Everyone will agree that city riding in India can be quite challenging! The ever-increasing traffic, road rules not being followed, heat and dust can all be quite frustrating. Here are a few tips from Team HNP to make this harrowing task easier-
1. Choose light riding gear: Just because you are riding for only a few kms, that shouldn’t reduce the importance of riding gear for any rider. Although there’s no hard and fast rule around this, we recommend light gear for city riding. Since most of the time it's stop-and-go traffic that puts a lot of stress on the body and mind, the last thing you want is to be stuck in bulky gear. Some great examples of light and breathable riding gear are the Rev'it! Vigor Jacket, Rev’it Sand 3 Gloves and TCX Rush Boots – these offer good protection minus the bulk. When it comes to helmets, one can choose a lightweight fiberglass construction full-face helmet like Bell Qualifier DLX (with it's photochromatic visor), or a half-face helmet like Bell Custom 500 (pollution masks are compatible with half-face helmets, so make sure you buy a good N99 rated pollution mask). A light gear setup like this will keep you alert and way more relaxed during city rush hour riding.
2. Accessorize right: Having the right accessories makes any kind of riding more comfortable. Specifically for city riding, Tank bags like Oxford M15R come super handy to carry smaller items of daily use, without loading up a shoulder bag. But if you still need a backpack to carry things like a laptop etc., then we highly recommend the Icon Squad 3 backpack that is tailor made for bikers, distributing the load evenly on the chest and shoulders, instead of loading up on just the latter (which most backpacks do).
3. Ride Safe, Be Alert – Off late what characterizes city roads in India is utter chaos! Traffic snarls, drivers constantly changing lanes, pedestrians crossing roads anywhere, people driving on the wrong side of the road, potholes and lose gravel, and horns honking everywhere! The riding experience can therefore be very stressful and like playing a video game in real life, just without a reset button!
Your safety is in your hands for the most part. Riding at a reasonable speed, preferably at the moving traffic's speed, is the best way to avoid most mishaps on city roads. Although we are accustomed to maneuvering our way around the chaotic conditions on city roads, sticking to lanes and checking the rear view mirror before splitting lanes helps reduce risk. Be alert and know your surroundings, because a single second’s distraction + some bad luck can result in a bad day. Another thing to be mindful of is while at a traffic signal when the light turns green. Be cautious, look around and proceed slowly. You may be following the rules, but someone else might not. And don’t respond to calls for a race by squids!
4. Riding in traffic: Not only does riding in traffic cause physical and mental fatigue for the rider, but also early wear and tear of bike parts along with overheating. Stay well hydrated to avoid exhaustion and stay alert. Avoid sudden acceleration and braking as this increases the chances of getting rear-ended and also decreases wear and tear of bike parts like brakes. One advantage of a bigger engine displacement is that you don't always need to use the throttle to move the bike. Simply releasing the clutch properly saves your bike from excessive wear of clutch and overheating.
In stop-and-go traffic it's a war for space, with most drivers/riders trying to cram their vehicle into the tiniest available space, for fear of others occupying it! Become a more aware rider by trying to predict the movement of vehicles around you. Try to stick to one lane unless forced to switch, and make sure you do so after using indicators and rear view mirrors.
Be calm and don't let the city traffic or unsafe riding ruin the joy of riding for you!