Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Apu rides again


A rebuilt Engine, all polished and chromed Apu is back on the road.
After a very very long time. Apu is back on the streets after an extensive engine rebuild. Once the engine is all run in the body work shall start and we shall get him ready for the mountains. How great it is to have him back on the road again.
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Weekend Rides


Between career, family and responsibilities, I really didn’t get into motorcycling till my forties. As I head into the big 5-oh territory next year, I realise that at this age I owe a lot of my sense of adventure to the Royal Enfield motorcycles that I ride. Because I ride motorcycles, I've interacted with a gamut of people who share the same passion: from paupers to millionaires, from rich industrialists to bakers, from young to old. A mystical force draws us together to kick tires, swap lies, talk shop, build relationships and find that one epic ride.
For me, the epic ride has always been the annual ride to Ladakh and even as I write there’s a humming in my chest, a frisson of excitement that tingles the soul. Every road has its own personality, but the one to Ladakh changes every year. What was a dirt track ascending to Baralacha La last year is a smooth bit of tarmac this year swooping up to 16,000 feet. Over the crest heading down the north-facing descent the tarmac becomes a distant memory, the road tortured into revealing its sinister nature by the grinding snow, ice and a cutting wind that snatches your breath away. The variations themselves are a treat, delighting me with the twisting, turning, unexpected moves I must make to overcome the next obstacle. Here in Ladakh, the immediate future lies just after the next bend in the road or over the next crest, a mystery to unfold; and every year I try to push the envelope of my riding skills to deal with it better than before.
I have measured all rides against Ladakh, perhaps unfairly so. To ride in Ladakh means a commitment of time and money, something that may be in short supply in these times. Till recently, I didn’t realise that I could have an excellent adventure riding in my backyard, figuratively speaking. Often, while on a descent to Mumbai airport, I could see lonely skeins of roads from above and wondered where they led to, a patchwork quilt of possibility in the routes I might take. I did ride these roads on the way to the Royal Enfield Rider Mania this year, as documented in this blog in November, and it gave me a new appreciation for this sublime weekend ritual and an impetus to find more such roads. Our route, casually mapped out in our heads as we rode along was based on hearsay, had but a single commandment: make it as circuitous and remote as possible. Easily done over the weekend, this kind of ride is something we can do regardless of economics — a 400km motorcycle ride represents a cost-effective escape from reality. For the cost of a few litres of fuel and a few roadside meals, you can extract yourself from the chaos of modern life for a few hours. Until someone finds a way to charge for breathtaking views, fun roads or fresh air, a good day's ride is about the cheapest entertainment you'll find. Now I have to find those back roads from Mumbai to Nashik for the Sulafest in Feb 2011. Or, do the Mumbai to Goa ride on the coastal roads without touching NH17… I’m spoilt for choices.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interview: Vijay Singh of Rajputana Customs

Vijay Singh runs Rajputana Customs and is the newest custom bike builder in India(and he is damn good at what he is doing) we at Helmet Stories caught up with him and got a low down on what makes him tick and to know "when the hell will he pimp our rides"? 
Who are you and where are you based? 
Vijay Singh, Age 24, Mass Communication Major from Carleton University, Canada. Graduated in 2009 and started up RCM in Feb 2010. Rajputana Customs is based out of Jaipur, literally out of the house. So its rather convenient; living and working at home.  

When did you get interested in bikes?
My Dad used to race motocross back in the day (1970s) for JMC (Jaipur Motorcycle Club) and i was quite literally being ridden around on the gas tank of my dad's Yamaha RD 350 since i was 6 months old. He then restored a BSA bond/falcon (50cc) for me when i turned 6 yrs old and got me on the motocross track which has now been converted into "central park" in Jaipur. Its a balls ass place now, the track wouldve kept the sport alive and done much good for road rage. Oh well... 
Vijay on his dads RD 350
Racing in Central Park in Jaipur when he was 6 years old

What was your first bike you ever owned/rode?
BSA Bond/Falcon 50 cc. 
BSA Bond/Falcon 50 cc. a super way to start riding.


What prompted Original Gangster and how did it come about?
I was basically treating it like a post-university project to keep myself occupied during my few months of chutti before i really dove into the "work-world". I finished the bike just in time for the auto expo this year and my cousin brother Avijit Singh who is part of the heritage motoring club of India spoke to HMCI and convinced them and me to showcase my bike along with his Triumph Tiger at the expo. OG got a very positive response at the expo and since then we've been building bikes on an order basis. 

