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? 

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