India Bike Week 2014Over the January 17-19 weekend, Vagator Goa was a really loud place. With more than 5,000 bikes gathered together from across the country, India Bike Week 2014 was a spectacle which literally never stopped revving.
Motorbikes from across the country, FMX stunts, Music, a Martial Arts Championship, vintage Bikes and superbikes and many spectacular machines and stunning customized bikes were on hand – this was indeed, as the poster says, the Woodstock of all biking festivals.Kicking off with more than 1,000 Harley-Davidsons entering the arena, coming from all across the country, the event also saw the largest gathering of Harleys ever in India.As Anoop Prakash, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson India, said, “In just its second year, the India National H.O.G. Rally was hugely successful with more than 1,000 proud Harley owners riding together from across the country. It’s a delight to see one out of every four motorcycles that we have sold in India since our beginning in 2010 present here today!”Out of the 13 chapters that congregated for the event, the Bengal Harley-Davidson (Kolkata) won the Chapter of the Year – 2013, a platform to honor the most active chapter and celebrate the camaraderie between chapter members and their dealer sponsors.The event also saw the unveiling of the Harley-Davidson Street 750, with the announced on-road price being pegged to be around under 5 Lakhs – which is definitely great news for aspiring Harley buffs.Spread across the huge grounds in Vagator, every corner had something new happening but the highlight of the event was definitely the MRF Freestyle Muscle Motocross where Callum Shaw and Luke Smith enthralled the crowd with awesome stunts. The crowd went wild every time these guys showed up, with their cameras and video recorders ready.The event also had a lot of competitions for the men (and a few women) to show off their skills, with the Burnout Challenge, the Skills challenge and the Loudest Bike Competition. There was also a tyre lifting contest with a lot of muscled guys queuing up to showcase their skills with rubber. The Burnout event also saw Scott Redding burning the rubber on the main stage, and a lot more bikers trying out their luck at the stall.Among all the noise, the Vintage Bikes Concours stood out with beautiful, restored bikes all the way from the Indians, Triumphs, BSA’s to the beautiful Osa, Norton and sunbeams. The vintage bike category saw a lot of tough competition with the Best of Show going to a German version of a Triumph – the STM 500, owned by Col. Sashidhar Bopanna from Hyderabad.The show also had dedicated spaces for female riders, with the IBW Loves Women Riders tent. It saw well known women riders like Gul Panag, Anushka Manchanda, and Pratichee Mohapatra with Sheetal Bidaye, along with her Bikerni all-women Biker Club, and Lorraine Chittock — global bike traveler.Anushka, who rode down on her Royal Enfield, said that “there should definitely be more women riding bikes. Whatever men can do, women can do better.”The Mod Bike Competition at India Bike Week saw the country’s largest display of custom bikes and immense competition in the chopper class. With Rajputana Customs, who won last year and RHC getting equal appreciation from the crowds.This year’s judging panel had some luminaries on it – renowned Mumbai-based mechanic O.A. Anthony a.k.a. Anton; Rolling Stone creative director and co-founder of Helmet Stories, Harsh Man Rai and legendary motorcycle adventurer Sam Childers, a.k.a. Machine Gun Preacher.The winner of the chopper class was RHC with his Royal enfield with a 360 size tyre and great cosmetic changes on the shell. The bike was made in just 16 days by Raza Hussain, the owner and the brain behind Raza House Customs.Raza said that seeing IBW as a platform last year gave him the confidence to start off on his own and work on bikes full time. This shows how IBW is not just an aggregator, but also an enabler for upcoming talent. The open class winner was Motoexotica’s Arjun Raina who also created an RD 350 a jumping jack, pepping and firing from those twin exhausts.Apart from the upcoming stars, the old timers like Aspi Bathena, Anton, john singh and Zubin Mehta were felicitated with the legends like Sam Childers, Nick Sanders and Ted Simon. Overall, in terms of sheer legend power, IBW was a really great place for photokatha to hang out, and we even got an opportunity to meet Ted Simmons and get his autograph!The music scene on both the days was good, but the Goa night spots obviously won out in the competition. Dualist Inquiry did play a great set and it was a beautiful experience to hear the music punctuated with engine noises from across the ground.Overall, India Bike Week promises to be a great platform to get together people with a passion for biking and to provide brands with a place to talk to a ready and absorbed audience.About the Author & Photographer: Rutavi Mehta shares the “katha” (Hindi word ) behind every picture she takes during her travels. She’s taking a sabbatical from corporate life to explore cultures, places and emotions around the world. Her eagerness to travel has also nudged her to become a biker so that she can reach places others can’t. More about her can be found at www.photokatha.in. You can follow her on twitter:@photokatha and like her work on facebook.com/photokatha.The Photokatha Team – Kopal Doshi & Nikhil Kashyap – also contributed to this report.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.