Rocinante! The Harley of India. . .

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
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14
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Trip End Oct 01, 2006


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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, March 16, 2006

So it finally came, my trusty steed. After looking at a few bikes, and putting in an offer on one only to have it be sold out from under me, I decided to call a number I saw on a bike that looked a little out of my price range. It had the necessary leg-protection bars and luggage racks as well as two lockboxes on it. Also it was very shiny and well kept up with an extra- large (22 litre) tank on it.
The gentleman who answered the phone sounded English, and seemed nice. We set up a time the next day to see the bike and test-drive it. Daryoush is half Irani, half english, and a nice fellow. He and his wife had bought the cycle from a dealers' in Delhi, it had only one owner before them and was stored for 4 years or so. The bike being a 97, this meant low mileage and not a lot of wear and tear.
Test driving it, I found it to be quite solid and powerful, lots of low-end torque with the one-lung engine, and steady on the road. Just about the best one I had ridden. The gears shifted smoothly, and there were none of the oil leaks typical of the Royal Enfields. There is a fairly loud valve tick, and with that I brought down the price a little, eventually settling on 27.5k rupees, about 600 american. The resale will bring at least that, if not more, so basically for free I am getting a mean machine to travel on.
Rechristened "Rocinante" this bike is a real head-turner. Most of the Enfields are in nowhere near as good shape as this one. Already I have had offers to buy it, especially from the locals, most of whom tell me I should drive it back here when I am done and they will buy it.
As an added bonus the bike came with a cool crash helmet, goggles (necessary on the dusty roads) tools, spare parts for everything, and best of all an actual mechanic's manual with how-to on all things that could go wrong with it. All papers including the emissions test were there, and ownership was traced back to the original owner, so I am, how do you say, in business. .

The Royal Enfield was first made in the late thirties, and then gained fame as the british army's motorcycle of choice in world war 2. They are not made in England anymore, but the name was leased to India, and they are still made almost exactly like the originals, with hardly any updates. The distinctive one-cylinder chug of the Enfield is a part of the Indian roadscape, the roar of it's engine sending pedestrians and cows and dogs to the sides of the road and out of the way of the classic cruiser.
Also the low-end torque of the cycle gives it plenty enough power to overtake (pass) just about any vehicle quickly, horns blaring to bring notice to the rider.
The Enfield is not only the top of the pecking order for motorcycles here, it is just about the fastest vehicle going in India. And Rocinante is in mint condition, a fine example of her breed.

I've been riding around for a couple of days now, have adjusted the tappet clearance, which helped the ticking a bit, but I still must put it in with the mechanic suggested by the ever-helpful Prakash, a fellow by the name of Vijay, who lives down the beach on the Gilkiwaddo. Valve guide adjustments and possible grinding are out of my league, as I do not have a valve spring compressor, valve-guide removal mandrel, or a torque wrench to put the head back on after the overhaul. The work I need should cost about 1-2k rupees, about 40 bucks.
When Rocinante is set, I will have a nameplate made for her front forks, christen her with a bottle of King's, and finally be free to go anywhere. I would use a bottle of fenney to christen her, but cheap fenney comes in a plastic bottle, and would not break. .

The gang has all left for Hampi in the east, and I have heard from Linda via e-mail who says we may all reunite for one last hurrah on monday or so. I am hoping Vijay will be done with Rocinante by then. Palolem is about 100 km from here, and should take about 3 hours or so to journey to. It is said to have the most beautiful beaches on the west coast, though the dreaded package tourists flock there as well their hawaiian shirts
(hopefully) covering their massive pasty bellies. James and Linda will be there on Monday, and possibly Jay the Canadian, and so we will try to meet up for a couple of King's on a different beach.
It will be hard to leave my beloved Arambol, but I am starting to feel the pull of the road, I have made many good friends here, and shall return someday. Maybe even for a couple of days on the way north, after exploring points south and Bangalore. That is, if the impending monsoon hasn't come to the village yet.
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