For decades, the motorcycle has been a means of escape from the everyday mundane. The ability to take off on two wheels has allowed the possibility of freedom in an ever-shrinking world. Those lucky, enlightened ones who have realized the freedom that the motorcycle allows have all played a crucial role in the evolution of motorcycle culture that exists today. Far more than simply a mode of transportation, the motorcycle has provided a way of life, a counter-culture and a source of identity for a group of people who have, at times, been marginalized by society.
The Riding industry in India has been growing by leaps & bounds over the last decade. What used to earlier be a niche group of riders has now grown to a thriving and kicking industry if one does study the trends over the years with growth being fueled by growing trend of adventure travel, hectic metro life and need of one’s ‘own’ space etc. Simultaneously, the growth path has been marked with high end motorcycle brands coming into the country & the auxiliary growth of motorcycle gear industry. The growth of motorcycle festivals in the country over the last few years is testimony to the growing popularity of riders & the riding community in India. An increasing number of people are recognizing not only the utility of motorcycles but actually bringing out the passion in them and bonding with like minded people. In India, Riding hasn’t grown only as a means of commuting from point A to point B but has in fact grown as a lifestyle and as an interest in pleasure riding. The growing interest in riding has led to the formation of 100+ clubs in the country; Bullet clubs & HOG clubs are moreover common. However there are many clubs that do not focus on any particular brand or bike for that matter.
Riding certainly has evolved as a lifestyle across the years & who better to testify this than the founder of one of the oldest motorcycles clubs in the country; Dr. Arun Thareja founder of Group of Delhi Superbikers (G.O.D.S). Dr. Thareja started riding superbikes in the year 1984 and at that time we can only imagine how the culture was. In fact there weren’t mechanics and workshops to even service these bikes. “But these days” says Mr. Thareja:
Riding has evolved so much that there are mechanics & specialized service centers for every brand available. Aftermarket accessories, workshop manuals have made things a lot easier. The biking scenario has really opened up since Yamaha first set up shop in 2008 and introduced superbikes to India. Many companies then looked at India as an upcoming hotbed for the motorcycle industry. All this and more led to the setting up of the Buddh International Circuit which has riders learning racing professionally & in a protected environment.Biking clubs make perfect sense when there are a group of people pursuing the same passion. Its often times said that birds of the same feather flock together and this is the simple reason for the existence of motorcycle clubs being formed; irrespective of whether they are brand centric clubs or that they unite for the pleasure of only riding together. Also, the club culture is interesting because each club has its own characteristics, systems and personality. Riding together as one and in a uniform manner has its own charm from riding solo. The group captain and the sweep play major roles in a club ride. The club culture is essentially like minded riders riding under one flag, standing up for each other and keeping the fun alive while holding exclusivity and purity of the club spirit and values sacred. That is the club culture in India.
However with the growing interest in motorcycling, people are giving importance to riding gear too for safety measures. Consciousness of one’s own safety as well as of others on the road is the primary focus of clubs when they plan rides. In May 2011, the Mumbai Musafirs became the first motorcycle community in the region to give reflective vests to all its riders. This move was based on the fact that at times, when motorcyclists ride after dark, the mere light from a motorcycle’s tail lamp is not adequate to be spotted and the reflective vests enhance visibility.
Figures, facts, awareness, brands and many other factors are definitely playing a major role in the growth of the motorcycle industry and the culture of motorcycle clubs in India.
Picture Credit: G.O.D.S
By: Navneet Lamba