Before I shamelessly boast about my new pride, I will have to thank the following people who made the Ninja a possibility.
This article is an experience on how I made my Ninja dream a practical possibility. If you are probably interested in the ownership experience, you can directly jump to this link.
The Ninja was finally launched in India after such a long wait. I even stopped waiting for the product and was blindly saving money for the next bike. Suddenly, one day I saw a Ninja standing in one of the Probking showrooms in Pune. It got me run for more information and I got the news confirmed that the launch had happened. I called up folks trying to find out their reviews on the bike. I couldn’t get much except for the reviews written for xBhp. After the very short research, I had decided to wait, though I had the money in hand. And trust me, it was a tough decision for me.
I flew down to Chennai on a weekend to take up some exams. Generally my exam centre used to be Velachery. For once, it happened in Adyar, where the Probiking showroom was located in Chennai. I had to pass through that and look at the beautiful bike standing there. It was a heavy dose right in the morning and it forced me finish the exam earlier than I expected to finish it. I ran to the showroom to check out the bike. I had already been a customer of Probiking for a few years now and I knew most of the people there. When I looked at the bike in flesh, my jaws dropped! It was huge!!! Much much bigger than how it looks in a photo. I almost decided to book it, when my mind again stopped me. I looked down and told the folks there that was going to come back after 6 months, and walked away.
Just after lunch, I had to take up my next exam. I had to pass through the same showroom, and looking at it, I had now gone overboard. This exam was shortened as well and I went back to the showroom. I saw the Manager of the showroom patienetly explaining to one of the customers about the price of the bike and its features. By now, I was completely familiar with all those. I waited patiently until the Manager was done with that customer, and he finally came to me and said, “I’m sorry to have made you wait, Sir. How can I help you?” I didn’t have much to say except, “One Ninja please. Make it green!” I paid off the advance right that moment without further questions, to book myself a slot for delivery. I was assured a delivery in a few weeks’ time.
I was depending on my savings to buy the bike and when I really needed it, I wasn’t going to get it for various reasons. Thats exactly when my cousin, Prithiv helped me source the huge sum for a temporary time until I got hold of my cash. I had problems getting the cash from him to the showroom. Allen was helpful soul who ran between the ends of the Chennai city to complete all the formalities for my bike.
After all this was done, I got a call from the showroom telling me that the bike was ready for delivery and all I had to do was just come down and pick it up!
It happens before every ride. Its so hard to sleep and I just don’t understand how the excitement just is so high. This time, apart from a the fact that I was planning to ride down to Chennai from Pune, it was also the fact that I had booked myself a new Kawasaki Ninja 250R. I was going to head to Chennai on the 220 and return on the Ninja with the engine breaking in pretty much in mind. I had informed my other 2 pals staying with me in the apartment that I would be gone by 4:30 AM and I was ready as said. I packed the saddle with basic clothes and some spares. I put the gadgets in place and started the engine, that woke up the security sleeping nearby. He didn’t do much, but turned the other way around and fell asleep!
We had a team outing at Chandni Chowk the previous night and I was just recalling about it as I passed the place and touched the highway. The NH4, so early in the morning, so empty and quiet. It was a pleasure to enjoy the cold wind and slow moving sparse lorry traffic. I passed through the first toll gate and chuckled thinking of the numerous toll booths I would be crossing the next few days. Pune to Chennai and back would be around 2,600 kms and that single factor kept me smiling constantly. Just before the Khatraj tunnel, I was passing by the vast highway that ran between two mountains and there was absolutely no illumination except for the reflectors on the road. The stars covered the entire dark sky patched between the mountains. All this reminded me of the 8-bit car racing video games that we used to play with the night mode on. I passed through the tunnel that echoed the engine grunt of my bike as well as the lorries. Pressure was mounting in my ears and I found it hard to control.
Exiting the tunnel, the dark highway continued and the engine was getting warmer. My speeds gradually increased when it happened… All of a sudden, I saw complete darkness. I could feel the wind still blowing hard on my body, but my brain wasn’t processing anything. Moments later I realized that the bike was quickly decelerating without me applying any brakes. The console, nor the head lamps were functioning. The vehicle had shut itself down and it was slowing very quickly. I didn’t have much time as I was quite unsure of what was right in front of me and I was moving real fast. I controlled the bike to the best of my skills and finally brought it to a halt. When I finally rested both my feet down, I could feel sand on the left and the hard road on the right. I understood I was on the left edge of the road and was glad I was on a straight stretch.
At the end of the road, I saw some light and started pushing the bike towards it. As I neared it, I realized it was a petrol bunk. The guy signaled me to get the bike to one side so that he could fill up some fuel. I had to tell him that the bike had some issues and that I needed help. He told me that the earliest mechanic was somewhere nearby and would come only by 8. I looked at the GPS and it showed 5:04 AM.
