9th block, Bengaluru. I had to give my original passport and a signed blank cheque leaf as security. (They don’t block amount on credit card like carzonrent). Paperwork was smooth.

They give a helmet free with the bike, but jacket & gloves, goPro camera etc can be rented for an additional expense (Rs 1000 and Rs 500 respectively per day)

I caught up with my friends and set out to ride. More about the bike & Harley Davidson experience will be narrated in next post.

In summary, it is good to know that high end bikes are now available for rent, so that everyone can experience them without having to buy the same. This can also help promote biking culture.
However, on the downside, you should be prepared for a worst case scenario wherein if the bike is completely damaged, you will have to buy them a new bike in your own money. No insurance will come to your rescue, as these bikes are not legally rented to you.

Also I wanted to rent Continental GT for a day- I was told it is out on long rental.. Today morning I saw it at their office. I was told it is available and I asked them to let me have it tomorrow, instead of me renting steet 750 for 2 days. I was told that should be fine, but later I get a call that bike is has a booking from tomorrow till Sunday night. (Update: Even on Sunday morning it was still there, but I am told a booking got cancelled)I get a feeling that I am being denied Continental GT as its rental are cheaper than Street 750. But I don't have proof, so will give them benefit of doubt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Manvar resort on Jaisalmer Jodhpur highway

This post is about a place we stopped for tea on our way to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur. At first I thought it is a small restaurant for refreshment, but soon we realized that this is a mini resort on its own.
Manvar resort has several rooms with rents ranging from Rs 6000 Rs 15000 a day. The top spec Rs 10000 room comes with a living room, a private balcony that opens right into the woods, all meals and many more. (Package inclusions and rates may vary)

There’s a large pool, for residents only.


Private balcony, opening into the woods. Occasionally snakes might crawl up- I am told
The other interesting thing is the traditional storage system used.

While the campus looks fairly down to earth, room rates are pretty much at par with star hotels. The property is situated in the middle of nowhere, so I am not very sure what would be the motive to come and stay here. But some possibilities are:
  • You’re driving through the highway between Jaisalmer-Jodhpur and you feel like resting for the night midway instead of driving another few hours to reach your destination
  • You’re in Pokharan for some nuclear bomb testing and want a place to relax
  • You’re visiting the deserts for some offroad or other events and need a base.
  • As per their website they also organizse Desert camps, camel ride, crane spotting, desert safari and other such activities
Mr Devilal was another attraction at the Manvar resort campus, because of his large mustache and traditional dress. Tourists love to get clicked next to him.
Disclaimer: Rates and other services are subject to change. What I have written is based on what was told to me during our visit. Please check with the property management for latest information. is their website..

Manvar on Map

Lodhruva Jain Temple near Jaisalmer

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers
After spending few hours on the desert exploring some temples, our coordinator asked us if we’d like to visit few more temples or return back to Suryagarh. Most of us enthusiastically said we can visit more temples and thanks to that, we were taken to the below temple, located in Lodhruwa village near Jaisalmer. 

Lodruva's Jain temple is a small but beautiful ancient temple. The intricate detailing on the wall is worth taking a closer look. This Lodhruva temple has a 900 years + history, built in memory of 23rd Jain Tirthankara. The temple was destroyed couple of times when the forces of Ganji and Ghori attacked India in 11th/12th century. It was later restored.
 The torana or decorated entrance of Lodhruva Jain Temple
 Main entrance.. Audio guides are available...
In the centre of the temple is a tree part with carved copper leaves, called Kalpavriksha, believed to be capable of fulfilling devotee’s wishes. While the ancient trade lane (silk route) has gone,  the temple stays back to tell the story.
 The Kalpavriksha.. closeup
This temple campus also the place where we met Sumer Singh Rathore, a native of Jaisalmer who runs a nice blog and follows many travel bloggers of India.
Selfie with Sumer... Don't mind I was looking elsewhere- Was posing for Nisha's camera I guess...
And a few goPro shots! It was a bright and sunny day, so GoPro could give serious competition to Nikon

The Lodhruva jain temple is located on the banks of River Kak (somehow the river name reminded me of Topgear Burma challenge, where the trio built a bridge across River Kok instead of River Kwai). River Kak was once flowing pretty well but dried up seeing the love birds: Prince Mahendru of Amarkot and Princess Moomal (or Mumal). They were separated by a series of misunderstandings and in the end got reunited but died in each other’s arms. Nisha Jha has written a full post on this love story, so I suggest you read the details on her blog. 
 Memorials dedicated to Mumal and Mahendru
Temple on Google Maps

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Weekend offroading near Palar river

Spent half a day last Saturday joining Terratiger's convoy of SUVs indulging in offroading. Though I was hoping for a different set of obstacles/location, we ended up visiting the same obstacles as last time, which was a bit disappointing. (I could spend only till lunch break). However this time two fortuners were entrants.

Below are some photos taken during the event.

Fortuner 4x4, stock tyres, no modifications...

This jeep gets stuck on the rocks due to incorrect line and not so strong breaks 
Above: Mahindra Thar with hard top, just back from Great Adventure
Below: Nishcal's jeep doing a demo
Vishu's Endeavor in action... notice front left wheel in the air and the suspension in action on right side front and rear wheels
 Watch a video I made of the Endeavor...

Some more GoPro photos..

Watch previous posts here: Challenge 1 * Challenge 2- Mud * Challenge 3 * Challenege 4