A walk down the lane
Its 10 years since Honda launched its first Motorcyle on Indian subcontinent, and it was none other than the Unicorn - Be a Wing rider (now better known as CB Unicorn) Honda Unicorn to cost Rs 50,000
| Technical Specs: |
1. 149.1 cc
2. 13.3 BHP
3. 13 litre fuel capacity
4. 5 gears(1 down 4 up)
5. Mileage 45+
6. Mono Suspension for rear
7. 0-60 in 5 seconds
8. Tuff-puff 18" rear tyre
9. Front disc brake
It was on 7th Oct 2004, that the launch event took place, and i was one of the few chosen owners of first batch of bikes, one which we never saw before making the payment, though a day or two before the D-day, we were asked to drop in at the showroom to see the bike in person.
The only promo they gave, was a glimpse of the front cowl, along with the first in the segment, mono-shock suspension for rear. And everybody was in doubt of the mono suspension on offer, and its effectiveness and reliability on Indian roads. The other bikes in the league were the big one from Hero-Honda - CBZ, "definitely Male - Bajaj Pulsar", the power house from Suzuki - Fierro.
The entry song was "Aisa Jadoo" from the movie Khaaki with dancers, and in between, bang, the Bike was launched, with a round of applause from the audience present at the event in Calicut city. It looked good, simple and sleek. And the guest of honor was the current superstar in Malayalam movies - Jayasurya, who handed over the keys to all the 20 owners on stage. Whoa! What a day it was.
From the launch event (picture source - google search) Shortlisting
I turned 18 that year, applied for Driving license on the day itself, with the test happening a month after that. And in Kerala, the tests to be done was written first, if you pass, then happens the "H" drive for 4 wheeler, and "8" for 2 wheeler, once you pass that, then happens the road test. Luckily, i cleared in first attempt without a problem, and got my license in 10-15 days from there.
Alongside, i started hunting for my ride. A front running contender was from the Royal family - RE Standard / Electra. I was fascinated by this machine, and am still counting on the day when i would own one. My brother had a '99 RE standard, with n-number of exhausts used. He had once used one, which could be heard atleast a km away, and whoever sat behind, would go deaf for sometime after the ride, phew!. Those days, Helmets were not mandatory, and were used as a "Plant pots" for the protests, whenever the Government tried to impose the law.
I wanted a bike which had adequate power, and was not a very common. I like to have my own identity somehow,
However, i did check out a few bikes as follows. (Opinion are solely personal, and not intended to hurt sentiments of die-hard fans of the products) Yamaha Fazer
- It was an ugly duckling, light weight, and 125cc engine ride was ok. But it just wasnt the ride i was keen on. Also, they were changing their product line every 2 or 3 years, and that was a big set back. Bajaj Pulsar
- this is the third generation bike, with round headlights gone and Visors in, and a slightly redesigned Fuel tank, which was a major design flaw in first generation ones, along with disc brake which locked and made the bike skid off.
I had a good ride my friend's bike for about 20-25kms. So i knew what it was. The put off was, it gave me wrist pain after every ride. Even now, the new gen pulsar 150, it hurts whenever i ride one. Hero Honda
- CBZ and Karizma, were on chart, but i never visited the showroom. Royal Enfield
- I was more oriented towards Electra, than the Standard / Machismo. On-road price was a whopping 85k. Plus, the fuel efficiency and the maintenance stories, kept a brake on it. Honda
- one of my close friend, who happened to know about my decision to buy a 2 wheeler, suggested me to check out Honda, as they were about to launch a motorcycle, and "Honda's are reliable
". And that's how i ended up there. Somehow, got a position in the 20 launch slots, as somebody had backed off. Paid 10k as initial payment, without even thinking twice, wanted a Black shade, which the showroom people managed by changing color for some other customer.
On road price was close to 56k, along with crash-guard. Luckily, side stand, mirrors and saree-guard came along with the bike (if my memory is right), with a year's warranty. First year report
Got the bike delivered on 18th Oct 2004, spic and span approach from the KTC showroom guys.
The new Honda handled well in city and on highways, had the right seating position, and enough to throttle as per one's needs. It returned an average of 48-50 kmpl (those days, Extra Premium petrol for 500rs would fill the 13L tank
). Yes, i used the high octane petrol for a long time of my ownership, which had affects a couple of years back, with compression going weak, and had to open up the engine for getting it back into running condition.
Going back, the early days on roads was curious people around, asking about "kitna deti hai" and how reliable it is and stuffs like that, to unknown people approaching to have a test ride.
