August 26, 2008

What are men and women looking for?

Google Suggest feature is now enabled by default on Google.com search page. Since now Google tries to complete our search query based on popular searches, this can be kinda used to find what people are usually looking for. I don't know what to infer from these popular searches; but I found it interesting enough to be shared :) Click on the images to zoom them to their actual sizes so that the text is big enough to be readable.

August 22, 2008

Unicorn vs Thunderbird

Last weekend I was in Bangalore.  I just love the city; spending a few days there was in itself good.  I met a few friends whom I hadn't seen for quite some time.  Had a lot of Corner House ice creams.  Got a chance to ride my Unicorn after a few months.

After using a Thunderbird for a few months I was riding my Unicorn for two days in Bangalore.  This helped me find out the differences between both the bikes.
  • Unicorn is a "modern bike" in the sense that it has been designed and built recently with new technology.  Thunderbird uses very old technology.  This doesn't make a big difference by itself; but this is the reason behind many other differences.
  • Differences that I noticed as soon as I sat on the Unicorn: brake and headlamp of the Unicorn really work.  Rear brake of Bullet doesn't stop the bike at all.  Headlamp of the Bullet shows you only up to about a few metre.  Any reasonable speed on the bike (above 40kmph) with this headlamp makes me nervous (especially because I once had an accident only due to this).
  • For city traffic both the bikes are good in different ways.  Unicorn is a bit smaller and lighter, so it's easy to navigate inside city traffic.  However, due to the power and pickup of Bullet, it's very easy to overtake.  That saves some time while commuting to work.
  • The main difference (at least in my opinion) is the way gears work.  Thunderbird's engine is almost always between 2500 to 4000rpm, no matter which gear we are riding in or the speed at which the bike is traveling.  This means that the gear that drives the wheel makes a lot of difference.  On the other hand, Unicorn reaches 50kmph at about 4500 to 5000rpm engine speed (on top gear).  Beyond this point, the bike's speed is solely controlled by engine speed (which goes to about 8000rpm at 90kmph).  What does this imply?  Let's say I'm going at 65kmph (on top gear) and trying to overtake a bus.  I see some other vehicle from the opposite side so I have to either overtake as soon as possible or back out and wait for that vehicle to pass.  On a Unicorn all I can do is accelerate more to increase the bike's speed.  This, obviously, may not help all the times.  On a Bullet though I can shift down to get some extra power and overtake the bus before the other vehicle comes in my way.
Sometimes it happens that the more we know about things, the more we are confused.  If you ask me which bike I like better -- Unicorn or Bullet, I don't have an answer.  Maybe I will wait for a different bike that mixes the goodness of both these bikes.  That might become my favourite bike :)

August 17, 2008

Weekend trips are fun

"Man proposes, God disposes" is one of my favourite proverbs.  A few weeks back I was planning to go on a bike trip with some friends.  No matter how many rides I do, I always want to go for one more.  But a friend was planning to go to Pondicherry on the same dates.  After a lot of thinking I decided to go to Pondy (Pondy trip photos).  I traveled by train.  Slept in the middle berth.  Fought with mosquitoes all night in Pondicherry.  Even after all this I found myself happy at the end of the trip.  Pondy was pretty.  People I was with were fun.  I think the bike ride wouldn't have been as much fun.

For Independence Day (Aug 15, 2008) I was planning to go with my friend Chenthil on a bike ride to Dhanushkodi.  In total that trip would have come to about 2500km.  I was so eagerly waiting for the day.  But the plans changed slowly and we ended up not going anywhere (except for my ride to Bangalore and back to Hyderabad).  I was in Bangalore for two days doing nothing.  Well, not really doing "nothing".  I spent a good 10 hours with a close friend of mine after a long time.  I went to Forum for shopping.  I rode my Unicorn around for two days.  Although it didn't happen as I wanted it to happen, I was happy.  On the way back I stopped at a beautiful lake near Penukonda.  The road was beautiful and not so crowded.  The weather was pleasant too -- I couldn't see sun at all, and it didn't rain either.  This also turned out to be a nice trip (photos here).

Now I am busy planning the next trip :)

August 06, 2008

A broken brake may lead to a broken theory

A few months ago I took my friend Chenthil's Enfield Thunderbird with me.  On the way to Hyderabad from Bangalore itself I had an accident -- I fell off the bike due to its weird brake behaviour.  I thought then that the disk brake of Thunderbird bikes is too sharp (unlike Unicorn's) and that made me fall.

After this, for some strange reason the bike used to skid occasionally when I apply brakes and I had hard time balancing it.  I thought maybe I am not used to handling the bike well -- or maybe it's too heavy to handle.  I said to a friend that if at all I have any accident with this bike it would be due to its brake.  Soon, the skidding more or less stopped and I was riding away happily.

Then I had a couple more accidents.  The brake invariably had some part to play.  I started thinking maybe there's something wrong with my braking habits.  But I never fell off my Unicorn due to bad braking.  Being the irrational human I am, I concluded that Thunderbird is a badly engineered bike.  I thought, "Bikes like Unicorn are modern.  They were designed end-to-end anew.  But these Enfields are very old technology.  These guys take the existing design and just add a disk brake.  How could that possibly be a balanced design?"

So I thought until yesterday morning.  I knew for a fact that the rear brake of my Thunderbird was not functioning at all.  I could stand on the brake pedal and move the bike.  Somehow I just ignored this fact and never felt like fixing it.  Only yesterday it struck me that this broken brake could be causing all the skidding and thus accidents.

Now the bike is in service center getting its brake serviced.  Hope everything turns out good :)