Behind the handlebars

Unique Hobbies

Biking doesn’t have to be just about commuting — it can be a great way to pass some time as well.

Zooming on : The members of the Royal Knights Motorcycle Club on their way to Yellagiri.

Nobody knows this better than Debraj Bannerjee, an avid biker and founder of the Royal Knights Motorcycle Club. In fact, Debraj has taken this interest past occasional bike rides in the City.

As a member of the club, he takes extensive rides to places around Bangalore, sometimes riding for an entire day — just to turn around and ride back again. Metrolife caught up with Debraj to find out more about his hobby.

Originally from Shillong, Debraj began biking at the age of 18. Unlike many young riders, he didn’t ride to get to a place; rather, he rode just for the fun of it. His father, an enthusiastic biker himself, was the one who taught him to handle machines.

“My dad had a Royal Enfield. He was so passionate about it, that I began to get interested in biking as well. He’s the one who taught me how to ride, and also how to fix bikes,” he recollects. He bought his first bike when he was still in Shillong, a Yamaha that he still remembers fondly.

Around twelve years back, Debraj came to Bangalore to pursue his studies. He couldn’t bring his bike along, so one of the first things he did when he arrived in the City was to buy himself one — again, a Yamaha.

“I rode it for about two or three years, in and around the City. During my college days, a group of us used to ride around in Bangalore, and sometimes a little beyond the City, to places like the Nandi Hills.

Then, I sold that bike. I always wanted an Enfield Bullet, and decided to buy one of those. Though I didn’t want to give up my previous bike, I couldn’t have both,” he explains.

He’s been riding his Bullet for the last seven years, and the bike has become a trusted companion on many of his trips. Over time, his interest grew into a serious passion, which is when he started the club. He explains that at the time of the club’s inception — in 2006 — he wanted nothing more than a group of riders who were as enthusiastic as he was.

“I started the club because I was looking for more friends to ride with. Slowly, more and more people began to join it, and started taking it quite seriously. Then, we started defining some guidelines about the club — which we hadn’t been too sure about ourselves before,” he remembers.

The guidelines are simple, and predominantly concern the issue of safety. “When you’re riding in a group, you need discipline. This means lots of things: you have to ride in a certain formation, and maintain a particular distance between the bikes to avoid accidents. When people join, we teach them how to ride safely — which is what makes us different from other clubs,” he explains.

Once the safety issue is set, however, long rides can be a lot of fun. “We’ve taken trips to Kundapura, which is about 400 kilometres from Bangalore, and Valparai, which is in Tamil Nadu.

These trips take about 12 to 14 hours. We go in groups of about 20 people. On the fifth anniversary of the club, last year, a group of 80 of us went to Kerala to celebrate,” he remembers. On longer trips, these bikers generally stay there for a couple of days before returning to the City.

Other than riding, Debraj also has a knack for fixing bikes. It’s often essential, he explains.

“When you’re on a long trip in difficult terrain, parts tend to loosen up or fall off. There isn’t always a mechanic around for this.

My father taught me some of this art, and then my Enfield itself taught me the rest. As I was using it, I picked up the skill on my own,” he concludes.

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