Yudhishtar Urs takes a trip down memory lane with the launch of Magnificent Motorcycle Men.
My first memory of getting on a bike was at the age of 4. It was a plastic three wheeler that had pedals on the front wheel and a cycle bell on the handle bar to caution those who dared stand in my way. This was the age of ‘Tobu cycle’; kids who grew up in the 80’s will get the reference, and millennials will have to dig into their cultural encyclopedias to keep pace (or Google it’s easier). The confines of my home compound weren’t big enough to contain my riding skills or my enthusiasm to hit the road.
Within a few months, I took the tri-cycle out for a spin on one of the busiest roads in Bangalore that connected all the major highways to the city center. I owned the day with my riding skills that consisted of side slides, standing on one leg, letting go of my hands, a wheelie and something I recommend you don’t try without supervision by a neurosurgeon - holding on to a moving auto-rickshaw.
Let me take a step back to acquaint you with my personality type – I’m up for anything that involves an adrenaline spike that would take three horse tranquilizers to put down, and anything to enjoy the buzz of a thrilling episode leading to near death experiences (with an emphasis on ‘near death’). Many put it down to my excessive sugar consumption.
Either way life is for living, experiencing and exploring. So, this brazen act of boldly going where no child has gone before made me advance my biking skills to a two-wheeler. Then came the BMX - a cycle that made a bad boy out of anyone, even the kids with braces. I was 8, inquisitive and bored of my BMX which outlived its ability to keep pace with wheelies and burpees (that’s when you press hard on the front break and get your bike to balance on its front wheel). I never got the point of that but did manage to get some French lip service with the asphalt on the road. That was a painful romance that left a few bruises.
I outgrew this phase rather quickly as well, which led to me selling my BMX to treat my friends to a movie, some colas and 5 Star bars. I’ll never forget that day because my father displayed some exceptional moves with a hockey stick to reward me for my generosity.
Road tripping Mumbai to Goa
Now, bike-less and twitching to ride, I had to figure out how I could feed this addiction for thrill. The late 80’s and early 90’s suddenly saw a slew of cool 50cc and 100cc bikes. From the BSA Bond (Falcon) 50cc to the Yamaha Rx100, or if you had an appetite for steel on steroids, the Yezdi’ or RD350. It was a great time for two-stroke fun on wheels and head banging to metal bands. I got my pick of the lot because my older brother had a TVS 50 moped which was an automatic thrill magnet with a top speed of 60kmp that I had to constantly sneak out of the house because my brother hated the idea of the siblings touching his stuff. And I had a fallback supply of his friends’ motorbikes who were serious motor heads. Being the kid brother helped me gain access to some of the coolest stalk and mod bikes of the time.
Hosting India Bike Week
Bangalore at that time was seeing a lot of moto-racing action with motocross championships and drag races from quarter miles to hill climbs. So on a good day I had the pick of the crop, from run-jump starting the TVS 50cc motocross mod, to growling down the road on a Yezdi, or taming the 2 stroke beast of that era - the Yamaha RD350cc. Those were the best days of biking with long rides to local dhabas on the highway to short spins on the city street of the then beautiful Bougainvillea avenues of Bangalore. Motorbikes were a big part of my days as a teenager, from the music I listened to, the people I met and the adventures I had. Each and every moto-escapade is a memory I cherish to this day.
My biker gang
Now, many years down the road and the chance to take my motor biking passion to the next level, I got myself a Ducati Monster 765 and have been clocking some serious road miles. With fantastic rides along the coastal route from Mumbai to Goa, to skirting the borders of northern Thailand, and opening up the Monster through the ghats of the Aravali with bikers of all ages – this is what makes life worth living.
Shooting for 'Magnificent Motorcycle Men’
With the launch of ‘Magnificent Motorcycle Men’ with 101India, I get a chance to connect with individuals who love motorcycles and have amazing stories to share that inspire me to keep riding. For the first episode we traveled to Jaipur to shoot with Vijay Singh of Rajputana customs; a motorcycle maverick who apart from being a circuit racer and custom bike builder is also setting up one of India’s first flat-track championships. It was amazing to spend time with Vijay at his workshop and on the track to find out what keeps him motivated and connected to biking. I learnt about his journey from being introduced to motorcycling by his father who raced during his younger days, to how Vijay had to convince his family and the biking community that a custom bike builder from India can be as good if not better than his international counterparts.
Biker boys will be boys
Every bike enthusiast does what they do purely for the love of this adventurous lifestyle, be it racing, customizing or just collecting as an avenue to monetize this passion. So every encounter I have had so far and will continue to have with the biking community on Magnificent Motorcyle Men, is to be able to capture their stories and journeys to ignite the fire in future enthusiasts to keep the biking spirit alive.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Yudhishtar Urs
Photographs by: Yudhishtar Urs