• Riding in Hot Indian Weather- Checklist

    Riding in Hot Indian Weather- Checklist

    We Indians are an overworked lot. We rarely find time to follow our passion. And when we do, let us not allow the summer heat to dictate terms. Read our road trip experience to beat the summer heat the smart way.

    Mumbai to Goa road trip in the summer

    A long weekend is the perfect time to take your motorcycle out for a long ride. We decided to ride to Goa from Mumbai on Maharashtra Day (May 31) long weekend. The ride began from Vashi at 6 AM, but even this early, the temperature was hovering around 27 degree celsius. The first session of riding is always very exciting and refreshing. You try to cover as much distance as possible, want to get out of Mumbai as fast as possible and yes, you definitely want to reach Goa as soon as possible.

    Our first stop, McDonalds at Khed Shivapur after crossing Pune. The plan was to grab a quick bite, fuel up and ride into the day. We reached here by 8:30. Had our breakfast, fueled up and left by 9:15. The climate was still bearable underneath our mesh jackets and pants, full gauntlet gloves, riding boots and helmet.

    We continued with our ride, but as the sun came up, mercury started rising fast. By the time we crossed Karad, it felt as if someone had turned on the hair dryer and pointed it at us. The hot air from the radiator fan was really trying to give us the tandoori experience. The sweat was drying faster than we were perspiring. Fatigue was setting in even before we had crossed the halfway mark. This is when we realized how ill-prepared we were for the summer ride. No matter how strong and healthy you are, no matter your experience, you need to respect the weather. In our case, the heat.

    Here are a few tips on compiling your gear to survive the summer ride.

    Not just water, carry a hydration pack

    Once you are in the saddle, no one likes to stop very often, which means you are definitely not going to stop every 30 minutes to drink water. This is where the problem lies. Water is vital for keeping the body cool, for digestion, for flushing out toxins and lot more. So when you get dehydrated, your body just won’t respond to the climate and will start to shut down, and you’ll physically wear out.

    Hydration packs can be your best friends in the summer. Keep sipping water as you ride. No need to stop until you run out of water or fuel or maybe you just need to take a leak. You can choose cheap and durable brands like B’twin for hydration packs or go for the premium camelback option.
     

    Helmet

    The first and foremost important and essential riding gear you need to invest in before you get on to your bike. When it is a matter of your head, don’t go for any cheap helmets. Make sure you invest in a good helmet. Apart from safety, four more things you need to look out for in a good helmet:

    • Size & fit
    • Wind noise reduction
    • Weight
    • Ventilation vents

    A good ventilated helmet goes a long way in keeping you alert, because too much perspiration will not just annoy you but also get you dehydrated. Beginners can start with brands like LS2, SOL, MT, SMK which are good value for money. You can also look at mid range options like Scorpion, Bell, HJC, Nolan and a few more. Shoei, Schuberth and Arai are some of the good quality premium brands available in the market.
     

    Jacket & Pants

    If cost and weather permitted, leather wins hands down. Leather gear offers the best protection and with perforation, they offer ventilation too, but just not enough for the Indian weather. So the next best choice is a textile mesh gear which offers ample ventilation and also weighs less.

    While choosing your riding gear, look out for good protectors across shoulder, elbow and back for the jacket and knee protector in the pants. Many textile pants also have pockets for hip protectors, it’s an important upgrade, so keep an eye out for such pants.

    Textile mesh jackets with leather at high impact areas like shoulder and elbow offer the best of both worlds. Nowadays, a few mesh jackets also offer sliders on shoulders and elbows which had been a forte of leather jackets. Popular brands of textile mesh riding gear include Rynox and Aspida which offer good value for money.
     

    Cooling Vest

    When temperatures soar during the summer, a cooling vest is worth every penny. The Cooling vest is made of a material that retain water. You need to soak the vest, squeeze out the extra water, and wear it under your riding jacket. Its that Simple. The moisture from the vest forms a cooling layer around your skin, keeping you relaxed for hours.

    Obviously, cooling vests can cost as much as a riding jacket. If that goes out of your budget, simply soak your riding t-shirt in water, squeeze out the extra water and you are ready to go. Since cotton doesn’t retain the water and it evaporates quickly, you may have to repeat this process multiple times throughout the ride.

     

    Finally, Let Me Tour (LMT) is a popular outlet in Mumbai to buy your motorcycle ride essentials. Always prepare your motorcycle at least a week in advance and test it thoroughly before embarking on a long ride. Talk to your service provider and understand the smaller nuances of your motorcycle as well. Remember, out on the road, you are your own mechanic.

