Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bangalore-Kochi-Bangalore on Enfield Bullet

With wife away at her hometown and an upcoming four day weekend, could not resist the temptation to ride down to my hometown-Kochi from Bangalore on my newly acquired second hand (fourth actually) Enfield bullet. A few words about the machine - 1999 make, single cylinder, 350cc,18bhp, cast iron engine, classic thud thud :). Read more about this bullet version here.

Got it serviced a day before the journey from Teknik Motors on CMH Road run by Anand. The mechanics there does appear to know their job well, though the service centre itself appear a bit disorganised. It was the best thud thud ever after the service. Anand did give me a few tips for the upcoming 1100km (550kms oneway) trip including varying the throttle frequently, 10-15min stops after a 100kms and the very much required confidence to get me going! For that matter, I could not think of a better way to build confidence with the bike rather than get going.

May 01, 2008 - 04:00AM
Packed the shoulder bag light with a couple of tee-shirts and two bottles of water. Made sure that the shoulder straps of bag was extended to its limit such that it would 'sit' just behind me. The bike-start routine went perfectly well and here I was thumping down the Hosur road. The engine seemed to get more smoother once it covered a few kilometers and heated up. Down the road, the engine seemed to thud perfect when the speed was maintained between 55kph-65kph. At this speed everything appeared to be just in sync - the bike, the road and the rider.

It is interesting to note that the 50kph average speed was maintained throughout the entire trip through Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Erode - Palghat - Thrissur - Angamaly - Kochi route, with 10min breaks after each 100kms. Enjoyed the gazes on the bike while on road and the intrigued bike queries from the locals during the breaks. It definitely is easy to make friends while on a bull. The hotel waiter at Salem wanted me to take a few hours of rest in the a/c room with a cool drink since this road trip did not make sense to him.

Loneliness took over when travelling across the Coimbatore bypass. Perhaps it was the boring dry landscape and the many cars that overtook you. But then, the idea behind bullet is the systematic thump, speed and patience. It is a different matter that most of the time you manage to overtake these cars down a few kilometers when they slow down behind a convoy of trucks.

Around 400kms, the end of my spine started to pain unless I kept adjusting my seating position. Thankfully, the numbness of my bottom appeared to subside at each break. The breaks are crucials not just for cooling down the bike, but also to make sure you gulp half a bottle of water to prevent dehydration. Another advice for prospective riders is to use a hand-glove unless you want to get the darkest tan (read black) ever.

I was home at Kochi for the evening tea and had completed 550kms in 12hrs. Not bad considering the innumerous breaks. To think about it, my best timing in my car was 9hrs without a single break and my usual Bangalore-Kochi car trip takes 11 to 12hrs with two or three breaks.

The return journey on May 04 was more easier since I started early from Kochi and missed the infamous Kerala traffic . The rattling sound from the back of the bike did worry me; before I figured out the loose bolt which held the chain cover. Tightened it at Avinashi and it was beautiful thud thud time again. Made it in 11.5hrs back to Bangalore. I did not feel the tiredness this time, but felt more confident with the bull.

The consistent and reliable performance of the bike through the 1100kms needs to be noted.
Moves you. Literally.