Not quite sure of what to do, I decided to do some basic troubleshooting with the pathetic technical knowledge I had on bikes. I saw a slope nearby where I pushed the bike up and riding it down to try the ‘push start’ technique. It showed no signs of hope. I then decided to park it and give it a check. I unloaded the saddle and checked the console first. The tachometer was stuck at 6k, and the console wasn’t working irrespective whether the ignition was on or off. I had a feeling the fuse had blown. I removed the seats and searched for the fuse box. I managed to find one and checked it. It looked fine. I knew there was one more fuse, but no idea where. I tried waking up my friends but none except Kiran seemed to pickup. He assured me that it was a fuse issue and asked me to check again patiently. Unsuccessful, I called up my cousin, Prathap, back in Pune explaining him the situation. As I was talking to him, I sat down beside the partially stripped bike, when I spotted a small box near the battery. It was the second fuse! I checked it and found that I had blown. I was happy that I found the problem and immeditely dug my bag to reach out for a spare. I installed it in no time, and the bike came back to life!
I was grinning as I packed the saddle again and happily told me brother that I’m continuing the journey. I put my leg across and pushed the bike off the main stand when it suddenly shut itself again. The fuse… gone! Now I had a strange feeling something bigger was wrong. I tried one or two fuses and finally found that there was an electrical short somewhere. I was in no position to find out where. Without wasting much time, I called my cousin again and asked him to source a bike and come to my rescue. I was about 50 kms from Pune and when I told him where I was, I was pretty sure he was cursing me from inside. But then, he didn’t have a choice, did he?
I took some time resting by the bike watching the lull fuel station come to life as vehicles started coming in one by one. A good one hour, or maybe more passed by when I was getting a little restless sitting there doing nothing. The small dhabha inside the fuel station had opened up and I decided to have some tea. I slowly pushed the bike to the entrance of the dhabha when my hero entered! My cousin was there, all dressed in a slick jacket, namesake helmet and pretty decent gloves. I wondered how he sourced all these so early in the morning.
After explaining everything that had happened, we grabbed ourselves some tea and got back to work. I unloaded the 220′s saddle and loaded the luggage on the other bike that he had brought. I asked him to sit on the 220 and I got on the other bike and started pushing it. I was sure he hadn’t done things like this before and ensured I was gentle with every push. Honestly, I didn’t want to slow things down with another clumsy fall! I must admit that Prathap did a great job for a first timer and gave me enough room to push through. We continued this exercise for a while, before we found ourselved in the city traffic.
Wading through the vehicles, we were heading for the Probiking showroom on FC Road. We were there minutes before the service center opened and grabbed the first position in the queue. The guy who had service my bike a few days back was sitting right there, as I walked to him and explained the problem that happenned earlier that morning. He started check the issue and found that a wire under the fairing had a small cut that made contact with the fuel tank that resulted in an electrical short. I was frustrated as this was a result of the servicing he did, when he had to remove the fairing to fix some fork issues. He didn’t take enough care to insulate the wires back properly and thus my problem. I was still smiling on the outside since I didn’t want him to screw up things again. I waited and spoke about it to the service center’s Manager. That fellow was least bothered and just nodded to everything that I said. I wasn’t surprised at things, as I didn’t have too much hope on these guys.
Fixing the bike, I decided not to risk it by starting the ride on it again. I wanted to have it throughly checked at some other place. So, on the way back home, we stopped by some bus offices inquiring tickets to Chennai and alternatives. I settled for a 4 PM KSRTC bus to Bangalore, after which I was planning to take a train.
Bidding farewell to Prathap and thanking for his help, I was back home. I quickly refreshed and checked for train tickets. The bus generally reached Bangalore by 8 AM and so I booked myself a 8:15 AM ticket in Chennai Express. With a few hours left for the bus, I wrapped up some pending office work and got ready for my bus. Meanwhile I wrote out a small letter to share what I had in mind…
I heard that you have been registered by now and you’re waiting for me to pick you up. I started from Pune early this morning with your younger brother Mr. 220. He has not been in a good mood today. He decided to shut himself down in the middle of a highway and refused to start. When I checked up on him, he had his fuses blown and also had an electrical short somewhere. It has taken me a while to tow him back to Pune and to get him back to his senses. He seems to smile now, but I need to get him thoroughly checked, before I can attempt this ride again with him. I’ve therefore decided to ground him here and I’m coming there by bus, train, magic carpet, or whatever god damn thing it takes. Just hang in there, I will see you soon.
I left home at about 2, had lunch on the way and headed to board the bus. I was helped by a friendly auto rickshaw wala who traced the bus stop and dropped me there for a good price. The wait was short and the bus arrived. I got some snack packs and a bottle of water and crashed into one of the last seats even before the bus started. Even before I realized, the bus had come out of the city and made its first evening break somewhere near Satara. I just got down to get into my senses and make sure the bus was on time.