     

  • Choosing the correct battery for your motorcycle

    Choose the correct battery for your motorcycle

    Motorcycle batteries are a critical part of every bike without which they won’t start. How Ironic, the only time we remember a battery exists, is when the bike doesn’t start.

    Motorcycle batteries can be simply termed as storage batteries, as they store electricity charge generated by your motorcycle’s charging system, which in turn is powered by the engine. Every bike uses a battery. Be it a wet lead-acid battery or a dry battery or the latest lithium-ion batteries.

    No matter which battery is used in your bike, all batteries in modern motorcycles are of 12 volts. What changes is the amperage, which varies based on the bike’s capacity, power required by the starter motor or various other electrical accessories. For example while most of the scooters use a 12 volt 5AH (Ampere Hour) battery, a KTM Duke 390 uses a 12V 9AH battery while most Royal Enfield motorcycles use a 12V 14AH battery.

    Read along to find out more about your batteries and help yourself decide which battery you should opt for your replacement need.

    Wet-cell Battery

    See those yellow knobs on the battery in the image. Well, that is the easiest way to recognize a wet cell battery. They are also the reason they are called unsealed batteries.

    Wet-cell batteries (also called wet batteries) contain liquid electrolyte which is required to be replenished with distilled water. Why replenish? These batteries come filled with water but it’s consumed while charging the battery and hence the replenishment. And it is through those yellow knobs that one needs to refill them with distilled water on a regular basis, failing which, the battery may get damaged. The rider has to make sure that these batteries are always kept in upright position to avoid spilling the liquid, which honestly is dangerous. Also these batteries create sulfation which corrode the battery terminals and other metal parts in its vicinity. But not all is bad, wet cell batteries are the cheapest to buy and can last longer compared to other batteries if cared for diligently. Bottom line, this battery requires lot of maintenance.

    Pros:

    1. Low upfront purchase cost
    2. Distilled water can be added (if accessible)
    3. Excellent for higher current applications
    4. Replacements readily available

    Cons:

    1. Spillable
    2. Operates in an upright position only
    3. Emits corrosive Gases
    4. Requires regular maintenance
    5. Short warranty period (18-36 month)
       

    Dry Batteries

    Unlike their name, dry batteries are not completely dry. They have a paste which is permanently sealed. There are no knobs in it to be opened for replenishing water and therefore also no fear of poisonous liquids spilling out. That makes them safe for usage and absolutely zero maintenance, making them one of the most sought after batteries. The only down side of dry cell batteries, they cost 20-40% more upfront compared to wet batteries. But then, there user-friendliness and longer warranty period (48-60 months by leading brands) more than compensates the cost. Though they are sealed, care must be taken while disposing these batteries as they too contain poisonous contents. Your battery provider will be glad to dispose them off safely for you.

    Lithium Ion Batteries

    Say bye bye to hazardous and poisonous lead-acid batteries. Welcome lithium ion batteries. These are the latest in battery technology. Although lithium ion batteries have been in use in mobile phones and other gadgets, they are fast gaining popularity in the automotive segment. These batteries too are sealed and do not require any maintenance. But the biggest advantage is their weight, which is almost one-third the weight of conventional lead-acid batteries.

    But all these features come at a cost. A Lithium ion battery can cost almost 5 times the price of regular dry battery. Little reason why, lithium ion batteries are much in demand in super-sport and premium category vehicles where weight-reduction is a constant endeavor.

    Which is the perfect battery for my bike?

    Well, you have read through the different types of batteries, but still confused which battery suits your bike? An easy way is to check details on the existing battery in your bike or refer to your bike’s owner’s manual (Don’t worry, its available on the web as well). Regard the owner’s manual, as the ultimate guide to your bike. It has all the details you want, including the dos & don’ts. The owner’s manual is your best guide to choosing the right battery size for your bike. Using a wet or a dry battery is then a matter of cost and convenience.  

    Steps you must take while purchasing a new battery

    1) Ask for a payment receipt of your battery purchase

    2) Get your battery provider’s stamp on the battery warranty card along with the date of purchase

    3) Make sure the battery provider mentions your name on the warranty card

    4) If your battery brand, provides for online registration of warranty card, do that without any delay

    5) Store a copy (image) of your battery purchase receipt and warranty card in your email, cloud or mobile. This will help you claim warranty process lot easier.

    6) Remember, almost batteries have a pan India warranty. So you don’t need to worry about taking your battery to the same provider for a warranty claim.

