Shift down, on the brakes, shift weight, lean, towards the apex, out of the corner, on the throttle, rev the engine till it explodes, wide grin inside the helmet, next corner, repeat.
This was my state on a recent ride to the hills, just outside Bombay, as I was riding a friend’s borrowed kidney, called the Duke 390. After some thumping times on my ‘Electra’, this machine was a revelation, some kind of CPR which wasn’t required, although one which summoned all the amazing feelings in the universe and injected it in my body, feelings, which only another three letter word manages to evoke. The best part, motorcycles don’t forcibly tag you to the mall every weekend in return for the thrills they offer.
Circa 1999, Hero Honda introduced the CBZ. I was in school back then and my friend and me remember, how we would try and hatch plans to sell our school to experience unplugged motorcycling. Fast forward to current times, youngsters as young as 18, who design apps for cellular phones have disposable incomes to buy and live their dreams. These bipedal creatures are restless, who want to explore, travel, beat, destroy and bury convention.
Motorcycling is no longer looked down upon as a poor man’s mode of commute in India and is fast emerging as a means of finding solace, solitude, and that better person hiding inside. Perched on the saddle, with the wind and vistas for company, soaking in all the sights, smells and insects is an experience many are beginning to enjoy.
A larger sect of the society feels stressed, sitting in falsely controlled atmospheres all day and wants to break free. The market is now ripe for manufacturers to bring in decently powered motorcycles between the 300-500cc bracket. Machines that can carry and maintain decent speeds on our ever improving network of triangles and quadrilaterals. Something that makes Mr Gupta feel excited, as he narrates his tale of travelling to the highest pass in the world and his Mr Smith friend doesn’t score a brownie, stating his lawn mower makes more power than Mr Gupta’s two wheeled unicorn.
India is no longer an ignorant nation, thanks to Abhishek Bachchan, who has started proposing internet on every phone. This is the world’s third largest economy we live in now, with the youngest population who have fat wallets. People who prioritise experiences before plunging in a home loan they will repay for donkey years and who need world class equipment in order to live those experiences, equipment that doesn’t boast of half a century old technology, or which allows water in the fuel tank even if you sneeze above it. Something that doesn’t splatter oil on your pants, just because you gave it a name, made it a part of your life and now it wants to be human and play holi with you.
The first lightning bolt has struck in the form of the Duke and looking at the forecast, it will only rain from here. Motorcycle manufacturers in India have to now cater to a crowd, who isn’t afraid of being wet, but goes out and drenches itself in the sweet sound of raindrops on the helmet visor, as they traverse this beautiful country and carry their souls on two wheels with lightning in their hearts. Given the current scenario, what we are about to witness as due course of nature, are days, days of thunder.