Slid­ing Scoots

We get muddy in Bhopal


Apart from the reg­u­lar cov­er­age of the na­tional road rac­ing events that take place at our In­dian race­tracks, this month saw us at a very dif­fer­ent race week­end as we trav­elled to Bhopal to wit­ness scoot­ers go­ing side­ways at the Gulf Mon­soon Scooter Au­tocross. There is one name that has con­sis­tently been putting rid­ers on the podium across sev­eral dis­ci­plines of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing, in­clud­ing road rac­ing, rally and au­tocross, and they in­vited us to Bhopal to watch the au­tocross and ex­pe­ri­ence their rally-spec fac­tory scooter. The team I am re­fer­ring to are none other than the stal­warts of In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle com­pe­ti­tion, TVS Rac­ing, who have been rac­ing two-wheel­ers for over three decades, and the scooter I am re­fer­ring to is the for­mi­da­ble TVS SXR 150 rally scooter.

The event was or­gan­ised by Sportscraft and held at the Bit­tan Mar­ket Dussehra Ground in the heart of Bhopal. Be­ing held within the city, the event at­tracted hordes of spec­ta­tors who came to en­joy the fun and sup­port the lo­cal con­tenders, who did not let them down. Lo­cal racer and two-time Na­tional Rally Cham­pion Syed Asif Ali was the star of the day, and dom­i­nated the pre­mier up to 210 cc class with a flaw­less run to bag the Fastest Rider of the Day tro­phy in ad­di­tion to first place. Sec­ond and third place went to Ali’s team-mates, Im­ran Pasha of Ho­sur and Aakash Sat­pute of Au­rangabad re­spec­tively, mak­ing it a clean sweep for TVS Rac­ing and the SXR 150.

In the 110 to 160 cc class, lo­cal lad and pri­va­teer Muzaf­far Ali beat Aprilia Rac­ing’s Pinkesh Thakkar from Pune and Mum­bai’s Venkatesh Shetty, rid­ing for the Lor­raine’s Rac­ing Team. All three were rid­ing Aprilia SR 150s. Muzaf­far also tri­umphed in the 110 to 160 cc Geared Scot­ers class astride an old LML Se­lect. Sec­ond and third places went to lo­cal boys, with Jaskaran Singh and Mo­hammed An­war giv­ing the crowd even more to cheer about.

The un­der 110 cc class saw Venkatesh Shetty take first place for Lor­raine’s Rac­ing, rid­ing a Honda Dio, closely fol­lowed by the lo­cal duo of Yasir Ishaq on a Honda Ac­tiva and Naseer Ahmed on a TVS Jupiter. A scooter rally in In­dia won’t be com­plete with­out Ki­netic Hon­das tak­ing part, and Pune’s Pinkesh Thakkar rode his to vic­tory in the two-stroke class, beat­ing lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion in the process.

Well-known woman rider and top lady rider at the gru­elling Gulf Mon­soon Scooter Rally for the last four years, Nidhi Shukla won both Ladies classes, rid­ing a TVS Wego in the up to 210 cc class and an Aprilia SR 150 in the up to 160 cc class. Hence she was also pre­sented with

the Fastest Lady Rider of the Day tro­phy.

Once the rac­ing was done, a few of us lucky jour­nal­ists got a chance to take a cou­ple of laps of the 800-me­tre course astride the race-spec TVS SXR 150, and it was quite an ex­pe­ri­ence. The scooter shares a few body-pan­els with the TVS Wego, but un­der the skin it’s a whole dif­fer­ent an­i­mal. The 150-cc air-cooled four-stroke mo­tor pro­duces a claimed

18 PS, and this power is trans­mit­ted to the loose sur­face via Pirelli Scor­pion Rally tyres mounted on 12-inch steel wheels. The sus­pen­sion fea­tures race-tuned com­pres­sion and re­bound damp­ing valv­ing to make short work of any ter­rain. The en­gine breathes through a per­for­mance pod-type air-fil­ter bolted di­rectly to the car­bu­ret­tor, and TVS have also given the bike a race-only, up­swept free-flow ex­haust. Disc brakes take care of stop­ping du­ties at both ends, and the CVT is tuned to pro­vide fierce ac­cel­er­a­tion to the 90-kilo­gram scooter when you twist the go grip.

The SXR got off the line se­dately at first, and then took off in a burst of ac­cel­er­a­tion to­wards the first cor­ner, fish­tail­ing ever so slightly as I tried to fig­ure out how much brake pres­sure I could use with­out wash­ing out. The tyres gripped sur­pris­ingly well un­der brak­ing, and I made my way around the course as I tried to wrap my head around, slid­ing the rear wheel around the tight cor­ners on the course. Al­though the com­men­ta­tor had an­nounced that the rac­ing was over and that the peo­ple rid­ing around the track were just auto jour­nal­ists get­ting a taste of the ac­tion, the en­thu­si­as­tic crowd still cheered us on whole­heart­edly, adding to the ex­pe­ri­ence.

By my sec­ond lap, I was start­ing to get com­fort­able on the scooter. There is no tank to grip with your knees and no foot­pegs to stand on; you need to move your weight from floor­board to seat and back as the scooter squirms around un­der you. I was very im­pressed by the amount of me­chan­i­cal grip avail­able on the loose mud, grass and gravel, and was soon quite com­fort­able with the rear spin­ning through the cor­ners, con­fi­dent that it wouldn’t get away from me. I had such a good time rid­ing in the dirt, some­thing that I have hardly done be­fore, that I am now fan­ta­sis­ing about get­ting a mo­tor­cy­cle to do just that. We can dream, can’t we?

Many thanks to TVS Rac­ing for invit­ing us out to play in the mud.

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