So you have a few lakh rupees sitting around, and you want to splurge it on that superbike of your dreams. Almost all bike makers of the world are in India now: all you now need to do is decide what to buy!
You would probably need to match the bike to your budget, but even more importantly, you would need to match its personality to yours. What is it that you want to convey on a bike?
There are two basic kinds of bikes — sportsbikes and cruisers. If you are young and love speed, sportsbikes are your thing, be it a 200cc baby or a 1,000cc superbike. If you are in your forties or older, and have already had your share of speed (or, be honest, you are too old to crouch for long), look no further than cruisers. With their laid back seating, plush sofas, forward placed footpegs and flaring handlebars, maybe even a music player, they bring creature comfort to rides.
So what is your image? Machismo? Fearlessness? Raw speed? Lady killer? Or just a placebo?
The most popular sportsbike in India is probably the Suzuki Hayabusa. With an electronically restricted top-speed of 297 km per hour, it is among the fastest in the world. At slightly above Rs. 16 lakh, it is also priced most attractively.
Its main competition is the recently-launched Kawasaki Ninja ZX 14R, priced at Rs. 16.9 lakh, and has a lean, mean and green attitude (green is the native colour of the Ninja series). These two are the largest sportsbikes around.
Then come the litre-class: bikes with 1,000cc engines. Kawasaki Ninja 1,000, Suzuki GSX-R1,000, Honda Fireblade and Yamaha R1 jostle with each other in this slot.
Each has a distinct personality, and its own cult following. The Fireblade is a legend, built on a racing bike. The R1 is among the most temperamental bikes around, and like a capricious horse, can throw its rider if not handled properly, which makes it attractive for those who like to ride on the wild side.
The litre-Ninja and GSX are known to be rider-friendly machines, but fierce performers, with the Ninja scoring on looks.
If all this sounds too fierce and feisty, you would do well to look at Suzuki’s 1,250cc Bandit, which has a reputation of being a 'safe’ bike, though it can easily hit 220-250 kph.
If you don’t fancy the race track, and just want to feel the wind on the roads, try the street bikes: the Kawasaki Z1000 or the Speed Triple from Triumph. The Japanese bike has the façade of a predator on the prowl, and looks terrifying at night wth its four projector lights on. Sounds good?
Another great bike in this category is Ducati’s Diavel. The 1,200cc L-twin can transform from an all-out racer to an almost sober city bike. But Ducati, bought by Audi in 2012, has been mired in a legal tangle in India. Pity, since the Diavel can hold its own both on the road and around the track.
If crouching is not quite your thing, you are in the market for cruisers. After five years of Harley Davidson dominance, the competition has finally showed up — Triumph, with its Thunderbird Storm, priced at Rs. 13 lakh, and the US premium bike maker, the Indian, with three bikes priced north of Rs. 26.5 lakh.
Harley’s most famous and historically popular bike is the 1,584cc Fat Boy, once symbolic of social rebellion that over the years mellowed into an object of desire for the baby boomers generation.
The 1.7-litre Triumph Thunderbird is the cruiser equivalent of the Suzuki Bandit – almost unobtrusive, but packing great power. The Indian, on the other hand, is all chrome and lots of show — the BMW of motorcycling, as it were: an object of desire for the Armani class of executives. Incidentally, it is also a great bike to ride.
If you are a dyed-in-the-wool explorer, there is the BMW K1,600, priced at a monumental Rs. 39.5 lakh. It can do everything an SUV can, literally, both on-road and off the road. Choices come in the form of the two Tiger models from Triumph, which are much smaller, and the VStrom from Suzuki, at half the price.
If macho is your thing, look no further than the Triumph Rocket III Roadster, the largest production bike in the world. The 2,300cc engined is literally a monster, weighing nearly 360 kg and with 221 Nm of torque under its belt. That power is comparable to a mid-size SUV, and the monster of a bike can do a wheelie while riding 100 kph in top gear — just press the throttle!