In a country like India where people seldom walk the talk Sahyadri Moto from Mumbai takes a different path. Something that has plagued the enthusiast in this country from the beginning of time is the lack of quality alternatives or after-markets, sure once in a while you’ll see something crude that stands out and kinda gets the job done, I stress on ‘Kinda’ because there has been no R&D phase because like all other ‘Jugaads’ we improvise as we go on, which is fine for the daily commuter cause worst case scenario he’ll be late for school/work if something goes wrong, the same cannot be said for the long distance tourer/commuter a small setback can lead to great distress and that’s where reliability comes into the picture.
I started riding in 2011 when I got my first motorcycle a Hero Honda Karizma R(ZMA-R) and from then on until around 2014 when I was Interstate commuting on my Bajaj Discover 100 4G I used to resort to all sorts of luggage carrying options from bungee cords to saddle/tank bags and what not, you name them I’ve tried them, I’ve even gone to the extent of testing out custom made carriers which are believed to be a mandate for a certain breed of push-rod running motorcycles, some did serve the purpose for the time being but the hassle was just too much as I was looking for a more seamless experience, tightening ties/knots/loose bolts etc. Just didn’t seem all that appealing when you would really have to put some miles on the trip meter before you get to call it a day. I know that I’ve gathered some hate at this point, but trust me, folks, I’m trying to be as blunt as I can be, plus I’ve been on both sides of this ‘luggage hauling’ game.
Fast-forward to 2015 when I had traded my Bajaj Discover 100 4G for a Bajaj Pulsar 220F I honestly did not expect much to change, my saddle bag would look a little out of place as the color scheme was in sync with my previous motorcycle which came in the dual tone green-yellow paint whereas the new one came in white and black, but that didn’t bother me cause I’m a function over form person. But with a more capable machine, the average speed started to considerably climb as a result of which the fiddling range decreased and I would have to stop every 150 KM’s or so just to see if everything is still in place.
Thanks to social media I got to know that Bajaj had a solid fan-base in places such as Colombo, Indonesia and Singapore and following the old habit of sourcing workshop manuals of the Honda CRF230 for my Hero Honda Karizma R I joined a couple of on-line groups and started interacting with a couple of the Pulsar’ians and that’s how I got to know that though everyone in Singapore rides with a top box, most if not all of them were readily available after-market add-ons, in a market more predictable than India its just a binary decision when it comes to producing something and hence everyone had a factory finish rack, which I was inclined to go for but I thought it would be best to look at all alternatives, plus everything is super expensive in Singapore, heck! I remember asking a couple of guys on why they lubed and re-used clutch cables and they were like Duh! They cost 20+USD! Just in case you’re not familiar with Bajaj’s pricing in India, we get them for 2~3USD here. And that’s how I came upon the Indonesians, man! They’re all that’s missing in India, they are all about getting their hands dirty, whatever the type be it street Rossi or avid tourer, they’re full blown, PWK flat-slide carbs to ADV conversions that would put factory builds to shame. Which led me to go deeper and that’s how I met Mr. Bhushan whom at first I thought to be an Indonesian due to the impossibly hard to pronounce display name he used on Facebook, we would talk about our motorcycles and I would bitch about how messed up the Indian market is as far as after-markets for indigenous motorcycles went and he would send me pictures of the mods he’d done to his motorcycle and the other mods and accessories available in Indonesia which spiked my interest to such an extent that when I got to know that he’s working on setting shop in India I was super excited and would keep pestering him for updates and pictures as he had procured a test bike(Bajaj Pulsar 220) to test his mods on.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with his builds and that’s when I decided to commit, but it was not as black and white as you’d expect a transaction to be, as Bhushan was running off expensive accessories(read Dirt-Sack Llama’s and Givi) the total cost of the build came up to staggering amounts that would put me in debt for a considerable while, which I shamelessly admitted to Bhushan half expecting that he would back out, but nope! The guy was persistent he realized that price would be a dominant factor when setting up shop in India and he decided to grab the bull by the horns and went on to research about pocket-friendly alternatives(Studds and Coocase) which is how we brought down the cost of the whole package considerably and I guarantee you that aforementioned statement is an understatement.
To add to my delight since I was purchasing both the side and top racks he decided to integrate the design so that they would complement each other with regard to load sharing, and that was not it, he also threw in the touring visor which is a must have when riding in India, I had previously opted for a bubble visor from another source which was of inferior quality(Reshaped plexiglass) and shattered twice, once during initial shipment and second(replacement) during installation, hence it was a no brainer that I would be super skeptical about going for an add-on visor but he assured me that his offering was made out of polycarbonate which after some googling re-inspired my confidence.
