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This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Once they were Jap Crap..

There was a time, in my memory, when the riders of British bikes looked at us cheapos on our Yamahas and Suzukis and yelled, 'Jap Crap'!
And they certainly did not go round corners quite like the Triumph Bonnys and legendary Norton Featherbeds. But, in time, they watched, copied and improved and now Jap bikes are world leaders on the race circuits of the world. Pretty damn expensive to boot.
Now, life in Kenya can follow 2 well heeled routes, depending on the financial cushion between you and the potholy streets of Nairobi.
If you are in the employ of USAID and happen to be stationed in Kenya, you get an automatic 60% on top of your US $ salary. Whilst Kenya is outrageously expensive (about on par with Washington DC), this kind of income enables you to experience the world from the comfort and build quality of at very least, a Toyota Land Cruiser....built for Africa...driven mostly by first world NGOs. This also allows Kenya to get away with the most unbelievable prices for most things. Take a bottle of cheap $3 SA wine (Chateau Libertas, Fleur de Cap). These are at least $20 (R140) a bottle here. An average pizza at a nice Italian restaurant will cost R90-00 ($12-00) and fuel is over R12-00 a litre.

If, you are a South African whose currency is weirdly losing ground against the Kenyan Shilling, and you NEED 2 wheels to be happy (and mobile) then your buck is best spent by buying a bike in SA and riding it here, because everything is about 100% more expensive here. Yes, you can get small cheap Hondas and KTMs but, guess what, they are made in China. The Jialings (like I own in SA) seem inferior here too. I was told that there are real Jialings and fake Jialings.

So here I am, desperate to get cheap transport (ie a motorbike) and (as seen in earlier blog) have run scared from the corrupt and opportunist second hand market to the seemingly safe haven of a new bike.

So, I got the new TVS 125 on Friday.

Today I decided to give it a thorough check (done 75km).

This was motivated by a light bulb popping out its socket after the plastic holder melted.
The more I dismantled, the more I checked, the more horrified I became at the shocking quality of manufacture. I am actually lost for words. Bolts seem to made of pewter and stripped as they exited the nuts.
There and then I made the decision to remove anything that shone or clicked and replace it with homemade panels and second hand Jap switches. This way, I can ride a minimalist bike and as soon as I can find a good Jap bike I will replace all the bling and sell this disgusting piece of crap.
The question is this: Much of the research I did on the net re the TVS Victors was praising the bike for its quality and reliability. Could it be that TVS is sending inferior models to Africa? If so, then I fear the oncoming recolonization of Africa from the East.

So you don't think I am imagining things have a peep at these images.....

The chrome is so thin that 3 days of riding is enough to wear it down to copper.

The paint job on the tank has overrun on it and when I queried a dent in the tank at the shop, the saleswoman said, "What's wrong, it's only a dent."

Horror of horrors, I tried to adjust the chain and the adusting bolt just stripped as I tightened it back in again.

Are they made of chocolate or what!

the battery was half empty and the terminals had clearly not been checked since they left Pune.

On top of all this, the main headline news in Nairobi, is that South Africans are slaughtering their fellow Africans. There seems to be a mass amnesia of the years during which our subcontinental neighbours hosted the exiled resistance against Apartheid.

In a desperate attempt to find some sanity, I visited the German embassy to see if I could get a visa to visit the land of maintained technology and maybe just touch the paintwork of a travelling Aprilia...smell the exhaust of an 1150 BMW or stroke the head of a real KTM....

When the Askari at the security heard I was from SA he said, "What is wrong with Africa! Why are we killing each other?!" I muttered something like, "Well, if zenophobia doesn't get you, the Oriental bikes will."

Nuff Sed.

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