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15 July 2024

Get the ride of your life on two wheels

By Anirban Bagchi



There was a time when anything that moved on fewer than four wheels was considered inferior in Dubai and the only things you encountered on two wheels sported DHL, Aramex, or KFC in bold letters on an oversized box at the rear.


But in our traffic-mauled present, it is difficult to suppress that twinge of envy when a two-wheeler blithely cuts past your car as you are running out of swear words at being stuck in the same spot on the road since, well, the Big Bang.


While most of the motorcycles here are still piddling little imports that pass for commuter bikes in certain unfortunate countries, no one said you couldn’t do what they do in greater style and safety, while having loads and loads of fun, too.

Motorcycling in Dubai, apart from the practicality it has always enjoyed, has a newfound covet quotient as a lifestyle option that is reaching up to rival owning a property on, dare we say, The Palm.


Emirates Business brings you three new models for 2008 that, even while sporting diverse personalities, will speed you up while you’re in a rush on a workday or let you indulge your need for speed on a clear road on a Saturday morning.



Suzuki GSX650F


What is the one bike to have if you can have only one bike? The answer is the “all-day sports bike”, as Suzuki – in typical Japanese translated-from-the-manga style – calls its latest entry-level offering. Or the GSX650F, to call it by its proper name.


But wait! Entry level just raised its level, at least at Suzuki. This one displaces all of 656ccs with its four cylinders, has 16 valves opened and closed by a double overhead camshaft and puts out 85bhp at 8900rpm. In the lingo you and I understand, that translates into a top speed of close to 200km per hour.


Compared to the other bikes on these page, the GSX650F is distinctly plebeian. It boasts neither racing pedigree nor a 1000 displacement, nor a three-figure horsepower. It does not have the praying mantis-on-steroids looks of the KTM or the Japanese-sword-slicing-through-the-wind looks of the Kawasaki. Yet it is a lot of bike for very little money.


The Suzuki is all the bike you will ever need if you are not related to Valentino Rossi and just want to have a thrill on the move on a clear evening on Sheikh Zayed or Jumeirah Beach Roads, with halving the time taken on the daily Sharjah-Dubai commute thrown in for good measure.


But why then is it sharing the same space with the other two tuber-machines on these pages? With two seats and a comfortably upright seating position, the Suzuki is meant for traversing long distances in a fatigue-free way. While not promising the moon, it has acquired a reputation on the international media since its launch late last year.


Avid motorcyclists will recognise it as a souped-up Suzuki Bandit 650, complete with styling cues and a full fairing, making it appear a much larger bike than it is. While it will not stand out in a crowd for its looks, it will deliver brilliantly what you want for less than half the price of the other two. Priced at around the Dh30,000 to Dh35,000, the bike is available with UAE Suzuki dealers Auto Sport LLC.



Kawasaki ZX-10R 2008


You have to be a speed junkie to work at Kawasaki. For most of its history, the people there have chased two things – speed and more speed. Just take a look at the long line of ZX-series Ninjas to have held the title of the world’s fastest bike and you’ll know how.


The new ZX-10 has a four-cylinder 1000cc mill that puts out 185bhp of power to propel the bike to a top speed of more than 300kph.


It is a slim, fast, streamlined machine that shatters the ZX-10 myth of being tough to handle while still managing to be as fast, indeed faster. As can be seen from the pictures, the bike is a menacingly beautiful (or is it beautifully menacing?), speed merchant that thrills even while standing still, hinting at the ecstasy it might provide on the move. That ecstasy will come for around Dh80,000 at Kawasaki dealers Liberty Automobiles in Dubai’s Garhoud in a few months’ time.


But what are those turn indicator lights doing hanging from the rear view mirror pods? Fukumoto San and his team must have designed it after a night of sushi and sake that did not quite agree with them.



KTM 1190 RC8


Not long ago, KTM made the great grandmother of all marketing blunders. It brusquely turned down two blokes – going by the names of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman – who requested two of its enduro bikes so that they could go on a male bonding trip around the world.


Miffed at the guys from Vienna, the duo went to BMW with a similar request and came away with two of the Bavarian giant’s GS series bikes and the necessary back up to support their trip. The Long Way Around TV series promptly became a global smash hit and sales of the GS series reached the stratosphere, even as certain Austrian wunderkinds got red in the face.


Consider the RC8 as KTM’s atonement for that blunder. The Austrian motocross specialist finally decided to take the plunge and build its first proper superbike to show the Hondas and Yamahas that it is more than just a Paris-Dakar phenomenon.


And what a superbike it is! With a 1148cc  V-twin motor, it’s a proper litre bike – as bikes with engine displacements of a litre or more are called. KTM’s marketing slogan says with some pride that it is the manufacturer’s “very own, entirely self developed, ‘Made in Austria’ superbike”.


The buzzword about this 155bhp bike is weight – or the lack of it. Every effort has been made by KTM’s engineers and the bike’s designer, Gerald Kiska, to keep it light – and therefore fast – through the use of some innovative technology.


In place of the traditional delta-box clone frame, the RC8’s skeleton is a tubular space frame with a light alloy sub-frame. The twin exhausts have been placed under-floor, which both aids stability and obviates the need to have more metal jutting out with the catalytic converter in it and increasing weight.

All this brings the bike’s weight down to a mere 180kg unladen, making it one of the lightest bikes on the market. That, coupled with the horsepower, should translate into a gooseflesh-inducing top speed. KTM is tight-lipped about the final figures, but engine design head, Andreas Bilek should know: he has blown up more than 50 engines in testing.


If you want to find out what the top speed is, book an RC8 at KTM’s Al Quoz dealership, though you’ll have to wait a few months for delivery and pay Dh70,000. But going by what’s on the motorcycling grapevine, both should be worth it.