Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Mini-Honda to be made in Thailand

Honda has unveiled a new sub-Jazz sized “Asia car” to go into simultaneous production in India and Thailand from 2011.
This car was shown in concept form at its unveiling at the New Delhi motor show in January, and it is expected that much of the Thai production will be for export. Honda already takes most of the volume sellers in its range from the Thai plant, including CR-V, Civic, Accord and Jazz, as well as City.

Mini Honda

Although Honda has not spelled out which export markets it will ultimately be sold in, the five-door, five-seat hatch will be a direct competitor for the new Asian-made mini cars, including the Indian-built Suzuki Alto and Hyundai i20.
The styling of the New Small Concept shows a handsome hatch with a wide stance and contemporary lines.
Although no mechanical details were revealed, the Indian media speculates the car will have an engine of less than 1.2 liters to comply with local tax rules. However, a Thai-built car would be free to edge that engine size up, perhaps to 1.3 liters. This might put it in the ‘eco-car’ bracket for tax relief.
A petrol engine is a certainty to kick off production, but an executive of Honda’s Indian partner, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd, was quoted as saying a diesel engine was being developed by Honda in Japan for the longer term.
To keep costs down, Honda has committed to sourcing many of the parts from India, where the company has an R&D centre focusing on developing such trade.
While the new hatchback is shorter than the Jazz, Honda says, “A wide platform with a stable center of gravity was adopted to create a highly efficient compact size with seating for five people.”

Autotrivia Quiz

Quiz bike

Last week I mentioned that a special radiator ornament was used on some Hispano Suizas, Isotta Fraschinis, Bugattis and Bentleys. I asked what was it made from, and by who? It was glass from Lalique.
So to this week. We mentioned motorcycles. Which automaker built this one?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Something for the bike riders
Graham Knight at HighSide Tours sent in the following article and I am very happy to include it in Automania this week. Graham has promised me more of these each month.
Riding Skills:
What’s this? Another Harley rider sharing his whimsical theories on bike riding whilst negotiating the treacherous two km straight line trip from home to pub? I hope not. The purpose behind this series of articles is to give the daily bike rider in Chiang Mai a bit more of a chance of getting around without falling prey to some of the dangers prevalent here.
Why write them? Well the main reason is to reduce my blood pressure as every day I see locals and expats riding their bikes and scooters badly without realizing how they are placing themselves and other road users at risk. Hopefully by following these articles you will find something in at least one of them that will make your riding more confident, better and safer.
Why listen to me? I am the only full time professional track and riding instructor in Thailand and have taught over 400 people over the last five years to ride at Bira Circuit. I do this for a living. Now I’m not here to teach you how to race round Chiang Mai or how to ride like Valentino Rossi, but a lot of what we teach on the track can be applied to the road as well.
That’s enough for the introduction, let’s get on with it.
1. Body Position
Let’s start with how you sit on the bike. This is important because how you sit on the bikes directly affects how the bike responds to your inputs. If this is true of a 70 kg Valentino Rossi on a 145 kg MotoGP bike it is especially true of a 90 kg rider on a 100 kg bike.
I’ll try and deal with the main types of two-wheelers I see on the roads here.
1) Bikes; these have a tank between your knees and foot pegs below your shoulders. CBRs, ER6ns, Enduros, etc.
2) Stepthroughs; no tank between your knees, with foot pegs or footboards. Honda Wave, Airblade, Yamaha Mio, Fino, etc.
3) Choppers; tanks between knees but with pegs and bars placed further forward. Honda Shadow, Kawasaki Boss, etc.
Your feet should be placed with the balls of the feet on the pegs if you have pegs, if you have footboards position your feet as far forward as they will comfortably go. If you have chopper then again place the balls of your feet against the pegs which you should be able to reach without over stretching your leg. You want the balls of your feet on the pegs so that you have the ability to transfer your body weight through the pegs by simply lifting your heel on either side.
You should sit on the seat so that your arms are not stretching to reach the handle bars. Your elbows should be bent about 45 degrees from straight. Sit centrally on the seat (save the hanging off for the racetrack). Your knees should be drawn in behind whatever fairing or protection you have. If you have a tank then your knees should be used to grip the tank firmly. Those of you with choppers will probably not be able to do this, which is one reason why these bikes handle so badly.
The basic purpose behind all of these adjustments is to “lock” your bottom half into the bike and take the pressure off your wrists and arms. You should hold yourself upright with your back and leg muscles. One of the most common mistakes is the tendency to use the handlebars to rest the upper body weight on, or to hang on with a death grip. This has a hugely negative impact on the handling of the bike and its braking effectiveness.
Here is your proof. Find an approximately 90 degree corner that you can see all the way round. Now ride the corner with stiff arms and resting you upper body weight on the bars; bike feels hard to turn. Now reposition yourself correctly on the bike and ride the same corner. The bike will feel much more willing to turn into the corner and hold a tighter line.
So for this week practice getting used to riding with a locked on lower body and with loose and relaxed arms.
Cheers, Graham.
(Graham Knight can be contacted at graham.knight

Did she fall off on the previous lap?