how do you ride / drive your vehicles: calm or aggressive

My philosophy has always been to try and maximize the fun that I can extract out of that machine.

BHPian RiderZone recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

My childhood friend and I both have Interceptors. Riding around with him I’ve noticed something, he is always very “nice” to the bike. He never pulls hard in low gears, never revs beyond 4k RPM, and never deliberately downshifts to make the engine roar.

Compared to him, I feel like I’m almost abusive to my bike. I love making overtakes in 1st and 2nd gear, taking it all the way to 6k RPM and beyond. I also love rev-matched downshifts that make the rear squirm and make the exhaust pop and burble.

I have never thought about this before, but this is the way I’ve always ridden my motorcycles. Since I ride exclusively for fun, I naturally tend to “ride hard”, whatever that means. A motorcycle is a machine, it’s a means to an end, fun in this case. My philosophy has always been to try and maximize the fun that I can extract out of that machine.

This seems to be the fundamental difference in our thinking, he seems to treat his motorcycle almost like it’s a living object. Given how many people give names to their bikes, this does not seem to be an uncommon thing. You can really see the difference in approach when he says that his bike doesn’t sound “right”, and experiments with oil additives etc., while I am more than happy to let a loud exhaust drown out any engine clanks.

Perhaps I’m missing something in life, but I feel almost no emotional attachments to my bikes at all, at least not until I’ve sold them or dismantled them to bits. I take no special care of them, put them into situations they were not designed to handle, and push them to their limits for a giggle or two.

Maybe I’m taking the middle path in all this? While there are plenty of people like my friend, there are many of the “IBW chai pakoda” breed too, ready to redline their machine to boom just for some Insta likes.

This also explains my choice in motorcycles to some extent, the Duke 390 and Interceptor are very similar in this regard, they are very involved machines. Both need frequent gear changes, both are fun in acceleration, and most importantly, both are dirt cheap to maintain and live with. The Xpulse is even more hardcore in that sense, it has no other purpose but to be thrashed. I like the challenge of multitasking, it’s fun when your whole body is doing things to the bike, and it’s doing what you’re thinking. But that fun doesn’t work until you’re a bit close to the edge.

This may also be why I’ve not been very keen on buying a superbike. I’m sure they’ll be a lot more fun to pull in 1st gear, but that niggling whisper in the brain about a replacement chain set costing an arm and a leg may take some of the fun out of the fun.

The funny thing is that none of my bikes has ever needed any major engine work, except the Pulsar 150 but that’s a whole other thing. My Duke 390 happily did some 50,000 km, and is still being ridden by a friend. It would seem that apart from low fuel economy, pushing your motorcycle has no real disadvantages.

Even more interesting is that when it comes to cars, I don’t drive them hard much at all. Part of this might be because I’ve never owned an enthusiast car, Grand i10 is the costliest car I ever got, and it was a 4-speed auto. I find driving to be a frustrating experience, in any case, the fun does not enter the equation.

To clarify, I’m not saying I’m a rash rider or a Roadside Rossi, just that I try to get to 70 kph in a hurry.

I thought it would be interesting to take a poll from the crowd here, just to get an idea of how common it is for people to be like me or my friend. Please make a choice based on the descriptions below, your choice will be based on your primary vehicle type, motorcycle for me for example.

I am nice to my vehicles:

  • You almost never pull hard in lower gears
  • You almost never take the vehicle anywhere close to the redline
  • You almost never rev the engine just to enjoy the sound
  • You spend time to make the vehicle look good and shiny
  • You notice minor mechanical and visual niggles and fix them immediately
  • Fuel economy is usually more important than the fun factor

I push my vehicles for fun:

  • You frequently accelerate the hell out in 1st and 2nd
  • You are happy to bounce off the rev limiter occasionally
  • Revmatched downshifts are the meaning of life
  • You keep the chain clean and lubed, the rest is irrelevant
  • You keep up with the bare minimum service schedule and do nothing more
  • The purpose of fuel is burning

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

It’s a balance with me. In traffic and/or bad roads, I baby my cars keeping the revs low and driving them very softly. On the open road with no traffic (usually very early mornings), I redline them. But even when I drive them hard, I drive them hard with love & respect, not abusive at all. My style of driving is fast + smooth.

The occasional high-revving is good for the engine, and your mind + body + soul.

If you really want to keep your vehicle in top shape, follow the tips in this article.

Great thread, RiderZone.

Here’s what BHPian Rachit.K.Dogra had to say on the matter:

I would like to believe I am nice to my vehicles. However, that does not mean I don’t ride my bike fast or push it. I think it comes down to how you do it. Mechanical empathy has been discussed on this forum before too.

