The daily commute to work for many is increasingly becoming a major issue to deal with. While some cities like New Delhi and its adjoining NCR areas have a laudable metro train network, many other cities don’t offer this convenience. Owing to the overcrowded public transport services, and other options such as cabs and auto rickshaws being too expensive, many people prefer commuting using their two-wheelers. As a means of transport, not only are two-wheelers inexpensive to own, they also offer advantages in terms of ease of parking, maneuverability and swift movement through crowded lanes. If you are comfortable with the idea of riding long distances for commuting, a two-wheeler offers an economical, environmentally friendly, and fast way to travel to work. While commuting for short distances is manageable even on basic, entry level machines, if your workplace isn’t located close-by, it is easier to commute on a motorcycle which helps you gobble up the miles effectively. A motorcycle that’s reasonably powerful, efficient, comfortable, with the ability to handle the annoying stop start city traffic would go a long way in keeping your commute safe and comfortable. Here’s a list of things you need to keep in mind while buying a motorcycle for your long commutes.
Sound ergonomics should be your number one priority if you use your motorcycle over long durations or distances. Reputed manufacturers carefully take into consideration all the possible riding position variations and settle on one that allows for an anatomically correct seating and riding position. A well-analysed distribution of body weight across the handlebar-seat-foot peg triangle is important to ensure that you stay comfortable over long durations without any harm being caused to your spine or other joints. Make sure you buy a scientifically designed, anatomically correct motorcycle, and don’t go by conventional perceptions, which are often wrong. Do take a long enough test ride to be sure that the motorcycle you have chosen would be comfortable over long distances.
A well-shaped, well-padded seat with the right foam density is also a critical component of this entire setup. Ensure that your long-distance commuter motorcycle is built to keep you comfortable and would support your health, even as you log scores of kilometres on the odometre daily.
While setting the rider triangle up correctly is important, equipping the motorcycle with a suspension setup which can soak up the punishing bumps thrown in by the Indian roads with aplomb is equally critical. Even the best seating position won’t help you much if the suspension duty is taken care of by a jarring, unyielding unit. Unlike sportbikes, where a relatively stiff suspension is acceptable for the additional tautness it offers around bends, the suspension on an everyday commuter should be tuned towards the softer side to ensure better shock absorption. Also, some adjustability, at least with the rear suspension preload is desirable, to facilitate adaptability for your weight.
A Good Blend Of Power And Efficiency
There are motorcycles that focus solely on efficiency, and then there are ones which prioritise power. If you are looking at a motorcycle for long distance everyday commuting, you need to find a good balance of both. Too powerful an engine would reduce efficiency, which won’t be good for your pocket. On the other hand, too puny an engine would deprive you of the ability to make good time on open straights or to have the capability to overtake swiftly. Buy a motorcycle that offers the best of both worlds, dishing out healthy power along with a respectable fuel-efficiency number
Smooth And Vibration Free
Motorcycles that vibrate and rattle are not just annoying, they may be hazardous for your health as well. Long exposure to severe vibrations not just reduces your comfort over long journeys, but can also cause nerve related disorders, especially near the lower spine area. A smooth, vibration-free motorcycle aids comfort and health over long distances. Not to mention the feeling it gives you of riding a motorcycle which is well-engineered and free of noises that generally suggest poor engineering or cost cutting.
Low And Mid-Range Torque
Unlike sportbikes, which are meant to spend most of their time in either the upper echelons or mid-section of the rev range, a city commuter relies on its torque reserves lower down the rev range to tackle the slow-moving urban traffic. Good low-end torque enables a motorcycle to pick up from a standstill easily, while also allowing for effortless acceleration and lesser gearshifts. Make sure you buy a motorcycle whose engine isn’t peaky in nature and allows you to ride at low speeds in higher gears with ease, and without the need to shift gears too much. Modern technologies which allow a motorcycle to run without stalling at low speeds also come mighty handy in such scenarios. For example, TVS Motor Company’s GTT or Glide Through Traffic feature on some of its models allows the motorcycle to keep moving without any throttle inputs, acting like a cruise control of sorts in the first three gears. Such features can really make a huge difference to your riding experience in dense traffic. Do look out for such features and tech wherever available.
Stop Start System
While flyovers bring some relief from the annoying snarls at traffic lights strewn across almost all the metros, they aren’t built over all the crossroads. If you have to wait your time out at a long traffic signal, an intelligent stop start system comes really handy. The system allows the engine to shut down automatically after a preset duration of idling, and as soon as the rider wishes to move back on, he simply has to depress the clutch to bring the engine back to life. It eliminates the need to manually switch off the engine, and turns it on effortlessly, not just saving fuel but also adding to the rider’s comfort and convenience.
Light Clutch Lever, Preferably With Slipper And Assist Clutch
A heavy clutch lever can tire your fingers out in no time, especially in crawling city traffic. While a heavy clutch is not desirable for any variety of motorcycle, it’s a strict no-no for city-oriented motorcycles, especially for the ones meant for long commutes. Ensure that the clutch action on your motorcycle is light, to keep you comfortable even with prolonged use. While slipper clutch isn’t particularly useful in city’s low to moderate speed usage, the assist function that it’s often coupled with reduces the effort required to operate the clutch lever and enhances your comfort.
Visibility - Good Headlamps And Mirrors
While having a capable set of headlamps and a wide pair of mirrors is important for any motorcycle, it’s important to focus on these areas while commuting through the cityscape. While even average headlights offer decent visibility in pitch dark, in the half-lit city lights with constant oncoming traffic dazzling you, a capable headlight is critical for good visibility. During rainy days when the night visibility is further deteriorated owing to the annoying sheen on the road’s surface, a good set of headlights is even more important. Make sure you buy a motorcycle which boasts a powerful headlamp. To ride safely, you need to be as aware of the chaos that follows you, as you are of what’s happening ahead. Make sure your motorcycle has a sturdy, wide set of mirrors which allow you to glance at the trailing traffic without having to pull your elbows in.
Connected Features And A Hi-Tech Display
Modern motorcycles come with Bluetooth connectivity, which enables their instrument consoles to offer turn by turn navigation features. It’s a great feature if you are traveling to a new destination. Just feeding the destination in at the outset and following the navigation allows you to reach the destination swiftly without having to ask anyone for directions. The call and message notifications are also a great value add and allow you to be in the know of who’s trying to call or message. This is especially useful when you are traveling to work, as you now have the option of stopping on the side of the road and taking important calls, while rejecting others.
In the end, many important factors come together to differentiate a good long-distance commuter from an average or a bad one. Carefully considering all the important parameters and making a well thought out and informed decision can be the difference between a comfortable, enjoyable commute that brings a smile on your face and a harrowing experience that deteriorates both your mood and health. Make sure you consider all the suggestions provided in this article and make a decision that makes your commute a comfortable, convenient and enjoyable year after year.
20 Sep 2022