Pros… um let me dig those up first. Refinement – out of the window, fuel efficiency – not really a concern except when visiting petrol stations thanks to a hyper functional government, speed – nah, corner balance – cry me a river. Wait a minute, I’m not really helping, am I?
Well, just note what I just said as some of the multiple cons but for now let’s try our best to focus on the pros. The power to weight ratio feels right next in line to an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk). I’m still not helping, am I?
Jeez, let’s just forget about differentiating pros and cons. I’ll just write down whatever I’ve experienced in the two years I’ve owned and ridden this bike.
• Get ready to cry buckets when you change your first flat tyre. I really don’t know if it’s an issue only in my bike or if it’s common among all standard 350 owners. The God-forsaken saree guard is fitted so stupidly that you can’t remove the rear wheel easily! And good luck getting the saree guard off completely as it is integrated into the stay rod (essential for structural rigidity). If you plan to remove it and do some welding work and correct the idiotic design fault, good luck again because you have to get the seat off and even the mud guard needs to be taken off. Idiots, the old bullet was way more user friendly.
RE just wants customers to go to its service centers for each and everything. But, wait, did I go to them for help? Oh no, never. I sawed off some of the smaller rods in the guard, went to a workshop, heated the large rod with a propane torch and bent it till it was no longer a hindrance to wheel removal. Oh yeah!
• Really good to ride for long distances.
• Contrary to popular belief, the acceleration is addictive. Rumble along at 50, pin down the throttle and you’ll be amazed by the speed of the speedo needle moving past 60, 70, 80 within a couple of seconds in between.
• Pretty good fuel economy for a 350cc engine. I get an average of 35 kpl and with constant highway runs, I get 40+.
• You don't have to get down from the top gear even when you’re riding it 36 or 37 kph. You can just accelerate back from that without a downshift.
• While it can’t corner, can't race with even 150cc bikes, you can ride it at 80 kph for hours altogether. Many other bikes aren’t suitable for long durations of use.
• Vibrations are an inherent part of the bike. Wonder what the R&D is doing. *Facepalm*
• RE keeps boasting ‘Since 1901’ and stuff like that, brings out new colours and stuff but still doesn't have the brains to reduce the oil leak!
• Electric start is worthless. Utterly worthless. I’ve seen enough people struggling with the electric start and after a while, they’d look around with a bummed look on their face. The reason? They’ve never kick-started it and have no idea how. For those of you who do though, the next point is for you.
• Starts with just a push of the leg; you don’t even need to kick. But, if the ammeter is not in neutral, get ready for a knee cap replacement (if the handlebar is turned to the right)
• The chain requires a lot of attention. If you leave it unattended for a while, you’ll end up with a bone-dry chain instead of a normal oiled one. Also very prone to muck and dust build-up.
After pampering it for about 1500 kilometres, I started taking it out for 80-km trips to my college. Speeds were usually 70-80, occasionally touching 90. During one of those trips:
After crossing 5000, I tested the speed limit once. Got a head-start from 70 onto a perfect 1.5 kilometre stretch, 100% visibility on both sides so no risk of people or dogs jumping in the way. Praying for divine protection, I opened the throttle gradually. The speedo needle whizzed past the 90 and 100 kph marks in no time. 110 was crossed soon enough as well but as soon as that mark was touched, the engine started evidently losing grunt but I still had loads of asphalt to spare so I kept the throttle pinned and by the time I had enough, the needle had just touched 120 but the bike was vibrating its guts out and it felt nowhere remotely close to safe.
I closed the throttle and let the bike come back to human speeds. So, the bull could touch the much coveted 120 kph mark – something I never tried again; something I’m never ever going to try in my life. I wanted to know something, I got to know it and I don’t want to verify it or anything. In case any of you is planning to do the same, you can just take my word instead of doing it yourself. If you test it out yourself though, trust me, you’ll never want to cross 110 ever again because the whole thing vibrates so much that you’ll end up scared of the bolted joints.
After I got my job, I had two choices - take the splendour or take the bull to Hosur. You already know the answer so I won’t bother to say it. Dad and I actually rode it all the way from Nagercoil to Hosur. Yes, all those 600+ kilometres. Dad rode half the distance while I followed in the Scorp with lots of household things for me to keep in Hosur. After that, we switched places and I rode the remaining 300 or so kilometres. I never felt so happy in my life. The scenery on the sides were perfect, the road was perfect, the bike was perfect. I realised my long held-up dream of riding a bike for at least 200+ kilometres. Occasional tea stops and petrol stops were there but other than that, it was just me and the bike rumbling along the six-laned awesomeness, followed by the Scorp. Some of the annoyances that caught my attention were:
The scratches on the silencer, caused by kickstarting the bike in the initial stages when I didn’t quite get accustomed to the new bike from the splendour. Seriously?
Really shoddy finish on the crankcase. No, that’s not an improperly cleaned case.
