Saturday, December 1, 2018

Motus Operandi - The Adventure Edition (Dec 8-9)

Chennai on the 8th of December head out to The Farm and come chat with the likes of  Ouseph ChackoRohith, The Helmet Stories Crew - Harsh Man Rai and me. Come hang out and chat with us and talk adventure motorcycling. If that is not enough come back Sunday and learn what it takes to plan out a ride and what it means to head out on trails in the middle of no where and how to get that perfect Instagram picture that will eventually get stolen and used by everyone. There will be photographs from many adventures and of course there will be coffee lots and lots of coffee. So what are you waiting for clear out your schedules and see you then,

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Podcasting with Varun Painter on the ISI helmet Issue

So last week I caught up with Varun Painter of Power Drift to chat about our ISI Helmet Issues on their new Pod Cast Torque The Talk.

I have been sitting on the link all day so thought I should put it out there on to the interverse before I forget. You can hear it hear or listen to it on Apple podcast and soon on Saavn.

Come on people we have a week left check out the blog post on what you can do to be heard before they take a call on banning non ISI helmets. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Motus Operandi, a Farm-grown organic moto show

Last month, in a brief window of freakishly good Chennai weather, saw the first edition of MOTUS OPERANDI at The Farm, in Semancheri. A kind of a loose collective initiated by Arul Futnani, MO seeks to convey our love of the internal combustion engine in all its forms and functionality. Helmet Stories was there for the first MO, scarfing down breakfast and single-origin Malabar Monsooned coffee (yeah, we are coffee snobs too) over the delicious din of classic motorcycles being coaxed to life—from the deep thrum of ’55 Triumph Tiger T100s syncopated to the rat-a-tat-tat piston slap; to the blood-stirring ringg-dingg-dingg-dingg of a pair of gloriously restored 2-strokes—a Yezdi Roadking and  a Yamaha RD350. Royal Enfields were of course in attendance as well as Vespas, Lambrettas and Matchless machines.

The second edition of MO is our homage to the bike we love and hate in equal measure—the Royal Enfield Bullet 350. On show will be Bullets and related memorabilia from the Madras Motorcycle Company days in 1955 to the current day Royal Enfield offerings. So, come, come to The Farm, either to bury the Bullet or to praise it or just come for some damn fine food and coffee.

Motus Operandi, 15 and 16 September, 8 am to 11 am at The Farm, 1/277 Semancheri Village, Old Mahabalipram Road, Chennai 

#MotusOperandi +91 9176050562

Monday, September 3, 2018

Special Helmet Stories ride to Manang

Its been a while since we at Helmet Stories did a special barebones ride. I think the last one may have been way back in 2012. Anyway Harsh and I are planning to head to Manang around the 8th of October for a week. If anyone wants to join us on what is promising to be another epic few days give us a holla at and we will send you the details. There are maximum 6 spots vacant for the ride. So I wouldn't wait. 

Since its a route we have never done before our selfs we dont have any pictures of what the route will be like (images are from our Mustang ride) but we do have found You Tube Videos that show you what its going to be like. 

It is for sure going to be a fun ride. 


Saturday, August 25, 2018

The ISI Helmet Stories

Its a no brainer. Helmets are bloody important if you ride or are a pillion on a motorcycle period. If you think otherwise then well you are a fool.

I remember my first helmet ever. I didn't even own a bike but the promise of getting the family trusty old warhorse of a Kinetic Honda kept my teenage dreams of freedom alive. But all my friends got motorcycles way before I did. There was one RX 100 which we all learned to ride on and we all fell off many times and then there were like 5 new Suzuki Shoguns with KRP exhausts the real mad motorcycle of our youth. I remember when my friends went to but helmets for their madly fast bikes I went along and bought my first Vega - state of the art and the best you could get all for a princely sum of Rs 1200. When I eventually got my own Machismo 350 years later the Vega was in tatters so I moved to a Studds Tourismo. The Tourismo was the bees knees. I had to have the helmet ordered from the Studds showroom in Chandigarh and wait a few days for it to show up. It complemented the way the bike looked and was uber cool. I loved that helmet so much that when I need a change I got another that was identical to the last. 

