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Author Topic: Dateline India  (Read 9435 times)

Kevin Mahoney

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Dateline India
« on: August 26, 2007, 05:05:02 PM »
I am currently visiting India for about 10 days. I love to visit India but I hate getting here. It is a long way from the US no matter how you do it. In this case I went from Phoenix to Philly to Frankfurt to Bangalore India. Other than being terribly long (about a 35 hour trip) nothing too interesting happened. I did take one odd video that Rhett may or may not post here. I will leave that up to him. It is totally tasteless so we will see.

Because Bangalore is the center of the computer/software explosion in India the flights in and out of here are dubbed "the nerd birds". This was my first time to Bangalore. The government designated Bangalore as the place where they would build the needed infrastructure to attract the large IT players and it has. The computer industries presence here is enormous. Bangalore has gone from a population of about 2 million to somewhere between 7 and 10 million in a relatively short period of time. What was interesting is the mix of traditional India living next to some of the most modern and advanced companies in the world.

The friend that I am visiting here got us invited to a tour of the TVS motorcycle factory here. http://www.tvsmotor.in/      If you take all of the motorcycles sold in the US over a year and double it, that is how many bikes this company makes in a year. They employ over 4,000 people in the plant I went to and it is huge. They actually started as a subsidiary of the Lucas electrical company a generation or two ago. They later merged with Suzuki and started to make motorcycles. About 7-8 years ago they became and independent company and have thrived ever since. They are the third largest motorcycle company in India, but are also recognized as the most technologically advanced and are generally thought of as the strongest most well engineered bikes in India.

They make bikes ranging from mopeds to 160cc singles. The factory was by far the largest motorcycle factory I have ever seen. It went on and on and on. It was notable for how modern, quet and clean it was. These smaller bikes are brutally strong and reliable and are sold primarily in India, Africa and South America. They put ANY Chinese product to shame. The highlight was being allowed into their Research and Development laboratory. This was an overwhelming experience. They have a R and D facility that would be the envy of many auto manufacturers. They have the ability to design and build anything right there in the lab (covered well over 2 square city blocks) including engines (Many motorcycle manufacturers have no similar facilities.). They had equipment ranging from an Electron microscope for finite analysis of materials to their own casting plant to make experimental forgings. They have the equipment and people
to design and build an entire motorcycle right in the lab. When they design something like an engine from scratch, when it comes off the computer, they can have a running engine build in four days. They start by making the pieces in a laser controlled machine out of a very special plastic from which they make molds. They make the first 10-20 units of any new product right there in the lab including lighting etc. Their emissions testing equipments was as good as or better than anything I have seen in an EPA lab. While these are smaller cc bikes their emission numbers were very low. Their current production engines with air-cooling and carburetors can meet any standard in existence in the world today and even most if not all that are proposed. Next we were taken to the life cycle testing lab which by itself was fascinating. This is the place where they try to destroy test motorcycles to find weaknesses. I wouldn't believe it if I hadnít seen it myself, but they have a  machine that picks a bike up about 3-4 feet off the ground and drops it in freefall to the ground.
The bike has to withstand this treatment for 40,000 cycles before they are happy. Yes I said 40,000 times. They believe that represents 100,000KM of service which is their benchmark for "good enough". They had machines that tested everything, from one machine that actuated the kick starter tens of thousands of times until it failed to robotic test cells where robot arms operated the throttle, clutch , brake and transmission as commanded by a computer, The computer was set up to simulate extreme driving conditions and most any operator error a rider can make. These bikes ran 24/7 until they completed 100,000km. There was much more and unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures, but it was a great experience.

Took a side trip to Mysore today which is about 90 miles from Bangalore. It is the home of several tourist attractions most importantly the Mysore Palace. http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/mysore/
The palace was the home of the Maharajah of that area and was really something to behold. We took the train up there which was a new and pleasant experience for me and then drove home. There are several sights in Mysore and we had a very full day. Tomorrow I fly to Chennai to start my meeting with suppliers and the Royal Enfield factory. Security will be extra tight at the airport since the terrorist bombings in Hyderabad yesterday so I will have to early. More later. I have sent Rhett some pictures so hopefully he can post some here.

alwscout

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2007, 07:25:42 PM »
Great update. I never knew there were manufacturers anywhere, let alone in India that had factories like what you described. Real interesting. Take lots of pictures!

