Life, for many, took an unexpected turn after the novel coronavirus swept across the world, and this holds true for us auto journalists as well. My plans with the MT-15, when it joined the long-term test fleet, revolved around daily commutes to the office and the occasional breakfast ride on the weekends. I was quite excited about riding this fun little motorcycle on a daily basis, but as you are aware, none of this was possible over the last three months. So, this report is mainly an assessment of how the MT fared after being parked for 90 days, and what it was like to get back to riding after the COVID-19 induced break.
I admit that the wait for me was irritatingly long, so you can only imagine my excitement when the government partially lifted the lockdown and allowed movement of private vehicles. The first thing I did was run down to the garage and kit up in gear, raring to go for a spin.
I won’t deny that I was doubtful that the motorcycle would start, having expected the battery to have run out of juice, since I hadn’t started it for three months. Much to my relief, the MT came to life at the first press of the starter button. Waiting for the motorcycle to warm up, I also gave it a quick inspection to check if the hiatus had taken a toll. To my surprise, the only signs that showed the motorcycle was parked for a long time was a slight drop in tyre pressure and a few spots of rust on the chain (why isn’t chain lube part of essential supplies?). The bike cover that I use and the covered parking at my place ensured that the motorcycle wasn’t buried under a pile of dust. I’m very particular about keeping my bikes clean and I shudder to think of the effort and time that would’ve gone into washing and polishing the bike if not for the shelter it had. Overall, and as an ‘owner’, I’m glad that the MT-15 did not throw up any nasty surprises and was ready to roll in no time.
The other bit that I liked about the MT-15 is how easy the bike made it for me to get back to riding. You see, I have never been away from a motorcycle for so long so my riding was a little rusty. I was gripping the bars too tight, my upper body was stiff as a tree, and my inputs to the motorcycle were not as smooth as usual. And in that whole process of acclimatising myself during the initial 20km, what I came to appreciate the most were the light controls and predictable demeanour of the MT-15. The smooth throttle, light clutch and effortless steering made it easy to negotiate the unusually light traffic in Mumbai. More importantly, the MT-15 felt natural to ride, which was a big confidence booster. Also, at a time where my purse strings are tighter than ever, it is good to see that the fuel gauge does not dip rapidly. For the performance on offer, I’m happy that it delivered around 40kpl in the city.
While the MT-15 has managed to survive the lockdown and is running well, the dreaded monsoon season is here and with it comes another set of challenges. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to put some miles on it and see how the MT manages in the third report.