    If you are still confused, talk to us. Do you know DESIMECHI offers a battery for temporary use (at a nominal fee), while you claim warranty on your existing battery. Keeping you riding is our primary moto.

     

    This blog is for information only and to help readers make an informed decision. We still request all readers to consult their service provider for the best course of action.

  • Which Engine oil do I use? Know the method in the madness

    Which Engine oil do I use? Know the method in the madness

    Did you know, more than 17 million 2-wheelers were sold in India last year. Now pick a random bike user and ask him about the oil that goes into his bike’s engine and the answer might befuddle you. Isn’t it surprising, that we know very little about our bikes. It’s not rocket science, unless you intend to make a career out of it. For the rest of you who are in it for the love of the ride, read our blog below to clear your confusion. Get to know everything about the types, quantity, grade and viscosity of engine oil in simple common man terms. Remember, if you are still in doubt always ask your service provider.

    Engine oil is used to reduce friction and wear between the moving parts of an engine. It also works as a coolant by dissipating heat. To term it blood, would be the perfect cliché, but that’s what it does. Right from cleaning the engine of the carbon deposits to clearing the small debris from the engine and depositing it in the oil filter. That’s not all, it also offers protection from rust and corrosion. Now that’s asking too much from a product which has taken quite a while in the making under the ground. Finally, if oil has earned some respect in your eyes, read to know more about this selfless product.

    Which grade of oil and how much?

    This is the primary question on rider’s mind. Find the owner’s manual. Yes you read it right. Remember the fat book that came with all the other important papers when you purchased your bike (Its now available on the web as well). It has all the information regarding your bike, including basic maintenance practices and which describes the grade, type and quantity of oil. For example, if you are a proud owner of a Honda Unicorn, the manual will recommend you to use 1.2 litres of mineral based oil with a 10W30 grade. Now, comes the confusion. What does this 10W30 stand for? Well, read along.

    Oil Grades

    In olden times (not centuries long), people used a single grade of oil. For e.g.  10W during cold days to help in cold starts, and a higher grade during summer days. This wasn’t the best way to maintain motorcycle engines. The reason being, a 10W oil was good for cold starts, but as the engine reached its operating temperature, the viscosity of the oil would go down and was not enough to lubricate the engine properly. While a heavier oil would create problems during cold start as the oil had high viscosity which put lot of pressure on the engine. That’s when multigrade oils were introduced and that’s how we got 10W30 or 15W50 or any other multigrade oil. The ‘W’ in the grade stands for ‘Winter’.

    Oil Specifications

    Your past the easy part. Now read carefully to understand the somewhat tricky part. If you take a can of engine oil and start reading the specifications, you will also read something like API SJ or SL or SM or SN or something like JASO MA or MA2. Don’t worry because this is no rocket science. These specifications are standards by which the quality of oil is judged. API stands for American Petroleum Institute while JASO is its japense equivalent and stands for Japanese Engine Oil Standards Implementation Panel. While SJ or SL or SM or SN or MA1 or MA2 refer to the quality level of engine oil. Simply put, higher the number or alphabet, better the quality of oil.

    Type of Oils

    There are 3 primary types of Engine oils- Mineral based, Semi-synthetic also called blended and Full Synthetic. Mineral oil is a completely natural oil coming from the belly of mother earth with a few additives to make it multi-grade to better suit your engine. Synthetic oil really popped up on the scene somewhere around WWII and has been around since. This oil is a recipe cooked up completely in the lab and there is little or no natural stuff in it. They are more pliant, far more efficient and long lasting than your average mineral oil but also more than two times the price. Finally come the Semi-Synthetic or Blended. As the name suggests, this is a blend of Mineral and Synthetic oil where the share of Synthetic oil does not exceed 30%.

    That is about the easiest way to understand motorcycle oil without pulling your hair. There are a lot of oils in the market vying for your attention. Next time your bike demands an oil change, just read through the bike manual, identify the oil grade and try to stick around it and your bike should do just fine. Choosing the type of oil is a matter of cost and willingness to keep your bike in top shape.

     

    This blog is for information only and to help readers make an informed decision. We still request all readers to consult their service provider for the best course of action.

  • My Coneset has gone bad. What’s that?

    My Coneset has gone bad. What’s that?

    If you ask us to name the most important components that really affect your motorcycle’s steering and handling, it would be 1) Tyres and 2) Steering-Head Bearings a.k.a Coneset. The Coneset (bearing pair) is located one each on the top and bottom of the steering head.  The Coneset is located one each on the top and bottom of the steering head. a) Where the handle bar meets the Frame and b) where the forks meet the chassis.  

