Monday, August 31, 2009

Trek 4300 - One year later

It’s been a little more than a year since I got my 4300. I decided to post this review after drenching it in the rain over the last few days and thrashing it in slush and mud.

I may have done only about 3000 kms on it. Not much for a year of use but I’ve used it everyday over the last year to commute (barring 10 days in the Hyderabad summer). The motorbike and car have been resting at home and are being used only when the entire family has to go out.

My usage of the 4300 is not limited to the tarmac. I love hopping kerbs and riding on the sides of the roads where its free, rough, jagged and fun. I jump often (not bunny hopping) and tend to abuse the bike a little. So my experience is:

Frame: Nice geometry for all types of use. However, it is an MTB and performance on the road is certainly restricted as compared to a road bike but the high seating position gives a good view in traffic. The upright position is comfortable. The word that comes to my mind is "balanced". The frame itself is quite strong and I can vouch for it as I have done a maximum of 2 foot high drops numerous times.

Suspension: Lovely. Just lovely. Soaks up bumps very nicely when I hit hidden potholes in the rain and even better when I jump down kerbs. It’s set at the stiffest setting and does a good job balancing daily riding and jumping.

Ride: Smooth. I’ve understood that comparing an MTB and a road bike is like a Pajero and a Ferrari. The former is a lump built to be abused but can be used for road riding too although it will feel cumbersome. The latter is for the pure thrill of burning rubber on the tarmac. The 4300 mirrors the former perfectly. The sedate road traveling bike exhibits a totally different character on trails and bad riding conditions. One can feel the control and confidence especially on trails. Its hard to describe unless you’ve really thrashed this bike on a trail. The sound, the feel, the confidence, the grip all scream out on trails. This bike is not meant to be just ridden on roads because then you’ll never understand its heart. That said, it is perfectly suited to commuting for those like me who can’t afford a road bike, for now.

Quality: This is perhaps where I’m most happy to have bought a Trek or something similar. I have ridden quite a few times in the rain with the crank completely under water. I understand why a sealed bottom bracket is so important. The gears changed under water with some resistance. But the ride was superb. After all that soaking, there isn’t a creak coming from anywhere. The gears shift perfectly till date. The components have all held up just as they were on day one. The cables, derailleurs, shifters, tyres, rims, pedals, cassettes and suspensions are superb. Even the handlebar grips are good. No punctures till date. I ride with a tyre pressure of 60 psi.

Brakes: This is the one part of any transport vehicle that faces the most friction/violence/abuse. The brakes have just one purpose. To stop what it’s meant to. The brakes are reason I could touch a top speed of 51.7 km/hr. Because I knew I could stop in time if needed. They work very well even when wet. Disc brakes would be of help in hazardous terrain but these V-brakes are more than sufficient for now.

Issues: During delivery, the front brakes were slightly misaligned. I fixed this by completely removing the pads and re-adjusting them. On another occasion, the chain was touching the front derailleur in the 3-5 combination. This too was fixed by loosening the cage bolt and turning the derailleur a little. And that’s it. No issues till date.

The 4300 is a very dependable bike. The quality of components used is high and should ideally last for years unless badly abused. I have no gripes whatsoever and I do thank Rohan Kini at for edging me towards buying it. No regrets till date. Touchwood.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fear - The greatest motivator

It is fairly common these days to read about how self-motivated the successful people are. The prodigies and the self-made business tycoons inspire us with their stories. And the most common thread to all these people is the fact that they’re self motivated. A deep desire from within to push forth and be the best in whatever they want to be and do.

Yet, each and every one of us have different motivational factors. Some work better when they’re relaxed and some need pressure to perform. But perhaps it is fear that is the basis for all ambitions.

Taking a corporate office as an example, one sees the average performers move along in their work-grind out of the fear of being replaced. Competition and peer pressure forces them to look at what’s happening around and use those benchmarks to better themselves. The below average performers always look over their shoulder waiting for that pink slip. The fear of being laid off makes them stay awake and plod along.

But the star performers, that’s another story. These are people who’re so completely engrossed in the finality. They see the goal and visualize it coming closer. With a vengeance, each failure along the way is studied and granulated and improved upon resulting in a razor sharp focus. But yet again, it is fear that drives them. The fear of not bettering what they did today. The fear of becoming lackadaisical.

Every human being has that potential within themselves to be the best at something in their lives. Few of us ever get to know and be what we truly are good at. The majority of us give in to what comes our way and end up doing a “job”. The really lucky ones get to work on their hobbies and make a living out of it. For it is in this state of mind that one becomes a star, afraid yet motivated by the fear of the self.