Adam
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RagMan

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2007, 12:34:15 AM »
Interesting stuff, Kevin. I envy you - I spent a long time in India, in the seventies..  I love the food, the people, and the elephants. :)  Probably in that order.

So, are you going to import the TVS line of motorcycles??  Would be very interesting if you did.
aka Indiana Bulleteer.
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prof_stack

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2007, 02:54:10 AM »
Kevin, great report!  WIll you send along some pix of RE's that you come across?  We  don't get some models on sale there and it would be great to see them.

birdmove

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2007, 05:25:15 PM »
  I wonder if that two stroke model sporty bike could pass US regulations?

    Jon in Puyallup, Wa.
Jon in Keaau, Hawaii

Kevin Mahoney

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Report 2 Dateline India
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2007, 03:23:41 AM »
I should have thought to take more pictures of Enfields in India. I still have the better part of a week and will try to do just that. I am spending today at the Enfield factory and hopefully will come back with some good shots.
Kevin

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2007, 12:33:41 PM »
Just come back with my two tone green and chrome tank.  Hurry.

Terry

Kevin Mahoney

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2007, 04:59:19 PM »
I did indeed take some pictures of some Enfields that I have run across. Unfortunately most of the ones I see are moving with policemen, soldiers or others on them, but I have gotten some. I got into the highly secure (no kidding) design studio yesterday and got a first hand glimpse of the bike that I had only seen drawings of. I was absolutely unbelievable. The details they thought of are truly incredible. I can't say more at this point and couldn't take any pictures, but you will like it. They have change the release date so changed best will be coming first. We will also be brining in Classic bikes with the Lean-Burn engine for 2008 as well as regular Electras and the Classic engine. I will be surprised if we get past 2008 with the regular cast iron engine, but time will tell.
  I flew to Delhi today and visited with a long time supplier who had some cool new stuff, so look for it in the new catalog which will com out later this year. I placed an order for some new things that I think you will like. By the time i got back to Chennai tonight I was bushed, over 5 hours in the air plus meetings. I have not had any free time and I can feel the need to bust loose on my own for a while.
  Last night I met some very interesting Indian guys and had drinks with them at the Madras Club which is a vestige of the old Colonial empire. It has been there for a couple of hundred yearsince at least 1775. One of them owns a disk brake factory and I learned a lot about brakes that I didn't' know. One particularly interesting fellow worked for Lucas in India in the 1940's and 50's. Fascinating to hear his stories about Lucas and the British bike scene which was quite big here at one time.
  Back to the factory tomorrow for meetings with the product development team. I have sent back quite a few photos and videos and I think Rhett will get them posited somewhere here in the next day or two. /For now over and out.
Kevin

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2007, 06:24:51 PM »
I am looking forward to more news, pictures, and things in catalogs..  Stay safe..
aka Indiana Bulleteer.
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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2007, 12:16:33 AM »
... I got into the highly secure (no kidding) design studio yesterday and got a first hand glimpse of the bike that I had only seen drawings of. It was absolutely unbelievable. The details they thought of are truly incredible. I can't say more at this point and couldn't take any pictures, but you will like it. They have change the release date so changed best will be coming first.

We will also be brining in Classic bikes with the Lean-Burn engine for 2008 as well as regular Electras and the Classic engine. I will be surprised if we get past 2008 with the regular cast iron engine, but time will tell....  Kevin

Kevin, thanks for the tasty tidbits!  Wow, if I can get a Bullet Classic with the AVL motor and such, that would about cinch the deal for me! 

The new design you saw:  Is this part of the Unit Construction motor talked about earlier?

RagMan

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2007, 02:15:23 AM »
A classic with the AVL motor would be a deal cincher..  I am looking forward to all the news.
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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2007, 09:56:51 PM »
Kevin sent back lots of good pictures and small video clips. I hope to have some of them online in a small featurette soon for those that are interested.
Rhett Waldock
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Classic Motorworks
www.enfieldmotorcycles.com
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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2007, 11:36:29 PM »
I am really interested.. :)
aka Indiana Bulleteer.
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Kevin Mahoney

