The Grand Indian Roadtrip (TGIR),which concluded on April 29,saw six bikers riding 1200 cc to 250 cc bikes to 27 cities across India. Last month also witnessed the two-day India Super Bike Festival in Pune,with 250 participants from different parts of the country and over 15,000 visitors. One of Indias biggest biking portals,xBHP.com,which is the brainchild of Delhi-based Sundeep Gujjar,already boasts of over one lakh subscribers. Around 40 members of Mumbai-based group Harley Owners India (HOI) come together once a month to set out to an undecided destination.
An oddball trend like this hitting the roads reveals that the culture of biking is gradually garnering more interest. The reasons are varied. While for a majority of bikers,the sport is about pure adrenaline rush and the feel of the wind,for others,it is about responsible riding. There are also those who aim to bring super bikes back into the limelight. They all have one thing in common: love for bikes and biking.
At TGIR,the highlight was not the 16,500 kms clocked in by the participants,but the fact that they were joined by various motorcycle groups along their journey,riding along with them in parts,clocking over 92,000 kms. Though such events are sporadic,they do break the boundaries between the bikers,says Sandeep Goswami,a TGIR participant. There is no organisation that can unite biking communities in India. While we were on the roads,we saw people supporting the rides. Once the support becomes stronger,it could lead to the formation of a parent national body, says Goswami.
In the last couple of years,bikes werent the most coveted vehicles. People would complain when they heard loud bike noises,especially those of Harleys. There were also news reports a few years ago about how bikes were illegally obtained; so people were scared to take out their machines, says Freddy Pithavala,an administrator for HOI,while explaining the slumped popularity of biking.
But the launch of affordable bikes by high-end bikemakers has changed that. It has stopped the problem of illegal imports to a great extent, says Sahil Bhandari,who organised the India Super Bike Festival. The online magazine of xBHP.com features bikes across all genres,be it a normal 250 cc bike or the high-end superbike of 1500 cc,and has a major fan following in the metros.
Last year,Venkatesh Khanna received the Sore Saddle certification by the 30,000-member-strong Iron Butt Association,for completing 1,000 miles in 24 hours. A number of bikers from all over India are attempting to complete such feats; which,I feel is a positive sign for biking, he concludes.