22 Aug 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 :)

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