Who are your influences?
If its simply a love for motorcycles and who triggered my love for 2 wheels i will have to say my father Mrityunja Singh. As for custom bike builders i like Billy Lane, Jesse Rooke, Shinya Kimura and Indian Larry (R.I.P) 

Do you work alone?
I have 2 metal fabricators and 1 shop manager (Tappan) who is also my childhood friend (the gardener's son).

What is your favorite bike?
Ducati 996 :)

What do you do for fun? 
I shoot skeet & trap at the range on sundays, play golf with the cousins, play football in the mornings, kill the PS3 with the boys post work in the evenings, and Bissau House pool parties.

What bike would you like to see in India?
Suzuki GSX R1000 

What is the worst bike ever according to you? 
none really. 

Functionality vs bling? 
Functionality.

What is your favorite road to ride on? 
No road, would love to hop onto a ktm enduro and rip across the semi-arid Rajasthani countryside.  

How does one get in touch with you?
People can feel free to call me at 9928164795  (makes life easier) or just email me at rajputanacustoms@gmail.com or visit our site

How long does a build usually take?
A build from scratch takes between 50-70 days usually.

How does one get their hands on a Rajputana custom? 
Grab a beer, discuss certain design ideas (just to make sure the client doesn't want any flames and skulls on the bike), approve my sketech, and write me a cheque. haha

What is the latest bike you are working on? 
Working on 2 bikes simultaneously....one's for my uncle Vikram Singh and the other is for the actor Vivek Oberoi. 

any sneak peaks to what it looks like? 
Will send you some once i am home.  :D

Check out some of the bikes that have come out of the Rajputana Custom shop so far. Check out their facebook page for more images and info on upcoming builds.

Original Gangster
Light Foot

Nandi


Friday, November 26, 2010

Apu not alone!

So now Apu is not alone with him is yet another bike from our helmet stories stables. Hopefully by Christmas all our bikes shall be back on the roads where they belong.

Can't wait ...
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Rider Mania ride

Back to Bombay, joining up on NH4. Now its a dual carriageway all the way home.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rider Mania, Trials

Clean run from local rider Faisal
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Rider Mania Day 2, 500cc dirt race

Chotu Baljit wins the 500 class by a country mile
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Dirt Race, practice

Mayhem already on the practice lap!
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Rider Mania, Day 2

Old friend Javeen getting his 'question mark' bike ready for the custom competition.

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Helmet Stories

A clutch of helmets at Rider Mania 2010. If they could speak, I'm sure they would have some interesting tales to tell about the journey to Goa, just like how ours was.
Tomorrow is the dirt track and trials events at RM which I suspect should provide some thrills and spills. Watch this space...
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Rider Mania Begins!

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Rider Mania ride, day 3, finis. Goa!

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Latest Performance Mod

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Rider Mania ride, Day 3, morning (2)

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Rider Mania ride, day 3, morning

Thick fog delayed the planned early start. In a strange synchronous kind of way, the hotel we pulled into on a deserted stretch of the NH 17 highway had a familiar face. KY Nachre was a waiter at Cafe City restaurant in Worli Naka, Mumbai where I used to go for kheema pao and over the years got to Nachre quite well. Nachre has moved back to his village and is working at Sidhant Hotel. What are the chances of bumping into him after so many years? This happens only when riding!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Awzom!

Ouseph's expression sums up the last couple of days...
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Why we ride Enfields

Jamshed's back on the road after some DIY spannering. Ok so what if his rear sprocket is missing a few teeth! Perhaps we'll call it a day as soon as it gets dark. No point pushing our luck too much today!
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Blown Bike

Jamshed's bike got some serious knocking from the engine. The oil feed line is blocked too. Doesn't look good...
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Icon Helmet

My new Icon helmet is quite superb. Ventilation actually works and very quiet at speed. A good buy at closeout price I think
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Rider Mania ride, day 2, afternoon

25 km short of Ratnagiri. Curve upon curve of flowing tarmac from Poladpur to Sangameshwar where the tarmac is broken up.
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Kashedi Ghat top

