Sunday, January 25, 2009

Choreo Nite @ Saarang '09

warning .. long post. skip to the last part of the post to know what the rant is about and save time.

I was really intent on attending the choreo event, first cos' this was the cheapest ( ticket price wise) pro show at Saarang and ya.. dancing events are fun.. at least good timepass. I was supposed to buy tickets for venki and me. Tickets were on sale at the fruit shop on greams road outlet near my place, but then i kept postponing buying the tickets till they got sold out. screwed it up.

So, instead we rode to Pondicherry that night. :D The ride plans were made in a hour after i randomly suggested we ride to pondy that evening. We started out like we were going to the beach or something. Tanked up and started off towards Tirivanmiyur at 6.30 from near my place.

Left the city at 7.30ish and took the OMR till Kelambakkam and then switched on to the 2-laned ECR. Stopped for dinner at mahabs, we knew the next stretch was the toughest part of the ride cos' for 60-70 kms after mahabs the ECR gets really twisty with a lot of blind curves. Decided to ride at a relaxed 50 kmph, anything more than that became tough for me. Venki is comfortable with night riding with his awesome projector headlamps and all, but for me riding with the puny Unicorn headlight was scary (the high beam has a very stupid throw, like the light is spread all over the place). Upped the pace to 60-70 kmph after a while, cos' we got used to the darkness, the blinding oncoming traffic, the curves etc by then. At one point of time, we were really comfortable with the roads and started riding like it was daytime. Opening the throttle hard on straights, i guess i even went past 100kmph a few times ( i was too scared to look down at the speedo).

Reached the beach at Pondicherry at 11.30pm, parked our bikes and went to check out the beach and had a small snack that we brought along. We had nothing else to do after 15-20 mins, but ride back home. Filled up fuel for 300 bucks each, btw fuel costs 43.3 bucks here ( 49.xx @ Chennai), so we get close to 7 litres instead of the 6 you get at chennai. wow.

Decided to take the NH45 for the ride back, asked around for directions to get to the Tindivanam road. We had no idea about how good/bad the road was, all we knew was that after 40kms or so of riding we would get to the 4-laned NH45 and then riding would become really really easy(?).

So.. what we had was - pitch dark, narrow, dusty, broken roads + extreme chilly weather with light fog( i'm sure the temp must've been very close to 20c) + frequent road diversions with little/no warning ( cos' of the road widening project on this stretch) . I was a little scared by now, we were riding on unknown, unsafe roads at 2 in the morning and somewhere inbetween i lost sight of venki, he was riding way too fast for me and i couldn't keep up with my screwed up head lamps. Decided to slow down and let him go ahead, so now i was riding alone. :( all my night riding fears were back, i started seeing things that weren't there. I would brake hard to avoid non existent dogs etc., slowed down even further and started riding at 40kmph. Caught up with Venki near the end of the road, got onto the NH45.

Remember .. the ride was supposed to get so much better after this with the 4-laned roads, the wide median blocking the light from oncoming traffic etc. but, i still wasn't comfortable. The NH45 has one single kind of traffic, at least at night - Trucks. Slow moving, rear reflector less trucks, so when you try riding at 80 kmph, you sometimes don't spot them till you're really close. This was getting really irritating cos' i had to slow down from 80-40kmph everytime i spotted a truck late, and again i lost sight of venki, with his projector headlamps, he started with his usual 4-lane act ( which is.. riding at a constant good speed with slick lane changes weaving through traffic without a care). Then it became even worse for me, the fog started coming on and off and at some places it got really thick, visibility was less than a few meters and i was really cold throughout, (even with the three layers of clothing i was shivering a little), my fingers became numb and it was like i did not control them anymore.

Found venki waiting at a toll plaza, took a butt break, asked him to slow down and help me through the maze of trucks. It was almost 3.30am and we were still 50 kms from Tambaram, after sometime of following venki around, i got used to the traffic, the roads. Next time when he left me behind (ya, again) i did not have to struggle so hard.

Reached tambaram at 4.15ish, found him at a tea shop, we had a hot tea and started off towards home. Venki was really sleepy by now, so decided to stick to low speeds inside the city even with the well lit, wide roads. We finally got to our place at 5 am. zzzzzz......

Short trip log:

Venki and me, 22-23 Jan 2009, Night Ride, 6pm - 5 am, Chennai - Pondy - Tindivanam - Chennai, 325 km.

I need to make sure i get saarang pro show tickets on time next year, else .. a Bangalore night ride maybe...

btw, got my seventh sem results today(the 25th). sic. aggregate but i managed to get through in all my papers. that is good enough for me..


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ramblings on the Satyam fiasco

I'll come to the actual issue later on, but now i wanted to write about something else - the media coverage of the issue over these two days .

After this whole resignation news came up yesterday, i did some reading about all the recent developments involving Satyam in the last month, this was to know the timeline properly before i find out anything about yesterday's crash. There was no shortage of news items/articles about yesterday, when i came to that. All the news channels were flooded with this news, all the news sites carried articles about the resignation of Chairman R. Raju. After i had read up enough about the crash, i started looking for situation updates to know what was happening or going to happen to the company/employees. But, even as of today there has been very little coverage of current situation. The sites are flooded with articles about How/Why he did it, How this is India's 'Enron', Where the guy is hiding, cos' there were some reports of him skipping the country etc.

