Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flashback: Rider Mania 2005 hosted by the Inddiethumpers in Panvel

Let me take you back in time. To a simpler time. To a time where the internet was just moving on from dial up, to a time where social media didn't exist(or maybe Orkut did), to a time where the Y2K bug was all we cared about, to a time when you had to decompress your Enfield before you actually kicked it to start, to a time where you had to scoured Yahoo groups to find out what was happening in the motorcycle world in India, to a time where the Royal Enfield 500cc was the be all and end all of big motorcycle available on the market.

I had been a part of the Inddiethumper and the Royal Beasts Yahoo Group for a while. I had never met anyone from these groups they were all just names on an email digest but every day religiously I would check into the groups see what they were talking about. One day I noticed some chatter on the groups about a gathering, a party, a place for many of us to come out to meet and have a great time and finally hang out in person. They called it Rider Mania.

The Inddiethumpers were hosting the party and just outside Mumbai. That was perfect because I travelled to Mumbai a lot as Amrita had already moved out there a few years before. So I got back on the group and booked my self a spot for this "Rider Mania" but since I had just sold my motorcycle and didn't have the time to ride down from Chandigarh (I had a proper day job) I decided I would get to Mumbai rent a bike and ride down with the Thumpers. Eventually the Thumpers sorted a bike out for me and I rode with a group of them to the venue.

What a sight it was riding in. That parking lot full of Enfields, and not stock ones there were loads of customs builds and chops. But to top it all of the people running the show were just brilliant. I am not going to carry on about the show because all of a sudden I can remember almost every tiny detail from those two days.

Today Rider Mania is huge a far stretch from 2005 when we were only about 300 of us. Royal Enfield runs one in Goa which is on this weekend and I am missing it. While the clubs host a separate one that travels the country and is hosted by a different club in their own city. 27-28th January 2018 Inddiethumpers are hosting it again outside Mumbai check the website for details.

I am now just going to shut up and let you check out the pictures. Remember this was before digital cameras and I had only two reels of 24 shots each for this weekend.

Monday, November 13, 2017

How to draw Continental GT By Motoholic Works

The peeps at Motoholic Works are always up to some cool stuff. But over the last few days they have done a few one minute tutorials on their Instagram account explaining how to draw a Royal Enfield Continental GT (nope not the twin).  Of course it looks easy as pie but we are sure its far from it.

We would love to see if anyone tried to draw a bike after this brilliant tutorial.

You can email us here if you did.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Helmet Stories Instagram Contest

After many moons went through our kit closet to make some semblance of it. Way in the back we found a carton of stuff that we had forgotten about. Out of they carton appeared two new still packed in their plastic Royal Enfield Safari Touring Jackets (XL). 

So we figured as it’s the season for motorcycle festivals in the country, it would be cool to host a Time To Ride Instagram Contest and give out the jacket as prizes. 

So here goes people the contest is open from today till 30th November 2017

To Enter The Contest
1. Follow the accounts of @helmetstories @harshmanrai and @virnakai
2. Upload a picture from a ride you have done in November onto your own Instagram account. (It can be a weekend ride, a ride to Rider Mania/India Bike Week, it can be a ride to the market to buy fish we don’t care. All it has to be is an awesome picture.) 
3. Hashtag the picture #HelmetStories #HSGiveaway
4. Sit back and wait for the first week of December. 

1. Each person can post maximum of 4 pictures. We don’t want to flood the internet now. 
2. Harsh Man Rai will choose the winners and he is the last word. 
3. Buying us many rounds of beers will not sway the verdict but you never know until you try.
4. You gotta live in India to participate only because its a pain to ship the jackets out of the country.

Per Instagram rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Track Day with the 2018 Sherco TVS Dakar Team

I knew it the moment I gave the 450 RTR the extra bit of gas. It was going to get interesting fast. I was correct I came in hot and the bike flew. It must have jumped not even two feet off the ground but that was enough. First the front wheel touched and then came the rear but at a weird angle. I instinctively gassed it as the rear thumped down and the bike took off to veering sharply to the left. At the same time I lost my balance and grip on the accelerator. But like a rodeo clown with one hand in the air fumbling to find its correct spot I somehow managed to wrangle the bike back on the track before I rode the bike into the bushes. 

I slowed down, looked up and started to laugh. In front of me I could see Aravind KP flying through the air with his throttle pinned. Landing perfectly and power sliding around a turn to tackle the next obstacle making it look so easy. God dammit its far from it. 

