Royal Enfield Continental GT
Bike of the Year 2013 / Indian-built Bike of the Year above 500cc
One look at the Continental GT in its signature red launch colour and you know that this is drool maal of the most seducing kind! Very many thought that the KTM 390 Duke was a runaway candidate for the Bike of the Year honours but the advent of the Conti GT (with due apologies to Bentley) meant this thought had to be first put on hold and secondly given the make-up of the first all-new Royal Enfield in over five and a half decades, the honours had to be shared!
One doesn’t know where to start with explaining the virtues of the Continental GT: the styling is a literal yet very pleasing take on the café racer type of souped-up motorcycles one saw in Europe in the 1960s, a line of expression that continues to this day all over the world. So while the turnout of the Conti GT is pleasing, it has one ingredient which none of the others elsewhere in the world has: authenticity! On to the structure then, and this is all new, a double-cradle frame with all-new suspension geometry as well as top-notch suspension bits and cycle parts to delight the man at the helm. This has to be the best handling Royal Enfield in history ever and we aren’t exaggerating! It is rock solid under braking, doesn’t weave when it goes corner carving, has tremendous straight line stability and a riding position to kill for!
Add to that a bored out 535cc motor with enough lineage from Bullets of yore that has dollops of torque which you can feel when you twist the right wrist to bring on an exhaust note that is an aural delight and you know that this is a bike for every reason – sensible, irrational, manna from the heavens for the diehard sportsbike enthusiasts, even an antidote to a midlife crisis. Genius!
KTM 390 Duke
Bike of the Year 2013 / Premium Bike of the Year (250-500cc)
If you needed a bike that immediately spells excitement standing still, nothing comes close to Rs 2.2-lakh and the KTM 390 Duke, a lithe, power packed two-wheeler with enough charm and sizzle to dance dirty on the loose yet track fast and true on tarmac. And it is a bike, like its co-winner, that you can ride to office and back with pleasure, always seeking to take the long way back home!
Motorcyclists are the purest of the lot even though most can’t figure this out rationally and the 390 Duke feeds this line of thought in the easiest of manner. Styling is cutting edge contemporary, the handling and stability are the result of new age chassis design and top notch suspension bits made to work with the theory of mass centralization and good weight distribution front and rear plus also of course having the right tyres to make use of all the power and torque produced. In fact, the 390 Duke has probably the fiercest power-to-weight ratio of any Indian-built motorcycle, something which not even the best of the Japanese have been able to match.
And since we mentioned Indian-built, much like its smaller 200cc sibling that rocked motorcycling in this country just a little while back, it is a bike developed in India by the engineers at Bajaj Auto with their KTM counterparts; completely built in India and exported all over the world - another fact that not only excites us but also instills a massive sense of national pride as well. It might rev way too hard when you give it a decent helping of the right hand treatment but it isn’t the revolutions per minute it registers but the smiles per second that makes this motorcycle so enticingly good.