Superbike ownership experiences in India: Krishnendu Kes speaks of his Yamaha YZF-R1

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Meet Krishnendu Kes aka Ken Cool and affectionately called as Ken Da by his fellow mates  Before we get down to the usual set of questions on his ownership with the big one, we hereby take the opportunity to share a few bits about his passion for motorcycles that we discovered during a short online chat. Bikers aren’t made in a day– the passion for motorcycles like experience grows over time, the earlier it starts the deeper it delves. Some surrender mid-way, but some manage to keep the fire alive and never give up despite pressing demands of everyday life and we’re pleased to come across Ken, who happens to be one from the rare batch.

His encounters with motorcycles started at the age of 7, when he used to help his dad open up the Jawa and a British made Royal Enfield Bullet. Where people start off learning on lighter motorcycles, Ken started riding the very same Bullet at the age of 11 with assistance from his dad, who seated as pillion would balance the motorcycle as Ken’s feet couldn’t reach the ground. Getting familiar with the motorcycle in a short course of time, Ken would ride the motorcycle all the way till school with dad as pillion, who would further ride it to his workplace. Time passed and Ken later bought his own cast iron Royal Enfield Bullet 350- the odometer figures of which we’ll be disclosing ahead. His love affair with the lazy thumper continued and one day- lightning struck! He happened to ride his friend’s Yamaha RD350 an it was an instant divorce with the Bullet. The relaxed temperament of riding a Bullet was replaced by a rush of adrenaline with a commitment of owning a speedy set of wheels some day. So that was then, and here we are today, featuring him on his experiences of living with his own mighty set of wheels- the Yamaha YZF-R1.

Krishnendu Kes Superbike ownership

When did you buy the R1?
This particular R1 was bought in 2007!

Which bike did you own prior to the R1?
Before this R1, I had two more R1s!!! 🙂 And before that I had a Comet GT250! And simultaneously I had a Pulsar 180 Classic which was run for around half a lac kms and a cast iron Bullet 350 religiously ridden around for 3,50,000 kms. Well wait….did I say 3,50,000 kms? Ok, I did. Here’s the correction- the Bullet was rather ridden for 3,00,000 kms and the rest of the 50,000 kms I had to push it 😉

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Krishnendu Kes Superbike ownership-3

Which other bikes do you own apart from the R1?
Currently I own the R1, a Pulsar 220FI, and a modified 4-Speed RX100 for my son who has now outgrown it. And it is up for sale… 🙁

Why only the R1? Did you consider some other bike while making a purchase decision?
That time I really didn’t care. Those days I was just looking at ANY SBK with a good resale value. R1 always sold well in those days! I do not have any particular fascination for the R1. For me any SBK is good enough.

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What is the best part you like about your bike?
The best part that I like about my bike is that it has two wheels with a motor attached somewhere in between and it can go darn fast! Everything else is incidental!

And the worse part?
Is there a worst part to a motorcycle? Yes there is… a dead battery!

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What has been your longest ride?
I do not recall, I have done several 800+kms-in-a-day rides in India and abroad! Delhi – Udaipur in a day and back two days later, twice! No, make that thrice! Bikaner –Jodhpur – Udaipur in a day! Delhi – Mt Abu in a day. Phew, that was with Vivek who was on the 10R; Gosh we have had some memorable SBK rides together! Jaisalmer – Delhi in a day! Dieppe – Port Grimaud, that was over 1100kms. But that was a breeze.

How has been the after sales experience?
This is a fatuous question! It is well known that the after sales experience of all SBK owners in India, irrespective of brand across the board is nothing short of miserable! It is best not to discuss such delicate issues!

How much on average do you spend on service including consumables?
I have made a rough calculation of expenses: around INR 110,000/- over 5 years. Also may I add that my riding over the past year has gone down drastically because of personal and economic reasons. Also tyre prices have become prohibitive in the past 16 months. It costs more than twice as much as it used to in 2010!

Any independent service centre/ mechanic you would recommend?
Guys, learn to do the basic service on your own, like oil and filter changes. But if you have a little more complex stuff like changing shims of your valves or even changing your plugs, then most “authorised service centres” are pretty useless and so are the self-styled Samaritans who claim to do it “better”!

Where do you source the spares from?
Basic spares are available with Yamaha. But at times they are unwilling to sell them because I didn’t buy the bike from them!  I have bought a K&N filter. In India, using a K&N filter on your bike nulls and voids the warranty whereas in 165 countries around the world, it is perfectly legal and warranty holds good! I source some of my parts from friends in the US or I buy them myself from Europe.