So it was settled, and within the next couple of weeks the whole package reached Kerala, our intention was to set up the bike for the 2016 xBhp ISG2G at Ooty but due to certain delays that did not go as planned I had to ride my Daytona(TVS Wego) to the meetup, read about it here. But the following weekend after I returned from Ooty, I completed the build which by the was a bitch to setup in spite of being DIY friendly as the specifics were nowhere mentioned, hence there was a lot of guesswork regarding which piece should go where and which spacer should be used for what and what not, to be outright honest it was a pain and I remember calling up Bhushan a dozen times or more to guide me throughout the process, but in the end I somehow managed to set it up as designed. The funny part was that I thought Bhushan had missed out to include a couple of thick spacers that are required to safely mount the rear rack, which I presumed that he assumed would be locally available which might be the case in Mumbai, but from, where I come from it is death, and I don’t mean to say that the part would be unavailable, it’s the communication part that’s fucked up and in a symbolic reference I could ride my Daytona to Leh and Back more conveniently compared to the effort and patience that would be required of me to convey my requirement to the hardware salesman. But alas! After I had sourced/made-up(trust me, you don’t! want to know) the required bits and was bitching to Bhushan about not providing the same he mentioned that he had kept all the smaller bits inside the top case which due to my ignorance I had failed to properly inspect assuming that it would contain only parts that I would require at the time of setting up the boxes. Yes! That triggered a meltdown and I knew that going through the trouble of taking the whole thing apart to use the right spacers would send me down the path of irrecoverable depression I chose to let it be, which was not an easy decision to make due to my obsessive compulsiveness but that had to be due to the assumption that taking them apart one more time would really pull a number on the mount threads which would be a bitch to fix as they’re part of the chassis, so that had to be. Hence my humble suggestion to Bhushan would be to send specific(Bolt go into a nut, not another bolt! Literally!) instructions along with your products, cause you never know how many dumbfucks like myself you’ll meet out there. 😀
Moving on to the product review part;
You cannot find a better alternative in India, period. And I do not mean that from a singular angle like quality, price or availability, but I say that after taking all angles into consideration and using the product for a little over 1000 KM’s in all conditions.
The Design and Quality:
You would ideally assume that side racks and top racks would sum up to 3 pieces in total being bolted on to factory mounts with a change to longer bolts at worst, right? This is nothing but that, the effort taken to design the rack is commendable, every factory mount point has been taken advantage of, to reinforce rigidity and support and that’s not where it ends, the setup also comes with machined adapters for the hard to reach points, which is something I’ve not seen before in India where ideally you’d find a variation of some form of jugaad. And I reiterate that every factor has been considered, including the not so evident ones that tend to bite you in the ass on long hauls, yup! You guessed right, lateral support!
So does it end there? Nope!
After we played around with brands and decided to go for Coocase, predominant criterion being the price factor, I had the luxury to choose the top end 50L variant, which came with remote locking and red led lighting, which others would see as a bargain but I was horrified, cause a strict rule that I follow is that no matter what the cause the electricals shall and would remain untampered with, when I conveyed the same I presumed that he would tell me that there were no available alternatives but nope! The guy took a week to design the perfect wiring harness that would suit my requirements, and I say perfect not simply because he used heat shrink sleeves, but because he designed the harness in a way that it would make use of an unused mount point(Typical Bajaj!) in the P220’s chassis right next to the battery, which in turn gives the whole setup a factory look and feel as the cut-off switch is fixed on the aforementioned mount, the reason for keeping a switch and fuse in place is to prevent battery drain in the event that requires the bike to be idle for long as for the remote locking to work it needs to be constantly powered.