TVS Motorcycles had invited a handful of us down to Bangalore to come down and meet their three man Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team (Aravind KP, Adrien Metge and Joan Pedrero) that was getting ready to ship out to Dakar. But they didn't want us to just come and meet the team and crew. They asked us to carry our riding kit and in their words "We have a track day planned with you and the team. They will ride around the track with you helping you improve your skill on the dirt. And yes you will be riding our 200 and 450 rally RTR'".  

So there we stood at the crack of dawn a motley crew of Journalists at the TVS facility outside Bangalore city. Of course the rain decided to shower down upon us just to make it more interesting. Luckily it was sporadic and it stopped by the time we go to the track. 

We geared up and the professionals gave us a briefing. What do you need to ride this kind of surface someone asked Joan Pedrero. "Big big balls" was his only answer as he jumped on the bike and shepherded the first group out for a few laps. 

"Group three you are up. Vir you are on the 450 have fun but be careful its a mad one" The 450 indeed is a fun bike but I must tell you the 200 was even crazier. Small but not lacking any power it gets you around the track much faster than you can deal with. The best bit of the 200s  they are a great bike to ride to hone some of those skills that you need in the dirt. After my first go around the track Aravind gave me some gyan on how to get faster around the turns. "As you come into a corner dab the front brake put your leg out high with your toes pointed up to the sky. Hold the tank with your legs and use the front and use your weight on the peg to take the turn. As you exist gas it."

Six laps later I was getting into the flow of it and just as I started getting cocky around one sweeping turn a bit too much throttle and smack I was eating dirt. Pedrero was right "You gotta have big bloody balls to be fast here".

I had a blast that morning, learnt hell of a alot, got to ride some great motorcycles and with some brilliant people. The only real problem that I have is it has left a hankering for more. A few hours was just not enough. Also since I didn't want to ride the Dakar bike before the race I find myself making devious plan and schemes of how to get back to Bangalore and onto that TVS track.

So if anyone from TVS is listening all I want is a 200. Dont get me wrong a 450 would be nice but lets not get greedy and oh yes some more time on that track. 

Just a weekend every month!!!

Virs Kit
Jacket - Icon DKR Raiden
Helmet - AGV AX-8 EVO

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Motorcycles Save Lives

Traffic in our cities is only getting worse by the day and its horrible when you are in gridlock and you hear the wail of an Ambulance and there is just no way to make way for it because where is the space?

To address just that Max Healthcare have launched something called Max Bike Responder where a paramedic on a motorcycle will be dispatched first to the scene of the accident to provide that critical needed first aid before the ambulance gets there. The panniers carry all the a defibrillator and other  equipment, medicines that the paramedic may need.

I think its a great idea but whats with that windscreen on the bike ?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Interview: Abijith Rao

Who are you ?
I'm Abijith and I’m a fanatic motorcycle traveler, a musician and an audio engineer. 

When did you first get interested in bikes?
It can goes back 15 years ago, Where I was allowed to just park my Dad's Bajaj Chetak in and out of the Garage and to just drool looking at my Uncle's old Bullet 350cc. One ride being Pillion on the Yezdi with my Uncle I think triggered it all.

What was the first bike you ever owned?
My first motorcycle was a Honda Unicorn back in 2005, I was just in college and ever since then I've been inclined and bitten by the travelbug, especially exploring the trails and B-roads on the motorcycle.

What was the first motorcycle trip you ever took?
Just before I bought my first motorcycle, me and a couple of friends were riding 2 up on Bajaj Pulsar and RX 135. Coming from an orthodox family, I used to just take off saying I had to do combined studies and just hit to places like Coorg and the likes also in and around Bangalore. From that time on, I've never stopped.

Overland on a Himalayan. How? What? Why?
It all started with mainly MTM becoming the vital plug to ‘travel’ across borders for me. Meeting so many humble and great travellers inspired me a lot and I started dreaming about experiencing different culture and meet new people. Mainly it was, Hubert Kreigel, his stories and one phrase “Take that risk!” did it all for me. I always wanted to travel in the heart of Mongolia for some reason, It was just hooked on to my head. I thought I’ll do this trip in 2015, I didn’t pay much attention and just waved it away and I wasn’t that serious about it initially as this idea seemed impossible to me. After several days, it came back to me again, and this time it was more persistent. But I decided to suspend it as I was about to leave for one month trip to the Himalayas. I will have enough time to think about possible trip across border later, I told to myself. And it really happened this way. 

