It's okay if it doesn't make sense to you

Shubhabrata Marmar  /
12 Feb 2018 22:08:04 IST

Well, this is just ridiculous!" screamed the message on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or YouTube. Or InstaChatFaceTwer. It dripped with umbrage as it poked an unwavering finger in the universe's eye. How dare Yamaha go and price the YZF-R3 at Rs 3.48 lakh? Who the truck was going to pay that kind of money for a, er, very nice sportsbike by all other measures? Do they not know what the RC390 is priced at? And the RR 310?

I find this hullabaloo a little foolish and inconsiderate. Foolish because, I'll explain, and inconsiderate because most manufacturers are far from foolish. Some can be lost for a while, others make decisions that only make sense years later in hindsight, but rarely are they not seeing the wood for the trees.

Take the Rs 3.48 lakh Yamaha YZF-R3 for instance. When the YZF-R3 was launched, we loved riding it. Really really loved it. It's as sweet as a 6-week old puppy and produces buttery smooth performance aimed precisely at the cusp of friendly and genuinely fast.

But we questioned Yamaha's decision to not give it ABS and opt for relatively cheap MRF tyres to keep the price down. We got an earfull of feedback suggesting that Yamaha should have given it full equipment from the word go.

And now Yamaha has. And we're crying ourselves hoarse at the rise in price.

Let's take Yamaha's perspective. They already know they won't sell a boat load of these in India. But they're convinced that there is an upper layer of premium bike buyers who are willing to pay extra for well-made, full-spec, small displacement multi-cylinder motorcycles like the R3. These riders want all the equipment and the fact that the R3 may be dangerously close to the Ninja 650, for example, doesn't deter them.

Simple, yes? But I cannot fathom the righteous anger when a motorcycle's spec or price, or both, don't fit your expectations. Why should they? Who died and made you president?

Hear me out before you scream back.

You don't have to purchase every motorcycle (or automobile) that arrives on the market. And let's face it, you won't. Which is actually the most powerful feedback mechanism you wield, not social media.

Most manufacturers smile at the feedback on SnapBookInstaTwer. They say they pay attention to it, but by and large, comments aren't taken too seriously because keyboard racers outnumber actual riders and buyers by orders of magnitude.

Second, motorcycles are personal. And therefore your subjective assessment of the situation doesn't apply across the board. Neither does mine!

I know I have to hold back my sharp-sporty-compact inclinations for all two-wheeled things when I assess them in a road test designed to inform a wide range of readers with varying tastes.

What that means is that it is all right if a bike appears too expensive or too badly made or inappropriate in some other way.

Because India. We're a swirling storm of tastes and opinions and socio-economic variance. The Rs 3.48 lakh R3 tempts me and so does the Rs 29 lakh Tuono. My ability and desire to afford either varies with time.

I assume that there are bikes and prices that make you feel the same way too. Motorcycles you love and prices that you don't.

But the problem is bigger than that.

It's as if we are not okay with any version of the world other than one that fits your expectations exactly. And with every passing day, the call for that world seems to get more strident and more venomous.

To me, it means we have forgotten something essential.

Yamaha created the YZF-R3 for profit. No doubt. But it was also designed, as all motorcycles are, to provide that value to you from a sense of joy and fun that you feel when you ride.

What we pay for is that feeling. And the associated freedoms it brings.

Motorcycles are a conduit to a deeply, intensely personal happiness for riders like you and me. Turning them into things to scream at defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

Besides, no one cares however hard you're screaming. You'll buy the bikes that fit you and ignore the ones that don't. As will everyone else. A far smaller number will buy some other bike that makes no sense to you. And yes, that's all right!

What we need to remember is the simplest thing. We ride for the joy of it. For the way it feels. And no matter how ridiculous a motorcycles seems to be, at the end of the day, we all - individuals in this vast group, feel exactly the same way - motorcycles make us ridiculously happy! That feeling is what's worth screaming about.

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