What modifications have you done to the bike? What difference has it made?
I have put a Yamaha OEM double bubble. Difference? Helluva lot! My head is not torn apart at higher speeds! Turbulence is greatly reduced. K&N Filter: I do not have to buy the shitty paper filter for INR 4,000/- every 5000 kms!

What makes up your riding gear?
Pretty much like everybody else, pants with CE certified armour. Jackets with CE certified armour. Shark Helmet. Armoured Sbk gloves. SMX4 shin guarded boots. Most of this has been sourced in Europe or the US.

Have you ever faced issues from cops since lot of bikes out there are grey imports and inappropriately documented?
Not really!

What would be your next bike?
I would like to own a GS/Caponord/Multistrada… not sure which one and do not really care. But one of them deserves to adorn my garage. I would also like to own a Roadking!

Any pointers on parking in public places?
Parking in public places is fine as long as you befriend the parking lot attendant. He will take better care of your bike than the other bikes! I haven’t had too many issues in this regard.

What tips would you give to prospective superbike owners?
If you have a SBK, ride it! Do not keep it as a showpiece model in your living room! It is not as delicate as you think it to be. But hey… ride it only if you feel that you have a sane head on safe shoulders. Abroad you have bike training sessions and schools. Tests are extremely stringent. 99% of Indian bikers would fail 100% of the biking skill tests and 100% of our bikers would fail 100% of theory tests! So, before buying an SBK, I really wish that guys are responsible riders and have a minimum requisite amount of skills. Otherwise, I strongly advice having a good number of kilometres of experience (5,000 – 10,000 kms) before taking the plunge.

And finally the question that we Indians love so much.. ‘kitna deti hai’? 😉
Anything between 5-6 litres to a 100kms. Basically, I get a range of about 250–260kms before the yellow light comes on and then it takes about 14L of gas!

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So that was it! A quick, spontaneous and straight from the heart articulations from Ken. With the best of wishes for his future biking assignments, we hope his dream of owning the Germans and Italians is realized soon. But before that, we wish that tyre prices plummet to reasonable levels so that his love affair with the R1 continues on a greater scale.

Hope you enjoyed reading Ken’s experiences as we did in bringing it to you. Ride safe everyone!

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  • Jefferson says:

    Wow! Thank you! I always needed to write on my website something like that.
    Can I implement a portion of your post to my website?

  • A Gupta says:

    My guy could work on the 250 like he had already been trained… but then, he’s a very talented mech. The guy should be willing to learn – too many aren’t.

  • Sajal, you have seen my ride the K1300S, the R1200R, the S1000RR, your 200NS and tonnes of other bikes! You must have missed the same fascination in me when I am riding those bikes as well. So, honestly, no real fascination for the R1! Nor do I have for any particular bike!

    A Gupta; I am not so sure. Car mechanics who have looked at my bike blinked several times to get anything done! They didn’t know where to start! And with the sheer number of sensors all over… they do not know how to proceed. KRP and Ronnie in Delhi are pretty decent. But they are pricey.
    As I have said before, I do the basic stuff myself, oil and filter change, K&N recharging etc…

  • A Gupta says:

    There is a small trick to keep maintenance costs down.

    The average bike mechanic will be pretty clueless when he sees large water cooled FI multicylinder engine, but there is a much more common mechanic who sees this sort of motor day in and out – the car mechanic. He can easily do minor work, such as oil and filter changes as well as a lot of the electrical stuff too. He’ll also have an idea of alternative (and readily available) substitute fasteners, bushes, tubing and sundry parts which might cost big money otherwise, and more importantly are a PITA to source.

    Note – this is not to say that critical components should be replaced in this manner, but some stuff you can without compromising on reliability or performance

  • I’ve been knowing Ken Da from around 3 years now and boy he’s a person that you have to meet before you die. I still remember when I first rode his R1. Before that we have hardly ever spoken personally.. just a casual Hi and that was pretty much it. Then the day came, we met, had a good chat, and I asked for his permission, and I was 200% sure that he would say No because honestly… he had the authority to say so. Bang he said “Yes” and said so.. sooooo casually that I was left flabbergasted!! That’s Ken for you people 🙂

    And he’s lying when he says that he doesn’t have a fascination for the R1. Just look at him… when he’s riding his R1 🙂