As I started to ride more and more the helmets changed and got better and better. Its now twenty odd years later and I have a whole collection of helmets I am wearing at the moment. Depending on what I am riding, where I am riding and just how I am feeling at that point of the day I choose what goes on my head to keep me safe. I am not the only one in the family who is like that. Dad has a collection of helmets that makes mine seem sparse and the eight year old child has two already. 

What I am getting at is that even thought we are a little crazy in this family about Helmets its the law  to wear one when you ride a motorcycle. Obviously you cant just wear any helmet and pass it off as a motorcycle one. They have to pass some regulations and get some certifications to prove they are safe so when I buy it I know they will help keep my pea size brain and watermelon sized head safe.

Buying a helmet is a tough job there are lots of variables involved to find the right helmet for one self. The most important being safety. Now unfortunately the Indian Standard helmets are not the best I mean there are some helmets out there that look like they are made out of Papier-mâché and have the Indian Standard on it. So its safe to say I would rather invest in something for my head I know will work when I need it to like a helmet with an International Certification.

Now there seems to be some new hullabulloo about a new law being passed making non ISI (The Indian Standard) Helmets Illegal. That means Helmets like Arai, Shoei, AGV, Icon and their ilk that have DOT and ECE standard certification will soon be illegal. I am not going in to the detail of this as Shubhabrata Marmar of Overdrive has written am informative piece about it here and he has explained and said it far better that I could ever.

What I am going to do is ask all of you to help do something about it because as usual this will effect us and not the people making the rules. 
The government gave us 60 days to respond with feedback to the Helmet Quality Control Order posted on the 2nd August 2018. What we need to do is write an email to telling them how we feel. Tushar Burman has been awesome and sent a well articulated letter you can copy paste and send Abhay Damle the Joint Secretary of Transport telling him how we feel. The more the emails he receives the more chances they will hear us and do something about it. (Do what I have done and send an email from every email account in the family because it eventually effects all of us.)


Abhay Damle     
Joint Secretary (Transport), 
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways,
Transport Bhawan,
Parliament Street,
New Delhi - 110001


I write to you in regard to a recent notification, reported widely in the media (F. No. RT-11012/07/2012-MVL) bringing Protective Helmets for two wheelers rider under compulsory certification under Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016. I welcome this initiative. It will compel manufacturers to adhere to quality standards for helmets, and riders to buy/demand higher standards for their own safety. However, in the process, I anticipate some problems and have concerns:

1. A vast majority of ‘premium’ imported helmets ranging in cost from Rs 5000 to Rs 1,25,000 conform to international standards such as DOT, ECE, JIS, SNELL, SHARP etc. Our own IS 4151 is based on ECE 22.05, with some additions. These imported helmets do not conform to ISI 4151, and would therefore be ineligible for sale once this notification is in force, despite being made to the highest standard and used in the most demanding situations world-over. These standards have been developed over years of research and real-world experience in the spheres of motorsport as well as on the street. Such helmets are either imported privately, or sold by importers. Our own national motorsport authority -- the FMSCI -- requires the use of SNELL or ECE-rated helmets for use on the racetrack.

Requiring ISI certification for helmets already compliant with international standards will effectively reduce the choice of safe, high-quality helmets in the market. To this end, I would request you to make relevant exemptions for established international helmet safety standards (DOT, ECE, JIS, SNELL, SHARP etc), so that we in India may continue to choose helmets providing maximum safety. Such exemptions are already in place for fully-imported vehicles, which can be registered by furnishing homologation certificates from other countries. Certainly, this can be seen as a precedent.

2. Reports quoting the PTI indicate that there is a proposal to reduce the maximum weight of an IS 4151-compliant helmet from 1.5kg to 1.2kg, achieved by making relevant changes to the testing methodology. As in many types of manufacturing, achieving light weight is a demanding, expensive process. Worldwide, a standards-compliant helmet that weighs 1.2kg or less is typically made with exotic materials such as carbon fibre. These helmets are reserved for race use and are extremely expensive, putting them out of reach of the average rider.

