Scooters? How boring! But Sushant Balsekar thinks
it's no more that. He rode the Blaze with a question mark
but returned with an exclamation
cringed when our Ed suggested I compare the Blaze and
the Avenger. How is that possible? The Blaze is a scooter
and the Avenger is a cruiser, a motorcycle. I’d
be damned if I pitted a scooter against a bike. How can
I ask my fellow bikers to believe in my predicament? Perhaps
they’ll tie my hands to a crane and dip me gradually
in a reservoir of boiling water and dance around the hellish
setup like a mad tribe. Or tie my hands to the grab-rails
of their bikes and drag me mercilessly through the streets.
But, I had to do it, else my Ed would deep fry me without
a second thought. If I had to choose between the devil
and the deep sea I would choose the latter because I could
get away with it!
a scooter and a mobike can’t be compared. Both are
different pieces of cake. Yes, cake – the Blaze
was a delicious piece of cake. Not because it delivers
the thrill that a bike could do naturally, but because
it places commuting on a different pedestal. It’s
a different feeling riding a scooter and you know how
it is on a bike. The difference in commuting is exactly
what will be hypothetically compared on these pages with
the Avenger being a true-blue cruiser and the Blaze being
a moto-scooter.Welcome to the era of moto-scooters, by
aversion to riding the Blaze sublimed into thin air when
I saw it in the flesh. It was larger than the normal scooters
or step-thrus that you’ve shuttled kids to school
on or took your spouse to the vegetable vendors’.
That’s when I realised that the world’s changing.
Why do you think big bully US has agreed to India’s
nuclear aspirations with open arms? We are seen as the
next super power. Why do you think lifestylebrands are
stepping into our premises? This is where the market lies.
This is the place where people buy stuff. So, commuting
is no more a robotic acceleration from point A and a brake-slam
at point B.
element of lifestyle is creeping into the every walk of
life, so why not
commuting as well?
Blaze’s styling and size is an indicator of how
the scooter is expected tobe used: a lifestyle moto-scooter.
The front-end is wedge-shaped with a prominent finned
louvre that was included in its design before it was adopted
by Kinetic. 125cc scooters in Europe are liquid-cooled
and the Millennium too (as the Blaze was called in Europe)
contained the same principle. However, the louvres in
the Blaze are retained only for visual appeal. It has
a broad middle- and rear-section with adequate legroom
in front of the rider. The arrangement for the ignition
key is also capable of flipping the seat (for storage)
with a light twist of the ignition key to the left.
began with riding the Avenger though, because I was familiar
with it and had ridden it not only in the city but on
the highway several times. No big deal. It still felt
the same – powerful, comfortable, suave and glittering.
Brilliant stuff and you’ll love being noticed, won’t
you? But I had to dosome hard work – press the clutch,
change gears, hunch my back to sit in the perfect posture
and avoid taking my bag along because I would have to
keep it suspended on my back. It felt like riding to school
on my bicycle with a large sack of knowledge and wisdom
hounding me from behind. Yes, at this point I did feel
like a hypocritical punk who used to take pride in riding
a bike the way it is. Unconditional love as we call it…
if I got a better option why not try it, keeping flamboyance
aside (okay, not really, the Blaze is stylish) and focussing
more on how much comfortable the ride would be at the
end of the day? The Avenger’s a great bike and I
love its low stance and the way it cruises. It’s
oodles of bling. The Blaze is just the opposite –
high set, with an erect posture on that fluffy split seat.
Incidentally, the rider’s part opens into a compartment
to stow the helmet and the pillion’s portion unveils
the fuel tank lid.
bikes (two-wheelers? Motorised thingies?) have engines
that spring up at a tap of the electric start button.
But the Blaze has a variomatic and you’ll find yourself
immersed in the thoughts of planning your day rather than
struggling to find neutral at a traffic signal. That was
comforting. Besides, the sheer size of the Blaze itself
wipes out the fear of you riding a 100cc scooterette.
And what 100cc? The Blaze’s wheels receive power
from a torquey 165cc, 11.7bhp engine, enough to power
off in traffic and go darting through the narrow gaps
between bigger vehicles; once again, without having to
change gears. This motor, derived from the GF’s
four-valve mill, wasadopted to address the weight increase;
and that works, the Blaze being adequately powerful. The
unit is reasonably refined but could do with greater smoothness.
The release of power from the engine is perfectly complemented
by a robust variator. Switchgear is bike-like and you
don’t miss anything in that aspect at least. However,
I feel the quality could have been better. The Blaze’s
meters are elaborate and pleasing, and yes, what you’re
looking at is a rev counter on a scooter! The first scooter
in India to have one, actually.
build quality of the Blaze is decent and gives you the
same sense of satisfaction as riding a tough bike. But
the fit and finish could be better. The dark fairing that
looms over the meters seems like it has lost its way and
has hitched itself on to the only place it could find.
It is, well, not very useful, and I also think that it
spoils the looks of the bike, er… scooter, if I
may say so (I wish to maintain my loyalty towards bikes...).
The rider’s seat is comfortable and quite supportive
but our snapper was most unhappy when he sat pillion on
the Blaze. He kept incessantly – and irritatingly
– shifting his butt. Eventually he explained that
his foot kept slipping – obviously the moulded footrest
is not very effective. Whereas on the left side it is
possible to let your foot rest on an extra support that
certain aspects a motorcycle cannot ever match a scooter:
despite a longer wheelbase, the Blaze is much nimbler
that the Avenger. The front-end is light and you’ll
find it easily manoeuvrable in the city. You obviously
won’t go camping or hunting astride the Blaze, sodon’t
expect it to cushion you on bad roads. It’s a fussy
little two-wheeler in this respect and will make no qualms
in informing you that it doesn’t like the surface.
The Blaze, however, could do with more efficient brakes,
perhaps a disc in the front as it’s heavy and its
powerful engine gives it enough momentum to break into
a gallop from a mere roll.
the sticker below the taillight which says, ‘Catch
me if you can’, was a bit amusing. It may not have
been for the Avenger. Certainly not. It could be for many
other bikes, and certainly to all scooters sold in India
at the end of the day, I still love the chrome, the sleek
petrol tank, the 180cc, 6.5bhp DTS-i engine, the stepped
seat and the cruiser handle-bar. A trip to the hills or
to the coasts is more up the Avenger’s sleeve. The
Aviators are for the Avenger.
Blaze cannot do that. But it could very well be my everyday
companion – to the office, the Barista, the hangouts,
for a hair cut, the cigarette shop, the pub – a
worthy one, which would make me a happier, more relaxed