Apr 14, 2010

3 Indians have unadventurous taste. Part 2: Adventure Touring and Sports Touring Motorcycles

Is the second largest 2 wheeler market in the world mature enough for motorcycles designed specifically for touring..??

India is the world’s second largest market for two wheelers. Nearly 10 million (1 crore) 2 wheelers are sold yearly here. But till now the Indian’s have been unadventurous in their taste in motorcycles. Even the so called recent stylish motorcycles like the Yamaha FZ16, R15 and the Hero Honda Karizma are nothing but glorified commuter motorcycles.

As I had earlier written about the absence of Dual purpose/Supermoto motorcycles in India, today I’ll write about another category of motorcycles "Touring Motorcycles" which are not manufactured in the world’s second largest 2 wheeler market.

Royal Enfield's, Hero Honda Karizma's and Pulsar 220's are currently favored for touring in India because we don’t have models specifically built for the purpose..

For many in India, the image of a touring motorcycle brings the image of a classic American styled Harley Davidson type of cruisers. The cruiser type of motorcycle does have a relaxed riding posture but that alone does not make it an ideal touring motorcycle.

One might also say that Royal Enfield motorcycles are used for touring in India and models like the Pulsar 220 and the Hero Honda Karizma are now favored among bikers who do long distance in India. But then, these models are used for touring in India because we don’t have models specifically built for the purpose.

Touring motorcycles are designed that it can do long distances without tiring and stressing the rider and the engine. Therefore these touring motorcycles have comfortable ergonomics. They have big/heavy body work and torque rich engines in a relaxed state of tune. These motorcycles also have large fuel tanks along with storage spaces/bags to carry luggage.

1. Adventure Touring motorcycles:

What is an Adventure Touring motorcycle?

An Adventure Touring motorcycle is used for travelling long distances over good as well as moderately bad roads. Adventure Touring motorcycles are like a big and heavily built cousin of a Dual Purpose motorcycle.

BMW R1200 GS Adventure

To travel over bad roads, Adventure Touring motorcycles have good ground clearance and are fitted with dual purpose tyres. These motorcycles also have a tall windscreen so as to protect the rider from wind blast at high speeds.

Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere

Some famous Adventure Touring motorcycles are the KTM 990 Adventure, BMW R1200 GS Adventure.

Most Adventure Touring motorcycles are nowadays fitted with smoother tyres (in place of dual purpose tyres) which make them more suited to ride on good roads than on bad roads.

Examples of such Adventure Touring motorcycles are: Honda Varadero, Suzuki V-Storm Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere and Ducati Multistrada.

2. Sports Touring motorcycles:

What is a Sports Touring motorcycle?

Examples of a few Sports Touring models are the Yamaha FJR1300, BMW K1300GT, Honda ST1300 and Honda VFR (800/1200) motorcycles. They are used to tour on smooth highways.

BMW K1300 GT

Due to their full fairings, for a layman the above mentioned motorcycles might look similar to Super Sports motorcycles like the Yamaha R1 and Honda CBR1000RR. But actually these Sports Touring motorcycles are quite different from the Super Sports motorcycles.

Yamaha FJR1300

First, the riding stance on these motorcycles is relaxed and upright, unlike the extremely aggressive riding stance of Super Sports motorcycles.

Second, the fairings on these Sports Touring motorcycles are larger and provide better weather protection.

Third, the wheelbases on these motorcycles are longer and are heavier than Super Sports motorcycles.

Fourth, the engines are tuned for a stronger low and mid range torque rather than deliver brutal power at very high rpms which is the characteristics of a Super Sports motorcycle.

A few other Touring Motorcycles worth mentioning:

Honda Goldwing

There are some models like the Honda Goldwing, BMW K1200LT and Harley Davidson Electra Glide (currently available in India as a CBU). These are massive motorcycles, they are so heavy that some of them come with reverse gear and power assisted center stands.

These are the ultimate motorcycles for long distance highway touring in luxury.

Will Indians be adventurous enough to accept motorcycles specifically made for touring..??

As these motorcycles are virtually useless for point A to point B type of commuting, therefore I have my doubts that these motorcycles might find mass acceptance in India.

But who knows, if designed specifically for India with some practical point A to point B usage and comes at an Indian price tag, it might get a niche foothold in the 10 million a year 2 wheeler market.

But then, who would want to bell the cat? That’s the big question.

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This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.


Shaiju B said...

It will be a distant reality to have such kind of a bike.

Good Article, keep going !

alpha1 said...

Have you done any calculation about average Indian's earnings vis-a-vis the price of your "Adventurous tastes"

And compare the figure to American's earnings ratio to the price of these bikes.

chrisseratte said...

T I R E not tyre. Learn how to spell dude

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