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Dateline India 3
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2007, 07:26:30 AM »
Today is Saturday (Friday nite in the US) and I had to force a day off!!. They have been working me 12-14 hours per day and I am bushed. These are normal days for management here and it takes some getting used to. I am not as young as I used to be so I have had to get used to it. In fact there is an electric massage chair in my room and I have fallen asleep in it twice at night - something I NEVER do.
  Yesterday was spent on the factory floor checking out the new processes and quality improvements. I took some videos that show an Enfield being assembled from one end to the other. I don;t know how to post them so hopefully Rhett can help us out. I think you will enjoy them. I also had a long meeting with the CEO "Ravi" where we discussed issues unique to the US market. He is an inspiring leader with a lot of great corporate successes behind him with Suzuki, Bajaj (second biggest manufacturer of bike in India) and TVS (the third largest maker of bikes). His leadership over the past couple of years continue to pay dividends for Royal Enfield and helps insure our future. It is quite surprising on many levels to see the high caliber young management. Tomorrow I go to see some new samples from on of our Chennai suppliers. He has some new carriers, pipes and seats that I think you will all like.

RagMan

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2007, 02:08:40 PM »
Hopefully you will get plenty of rest, on your day off. The Indian work ethic is somewhat different - harder working management cannot be found anywhere else, outside Japan.
aka Indiana Bulleteer.
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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2007, 08:09:52 PM »
Hi Kevin,
  I was curious as to when the stuff that you saw in the Design Studio (that which must not be revealed) is going to hit the streets in the US. Best guess? I am sold on a Red Electra but am willing to wait in 08 for something extra special.

Dave

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2007, 02:44:09 PM »
Sounds like a busy time for you Kevin.....hope you bring back lots of goodies for us....Dew.
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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2007, 07:44:43 PM »
For those who are interested in seeing some of the sights from Kevin's trip, I've put some of them up here on the India 2007 page in our Buzz Section.

He sent back quite a bit more than is currently on there, so I might be adding more soon.

Enjoy!
Rhett Waldock
Royal Enfield USA
Classic Motorworks
www.enfieldmotorcycles.com
www.royalenfieldusa.com

Kevin Mahoney

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Re: Dateline India - view of the RE factory from space
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2007, 12:41:52 AM »
Check out this link:
http://wikimapia.org/#lat=13.17457&lon=80.307666&z=18&l=0&m=a&v=2
It is the Royal Enfield factory

RagMan

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2007, 04:19:02 AM »
That is an amazing view..  I love maps so I panned to my house..  I could see my house, shed, trailer, truck, and the dumpster, with no difficulty at all
aka Indiana Bulleteer.
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indian48

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2007, 02:58:16 PM »
Sounds like you had a great time in India! I know what you mean about the travel, till I was in Bangalore a few months ago, I used to do it in reverse, 6 times year, to Latrobe PA. I have seen the TVS factory myself, and I have also seen the Hero Honda one near Delhi where they make 3000 bikes a day! Amazing place. I trust that you enjoyed your stay here, and that RE India is doing good by your customers as they have started to here as well. The dealerships here suck though, by and large, and in my idle time I keep toying with the idea of getting into business as a dealer and transforming the user experience here - most dealerships here are those that people put up with, as the only way to get the RE. And do not go back to once the purchase is made. I know that the Bullet is meant to be a character forming ride, but the user experience of the brand  does not all of it have to be  stuck in the middle of the last century in terms of how customers are treated!
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

alwscout

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2007, 09:23:19 PM »
Indian48 is right in my opinion.........at least that's how the dealer in my neck of the woods comes across as. I bought the bike and went back a few times but got the feeling that I wasn't really welcomed for whatever reason...nothing overt just a feeling I had.....so now I do what I can on my own.

It's a shame.

Adam
REA Member #10

luoma

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2007, 10:27:41 PM »
I feel fortunate, almost guilty, that I have had the opposite experience. My dealer is an absolute nut for old British iron. He races vintage Brit bikes and always has time to talk to me about my bike, or bikes in general.

indian48

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2007, 12:39:31 AM »
If I was to be a RE dealer, that's the kind of dealer I would seek to be!
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

scoTTy

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2007, 03:21:57 AM »
since becoming an RE owner myself I have thought of my own shop  8)

the RE is a special bike..it's not entry level and its not multileveled.. ;).

