Thank god we don’t live in the good old days says Sirish after being reunited with the subject of his very first road test!
This is where it all began, the start of my road-testing career! Eighteen years ago I put on ice a Masters degree to try out this new fangled break-year concept with an internship at Overdrive; they must have innumerable cars/bikes and not that many people to drive/ride them I told my apocalyptic mother. A month later Adil handed me the keys to my first test bike. Run it in and then we will photograph you on it for the cover, he told a delirious me, until I went down to the garage and saw what it was.
A Sunny Spice. In yellow. Not exactly the definition of a dream job.
A friend of mine had a Sunny in college and all of us, on our mum’s Kinetic Hondas or dad’s RX-100s, wasted no opportunity in making his life miserable. Back then the only way you could do worse was by pedalling a Luna to get it up the bridge outside Wadia college in Pune. And here I was, a month into the best job in the world, bringing home a Sunny. ROFL was coined that evening when my college mates saw my first ‘test bike’. Karma.
Except for being even more girly I don’t remember what that Sunny Spice had, which the regular Sunny did not. Maybe 10 cee-cees more. And it is easier to ruin than run-in something that tops off at 50-60kmph.
I seized it. Twice.
“Did you ride it flat-out,” boomed an exasperated Adil.
“Err… does 50kmph qualify as flat-out,” I squeaked.
But I did redeem myself by hammering out an 8-page road test – in the days when magazine road tests put the V in Verbosity. Magazine pages were designed with a cut-out of the bike in the centre and text squeezed all around it, next to which was a page with three full columns of just text and text. And it went on, page after page. Front view enveloped by text. Side view and a voluminous thesis on styling that even the designers would be amazed by. Rear angle and, oh come on will this road test never end. The fact that I could manage 4000 words on the Sunny Spice guaranteed me a full time job and my second road test. A TVS moped that I likened to Flash Gordon. And I didn’t even smoke!
To be honest I couldn’t remember what that Sunny Spice was like to ride. The road test in early 2000 was the first and last time I rode a Sunny Spice. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing one on the road after that either. And then we found this blue one gathering dust in the building behind our office, got a mechanic to get it started again, and remembered that I whooped in joy when it seized. No power, no handling, no braking and a liberal belching of white clouds. So small, it makes me look like a ginormous freak. Wadia college bridge assuming all the ardour of Mount Everest. And after five minutes of keeping the throttle pinned to the stop it died. Oh shit, have I seized this one too?