Please find the details below;
Now I know many would flash their dicks out for a measurement contest to at worst to brag about their saddle bags and at best to prove why their locally made racks are better or….. Well, let me stop you right there. If you were thinking about coming back to me with either of the above statements, then let me tell you as plainly as I could, you do not travel like I do. I come from a Rynox Optimus and a ViaTera Claw and let me tell you, for people who have a lot of luggage to carry for distances ranging from 500 to 1000 KM’s in a day to save on lodging, the luxury of prolonged breaks or even periodic breaks is almost non-existent, the only time we stop is to eat, hydrate, pee or refuel and that too when absolutely necessary and at times we do even strategically club them, cause every minute spent taking a break is on an average 1 KM assuming the average speed to be 60Kmph. So why am I going on and on about breaks? Well with the bags when you ride enthusiastically(read resistance and shock) they tend to move around or get loose which again is subjective, but the inevitable part is refueling, the effort taken to get the tank bag off, man! Now don’t tell me how you manage to leverage it off onto one thigh effectively, try doing the same in a crowded fuel bunk in the less pleasant rural parts of Tamil Nadu with a long queue of customer cursing and shouting at you. All this can be avoided when you opt for boxes, they can be mounted/unmounted conveniently compared to the bags and they stay in place no matter what you throw at them, courtesy of the design and quality which is also the highlight of the reply for the next set of queries regarding locally made racks, anyone who’s had considerable experience with automobiles know how easy it is to overlook certain specifics, the most usual ones being weight distribution, load distribution, lateral support and finally strategically placed weak spots, because it’s not always about rigidity, cause some things need to break so that other more critical things do not in uneventful circumstances, I can go on and on with the specifics but I won’t, if you’re definitely certain that you’ve got everything sorted out and for a better deal than what Bhushan has to offer then without a doubt go for it, heck! Start your own business even, but do gravely consider the unavoidable fact that a small mishap is all it takes to wipe your credibility off the face of this earth, and that is if you’re lucky.
If you’re from Mumbai then it’s all fine and well since Sahyadri Moto is based on Mumbai, but if you’re from any other region then shippings going to be a bitch, trust me! I paid somewhere between 3~3.5k for the whole thing to get delivered to Kollam, Kerala, was it worth it?
Definitely, cause this is the closest to a CAD designed product that you’ll get in this country, period.
Ultimately a business transaction is just that, you want something and you find someone who has it and that’s that. But with Sahyadri Moto that was not all, Bhushan took customer experience to a whole new level, especially in two noted scenarios;
1. When I had initially informed him that the whole standard setup would be too expensive for me and suggested if we could considering indigenous alternatives he immediately considered the possibility and then got back to me at his earliest convenience after raiding his sources, the end result of which is that I have a full-blown luggage solution at an affordable price.
2. When I was reluctant about messing with the wiring to power the top box, he went out of his was to modify the box’s wiring and then make a harness from scratch that would suit my bike which delayed completion by nearly a week, I doubt if anyone else would go to such lengths to satisfy customer requirements.
The above two scenarios aren’t the only highlights because when you’re dealing with a fellow enthusiast you not only get a better understanding of the product characteristics but also how it affects your motorcycle which has got me acquainted with some long term knowledge which is the only Achilles heel I’d like to point out in the following section.
If you’ve already guessed that the ride-ability would be affected then good for you, if not then you’d be in for a surprise. What most folks think about when they see my motorcycle is whether traffic maneuverability would be affected, the honest answer to that would be that it depends on rider to rider, I make it a strict point to not test my luck by squeezing into tight spots especially while not even close to the power band, I plan and execute my maneuver swiftly and precisely with due notice, so as far as my concerns the addon’s have not affected traffic maneuverability one bit.
Cornering? The added weight at the rear, if utilized properly can actually aid in keeping the rear in place but I would not recommend that because when you brake unexpectedly especially in loose traction environments the probability of the rear going out of line i.e if you’re not in a straight line is slightly high.
Braking? You can load the rear end as much as you want as long as you’re in a straight line and the other elements of traction are in your favor.
Weight bias? It’s a Pulsar and its front biased, so a little overhang won’t end disastrously.
Indian Road-Friendly? I still jump over unexpected humps and thread unexpected potholes, nothing has changed on that front, so yeah it works well in our conditions. Trailing, something most riders seldom do, helps a lot for both cornering and braking, so do practice.
Still worried? Use the top-case only when needed and thats ‘almost’ near stock!
So what’s up with the Achilles Heel?
Well, when there is the overhang at the rear it has an effect on handling, nothing bad as long as you keep both hands on the handlebar at all times, else what? You’ll get the worst tank slapper of your life, they’re fairly rare for indigenous bikes I’ve only had two, the first was on my ZMA in 2011 and the second and scariest one was on my P220 during my first run after installing the racks and boxes. But no need to worry, Pulsar’ians from Indonesia and Singapore are doing just fine, so as far as you know your limits it’s all good, in comparison it handles better than a Royal Enfield, speaking of which, here’s a comparo I snapped, just to show off! 😀
Oh! I almost forgot, here’s something for you if you would like a similar setup on your motorcycle(any motorcycle).