It's road rush at IBW, as bikers bond over motors

It's road rush at IBW, as bikers bond over motors

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It's road rush at IBW, as bikers bond over motors

February 19 is a hot and sunny day in Goa, when I land in the sun-soaked beach destination of India. The reason that I am in the state is not to sun bathe or attend a beach party. I am one among thousands others who want to blend into the ultimate expression of motorcycle mayhem. Welcome to India Bike Week!The cliché of ‘burning rubber’ is but an understatement. India Bike Week or IBW, as the regulars call it, has promised motorcycles in all forms and sizes, a series of timeless stories of that biking spirit, and above all, noise, more noise, and music from the motors, over the course of February 19 and 20.

As I approach the venue — a vast plot of land at Arpora, Goa, specially done up for the purpose — I come across a line-up of some amazing steeds on two wheels parked at  the entrance, which is but an appetiser — a glimpse into the bike banquet that I would be savouring later. The first day of India’s largest biking festival has gotten off to a roaring start, with many thousands of hardcore and casual bikers crossing national and international borders to get here and celebrate an event that has established itself as a cornerstone of India’s biking culture.The roar of over 12,000 bikers who have joined the road to the festival is the defining moment at India Bike Week 2016, setting the tone for the rest of the event. Over 700 riders have registered on the Ride to IBW, supported by the event, with medical support and marshalling from Nagpur, Mumbai and Bengaluru. IBW 2016 is the fourth edition of the great festival. 

According to Martin D’Costa, Chief Executive Officer of  70 Event Media Group (which is the organiser): “It is astonishing to see so many thousands of bikers from all over India, across motorcycle brands, joining the India Bike Week this year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bikes on the NH4, NH17 and the other roads leading to Goa. It’s amazing to see riders from over 400 Biking Clubs hanging out together on site.”

Riders have come from as far as Puducherry, Delhi, and Shillong. And if that isn’t enough, adding some international spice to the moto-mix, motorcyclists and bike clubs have arrived from Thailand, Malaysia, and Dubai, among others. As D’Costa puts it, “We are aiming to create a movement of biking brotherhood… Over 10,000-12,000 bikers coming to Goa is sure to lift the local economy.”

And he’s right! All over the place, around the beaches, and even through the route from the airport, which is an hour’s drive away, almost everything is drenched is festival frenzy. With thousands of motorcyclists having arrived, as also many many more visitors and attendees, has proved a booster to local hotels, restaurants, shops, and other touristy businesses.

And the IBW festival, which was held at Vagator the previous years, has found its way to the Arpora Sporting Ground, owing to the much larger influx of riders and crowd expected this time, needing more space.

Biker build-up
Think motorcycles, think IBW! Almost everything one can think of about riding a two-wheeler can be seen at this festival.

On the first day itself, leading premium motorcycles from the houses of Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Ducati, Indian, BMW, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Honda, among others, are seen as the price catch. I can see all kinds of enthusiasts going about their riding routines — from casually making the rounds of the venue on their bikes, or displaying all-out stunts. If you need more, from all corners of the open field, one can hear the rhythmic revs of the various power monsters, each trying to compete with the other, and proving whose motor has more melody.I wait at a place called the IBW Main Street, where launching the festival, a Harley Davidson’s parade of over 2,500 HOG riders pushes down the street, followed by DSK Benelli riders. Next is the turn of Triumph Motorcycles, with a parade consisting of the hundreds of bikers, who make up the Riders Association of Triumph.

The long river of luxurious, powerful motorcycles flowing down the Main Street is the perfect reflection of India’s economic boom. A country that once favoured the 100 cc utility bike has today evolved to taste the best machines the motorcycle market has to offer.

Since IBW 2016 celebrates biking, several manufacturers have decided to launch their products here, than at the earlier Auto Expo. Harley-Davidson rolls out the new 1200 Custom, while the Ducati unveils the Panigale 959.

Talking to Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the launch, and explaining market trends, Ducati India Managing Director Ravi Avalur says, “The market is growing at a fast pace, and riders are getting oriented to performance, safety, ride quality and efficient after-sales.”

DSK Benelli shows off the TRK 502 and Tornado 302, with DSK Motowheels Chairman Shirish Kulkarni saying that the company wants to be a part of the superbike journey, and give back to the customer. Declaring, “Guys who ride Triumph are already triumphant,” Triumph Motorcycles India Managing Director Vimal Sumbly rides in the new Street Twin T120 and Thruxton R.

Much to the glee of customers, fans and the rider communities, IBW is dotted with pavilions of the said bike companies, and more, where apart from motorcycles on display, one can lay his hands on the choicest merchandise from his favourite bike brand. What’s more, manufacturers and sponsors have amped up the motorcycling experience with a dedicated test ride track and activities like the Triumph Tiger Academy, Harley-Davidson Touring Bike demo, and Shell the Rev Up zone with their Dyno Wars and power bike displays.

