Ram­blings

Baby Beemers have taken the In­dian mo­tor­cy­cling world by storm. Bijoy rem­i­nisces the 1990s to re­dis­cover BMW Mo­tor­rad's In­dian in­nings

Evo India - - DRIVEN - BIJOY KU­MAR Y @bky911

BMW IS THE TOAST OF THE MONTH AS mag­a­zines, blogs, vlogs and TV shows are brim­ming with the new G 310 R and the G 310 GS. They look good, the blue and white roundel has brag value and, of course, has the pedi­gree. Pric­ing can­not be faulted ei­ther, though 50K more for the GS ver­sion is sim­ply rid­ing on the tremen­dous brand eq­uity of the big brother, the R 1200 GS. Guess that is al­right! As far as I am con­cerned, GS is what is stir­ring my heart as we do now have an on/off roader/ tourer that can be picked up ef­fort­lessly with­out rear­rang­ing your ver­te­brae when you drop it. And if you use it prop­erly, you will even­tu­ally drop it at some point or the other.

Though the per­for­mance on pa­per is ad­e­quate, I would have loved to have a lit­tle bit more power and torque than the avail­able 33bhp and 28Nm. While that is wish­ful think­ing, I think the GS has enough per­for­mance for our road con­di­tions and any­one look­ing at mo­tor­cy­cle tour­ing, whether you are young or old, should take a se­ri­ous look at it. But what I am more in­ter­ested in telling you in this col­umn is about how BMW tried to en­ter the In­dian mar­ket with a glo­ri­ous mo­tor­cy­cle and failed mis­er­ably. Let us rewind 23 years back then!

Back in 1995, the BMW F 650 Fun­duro was rad­i­cal for even tra­di­tional Bavar­i­ans. The big sin­gle built by Ro­tax sent its power to the rear wheel via a chain (look ma, no shaft!) and it was as­sem­bled by Aprilia. But when it came out, there was noth­ing quite like it not just in In­dia, but the rest of the world. It was sup­posed to be BMW’s en­try level mo­tor­cy­cle in Europe, but in In­dia it was the big­gest, bad­dest thing on two wheels that was on sale. The price was a princely `5 lakh at a time when the pre­mium car from Maruti, the Es­teem, cost er…the same. The 48bhp mo­tor could take the mo­tor­cy­cle to 165kmph, in case you are in­ter­ested.

It was too early for its time and there weren’t many tak­ers. BMW had to sell off the stock at throw away prices and I do know quite a few lucky guys who still run them (Enough Hari Singh, it is time you send yours to Mum­bai!)

It didn’t mat­ter much to me though. Imag­ine the sheer hap­pi­ness of get­ting one of those for a road test in those days when what was trend­ing was the Hero Honda Splen­dor! I rode it all over the land and then some. I com­muted for a week, learned to do power wheel­ies, tried to im­press my wife with a 10-minute run from Gore­gaon to Ban­dra (it back­fired, she hardly rode with me af­ter that!), gave joy rides to ev­ery­one in the of­fice and the works! In short, the fact that some­one like BMW would trust me with a spank­ing new mo­tor­cy­cle for a week was af­fir­ma­tion enough that I had cho­sen the right ca­reer path. I did write glo­ri­ous ac­counts of the mo­tor­cy­cle in Busi­ness Stan­dard and later com­pared it to the Yamaha RD 350 (well, launches were not as fre­quent as they are to­day and we had to fill pages is one good rea­son). Well a lot of good things hap­pened to the In­dian au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try and my­self, but it did take 23 long years for BMW to re­turn and cor­rect its mis­take. Talk about burn­ing fin­gers!

BTW, I think I like the red/sil­ver com­bi­na­tion.L

'The F 650 Fun­duro was sup­posed to be BMW’s en­trylevel mo­tor­cy­cle in Europe, but in In­dia it was the big­gest, bad­dest two-wheeler

on sale then'

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