Preparation took me more than 15 months. During this period of time I went through the moments of doubts, hopes and disappointments, rises and falls. It was very difficult to find support and understanding, I was going in circles. By this time, I got invited by Castrol as one of their influencers the brand’s new product launch. I proposed this ride’s plan with them, after few negotiations they were willing to fund a part of my trip. There I was all set with the foundation with Castrol on board and all my savings ready to travel to Stans and Mongolia. 

Later the plan progressed onward to EU as China/Tibet was really expensive.
Himalayan - Everyone were kinda baffled, when I said I was taking the Himalayan. It was a fairly new bike in the market with a lot of initial issues. For us Indians, there are no options for a good adventure bikes, with the ergonomics of this motorcycle, I really felt comfortable and prepped it up for this journey. 

Always, There's a fine line between Reliability Vs. Repairability. I opted for Himalayan as it was a repairable bike and my plan was it to put it through some extreme terrains through this journey.  

How did you ship the bike to the starting point?  
India is pretty much landlocked right now, With all the bureacracy, Pakistan is a no-go and Burma is expensive needs a tour guide and same goes with exiting through Nepal/China. I had to fly/ship it out of the country. I’ve spent over 6 months working on Visas, documentation and all other paperwork. India is considered as a risk-immigrant country to apply for Visas in Central Asia. Dealing with paperwork has always been a drag for me. But 4 months of dealing with various embassies & regulations has taken patience to a completely new level. Particularly if you're planning to travel through Central Asia, do yourself a favour and ask a visa-agency to do the visa-runs for you, You might save a little time and avoid, running around in Delhi. 

Disaster struck, when I received the quotation for my Air freight charges. My expenses went up by almost 40pc. Then I started my crowd-funding campaign and I’ve received so much of support and people now are a part of my journey and I’m really grateful. Finally on April 15th 2017, I set off on this journey, arrived in Tashkent. I was also supported by 'Big Bad Bikes' who suited me up with Klim gear, Which is probably the best one out there.

I spent close to 2 months working on the motorcycle with my mechanic and made it ready for this big adventure. I even ran it 15,000 kms before the trip to see what problems i might encounter and be prepared for it.

Till now what was the best and the worst part of the ride you have encountered?
I wouldn’t say there’s any least favourite part as once you start a journey, ups and down are a part of it. It teaches you how you can adapt to a situation and how you’ll tackle it. It just makes you stronger. Riding through the Wakhan corridor of Tajikistan, Trans European Trail, Balkans Trails, Mongolia and even the Trans - Siberian across Russia have been just amazing and I'm in total loss of words as to how spectacular the ride was.

What's in your garage back home?
I have my 'Old Lady' which is a 1970 STD 350 G2 Bullet and the 2016 RE Himalayan

What advice do you have for other motorcycle nomads?
All of us dream and very few chase your dreams and go for it. We often keep pushing the ideas of our dreams for ‘Tomorrow’. We fail to realise at one point we will have way to many ‘tomorrows’ piled up and those tomorrows have become ‘Yesterdays’. For many, a job is some unpleasant work you do, in order to make money, with the sole purpose of making money. It’s absurd to take up a job for the sole purpose of making money. If money becomes the only goal and it does. If you work that way, you begin to lose out on your life. We live by media feeding us a lot these days, we are pointed a lot of unnecessary bullshit, with just negative and unwanted stuff to the mass. We are so hooked on to the monotonous routine that it’s really hard to get out of the ‘Autopilot’ mode. As long as you love what you do, find it soon and just go for it. Work will always fill a large part of your life, The only way to be truly satisfied is by doing what you love.

So remeber, One 'No' is say is one less ride taken. Just go!

Now what is your dream ride? 
Following the Sibersky Extreme Trail . The marked roads of ‘Walter Clebatch’ who is a legend in lesser explored sides of Siberia and Mongolia and South America with a lot of time in hand. 

Where are you riding next?
Mostly TAT ( Trans American Trail) and South America is on the charts. Hopefully, 2019. 

Where can we check you out on the interwebs and see whats next?
Facebook: @trailbugadv
Twitter: @trailbugadv | @abijithmrao
Instagram: @trailbugadv | @abijithmrao

I'm currently updating the website, it's should up and running soon