I don’t believe there is a set guideline in general of how to achieve mechanical empathy with your vehicle, but in general, there are practices one can follow:

Here are some things that I do:

  1. I am typically smoother with the throttle.
  2. I tend to make an effort to be smooth in my operation of the vehicle, gear shift, clutch timing, throttle and brake application.
  3. I slow down for bad roads.
  4. I love to keep my vehicles clean and shiny.
  5. I follow a routine for basic bike maintenance like chain cleaning, lubing etc.

However, I do believe in the Italian tune-up once in a while as well. You need to push your vehicle through the gears smoothly under the right circumstances for all injectors, exhaust systems etc to be in good shape.

Typically a machine lets you know if you are being gentle with her or not. One has to just pay attention and make an effort to comply.

Here’s what BHPian aargee had to say on the matter:

Since NICE is a little loose term because everyone is nice & it’s a little devil inside them makes them nicer than nicest in the room during situational emergencies. And there’re some controversies on being “nice” that many may not agree, fortunately, or unfortunately they work for me

So this is how I’m “nice” to my vehicles:

Intelligent Quotient

  • Only hand-picked fuel stations; mostly serviced at ASC & only at ultra-reliable FNG
  • Until emergency strikes (which hasn’t until now), idle the vehicle for 1-2 minutes on a cold start
  • On a reasonable hot day, idle for maybe 30-45 seconds or so
  • When it comes to aftermarket, use Motul/Shell engine oils, Osram/Philips lights, basically reputed brands
  • Record, record & record; record everything from when & where the fuel has been filled, quantity, serviced & cost, ODO reading, components changed
  • Always keep the vehicle in top-notch state even if not using it every day; and idle & rev the vehicle to operating temperature once in 2-3 weeks during prolonged storage

Emotional Quotient

  • A little insane, but only a few can understand – talking to your vehicles helps! & it reciprocates that can be heard as a mind voice. No, not hallucination or schizophrenic!
  • This is one of the strongest factors to determine whether the vehicle is ready to ride, whether idling is sufficient or not
  • A subtle change in grunt, change in exhaust note, change in gear clunk helps to identify some early warnings (although experienced once or twice)
  • Avoid doing anything that spoils the beauty of the vehicle as much as possible (e.g. taking care not touching the fuel tank or piano black interiors with bare hands etc.) taking care to wash the vehicle as carefully as possible
  • Avoid taking the ride/driving to places that the ride is not comfortable

Social Quotient

  • Ride only with folks who’re in alignment as same as when it comes to taking care of their vehicles
  • Avoid strangers/pillions, who see the ride as a piece of machinery as much as possible, sometimes even including ASC/FNG to an extent
  • Park or visit those places as much as possible only where there’s good & safe parking that can be provided

Adversity Quotient

  • Ride/drive as fast only as much as your guardian angel can fly. And the guardian angel in reference is the ride itself & ONLY when there’s a strong bond between the ride/drive & rider
  • When damaged, better to cover the vehicle in covers until a competent mechanic/FNG/ASC is found rather than getting it to someone who fixes things in flurry unless it’s a situational emergency
  • Replace/repair vital parts when there’s a sign of wear/tear rather than waiting to extract maximum juice out of it or avoid using the vehicle until there’s a fix

Here’s what BHPian ashwinprakas had to say on the matter:

Very seldom do I cross 80kmph when riding within my state of KL. However I’d be in 1~3 Gears for most of it, so yeah I accelerate hard, even with the CT100 I’d be at WOT for most of it, the only exception is the Bullet which is strictly for thumping around and it shows by returning the best FE I’ve received so far at around 50kmpl.

In comparison, the CT100 last returned 38kmpl and both the P220 and CBR250R returned around 27~28kmpl.

I also run my Motorcycles on the cheapest oil available, mostly Lal Ghoda which costs under 200/litre, only recently have I started going back to motorcycle oils with the Bullet otherwise it’s always cheap Diesel oils that are changed at around 1.5~2k km.

Having said that the CT100 is at over 80k on the odo and still going strong, it has been bashed around and had its front end swapped with that of a P150 as the stock one was really out of shape and causing the motorcycle to not run right.

The P220 is around 60k on the odo and has been my interstate commuter during college days, even today when I take her on the interstate she is pinned at WOT, she still is ridden at WOT within the state but limited to the first couple of gears as the 4th and 5th are too tall for my kinda use.

So yeah, I use and abuse my Motorcycles to the point I can extract every bit of value out of them, yet they work like new due to my maintenance, they’re cosmetically ignored cause I couldn’t care less but mechanically perfect, having said that my P220 does have oil leaks that are older than most peoples motorcycles but they’re conveniently ignored as they don’t pose an issue for me considering my oil change intervals. There are broken panels as well but since they do not pose a mechanical issue I keep using them even though replacement costs peanuts being a Bajaj.


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