Anybody who rides down to Goa knows why it is the best biking destination. The gas is cheap, the roads are in a good condition and the state is nestled in the Western Ghats, meaning lots of twisties to explore. More so the beaches are easily accessible, you can ride onto some of them, park your motorcycle as you relax in a nearby shack while your GoPro records a fantastic timelapse of the sun bidding you adieu. The India Bike Week has taken these pointers and tried to incorporate as much of the above, providing bikers a chance to ride in and celebrate the cause of motorcycling.
The great thing the organisers did for the 2017 edition was to change the dates from sweltering February to a slightly less uncomfortable November; one can never imagine Goa without the sun. The nights though were cooler and the bikes did breathe better. However, the constant blaring of idiotic bikers who wanted to prove a point by just revving the tits of their ride did leave me irritated and no amount of Coca-Cola could cool us down. Guys, I know you are overcompensating in certain departments with your slip-on exhausts but no need to make a big deal out of it. You will end up with a heartache and a happy company mechanic replacing your motorcycle’s engine components.
Keeping away from such strenuous activities, I kept myself in the vicinity of gear shops always looking out for a sweet deal, right up until closing time. Gear brands such as Rynox, Dirt Sack and many others had great offers on their existing products and showcased new products too. I was disheartened to know that there was an unavailability of the helmet bag at Dirt Sack as all them had sold off like hot cakes, fresh out of the oven.
India Bike Week also brings down great biking personalities every year as this year they managed to fly down ‘Fast’ Freddie Spencer and the first female to break into the Bonneville 200mph Club – Leslie Porterfield. Freddie belongs to the rare breed of motorcycle racers who conquered the mighty 2-stroke GP machines and was the youngest premier class champion until a certain Marc Marquez came along. I was left speechless when I met him. His tight schedule curbed my time with him to a mere autograph on a poster that joins my collection filled with Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Johnathan Rea, Giacomo Agostini and other such motorcycling greats. However, I did get to chat up with Leslie and you can read about it in the following page.
Several motorcycle manufacturers took the opportunity to showcase their new offerings, like Triumph did with the Bonneville Speedmaster, BMW Motorrad with the R Nine T Racer and K 1600 B, Indian with the Scout Bobber and Avantura Choppers with the Rudra and Pravega. Harley-Davidson’s flat track Street 750 broke cover at the venue and you can read all about it in our Upfront section on page 14. The Carberry Bullet was at our stall at the event and we got up close and personal with the V-twin Enfield as well.
There were some exquisite custom motorcycles present at the festival too. Each one of them had an inspiring background story and most of them were built with extreme attention to detail.
However, what I still fail to understand after five years of the festival is how the organisers still continue to be callous in allowing helmetless riders into the festival. Hopefully, they should make it mandatory in the forthcoming editions in order to promote rider safety.
My Migration Story
For this year’s ride down to the event, Triumph hooked us up with a Bonneville Bobber. I had loved the factory custom during the first ride and despite its many issues, it was a cool ride. However, for a ride of such magnitude I had my inhibitions.
For starters, the fuel tank is abysmally small. The capacity is limited to 8-litres of fuel, range extending to a maximum of 150km on a stretch. The seat is extremely small, my large bottom bulging out from the sides. The suspension setup is on the harder side and the ground clearance is extremely low, lots of scraping of the chassis throughout the ride. I could not mount any luggage on the motorcycle and had to send across with Aatish in the car with the magazines.
Still I took the plunge and started off from Pune. The Bobber’s slash-cut exhausts were burbling along the highway in symphony. The suspension did send every ripple the Maharashtra roads had up my spine and my speeds were restricted. Things became a whole lot better as I crossed into Karnataka and the Bobber was in its element. I opted to ride down via Belgaum as my intention was to pay a visit to the ghats of Chorla. And I am happy to say that I had the Bobber with me for this leg as it was a hoot. Peg feelers were scraped till the base of the pegs and that’s a good sign.
As I rode in to the venue, the Bobber turned heads everywhere it went. Another cool fact about the Bobber, it is an extremely photogenic motorcycle. Everyone wanted a photo with the bike. Would I do it again? Well, I hear the Street Triple RS calling me so I’ll give the Bobber a pass for the next one.
Interview : Leslie Porterfield
Leslie Porterfield, shares her thoughts on going fast and what goes wrong when it is just not your day
Bitten by the motorcycling bug
It happened by accident. I bought my first motorcycle at 16 as a cheap mode of transportation, fell in love with it. So, it was something that wasn’t planned, I hadn’t even ridden a motorcycle before as I bought my first one. It was the Yamaha Virago 1000 and it was in a box. It was a very big bike for a 16 year old and I had to fix it to be able to ride it. Many people said that I wouldn’t be able to get it running let alone be able to ride it.
