Problems/ Limitations with modern day motorcycles - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Problems/ Limitations with modern day motorcycles

As I am looking to replace my 9 year old TVS Apache RTR 160, I am staring at several things that have changed in past 1 decade. Some of them are good but some of them are not- in terms of overall cost, breakdown risk and maintenance.

If you can't read entire text, watch my short video on this topic on my youtube channel

Let us look at various things that has changed in automobile industry that has made modern bikes miss out some features/functions we had earlier.

1. No kick starter:

Earlier most bikes had carburetor and could be started with a kick even if battery is dead. Most modern bikes in 150-300 cc category no longer get a kick start lever (except few Hero models like 200T, xpulse). One reason is increased reliability of self start but main reason is now it is impossible to start a bike without a battery. Fuel pump as a motor, Fuel Injection system needs power, lots of things inside a bike won’t work if battery is dead. The problem with removal of kick lever is 3 fold

  • If bike doesn’t start, you have to get it towed to nearest battery shop. If you are on a long drive and battery suddenly fails, you are very likely to get stranded. Most batteries come with two year warranty and after that may fail anytime. They don’t even give much of a warning that next few hundred kms battery will fail.
  • This is also a big risk if you are not using your bike for a few weeks or months. Unless you can charge the battery with an external charger (like CTEK), you are again stranded. With earlier generation bike we could do some kick start and bike would eventually start.
  • If any cable is chewed by rodents or get damaged due to short circuit, earthing problem etc you are again stranded.
Solution: No easy solution- once battery crosses 2-3 years, be extra cautious to any signs of weak battery, get it checked before long rides and be mentally prepared for failed battery scenario.

2. Two times increase in price.

Bikes now cost 2x more compared to a decade earlier- contributing factors are general inflation, money manufacturers had to invest in BS6 upgrade, forced safety features like disc brake and ABS etc. I have a detailed post here. So be ready to shell out more for new bikes.

Along with purchase price, cost of maintenance, insurance etc have also gone up. No noticeable increase in fuel economy after BS6.

Solution: If you can use old vehicle a bit longer, do that. If you can manage with a used bike or car, do that. Delay new vehicle purchase for some time and keep an eye on EV options instead of petrol models.

3. Too much electronics -

Earlier a lot of things in bikes were pure mechanical things- like brakes, gravity dropping fuel line, speedo and tachometers and so on. But now bikes have tons of electronics- while this enable more features and controls, problem they bring in is also unique

  • Most electronic parts are more prone to failure (dust, lose connection, water, heat etc can easily spoil electrical components) and not repairable by local mechanics and dealers. Only option is to replace them, which is more expense, whereas mechanical parts could be repaired easily.
  • Mechanical parts - tyres, batteries, brakes etc give some hint that they are about to fail or need maintenance. But electronic parts usually fail suddenly without any warning. This means higher risk of getting stranded
  • The joy of motorcycling is somewhat lost with electronics controlling everything

4. Mono shock suspension means reduced load carrying capacity. Can’t use a bag hook on modern bikes

5. Fuel pump- no gravity.

Earlier bikes had a gravity drop duel tank. Remember titling scooter to a side to start it. Now it is history. There is a fuel pump which needs power to operate and there should be more fuel in tank to submerge the fuel pump. Earlier on a 12 liter tank you could consume all 12 liter, but now, as soon as 10 liters are consumed you better tank up again, as last 2 liters may not be usable if they go below fuel pump level.

Of course a computer controlled fuel pump makes it possible to have ECO, Sport modes etc for better fuel economy or performance.

Is there a solution?

I don't know. One option is bike manufacturers can think of launching a classic model with minimum electronics at lower price, which might be a hit in rural markets, tier 2 cities etc. But then, overall I think we have to move with time. Can't expect to live with 10 year old technology forever.

Things that have improved for good:

1 Disc brakes and ABS- now standard in bikes above 125 cc- increases cost but makes bikes a bit more safer

2 Extra features like USB charging, riding modes, blutooth connectivity, traction control etc

Let me know what you are thinking.

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