My shop would be a drawback to the 50's and 60's
..  barn lumber interior..  visual scenes  from the past present and future

 coffe bar  :P

on the floor RE cafe racers  for sale... IF  only ...if... I could bare to part with them  :o :( ;D

Foggy_Auggie

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2007, 04:45:23 AM »
since becoming an RE owner myself I have thought of my own shop  8)


My shop would be a drawback to the 50's and 60's
..  barn lumber interior..  visual scenes  from the past present and future

 

Don't forget those 50's welder shop cheesecake calenders with the topless ladies in the Betty Grable poses! ;D
Diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

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rickmax

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2007, 06:54:27 PM »
 ;D
I don't know if this is the right forum, but everybody pick up a copy of the January
Easyriders.  There's a bitchiin' story "Riding Solo To The Top Of The World."  An Indian
filmmaker and his excellent adventure on a Royal Enfield 350.
Ta ma duh!

Eamon

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2007, 07:08:29 PM »
;D
I don't know if this is the right forum, but everybody pick up a copy of the January
Easyriders.  There's a bitchiin' story "Riding Solo To The Top Of The World."  An Indian
filmmaker and his excellent adventure on a Royal Enfield 350.

Here's where you can get the DVD:
http://dirttrackproductions.com/
It's a great movie and is a good example of what a Bullet can really do.  I met the film maker at a film festival here is Seattle and he is a super nice guy.  Highly recommended!

Eamon
Eamon in Seattle
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rickmax

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2007, 09:47:59 PM »
WIKID!
Thanks, Eamon!

I knew somebody here would know something. 
 ::)
Ta ma duh!

indian48

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2007, 01:13:14 AM »
It takes a community in the US to tell me about a great movie made in India and available here! Thx for pointing this one out, and I will try to get it this weekend and post a review once I have seen it.
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

indian48

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2007, 03:25:30 AM »
www.dirttrackproductions.com
I am seeing how to get the DVD this weekend, having read about it on the above site, and the reviews posted, I can't wait to lay my hands on it. Seems like an awesome movie about an awesome ride - on a bullet to the top of the world! Its available on line, and I think that folks here may want to check it out!!
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

rickmax

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2007, 03:47:55 AM »
 :o
AMEN!   
Ta ma duh!

indian48

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Re: Dateline India - DVD update
« Reply #32 on: November 18, 2007, 05:56:32 AM »
Re the DVD,,,interesting day yesterday!! since I wanted to see the movie right away, emailed their office and offered to drive down 100 miles to pay cash and get it. The director of the movie called me back and offered to ride halfway on his bullet to give me the DVD, so I did just that and met the man. Interesting person, who is living a life following his dream. Sounds like another " Good enough" philosophy person.
I saw the film last night on a large screen TV - spectacular filming of a very fascinating people in one of the harshest environments in the world. It is not so much about the bike as it is about the place and the people, and I recommend the DVD as a must buy to see for those of us who are in tune with the less is more way of thinking. Again, although it has a bullet in it ( the same one he rode out on, that I got some pictures of yesterday), the bullet is only the tool he uses to get to where he needs to be at as low a cost as possible. The man - Gaurav Jani - has made a great movie, but is not successful at marketing it and the DVD has sold just some 3500 numbers, all by word of mouth. I am trying to figure out how to help him do that better, just to have more people see his work  and to allow him to keep doing more on similar lines,,,,great to see someone living his dream, and staying out of the rat race from a young age.
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

Sixty5inILL

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2007, 12:44:43 AM »
I own the DVD and I thought it was incredible.  It is a feather in the hat of Royal Enfield that they build a product capable of taking what Gaurav and the Indian countryside could dish out without missing a beat.

Additionally, the cinematography was incredible considering he had never used a professional grade camera and was doing the whole thing on his own.  It speaks to the spirit of many who ride these bikes regardless of what hemisphere you're from.

If any of you haven't seen this, it is a must.  It isn't really a movie about a bike but more about what the Enfield will let you achieve both physically and spiritually. You all need something to do this winter anyway (in most of the US anyway.)

There is an independent arts theater here and I may approach them about a showing.  It might generate some more publicity for Gaurav and a few dollars in the process.

Keep your stick on the ice....
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indian48

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Re: Dateline India
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2007, 12:53:52 AM »
Thats a great idea, to have the film exhibited. If you mail Gaurav he will respond right away,,,what I also like is that he/his associate are very particular about that, one of the little things that point to the character of the team. And I am sure he will be glad to get whatever support he can to keep going down his chosen trail.
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well