The impossible top gear: Superbikes hit a speed bump on legal street

  • Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 07, 2016 11:35 IST

Walk around the Auto Expo and you can’t miss the superbikes with their hunky designs. The likes of Honda Fireblade, Triumph Rocket and Suzuki Hayabusa are the pride of their manufacturer’ stalls. But if you’re a law-abiding citizen of this country, you can give up any dream of tasting the power of one of these beasts.

The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 stipulate a maximum speed limit of 50kmph for any two-wheeler in India. Local civic bodies can modify these guidelines keeping in mind road conditions. Delhi, for instance, allows bikes to go up to 70kmph, but it’s the central rule that prevails in most parts of India as few other local bodies have specified their own speed limits.

Most of these superbikes, on the other hand, can go up to 297kmph — a limit fixed under an agreement between manufacturers but still six times the limit of 50kmph that they’ll cross in a blink. The big bikes won’t even exhaust the limit of their second gears to cross 70.

A model poses on Italian DSK-Benelli's superbike at the Auto Expo 2016 in Greater Noida. (AFP Photo)

“No law-abiding citizen can ride these motorcycles (on public roads) as there is no way they are keeping within the prescribed speed limits,” said Muktesh Chander, special commissioner (traffic), Delhi.

Not that the limit is imposed too strictly, but that still does not take away the absurdity of it.

Broach the subject with manufacturers and government officials, they are evasive.

Gurgaon police commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk did not wish to be drawn into the logic of whether a 50kmph limit made sense, saying only, “Lack of speed monitoring devices is certainly an issue. But that apart, we apply what the law stipulates and issue a number of challans.”

Honda Africa Twin at the Auto Expo 2016 in Greater Noida. (Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

The only way to implement the law would be to ensure there are speed governors installed in each motorcycle sold in the country, said Anil Chhikara, a motor licensing officer.

“That these foreign bikes with their huge engines manage to get homologation in itself spells collusion between the regulators and the sellers,” Chhikara added. Homologation is the process that certifies regulatory standards are met by a product.

Bike lovers have a different take.

“It’s time someone paid serious attention to revising the law,” said CS Santosh, the only Indian biker to finish the Dakar rally, the world’s most grueling off-road endurance event.

The author tweets as @SukhwantBasra

Read: Here’s your guide to surviving the Delhi Auto Expo

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