First attempt at the Bonneville Salt Flats
In 2007 conditions were a little rough, very wet. It is very slippery on a good day but it being very wet, it was very sludgy. I had problems with the bike, with the handling of the bike and the back end came around when I was doing about 227mph (365kmph). That’s when it started getting out of shape and then the back end came all the way around and I came off of the bike at about a 110mph (177kmph). I broke seven ribs, punctured a lung and had a concussion. So, it was a crazy time, it was not exactly as planned.
Motivating to get back on the bike
That was probably the biggest challenge was to not just to recover physically, but also to recover mentally. Do I want to do this again? Is this worth it? I was very determined. I decided to get back out there. 2008 was lucky enough to build the bike again and get out and set a record. I had to really put it out of my mind that what could go bad; I focused on what could go well. How to do everything right and how to make that happen.
Feeling of going 200mph
Yes very few people in the world have gone as fast as I have and it’s an amazing feeling. Honestly when I am going 200, 246mph (396kmph) is my fastest speed, I have to hold my top speed for a mile, I am busy, it really doesn’t affect me until after I get off the motorcycle. As soon as I pull off and stop and go wow I just did 240mph whatever! And that’s where the rush is, an amazing rush of adrenaline.
I am focused completely on what exactly I have to do to make it a perfect run. I have enormous amount of data logging on the motorcycle, so I have intake air temp, water temp, engine oil pressure. I am also very focused on my body position, points where I need to shift, things like that but even an elbow in the wind costs me several miles an hour, so aerodynamics are very important.
I still have the record setting Hayabusa, it’s one of my favourites. I have been a Honda factory rider. I have a Hayabusa that is turbocharged, it makes over 500bhp. I have two engines for it – one is the 1300cc with lower compression and a bigger injection to accommodate forced induction and in terms of larger engine, the one I have is long stroked and it goes in the 2000cc class. It is a beast of a motor, but it is hard to keep it together for long.
A woman in the Bonneville 200mph club
In 2008 my very first run, coming back from my injury in 2007, was my record and they called me into the Bonneville 200mph club. That was huge. That was on a naked motorcycle. It was a Hayabusa with no fairing. I couldn’t even get it in the sixth gear. I set a two-way average at 209mph (336kmph) because I could not physically hang on anymore, the wind pressure was so much, I think it was the most physically demanding record I have ever set. It was a hard one. My top speed without fairing was 213mph (343kmph) and I was sore for weeks.
It had been over 60 years and a woman on a motorcycle had not been in the Bonneville 200mph club. So it’s such a great accomplishment and I am very proud of being able to be there first, to break that barrier because I have so many women riders that contact me and it’s one of the things I am very honoured about, I feel very honoured to be a mentor to female riders.
Future fast female riders
I think it’s amazing you know really when I started riding motorcycles I didn’t see any women. Very few women were riding motorcycles and I love seeing this. All over the world more women riding on the streets, more women riding in competitions and racing and I think it’s very important to have people look up to. You have got so many more women now. And I am just very encouraging to them. I love mentoring as a rider and speaking to other riders because I think it is so important to follow your dreams and follow your passion and not let anybody tell you that you can’t do it even though it’s been a notoriously male dominated field.
Ceat Stay Safe Campaign!
India has some terrible statistics when it comes to fatalities on our roads. That is all the more reason for bikers in India to take precautions before they head out on to the road. Ceat conducted a safety session at IBW that was powered by Fast Bikes India. The crash (no puns intended) course included a theory as well as a practical session.
The theory focussed on the importance of safety gear, the importance of keeping you bike functioning properly, the importance of tyres before touching upon the basics of enduro riding. Enduro riding instils certain essential skills in a rider that can make them safer on the road. It makes them comfortable in dealing with low traction situations, and improves reflexes.
After learning the basics of how to sit on the motorcycle correctly and how to manoeuvre it correctly through different obstacles, they could head out on to the specially designed enduro track and experience this for themselves.
The bikes on offer were a Royal Enfield Himalayan show with Ceat Gripp XL rubber and a Royal Enfield Classic 350 with Ceat Pro Gripp tyres.
Our in-house stunt expert Hrishikesh Mandke (who also runs an off-road training school) was at hand to instruct the riders. The track was a simple layout, and consisted of a gravel patch for low traction training, a slalom section for practicing low speed manoeuvring, a boulder patch and a ditch for off-road training.
A number of people attended the session and left wiser about basic safety etiquette on the road, as well as being armed with the basics of off-road riding. The sessions were held on both days of the IBW and were a resounding success.