The Bikerni biker babe gives her honest opinion on the 2013 India Bike Week (IBW) festival in Goa..
India has always had a dearth of biking festivals, with no manufacturer taking a step over the years to organize one. It was only a few years back that Royal Enfield came up with the idea of Rider Mania, an exclusive Royal Enfield owners event where RE owners thronged to have their dose of motorcycling fun. Though this was a start, the event was something only Royal Enfield owners looked forward to; for owners of other marquees a festival was yet to happen, one that we all longed and prayed for.
And finally our prayers were answered in the form of India Bike Week a.k.a IBW. This was being promoted as India’s first biking festival and obviously had struck a chord with bikers across India. An event I was gung-ho about for all possible reasons.
The fliers, facebook campaigns and discussions in the biking community started a good three months in advance giving bikers plenty of time to prepare for the ride. Since it was a biking festival, it was pretty obvious people would want to ride and not drive, though there were a few who opted for the latter.
Being India’s first biking festival there were a lot of expectations – good location, good activities, good fun and of course some good food. The location in particular had to be enticing enough for bikers to ride down and so Goa was the obvious choice. The sun, sand, beaches and the cheap booze are popular attractions for bikers and of course, the ride to Goa is an adrenaline pumping one with straights and Ghats to satiate all riding styles.
As the D-day approached my excitement grew for all possible reasons — this rather my first trip to Goa, plus I was going to ride to Goa along with my Bikernis and more so over this was going to be a vacation for me after one and a half year of corporate slavery! With five of us all set to leave from Pune and the other 15 Bikernis to join us in Goa from the rest of the country, I was not just looking forward to India Bike Week, but also to have the biggest Bikerni reunion since its inception two years ago.
There are numerous routes to ride down to Goa, but since it was the first time that we were riding down that direction, we decided to take the most preferred one i.e. the NH4 which takes us via the Amboli ghat. Starting our journey at dawn, we were at our home stay in Goa by dusk. Though it took us a good 12 hours to reach our destination, we were pretty content as we made it good time in spite of taking plenty of breaks. A little bit of freshening up and we were off to have a beach dinner that night. We knew the next two days would be hectic with rides and events at IBW so we wanted to make the best of this night. However our ambitions to party all night were overpowered by our bodily needs of rest and so we decided to call it an early night.
Come day two and the other Bikernis also started coming in. With setting up their accommodations, briefing on the ride formations, to planning the Bikerni anniversary party and deciding on the tickets for the IBW, it was a maddening day, but at the end of it a productive one as well. With time and formations for the entry ride decided, we headed to bed. But none of actually slept as we were all excited for the next day – the first day of India Bike Week.
As we rode into India Bike Week the next afternoon, we sure made a lot of heads turn. And why not? We were 22 women all on motorcycles, bullying some of the lone riders out of our way – a sight rarely seen in India. As we parked our motorcycles and entered the ticket arena, people knew these are the Bikernis and we could see them look at us in awe and respect. We were all basking in the glory. The tickets are IBW were not cheap- Rs 1650 for a one day pass and Rs 2500& Rs 3000 for a two day pass for women and men respectively. A lot was promised for this money, but alas the delivery was for from what we expected.
During the promos, IBW was positioned on similar lines as the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. But the truth is that it was not even close. Of course there were a lot of bikers and a few non-bikers as well. The total turnout of people at India Bike Week was around 6500 (that’s what the organizers claim) with an astounding 3000 bikes at the event. Of these 600 were Harley’s!
Harley Test Ride
Yes for a manufacturer who entered India two years back and has sold around 2000 vehicles of which 650 were present at the event, it is a big deal. As a matter of fact, the Harleys were a major attraction at the event with people getting the opportunity to astride them and even fire the engine. But that’s it. One couldn’t ride them, and this was sold as ‘test ride a Harley’ on the IBW ticket for which people paid those high amounts. Of course many bikers including myself were disappointed. But this was just a start of the string of disappointments that we’d have to experience at India Bike Week.
The bikini bike wash for instance; when one mentions bikini bike wash, we obviously think of some well endowed, scantily clad ladies washing our bikes really well. But what IBW offered was skinny girls, some of who were scantily clad and of none of them endowed enough to get the boys attracted. Plus people had to shell Rs 500 to get their bikes washed. Now when I mean wash, it includes shampooing the vehicles but all they did is splash some water on the bikes. That’s it, a total rip-off.