    A quick look at the tyres can help you gauge their condition, but very few devote time to understand what a Coneset is, leave aside knowing how to identify its issues. Read along to get a fair idea of why is it critical for your motorcycle.


    What does it do?

    Each and every impact taken by your motorcycle, be it in a pothole or a speed braker or for that matter simple braking, a maneuver made by the motorcycle affects the Coneset. No other component has so much effect on the way your bike steers and handles, the way Coneset does.

    In a new bike, the Coneset is assembled in the steering head with lavish amounts of grease that lubricates, cushions the Coneset and the steering balls and prevents corrosion. But, due to factors like rain, dirt, dust and regular washing, this grease tends to dry off or gets washed away. As soon as the level of lubrication falls, the steering balls stop rolling and start skidding. And it is just a matter of time before the Coneset is completely damaged.
     

    How bad can it get?

    Imagine the steering stem (T-Bar) slamming repeatedly into the steering head until the stem breaks due to too much slop from the bad bearings. Now imagine you riding along at 80 kmph and your front end breaking out from under you. That is exactly what can happen with loose or bad Coneset.

    When should we service/replace the Coneset?

    There is no defined time period for replacing a Coneset. It depends on multiple factors, though the motorcycle will start show symptoms. Here are a few common symptoms, which can help you identify the damage and whether it needs servicing or replacement.

    1. On applying front brakes hard, you will hear/feel a clunk (sound). This is because the steering stem is shifting forward under heavy loads and rocking. Another way to check is to get on the bike, press the front brake hard and rock the bike front and back, if you hear the clunk, that’s because the Coneset is loose or worn-out.
    2. Get the bike on centre stand, put your weight on the rear tyre, and let the front tyre sway in the air. Now, swing the handlebar from left to right. If the handlebar moves smoothly, there is no cause for worry. But if you see the handle getting stuck or not moving smoothly, first check if any cables are causing it. If not, it’s time to get the Coneset overhauled or replaced.
    3. Lastly, get the bike on the main stand, make sure the front wheel sways freely without touching the ground, now hold both the forks midway and rock them front and back. If there is any movement observed, then once again it is time to change the Coneset.
       

    Why does it go bad?

    Right from the moment you start the bike, till you lock the handlebar, the Coneset comes into play. That makes one thing clear, it is a part which faces a lot of wear and tear. And like all parts, even the Coneset has a shelf life, which can be extended by regular check and service, thus extending the life of your much more expensive tyres, steering stem, forks and the entire triple tree set-up. But, normal wear and tear are not the only reasons for the Coneset to go bad. Here are a few more arch-enemies of your Coneset.

    1. Bad roads: Not really surprising now, is it. Bad and uneven roads, potholes cause a lot of damage to your Coneset. Ride slow and watch out for those nasty potholes. Well that’s not always possible in India.
    2. Climate: Not everyone owns a covered or basement parking. Natural elements like rains, dirt and dust can also take away the life out of the grease that provides the much needed lubrication to your Coneset, thus reducing its life.
    3. Dirt and muck: We live in a country where a lot of dirt and dust fly around. Add to that the dirt magnet nature of grease and voila, you have an ideal scenario for your Coneset to loose its sheen. But worry not, keep an eye on it, and get it serviced at regular intervals and you should extend the replacement cycle.
    4. Using wrong tools: The title sums it up, but always make sure that the right tools are used when working on the Coneset. Don’t let the mechanics go hammer and tongs with your Coneset. There are special tools available for fixing a Coneset and these tools are motorcycle specific. Unfortunately, many local mechanics do not stack on such equipments, so make sure you ask the right questions.
    5. Falls & crashes: A nasty fall or a collision where the handlebar is involved.
    6. Off-roading: Who doesn’t love doing a bit of off-road riding. But care has to be taken to keep an eye on the Coneset after the ride. Continuous neglect of a loose Coneset can lead to permanent damage.
       

    I recently changed my Coneset. But the symptoms are recurring. Why so?

    A recently replaced Coneset, may get loose due to the excess lubrication or improper fitting. It is not unusual to get the Coneset adjusted 1-2 times during early days of the replacement. Your service provider will in ideal condition not charge you for such re-adjustment up until 1-2 weeks. However, your new Coneset is equally at risk of getting damaged due to a major pothole bump or small motorcycle fall from standstill position etc. Its best advised to get it reviewed by your service provider.

     

    This blog is for information only and to help readers make an informed decision. We still request all readers to consult their service provider for the best course of action.