Most top-rated, proven international helmets conforming to SNELL, ECE, JIS etc will be above 1300g. Putting an upper-limit of 1200g for IS 4151 compliance seems infeasible. Certainly, modifying long-established and respected standards simply for a lighter helmet does not seem to be beneficial. I would request that due notice of established international standards, as well as compliant helmets and their weights be taken, before this weight limit is enforced.

3. On-ground enforcement of this notification is also unclear. Thousands of safety-conscious riders in India have chosen to pay premium prices to ensure their helmets meet international standards of safety. Will these riders now be forced to buy ISI-marked helmets? Once again, reasonable exceptions for international standard helmets will achieve the greater goal of eliminating spurious helmets, as well as promoting safety among the two-wheeled population.

I appreciate your initiative in ensuring quality standards for helmets in India. For too long have we been victims of spurious materials, and low enforcement. Arguments against wearing of helmets such as lack of visibility or greater injury due to low speeds/heavy weight are deflections and easily proved false.

From what we can understand from the information available, this regulatory change will change the business dynamics of the helmet marketplace, by requiring homologation of imported helmets. This is a tiny percentage of the market, and the requirement will likely make selling internationally-acclaimed helmets unfeasible or impossible. The greatest hit will be the customer -- who will now have less choice. As it stands today, one can buy an ISI-branded helmet for as little as Rs 300 from a local manufacturer. If this proposal passes, those helmets will be legal, while the best helmets in the world costing hundreds of times more, will be verboten. It is not unreasonable to ask who exactly is being benefited here.

I request you to take cognizance of these points in your final decision.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Motus Operandi

If you've been to The Farm - Chennai, you know there's a serious love affair with motorcycles happening! Guests always stop to stare at the gorgeous machines lined up. Kids want to climb on them, others want to hear them roar. So after many years of pondering they have finally got down to doing something about it! .

Come on down on the 18th and 19th of August for the First edition of Motus Operandi - a curated monthly event hosted in our garden, with a focus on the evolution of automobiles and their influence on design, culture and fashion.

This edition will feature a display of our eclectic motorcycle collection. A bunch of us will be on hand to speak about their features, history, technical and design elements. And Fire 'em up!!! .

Come spend the morning with and shoot the breeze about them machines. 08:00 to 11:00 - Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th

You can find The Farm Chennai on Instagram 

Did I hear you ask will one of us be there? 

As a matter of fact Harsh will be so if you dont follow his Instagram account do it now and follow all the craziness. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Never an easy ride

Its been two years since I rode the first leg of the Ducati Globetrotter90 trip. I was talking to Ouseph about another trip we did to Spiti in the winter and my mind wandered and I found my self on Facebook looking through my archives. I learnt that two years ago today I rode from Sweden into Norway to the old capital of Trondheim. It was one heck of a day that I wont forget ever. 
This is what happened as told by me to MCN 
I swear this is how it happened and it's all true. It was a rainy morning in Östersund, Sweden, and the temperatures was about 9 degrees. A good time for me to zip-in my warm as well as my wet liner. Since the weather didn't seem like it was going to let up I geared-up, packed the bike and hit the road. The idea was to make it to Trondheim, Norway, by the evening. Not a hard day's ride at all. 
Wait, let me start at the beginning. My name is Vir Nakai. I run Helmet Stories Adventure Motorcycle Touring Outfit back in India and I am one lucky motorcyclist. I have been chosen to be the first rider for the Ducati Globetrotter 90 Project.  A relay ride where seven  of us are riding one Ducati Enduro 1200 around the world to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of Ducati. The only thing I was told when handed the bike in Bologna was 'see you in Moscow in 25 days'.
With time on my side I obviously took the scenic route and found myself in the middle of Sweden riding towards the Norwegian Sea. So I fuelled up at the first petrol station I came by and rode for about an hour or so. Before the Norwegian border I reached this spot by a lake which was screaming for me to stop and take a picture or three. I obliged and spent a few minutes looking around and marvelling at how beautiful Sweden was (is).
Back on my way I stopped once after crossing the border into Norway to take some more pictures and made my way towards Trondheim. When I reached my hotel for the night I started searching my gear for my wallet. It takes me a while with all the pockets in my  jacket - it didn't take me long to start mildly panicking. Where the hell is the wallet?