Ten km of wonderful twisties up got us to the top of Kashedi Ghat the regular pit stop for chai on NH17. The heat is rising, but the riding is excellent. Doesn't look like we'll reach Goa before dark.
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Rider Mania Ride, day 2, morning

Woke up to this view in the morning. Almost didn't ride today as Jeh mama's place is just the panacea for urban malaise! Karthik has to meet his crew in Goa so we dragged ourselves on the bikes at 11am!
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The thing that lies ahead and beyond what you can see

Tomorrow morning, before first light, I hope to hit the road on Bumblebee along with a couple of buddies, riding-wise and otherwise, friends whose lines I trust and whose company I am at ease with off the bike too. A slow churn of excitement has already begun in the pit of my stomach as I contemplate the ride ahead. Our destination is Goa to attend the Royal Enfield Rider Mania and escape the real world for a few days.
There is something special about just hitting the road on an unarranged adventure, a couple of days worth of clothes in the saddlebags, a handful of spares and nothing more than a vague direction of where you’re headed. The plan is to head south on NH4 from Mumbai till Satara and then cut across to Mahabaleshwar via the Kas plateau, where hopefully the unseasonal rain is still nourishing the wildflowers. Google Earth shows a promising route winding up and down the bluffs of the Western Ghats, the road a faint promise of the potential for fun. 
Hopefully, we'll be grinning as idiotically as Debu at Kas
Top Gearhead and friend Debu, who was in the vicinity a month ago has given typically vague directions like: ‘take a right on the dirt road on the plateau after the last dhaba,’ so we know it’s going to be a memorable ride, one way or the other. It feels good to not be worrying about where you’re going, just that you’re getting there.
Where's the road?

It’s illogical and yet it’s trips like this that makes the motorcycling life so much fun. More than the sum of their parts, these rides are built on a collection of random roads and off-the-beaten path routes, which expand your personal geography transcending the ride, road and machine.
Enough introspection. It’s time to ride.

Monday's

scraping the exhaust before wrapping it
We spent the better part of yesterday with Antons (our favorite mechanic). But it seemed we had the run of the shop as he and is assistant were hardly there.

We took apart the Thunderbird and put new bars on it and wrapped Bumblebee's exhaust. It took us all of 4 hours but twas worth every minute of it.

Then on the way home I was enjoying the weather and the bike when it started pouring cats and dogs and by the time I got home I was soaked down to my bones.

What an awesome day just the way we like em.
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looking good with its new set of bars

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Does It Feel To Ride A Motorcycle

Perfect viewing just before the Royal Enfield  Rider Mania ride to remind me why we ride... never mind the marque!

Bumblebee Gets A Bath

Prepping for the Rider Mania ride. Bumblebee's first bath after Ladakh!
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The Commute

Because Every Day Could Be Your Next Motorcycle Adventure... Great vid from the guys at Revzilla

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boy racers

Is it just me or has anybody else noticed when riding and you overtake one of those Boy racers (on their Pulsars, RTS's, Hunks etc with a girl clutching on for dear life as a pillion) on your Enfield (which is louder than most) it is like you have challenged him to a death race. Instantly you hear that he has dropped a gear and clutching the bike and is trying to get by you however he can regardless to his or his bombshells safety.

This happened to me two nights ago when I overtook a guy on an RTR he obviously took it to heart and went nuts trying to overtake me. I was not slow mind you but was not fast either. He would overtake me and then get stuck in traffic. At one traffic light I pulled up and parked next to him he and his "chick" gave me the stare while he revved his engine (Whack job) and took off with his bike screaming. After overtaking him again because he got him stuck in traffic, he pulled his most death defying move ever. He dropped a gear and decided to overtake a bus pulling up to a stop avoiding people standing on the road and a tree in his way. With his "chick" looking back laughing. Weird !!!

Whatever these guys were on they need to share...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Festival of lights

Here's wishing all of you a super diwali. But hang up that helmet before you start the partying. Because drinking and riding just aint cool at all.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Salt!

Evocative video of a Deus Cafe in the salt pans. Rann of Kutch anyone? Anyone? Anyone

Deus Salt Racer SR500 from Deus Customs on Vimeo.
Photograph from my Rann of Kutch ride earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lineage

The first bike the starting point...Machismo 350 what a super bike


The first crew on its way to Mcloedgang years ago
The now crew on its way to Goa Rider Mania 2009