At IBW the Harley Davidson’s formed the largest contingent of a marquee followed by Royal Enfield. A total of 80 motorcycle clubs participated in this event which included some superbikes clubs as well as some stunt clubs. Some of the attractions at the events were:
The dirt race
The dirt race: This event saw a lot of participation from the Royal Enfield riders. Baljeet Singh Kocchar of Roadshakers , a Pune based bullet club won this event.
Bikers Bar: plenty of mini- bars offering booze. This was a drinker’s heaven, with an alcohol kiosk every 100 meters. There was also a whisky lounge, coyote bar where most of the bikers were hanging out enjoying their poison.
Flea market: This was by far one of the most unique flea markets as one could lay hands on all sort of biking and motorcycling merchandize. They had some pretty cool non-biking merchandize as well like Bob Marley tote and sling bags, biker cushions and tees.
Big Trip Cinema
Big trip cinema: That’s where I spent most of my time. This is where they had the interactions and showed documentaries on some of the most prominent names in the India motorcycling scene. Some of the people I interacted with were Ashish Moudgil a five time Raid de Himalaya winner, Aspi Bhathena a rare Isle of Man TT gem from India and of course the legendary Bullet Bose to name a few. The fact that this was also the only air-conditioned lounge at IBW, made me spend most of my time here.
The big trip cinema enclosure was also the most visited as it had the biggest attraction of India Bike Week – the MTT Y2K. That’s right, the MTT Y2K the only motorcycle in the world to feature a helicopter engine. And as people were anticipating, the MTT Y2k was fired on the first evening, which left the crowds blown away. The engine sounded just like a jet engine during take-off and the crowds were asked to stay a good 100 meters away from the bike during start-up thanks to the massive amount of heat it produced. This was by far, the star attraction at India Bike Week.
Here’s when they started her up. Either that guy is strong or she’s bolted to the ground!
Custom Biker build-off
Custom Biker build-off: This is where three of the most prominent names in the Indian custom motorcycle industry – Rajputana customs, Transfigure customs and dream machines had a face-off of building a unique custom bike from scratch. Vijay Singh from Rajputana customs won the event.
Vintage Bike Display
Vintage Bike Display: This stand had bikes from different eras like the 1941 Norman, BSA M20 1942 500cc and the 1933 Paratrooper to name a few. This was surely a place to check out as it gave us a glimpse of the old world beauties.
Bonneville Dream: This bike was unveiled on the second day of IBW. Designed by Kunal Bhaskar an avid Royal Enfield lover, this bike will be India’s first entry at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This bike is termed at the fastest Royal Enfield ever! Is it actually that fast? We’ll looks like we’ll know about it only in September, post the race.
The highlight of day 1 was Gentlemen’s Dub Club, UK’s dub step headliner act that played for the first time in India. It was an energizing experience for the band performing for a crowd that was glowing with individuality and voice. For the band members this whole celebration of biking brotherhood which has brought people together was hard to understand but wonderful to witness. Wearing their leather jackets, showing of their motorcycles and making that emblematic thunderous noise, the H.O.G parade of around 600 riders who rode down from different parts of the country was another big highlight at India Bike Week on day 1.
Besides the above mentioned events, there were a lot of stalls selling all sorts of biking merchandize, apparel, spares and accessories. The apparels were pricey and so was some of the merchandise. However there were few stalls who were selling motorcycle gear at discounted rates. Needless to say, these were the ones with the maximum crowd. The crowds thronged on the first day; however the second day saw only a fraction of the first day’s public turn up. The event was underwhelming for many and definitely did not live up to the pre-event hype. The cost was also not justified, with people paying Rs 1650 and Rs 3000 just as entry charges. There was no cover, so once inside we had to buy our own drinks and food which were ridiculously expensive. Imagine Rs 270 for a chicken burger! In that price I could have a two time meal in Goa. None of the activities that were mentioned on the ticket were part of the entry fee, so it was definitely not value for money. In simple words the event was underwhelming and over hyped.
And although I stick to my stand of the event being a tad bit disappointing, I appreciate the fact that someone actually stepped up and took the onus of organizing a biking festival of this magnitude in India. The good folks at Harley, 70Event media and Fox Traveller did a hell of job of organizing this festival and bringing bikers together and that too 6500 of them! This is a commendable feat and the biker turnout just proves that India wants such festivals and that bikers in India are willing to travel across the length and breadth of the country to be a part of such events. So next time maybe a little planning, better organizations and value for money pricing will help India Bike Week get the iconic status that they were aiming for. Till then we have our fingers crossed.
(India Bike Week 2013 reviewed by Firdaus Shaikh)
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