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?