To sum it up, Pros
- enough power to suit need of the moment
- excellent riding position
- FE was good, if not the best
- front disc brakes were effective and spot on
- service front was attentive and gave their best to satisfy customers (gone are those early days, Honda, are you reading ??) Cons
- feeble horn (i replaced it with roots in a month)
- tuff-puff rear tyre had flat centre, which made it skid quite often while applying only rear brake
- vibrating fibre parts (rectified by service centre with additional padding)
- Battery gave up twice in the first year (replaced under warranty)
- pillion seat foam padding is on lower side, hence not a good experience for long rides
- aluminum side cover has unfinished surface at the back side
Honda was attentive in those days, and they gave additional 4 years Electrical warranty, after about 10-11 months of launch.
Some of the parts replaced under warranty in first year
- AMCO battery (twice!)
- lock set (complete)
- adapter related to ignition Modified in 1st year
- Horn changed to roots
- Tyre changed to MRF Zapper 100/90 - 18"
- ODO reading was around 4k kms Work done in 2009-10 (ODO reading around 32k kms)
- Front tyre changed to Mich M35 - 2.75 * 18"
- Rear tyre changed to Mich M45 - 18"
- Chain Sprocket assembly changed
- Broken fibre parts replaced Maintenance History
- Majority of times done from HASS. Its been a mixed experience to sum it up
- Past one year, found a local mechanic in Bangalore who does the job well
- Majority of the time was single usage Bike stationed at
- Calicut, Kerala (Oct 2004 - Oct 2005)
- Bangalore, Karnataka (Oct 2005 - July 2009) - LT tax paid (approx 2.7k with fine)
- Calicut (July 2009 - Jan 2010)
- Bangalore (Jan 2010 - May 2010) - was lying idle, as i was away to the maximum city
- Mumbai / Navi Mumbai, Maharasthra (May 2010 - Jun 2013) - LT tax paid (approx 3.3k with fine)
- Bangalore, Karnataka (Jun 2013 to present)
- Pune, Maharashtra (Dec 2014 expected) Trips done
- Calicut - Kuttipuram - Calicut - 2005
- Bangalore to Calicut - 2006-07, with pillion and light luggage (12 hours overall time with pit-stops). It was difficult for the pillion rider, with the seat foam being on lower side
- Bangalore - Nandi hills - Bangalore - 2007
- Calicut to Bangalore - Jan 2010, Solo rider. Enjoyed it thoroughly
- Endless journeys across Mumbai - Navi Mumbai - Thane Major work done
- Engine overhauled after compression failure, in July 2013. The piston head and rings gave up, valves had conked off as well. Did a re-boring from a relaible mechanic near my place in Bangalore, with parts sourced from HASS, total expense 4k.
HASS quoted 15k to repair it, which i refused upfront.
The reason i feel for the failure, using high octane fuel for the initial 6 years, which I could conclude after i read this,
The One and The Only – Dilip Bam Current state
BIKE GURU Answer:HIGH OKTAIN YETROL IZ GuuD FOR Hi-COMPRESSION RATIO ENJINs. P-150 COMPR. RATIO IS 9.5, VICH IZ NOT VERi Hi. SO I AM USING ONLY NORMAL UNLEADED GREEN YETROL. Hi-0KTAIN YETROL DEFINITELY REDUCE ENJIN LIFE. REMEMBER, ""SLOW-AND-STEADY-WIN-THE-RACE??"" U WANT Hi-PERFORMANCE, YOUR BIKE WILL NOT LIVE LONG, LIKE CHEETAH, WHICH IS HIGHEST PERFORMANCE AMONG ALL LAND ANIMALS, LIVES 14 YEARS. BUT IF YOU LIVE LIKE TORTOISE, VICH IZ LOWEST PERFORMANCE AMONG ALL LAND ANIMALS, LIVES 300 YEARS ! WHADDYU WANT? LIVE LIKE SHOOTING STAR WHICH EXIST FOR FEW SEKONDS VICH ALL WORLD SEEs, OR LIVE LIKE TORTOISE VICH EXIST FOR 300 YEARS AND NOBODY SEEs. VHAT ASSURANCE U WANT? I HAV ALREADY TOLDED U THE LAW OF NATURE VICH APPLIES TO EVERYTHING. I BELIEVE IN USING ORDINARY YETROL, SO THAT WITH THE MUNNY I SAVE, I KAN BUY ICE-CREAM. TO ME, ICE-CREAM IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OKTAIN VALU OF YETROL.
- Used for daily commute to office
- Still going strong, though signs of ageing are inevitable
- ODO reads close to 69k kms
- Plans of complete overhaul within next 1 year, after moving to Pune. Need to find a reliable mechanic and paint shop to get this done. Any suggestions?
- Alongside, plans of going for my dream machine - a ride from RE stable
Time for some photos taken over the years (had to dig into the hard disc and check with friends). I shall upload latest pictures in the coming days. Enjoy!
Some pictures from mid 2009 (Bangalore Engineering days)