Indicator glass cracked right in the middle after a service. Probably because the geniuses thought it was a good idea to pressure-wash the lens.
I did face some issues with the front brake. Performance wise, it had good force but it was really prone to getting contaminated with dirt and got stuck once. The brakes would engage but the sludge was too strong for the springs to bring the shoes back away from the drum. I had to go to the service centre because I didn’t have a spanner large enough to remove the wheel nut. I thought the guys there had to tools for that but no, they didn’t. Instead, they did something that as an owner, made me feel sick of them.
I never leave the bike unattended when I go to the showroom for any small work. For services though, it's not possible for me to spare an entire day so nothing much can be done about it. I decline the offers to ‘relax’ in the lobby and always try as much as possible to stay and watch the work being done and that was the same in this case, except for the fact that I had to try really hard to stop myself from picking up a fight with the people there. They chiselled the nut, hammering it to dent it and make it loose. They refused to put a new nut as well, stating that what they did was standard procedure and that should the nut become dented on all the six edges, they’d replace it! Yeah buddy, spanners, vices, wrenches were all invented to pass time, duh! I’m sure the issue will come back in the future and I’m never going to them for any repairs even if it costs me my whole weekend.
Yet another incident happened which resulted in me lashing out at one of the service boys. I went for a speedo cable replacement. I got the spare and gave it to the service guy. He got to work with unparalleled enthusiasm and passion. He took out all the proper and necessary tools and went down straight to work and removed it quickly. What’s wrong would you ask. Well, he removed the cable, the poor CLUTCH cable! I stood there watching dumbfounded as he triumphantly loosened the nut connecting the cable to the crankcase. I waited patiently for him to take the cable out and the moment he did so, I asked a rhetorical question, “So in the newer model, the clutch cable needs to be removed to access the speedo cable? Why did the company make it like that?” That did it. His eyes went as wide as saucers. Before he could open his mouth to form a coherent sentence, I was lashing out question after question with an increasing volume. However, I soon realised that I was wasting precious time so I calmed down and let the work continue but I’d really not cite it as a good experience.
Speaking of incidents, after I came to Hosur, I’ve been rear-ended a couple of times. The most recent one was pretty severe. The guy (a colleague actually) didn’t even notice that I stopped and rammed straight into me. The bike fell down, dragging me with it but I managed to jump out to safety. I went to the guy who knocked me down with a stone-cold look and clenched fists (of course just a bluff). He got scared and started making promises that he’d make up for damages of any sort. I couldn’t say anything further. The humongous crash guard took most of the impact and bent into an awkward angle. The front stoplight switch got broken but that wasn’t that big of a deal. We’ve become friends now though; an acquaintance that started in a really unexpected situation.
I was really displeased with the 33 to 36 kilometres the bike was delivering to the litre so I fiddled with the carburettor and to my utter confusion, changing the setting which was initially on the leaner side to the stoichiometric ratio bumped the 34kpl average to 38! I thought lean = efficient; correct me if I’m wrong guys. I always refill my bike on a reserve to reserve basis so I prepared a sheet in MS Excel with some simple formulae to keep track of how and how much of my money goes into the bike. Here’s a screenshot for you guys. You can prepare something like this and use if you like. It really helps although it works only when you refill by full-full or reserve-reserve method. In case of an intermediate refill, all you can do is add the fuel amount and the cost to the previous value indicating in some way in the date column but even then it’s just a workaround.
Looking at the screenshot reminded me of the breather tube. The tube cracked and broke after 9K kms so I had to replace it. I just bought the tube and installed it myself. Didn’t want to risk having another dented bolt or screw as part of ‘standard procedure’.
Once you get on the road though, these niggles and stuff simply vanish into thin air. You just sit back, place a relaxed hand on the handlebar and enjoy the composed ride of the heavy metal machine.
One of the very few times it seemed so puny. That’s the tyre I use for tyre-flipping workouts. Notice the extension of the grab bar at the rear? That’s the carrier from a splendour because without it, the practicality of the bike seemed to score a big fat zero so I welded the carrier on to the grab bar.
There was a little bit of an inconvenience after fitting the box. The bolt that fastened the frame to the spring damper was so short that the nut was barely sitting on two threads and that of course was a serious trigger to my OCD
Went to a hardware store and bought a longer bolt and spent a full Sunday on fitting it because it was not as simple as it seemed first. Had to take off the box, the seat and the mudguard to remove the bolt.
Just like it was with the Scorpio, I knew perfectly well what I was signing up for when we bought it. I really would have liked lesser vibrations, especially in the handlebar but it really is nothing more than an inconvenience. Like I’ve always said about myself, I neither support nor slander anything without facts. I really do hope that this piece what you just read had the same essence to it.
Other than all this, I’ll keep you guys updated on anything major that happens or any long trips that come along the way. But until then, hasta luego mi amigos!