On Day 1, I visit the Howling Dog Bar which is hosting the Innovation Bike display, with models like the Monowheel — a single-wheel vehicle derived from the concept of planetary gear box, and the Skatocross. Next up is the Moto Art Collective, a curated collection of motorcycle and moto-culture inspired art, with biking lifestyle elements such as tattoo artworks by Body Canvas, live graffiti and air brushing by Maria Jurkina, sculptures and paintings by brothers HAMMEred & IRONic projects from India’s most creative bike builders, and moto-photography by RONNIE SEQUEIRA.

Karnataka trails 
CS Santosh is synonymous with biking sports in India. The Dakar Rally hero from Karnataka, who graced IBW 2016, heralds the immense presence of motorcyclists from the state.

Yes, Karnataka, Goa’s neighbour, displays its love for the open roads on two wheels, not being restricted to Bengaluru.

Coastal Superbikes from the beachfront districts of Karnataka has come in its full force of 15 people. One of its members, Rakesh Pai, says that it is the only club with a BMW R90. “The biking culture in Karnataka is growing, thanks to a combination of hills, beaches and awesome weather. Even buying expensive bikes is an ‘affordable’ exercise, with banks offering loans,” Pai says.

The massive 178-member Bangalore Riders Association of Triumph (BRAT), which conducts over 6 overnight rides a year, is growing everyday. “India is all about exploration, and we are passionate about it,” says a member, Hari Prasad. Talking about the rules of the road, Prasad states, “Each rider must follow rules, adapt and respect the system. With superbikes, safety and rules play a paramount role. One must be educated and responsible while riding bikes.”

Luxury superbikes are not the only draw at IBW. The love of the motorcycle has brought even those with simpler machines, but the same amount of heart for travel, to the festival.

Rishad Bhumgara, a 28-year-old rider from Mumbai, has explored the whole of India with his wife, on his Yezdi Classic, a cult yesteryear motorcycle, towards which he has spent a fortune on refurbishments. “My bike takes me everywhere… the mountains, valleys and more… I must just pack my bags and take it on a trip… I now aim to explore the world,” he says.

Little, interesting bits  It is February 20, and the hot sun doesn’t show any signs of giving up. I visit an interesting stall ‘Bugota Bikes’, from Belagavi. This innovative firm has developed motorised bicycles, which run on 25 cc petrol engines, and on pedals, reaching a maximum speed of 25 kmph. This invention is reminiscent of the idea of a motorcycle in its infancy.

Motorcycles need fuel and regular servicing to run safe, without any harm to the environment. 

Aiding in this endeavour is Shell Lubricants India, whose Chief Marketing Officer, Mansi Madan Tripathy, tells me, “We are happy to announce the launch of Shell Advance Ultra 15W-50, our premium oil formulation designed especially for heavier bikes. Shell Advance Ultra 15W-50 does not degrade between oil changes, thus not letting the engine efficiency plummet and preventing any power loss usually experienced. IBW is an exciting platform for us to be present and foster knowledge-sharing, while showcasing our unique offerings to bike enthusiasts, and we are happy to be a part of it.”

The more time you spend at IBW, the more surprises are in store, be it the Bikini Bike Wash, live music, motorcycle films, or bike tricks. More than anything, it proves to be a common heartbeat of sorts that reverberates with every rev of a motorcycle, and a forum for conversations and adventure of the road. 

Swati Mohan, Business Head, Fox International Channels India, says, ‘‘IBW has grown over the years and has become a celebration of not just biking, but also a mecca for experience-seekers and travellers. What was a closed circuit of automotive owners has today expanded into a vast thriving social circle of passionate explorers fueled by the growing trend of adventure travel.’’

Dougie Lampkin, the international Moto Trials legend, wowed visitors at IBW with his skills on day 1. Lampkin, who is back for more on day 2, says, ‘‘It is great to see so many motorcycling enthusiasts together, and that truly reflects the growing culture for biking in India. I now understand why India Bike Week is mentioned as the ultimate biker’s paradise, and while it is great to see the culture for biking take root in the country, I’m honoured to have been a part.”

As a build-up to the Great Migration, the inaugural parade of the day features some of the best custom design bikes parade through the festival at the IBW MOD BIKE PARADE. The MOD bike parade includes over 30 riders upon specially designed bikes by some of the biggest custom builders in India namely R&G Customs, R H Customs, Moto Exotica and Mean Green Customs amongst others.As one of the biggest events of the festival, the event comes full-circle through the IBW Great Migration that sees over many national biking clubs participate at an exclusive parade through the Main Street. 

The Great Migration features hundreds of biking clubs across India showcasing their rides and their attitude through one of the longest constructed parade routes at an Indian biking festival, an ode to the growing spark of the biking culture of this great country, uniting on two wheels, and thousands of miles of road.  

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