Buoyed by the successful attempt at setting an Indian record, Hrishi Mandke gets astride the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160, with an even loftier goal in mind
Hrishi’s brow was furrowed, half from the heat radiating off the miles of sun-baked tarmac in the treeless landscape, and half due to his own resolve of once again stamping his authority in the rarefied arena of professional stunting. A final gear-check: helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, all secured. He got astride the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160 and pressed the ignition. Building up the revs, he popped the clutch, bringing the bike up on the rear wheel, hooked his left boot under the peg and then, took his hands off the ’bars! Using only his core strength, he hung onto the bike as it barreled down the runway; thirty metres, forty, fifty, sixty… and then the front wheel came back down with an almighty thud. Hrishi’s brow was once again furrowed. He had a record to beat, and only two more attempts left.
Challenging the laws of physics astride a bike is nothing new for Hrishikesh Mandke; he’s been doing it for twenty years, and more. A summary glance of his Instagram page endorses that fact. Further, just last month he accomplished the gargantuan task of setting the India record for the fastest wheelie over a quarter-mile, verified via satellite link to the Racelogic VBox Touch, and ratified by officials from both the India Book Of Records as well as the Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI). In the aftermath of that glorious achievement, we asked you, the enthusiasts, about which stunt you’d like Hrishi to attempt next.
From the absolute barrage of responses we got, the no hands wheelie stood out. Some more research into the topic revealed that the world (!) record for the same stands at 89 metres, set by a rider in the Netherlands in 2004. “Do-able,” said Hrishi, with a mischievous glint in his eye; and so we once again charted the course for the Baramati airstrip.
Now, to pull off this difficult stunt Hrishi needed a motorcycle light enough to manage a no hands wheelie, but with a strong enough frame to deliver control, and of course a powerful enough engine to easily initiate and maintain the wheelie. Considering the stellar performance of the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 the last time around, Hrishi was loath to move away from the brand, ultimately narrowing his choice down to the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160. However, he had more to his choice than the family resemblance. The Pulsar NS 160’s DTS-i twin-spark fuel-injected engine makes it the most powerful in its class. Next, the stiff perimeter frame delivers stability, balance and control. Further, the 151kg kerb weight is best suited for a task where every kilo matters, more so than the last time around. Finally, the Pulsar NS 160 gets the all-important rear disc brake for controlling the bike once the front wheel has been hoisted.
And, of course, Hrishi had his heart set on smashing the world record using an Indian bike, right here in India.
Moving on to bigger and better things in life is a matter of progressions. But in the case of a stunt of this magnitude, Hrishi had more on his hands than just maintaining fitness and sharpening his skills on the bike. During the previous attempt, Hrishi needed to get the bike rolling, pop the front wheel, and then hold onto the bike with his feet on the pegs, his thighs around the tank and most importantly his hands on the ’bars, a luxury he does not have this time around. Hence, he needed to tap into the reserves of his core strength, and push himself to the figurative 101 per cent.
Here's how Hrishi put his plan in action and went on to set the national record for the longest no-hands wheelie!
Exertion, hence, had to be his friend; in the intervening period between the last record and this one, every waking hour when he wasn’t fine-tuning his skills on the motorcycle were spent training his core. He spent countless hours with his feet secured under anything heavy enough to support his weight – right down to his living room sofa! – training his abdominal muscles and lower back to withstand the rigours of balancing at an angle for extended periods. His diet, too, had to be pared down to the essentials required to keep him fighting fit and mentally alert. In a stark contrast, though, the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160 needed no modifications to bring it up to the task, save for adding a removable cushioned panel over the rear seat to stop Hrishi sliding off, and the removal of the rear mudguard and number plate holder, so as not to damage them, or impede the angle of the wheelie.
With his first attempt not quite making the mark, Hrishi felt the weight of expectations on his shoulders. Lining back up at the start, he spent a few moments in quiet contemplation; his eyes set on the horizon at the Baramati airstrip, the only stretch of road long, wide and smooth enough for the record attempt. He then gave the thumbs up to the vehicle carrying the adjudicators from both the FMSCI and India Book of Records, who would be measuring the distance using the Racelogic VBox Touch.
He once again checked his gear, thumbed the Pulsar’s ignition, readied his stance, and with a sharp breath out, set off. Hands splayed out like a tightrope walker, he kept the Pulsar NS 160 balanced perfectly, crosswinds be damned. Sixty, seventy, eighty metres done, and he seemed to veer ever so slightly off course, correcting his line with minute adjustments to his posture. A hundred and ten metres, hundred and twenty, his head seemed to dip back momentarily. A hundred and sixty metres, and his back seemed to arch forwards, and soon after his hands were back on the ’bars, with the front wheel now resting on terra firma.
With Hrishi and the bike stationary, it was now the officials who went into a frenzy. No sooner had the Pulsar NS 160’s front wheel hit the ground that the officials’ vehicle zoomed off the start line, stopping with satellite-assisted pinpoint accuracy at the spot where Hrishi was now growing steadily antsy. A further few moments were spent checking and rechecking the readings from the instruments and tabulating the results, and after what seemed like an eternity, they emerged from the vehicle, results in hand. And as it turned out, Hrishi had not just surpassed but in fact obliterated the previous 89-metre record, covering an interminable 184.8 metres!
The crowd went wild on this seminal achievement, which proved once and for all that an Indian rider on an Indian bike can very well go toe-to-toe with the best in the world, and emerge on top. Ultimately, though, amidst the whoops of joy and repeated rounds of applause at Hrishi’s superlative feat, the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160 stands tall. Accomplishing a feat that most would term impossible, the Bajaj Pulsar has reiterated the trust and confidence that millions of people across countries, continents – and now even generations – have placed upon the brand and the moniker. The World’s Favourite Indian is veritably worthy of its place in the history books, and the repeated records it now holds proves it beyond a doubt!