IMO the issue is being blown out of propotion by the media and I don't really think Satyam is going to go down the 'Enron' way. From what i gather the people over at Enron managed to cover up huge losses and show profits/growth on the books to keep going so the company wasn't really working well, but at Satyam the profit figures were just inflated to make the company look good ( which in my opinion isn't as bad as what happened at Enron) and i guess all these admin issues don't affect the workforce, i'm sure they'll be able to perfectly continue their jobs if there is a takeover or a bailout plan from the government. Ya, the investors, employees and public were taken for a ride/cheated by the 'fraud' and all that, but they sure did enjoy the benefits when it lasted, right ? The investors got good dividend checks the last 7 years, the employees got pay packets on par with the other truly growing IT companies, they got prolly' got bonuses based on the inflated profits. Damn, prolly' they were hired just because of the fraud to keep up the image of growth. Whatever...

With a company like Satyam closing down isn't an option, a govt./industry backed recovery plan is what it needs right now and the company should be propped back on its feet.

Now, going back to what i was talking about, very little content was available about the current events, chances of a bailout. The media was concentrating on thinking up captions like ' Satyam - a Rs7000 crore Lie ?', 'Satyam's billion dollar asathyam' etc. to keep the shock value going.

I hope they get out of this phase and start being a little more optimistic, and .. that can really help ithink.

more on this later ..

btw, this is just a rant. i have never had a stable opinion about anything.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Honda Unicorn - Run In Guide.

Well, first of all i'm not going to write a 'run in guide' or write any useful text that answers the question ' how to run in a Honda Unicorn ?' or write something that will be useful for someone who googles ' Honda Unicorn run in method'. The title and the previous lines are purely my attempts at SEO.

Moving on, i decided to write about how i treated my Honda Unicorn, during the 'run in period' ie. the first 1000 kms.

I did not follow the usual run in method that is generally followed for new bikes( no surprises here) and I definitely did not follow the run in instructions from the Honda user manual ( which requires me to ride at low engine rpm with no sudden acceleration etc. for the first 500 kms).

Let me first talk about why the engine has to be 'run in' or 'broken in' ( the way i did).

In a brand new engine , the cylinder walls and the piston rings haven't really spent much time together ( cos' they just met each other). So the distance/space between them is not even, and the action is quite rough. It is 'this' factor that decides the life of your engine, piston rings etc. and how long the default compression will last (ie. if you screw up the rings, your cylinder will begin leaking compression which will lead to reduced power and so on..).

To make sure we get ideal engine performance, proper mating of the cylinder walls with the piston rings is really really important.

The regular suggested/followed way for 'run in' is actually the 'crawl in' method IMO.

The usual method - Run the engine at very low rpms, never take it beyond 40-50% of maximum load, ie. on our Indian bikes we'll need to keep the engine below 4k rpm and 50kmph (prolly') for the entire duration of the run in period (1000 kms). The 'crawl in' pundits claim even breaching the rpm/speed limit once could screw up the run in/engine. Which according to me is total BS. Also i think this technique does no good to the engine period.

Motoman's run in method - Read the original article here.

This is an extreme run in method that claims that the best way to prep an engine for its actual life is to 'break in' hard. ie. the piston rings mate best when the engine is run hard in the few kilometers. (the exact reasons for this are given in his article). After which an engine oil change has to be done to remove the micro metal dust that accumulates in the oil as a result of hard break in. So this way, the run in is done with in the first 20kms.

And, this is what i did and also suggest.

My way was a mix of these run in methods, and i think is the best for our Indian bikes ( obviously)

- I made sure i took the engine through its entire rpm range in the first three gears at least, this was when the engine had done less than 50 kms.

- I rode at a 75-25 mix of sedate under 50 kmph riding + harsh throttle bursts, when sometimes i touched 80+ speeds, till the 600 kms on the odo.

- I made sure i did not ride at a constant engine rpm, this is the most important part of any run in. Prolonged constant rpm riding causes engine glazing( google to find out what engine glazing is) and in short fucks up the engine regardless of your run in technique.Most of the riders who follow the instructions in the manual end up doing this, cos the manual says 'no sudden acceleration'.

I wanted to change the engine oil at 100kms but then couldn't really find the time, also i was a little short on money then so couldn't invest 200 bucks on engine oil. but, I think this is necessary cos' a new engine always sheds metal dust into the oil. You'll do better without such dust in your engine lubricant.

After 600 kms, i went on a 450 km ride to Yelagiri, to complete my 'run in' period. The average speed on this ride was 70kmph with short bursts of 90kmph. Made sure i kept varying the engine RPM. The bike performed beautifully on this trip and there were no heating issues even on continuous riding ( i expected some trouble).

Got my bike serviced the next day, ie. got the engine oil changed. I feel the engine has become a little smoother with the new oil and the gear shifts are definitely getting better ( starting to get that nice 'click' on shifts now).

I'm happy with the run in method i followed and think my engine is well set right now, i decided to do a small solo ride yesterday night at 11pm on the Maduravoyal byepass road, the roads were totally empty so i tried topping out my bike on a long straight stretch, i could do 110kmph( speedo indicated) with ease, ie. with no ripping in lower gears and by just opening the throttle from 80kmph in the fifth, i got to 110kmph in no time and the bike looked good enough for a good 5-10 kmph more.

Check out this article which describes the tech stuff related to engine break in. Very good read.

Totally open for discussion on this in my comments page. Indulge yourself on any engine related talk.


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