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Pulsar Mania Thrill of Riding, part 2: Launch Control

Pulsar Mania

Ready, set… go! If only launching a motorcycle perfectly was that easy. Thankfully, Hrishi is here with his book of tips

Images by Rohit Mane
  • Pulsar Mania
  • Pulsar Mania

Welcome back to the second part of this brand new series – Pulsar Mania Thrill of Riding. Aimed at making each one of you better and safer riders on the road, in the first part we dealt with the all-important act of stopping, how to position yourself on the bike and where to look. Now, having told you how to stop, we’re here to teach you how to get going with a step-by-step guide on how to execute a perfect launch. Executing a perfect launch is not only deeply satisfying but also highly aspirational. Don’t for a second try and convince us that you’ve never wanted to launch your Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 like you’ve seen the MotoGP boys and those drag racers do. Having said that, we will also tell you that launching your bike at a traffic signal is not recommended at all. It’s downright dangerous. Not because you’ll lose control. You won’t if you do it right, like how we’re teaching you. But since no one else will be expecting it, someone else might do something stupid. Besides if the men in uniform catch you, then you’ll be relieved of a decent amount of cash. No, keep this one for a private road and, hand on our hearts, the Thrill of Riding is guaranteed.

Correct riding position

Where you put your weight is everything when you’re launching a bike. Put it too far ahead and you’ll do a brilliant burnout. Put it too far back and you’ll be looking at the sky soon enough. The trick is to put adequate weight at both ends. So you push your bum far back and crouch down over the handlebars while pressing down. The loaded front will keep the wheel down when the clutch is released while the weight at the back will ensure that the rear wheel isn’t hopping but has the traction to push the bike ahead.

Launch RPM

The next most critical thing to know about a launch is the rpm at which you’ll allow the bike to catapult ahead. Usually, the perfect launch revs will be near the revs at which the engine makes its peak power but not the redline. If you’re too close to the rpm at which the engine makes peak power then once you’ve launched the bike you’ll simply over rev the engine until you shift up. The best technique to find out is to start the launch just above the middle of the rev range and then increase the revs in increments of 500rpm with each launch until you find that sweet spot. In the case of the Pulsar NS 200 that Hrishi is seen using here, the best launches happen between 6,000 and 8,000rpm.

Clutch modulation

This is a tricky one. Should you pop it? Or should you slip it? Well, popping the clutch is an absolute no since you’re only going to end up wheelie-ing. Slipping it is then. But be careful in remembering that you shouldn’t continue to slip the clutch for too long. For one thing, you might cook the clutch. For another, you have to let it go to get going.

Upshifts

If you don’t want to lose momentum after the launch you’ll also need to shift right. Unless you own a fancy multi-lakh superbike you won’t have a Quickshifter. So here’s how you do it. Shift up as soon as you see the light on the dash come on. That light switching on means that you’ve hit the rev limiter and will only over rev the engine after that. That there’s no extra power to be extracted anymore to help you go quicker. Also, when you shift up do it in one smooth action. Preferably without using the clutch. Just roll off the throttle slightly, swap cogs and get back on the gas immediately.

What could go wrong?

Launching a motorcycle is satisfying for sure. However, it may not be healthy for your machine in the long term. If you keep slipping the clutch at every given opportunity, the chances are that you’ll end up cooking it in no time. You’ll obviously end up stressing the engine too.

The clutch can either make you or brake you. Pop it with a lot of gas and you may end up with one wheel pointing towards the sky. Hold it for too long and you may end up slipping the rear.

Finally, a hole shot at a traffic light may not only be hazardous for you, but for others too, especially in India. Try practicing it in a safe  environment before you go all out.

Pulsar Mania Thrill of Riding, part 1: Basics of Sport Riding on the road

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