When it started again, I stared outside the huge window pane beside me. In the back of my mind I was just imagining how it would have been if had been through these lovely ghats on my bike. Somehow I could console myself thinking of the amazing ride back. The bus played ‘Rangeela’ and ‘Dil Chatha Hai’ back to back. I knew both of them were worth a watch. But without any translator, I chose to doze off as much as possible. With very limited stops for dinner and midnight passenger pickups, the bus made it on time to Bangalore.
When I woke up to broad daylight, I found the conductor shouting out place names and the name boards in all the shops outside read ‘Bangalore’. I was watching out for the railway station outside which the bus stop. The moment I spotted it, I was thinking of ways to quickly cross the roads and catch my train. I was well ahead, it was just 7:3o and I had 45 minutes for departure. At platform 3 stood the train, for which I had to do the morning exercise through the overhead crossings. I remember booking a window tickets, but to my surprise, the type of bogie allotted had a different seat alignment and I had a middle seat. I was already tired after the 15 hour bus journey and I was worried if I could even recline a bit.
To my surprise, nobody boarded to either of my side and I had the entire seat to stretch myself for a while. I did try to doze off, but the excitement that I was just hours away from the green monster kept me wide awake doing every single activity to keep me engaged. I watched families trying to switch seats, kids staring outside the windows, heard chai walas shouting loud, TTE helping people, smelling hot dosas, and the loud thug thug noise from the rails. Stations passed by until I finally stepped out on Chennai land. I literally ran out of the station trying to cross the road to the local train station. I bought a ticket to Guindy and impatiently waited staring at the empty tracks. For a moment I thought I should probably take an auto, when I spotted the train slowly approaching from the corner. I sighed out of releif and boarded the crowded train and found a small place for my bag and myself.
From the Guindy station, I took an auto ride home, where I waited for my parents to arrive. Meanwhile I refreshed and got ready after the 24 hour ride from Pune to Chennai. I hadn’t told my parents that I was going to buy this bike. I wanted to make this a surprise for them. The previous sentence can also be rephrased as… I didn’t know how to justify my need for a second (expensive) bike and thus, this excuse. The moment they arrived, we took the car to the Probiking showroom in Adyar.
My heart was beating heart as I climbed the stairs leading my parents. By now, they would have understood that I was going to buy a bike. I walked them to the corner where a green Ninja meant for display stood majestically. I turned back, looked into their eyes and told them I was going to buy this bike. I didn’t know what was to follow. In the moment that followed, my brain processed every single movement my parent’s body made. Seconds later, they smiled out and gracefully hid the shock I had given them. My Dad was very selective with his words and refrained from too many questions. He just said that the bike looked good. My Mom on the other end was grinning. I’m sure she liked the bike. She asked me about the price, which I never revealed to her till the end. In any case, my dad was all ears when explained to him about why this was a premium bike and what sort of advancements it offered. However, I couldn’t gauge much from the reactions his nod meant. In a while, the two were happy for my purchase and left from the place, after I assured them I could take care of the formalities. Though I didn’t have a 100% nod from my parents, I was glad I had crossed half the bridge. It will take them a while to digest, won’t it?
The Manager of the showroom walked by and guided me to the basement, where my big boy was registered and stood ready for pickup. Surrounding the bike, were the delivery head, service advisor and the service engineer who was going to attend the bike. The delivery head, Mr. Narayanan was a courteous gentleman who gave me a warm welcome. He started with a thriller, “Hello Mr. Praveen. Congratulations! This is your Kawasaki Ninja 250R!” What do you think I could have even done? I was smiling like a kid on the outside and dancing on a wet road on the inside. My friends had arrived by then to make this event so memorable for me. Mr. Narayanan went through all the features of the bike right from the chasis number to engine breaking. I patiently listened to everything and finally gave them a shocker they were least expecting. I looked at Mr. Narayanan and asked him, “Sir, these are just awesome features. But then, I’m going to drive this all the way down to Pune and I’m starting tomorrow. Do you think anything is going to give up?” Mr. Narayanan assured me that the bike is one of the most tested bikes in the world and has a proved track record and should hopefully not give up. Soon after the briefing, the vehicle was taken upstairs for me to drive out. I was still surrounded by the elite crowd of the showroom where I got on the bike, shook hands with everyone who made the delivery so memorable and twisted the throttle gently.
I drove home and gave my sister a surprise and took her for a short ride. I’m not sure if she had ever been on all the curves of the Kathipara fly over in one single shot ever before. Returning back home, I had dinner with my family and make short trips to meet a couple of my pals in the city and show them my new pride. I returned around midnight and took good rest so that I could start my long return leg the next day.