I last used it to fuel up in the morning and now it’s late afternoon. I do a bit of a jig and remembered that every time I use my bank card it sends me an email as to where it was used. Using that information, I call back the petrol station, but they have not seen the wallet anywhere. I couldn't believe it, is losing my wallet going to end the trip of a lifetime? 
Moneyless, cardless, licence-less, fried, with half a tank of petrol, in a new city, in a new country I sat cursing myself. How could you be so stupid? The only choice I had was to ride the 200km and check every spot I had stopped on the way up. With 350km of petrol (thank god for the 30 ltr tank) I started my trip back.
My mind filled with a 100 plans on how to fix this, on how to get some money to at least make it back to Copenhagen (my closest friends live there). But whatever way the day was looking bleaker then it had been. There was no silver lining to it.

I stopped at the last spot I had taken a picture at and searched the ground and the area around it and nothing. I carried onto the next spot and nothing. I crossed the border back into Sweden to the brilliant spot I had stopped at and started my search again. Still nothing. I really thought it would be there, it had to be. It wasn’t there I still remember the feeling in the Pit of my stomach. 

Then I saw something on a rock I had stood on to take a picture. The wallet just sitting there waiting. All the cash was floating in the lake. All of it. Every last Euro, Krona and a few Rupees. But the wallet was just there. It was unbelievable. I didn’t know if I should laugh or howl my guts out. Of all trips to do something so stupid I had to chosen this one.
With rain and tears of joy running down my my face I rode the 180km back to Trondheim to a big celebration dinner and a well deserved beer vowing not to be as stupid as I have been already. So much for it being an "easy day's ride".

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Ducati Dream Tour powered by Helmet Stories

Do you own a Ducati and live in India? Well if you do then you are in luck because Ducati and Helmet Stories have planned the first ever Ducati Dream Tour. A brilliant 4 day ride into the Himalayas Helmet Stories style.

So what are you waiting for go check out the website for all the details.

There are only 10 seats so hustle. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Life In Spiti

I first heard of Himanshu Khagta via the interwebs what we had actually heard was there is someone living in Kaza through the winter. Documenting life during the harsh winter. Incidentally it was the  same winter Ouseph and I rode Triumphs into Kaza looking for snow (post on that ride here) and we ended up staying in the same hotel. It was the only one that was open (Sakya Abode) and we spend an evening in the kitchen (cause its the warmest spot also its the closest to the food) exchanging stories and just talking about our love for the mountains. 

Well Himanshu has finally collated all his images and come out with a book called Life in Spiti and specially for readers of our blog is giving away 10 signed copies at a reduced cost. So all you got to do is go to this Link (LIFE IN SPITI) and use the code helmetstories and the first 10 will get them self a signed copy of Life in Spiti.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Moto Art Show Bangalore

Do you love motorcycles?

Do you live in and around Bangalore?

Well if you do you have lucked out because some super talented Indian moto artists are getting together to put on a show for a whole month at the PeepleTree Art Gallery in Bangalore (31st of March till end April).

Going by the fact that some of our uber talented motorcyclist friends like Joshua John and Motoholic Works will be there we can just imaging how great a show it gonna be. I don't know if we'll make it to the opening but we are going to definitely try and get to Bangalore to get a glimpse of the show. But everyone who is in the area should stop by and take a look, buy some art and support these awesome peeps.

Check out their website for all the details.

Yes Joshua we are going to try!!!

The List of Artists showing

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11. PRANAV__95 
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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Flat Track - Harley-Davidson

Its the norm these days to send out Save the Dates pre-invites but this one that I received about 20 days ago was the best one I have got for a while. Harsh and I have been talking about Flat track and how awesome it would be to have a few tracks in India where the lot of us can trash around and have a ball. I mean we have a load of friends in the UK (Sideburn and Co-Built) who do just that and have built up a great little community of mad flat tackers. 

We got a taste of Flat Track at IBW where we saw Vijay Rajputana take his custom built Harley around the oval just having a great time. We also got a peek of John Singh Speedway outside the Pink City and Vijay again hammering away on his flat tracker we had a go at the track but on much more modest and calmer machines (Sleet) and I can tell you I had a great time. 

I cant even begin to imagine doing that oval on a custom 750 and trying to go sideways. Going to need a whole set of new gear for this one because like Sideburn says IF YOU DONT LIMP YOU AINT SHIT.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Urban Adventures

We have always said that having fun on a motorcycle doesn't mean heading out for days on end looking for some obscure trail in the middle of nowhere (Though we all know how awesome that is). So after hearing us drone on about that Ducati decided to call us out on it and sent over two identical Ducati Icons to go and enjoy some Urban motorcycling.

I picked the bikes up last week and brought them home but left a few hours later for Goa. Now I am back in the city and looking for a reason to take them out and go riding.

Keep an eye out here and on our various social media channels for all the Urban Adventures we get up to.

Oh no there are no tomatoes in the house I need to ride to the vegetable man now to get some.

Who says chores have to be boring?

Look out for bikers! Find Out How You Can Help Keep Riders Safe.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Challenge Accepted

My WhatsApp starts pinging like mad. I check instantly because I am stuck to the phone surfing Instagram all the bloody time these days.

Other Person :"Vir What are you doing between the 1st - 3rd Feb"

Me: "Nothing" 

Other Person : "Wanna ride a motorcycle?"

Me:"Do the wheels of a bus go round and round?"

Other Person : "HUH!!!"

Me: "Yes"

Other Person : "Ok then we want you to ride to the Harley Davidson 6th HOG Rally in Goa and well do your thing but only with your GoPros." 

Me: "Challenge Accepted"

Other Person (GoPro India): "Killer we cant wait. Someone will be in touch about the motorcycle."

So the idea was straight enough. Ride a new Harley Davidson 2018 Street Bob from Mumbai to Goa and have fun while doing so. Spend a few days with the HOG crew partying in Goa and go back home. 

This is what I got. Tell me what you think? Did we nail it or not?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

How to draw A Royal Enfield Himalayan By Motoholic Works

Sometime in November we posted a great Tutorial by Motoholic Works on how to Draw a Royal Enfield Continental GT. Well here is an update to that as here is a Proportion study on how to draw a Royal Enfield Himalayan.

We would love to see what you guys come up with. Email any drawings you do to us. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Harley Davidson University

As Indians motorcycles and scooters or what we call two wheelers are just second nature to us. When I gave my test for my car license the authorities looked at me and said of course you can ride a bike and ticket the box for both. It’s just a given it’s like second nature to us.

But the funny part is it’s not second nature to us to fix our own motorcycles. There are so many roadside mechanics over and above the trained company ones that it’s just cheaper and faster to take your bike to one of them hand them the keys and come back when the work is done.

Ok let’s be honest I have spent many years riding motorcycles and spent many many days at mechanics and at Garage 52 watching stuff being done but never have I had a chance to take apart and rebuild and engine. So when Harley Davidson India invited me the attend two days at the Harley Davidson University learning to tearing down and building up a brand new Milwaukee Eight engine I jumped to it.

The Harley Davidson University is a school for all Harley Davidson technicians to come and learn and hone their skills. It was a first that a group of 40 odd motorcyclists (who don’t work for Harley Davidson) would be allowed in and allowed to run amuck.

To keep us in check they called in the big guns John McEnaney. An employee with Harley Davidson for almost 20 years he helped set up the India service operations and was technical lead for the longest time. When I asked him what bikes he had he said “every Harley since 42 and I rebuilt me all and they run” (it was some year like that I had a few beers in me when we had this conversation). So no better person to guide us in this operation.

We were given a new bench, a full set of tools, the official manual, step by step instructions by John and two of Harley India’s best mechanics to help us through the two days. John was a trooper he explained every step and came and lent a hand every now and then. Even when we snapped the bolt to the timing chain - because someone may have torqued it too much. He stood there took a deep breath and told us not to worry carry on but to put the torque wrench away as we were done for the day.

The two days on the bench working on those engines was such a brilliant experience all motorcyclists need to have specially here in our county. Thank you Harley Davidson for letting us be a part of it. Now to get some shut eye as I am riding at the crack of dawn to Goa for the 6th IHR and incidentally I am riding a new Milwaukee Eight Street Bob with the engines I now know how to put together. 

So if I break it I can fix it. 

But let’s hope I don’t have to.