India Bike Week made a come back after a year-long hiatus and we rode down to be a part of the country's bike fest
Sipping a hot cuppa at a roadside stall, we heard a familiar growl and an orange thingy just flew by us — typical KTM stuff, we thought. What followed then was a sight to behold. A horde of these Austrian machines whizzed past us. If that’s not the Great Migration, I don’t know what is.
After riding down to Goa thrice in the past two months, the excitement was fading. Everything was predictable... until I saw the Orange brigade. For all these years, I was thwarted from attending the country’s biggest biker meet. For all these years, I had been ‘enjoying’ India Bike Week from the tube, munching on junk and cursing my life. Not this time though.
The lid was back on, and I was on my RC 200, fuelled by the adrenaline and some caffeine, chasing the sun. With a Royal Enfield Himalayan and a Yamaha YZF-R15 Version 3.0 for company, we were doing good speeds, but couldn’t catch the Orange Brigade. Screw it. It wasn’t a race, anyway. I was riding with my childhood buddies after a long time and didn’t want to make this ride a blur by doing warp speeds, so we slowed down, and continued, only to be passed by a group of Kwackers with a souped-up crew truck as the sweep. That was surreal. Though we were yet to reach even Kolhapur, you could feel the vibes of the country’s biggest bike fest in the air.
I rode down to Goa for the TVS MotoSoul Days as well as Royal Enfield’s Rider Mania, but this was different. Bikers from across the country, in all sorts of two-wheelers were pouring in, making their way through the twisty, narrow roads of Amboli. What a sight that was... what a rush! We decided to take a break at Amboli and drool over some more bikes as they whizzed past.
Just as the helmet and ear plugs came off, we all had a wide grin on our faces. The ghats of Amboli echoed with the glorious exhaust notes of god-knows-what. By now, Ducatis and Triumphs had become a regular sight. Time to move on.
After a nine-hour ride, we made it to susegad and boy, oh boy, it was mesmerising to see cafes packed with bikers, exotic bikes lined up outside. Goa had turned into every biker’s wet dream.
Hilltop, Vagator was the venue. The same place that hosted MotoSoul as well as Rider Mania. But this time, it looked grand... grander than before and why not. India Bike Week promised 40 per cent more biking content.
The itinerary looked tempting. I was spoilt for choice. There was a lot going on for a two-day fest. For the first time, IBW was going to play host to four motorsport events! And just like the day before, there was something familiar, something orange in the horizon — the KTM stand. And man, was it a candyland for the KTM fanboys! The Austrian marque had called in the cavalry, with the 1290 Super Duke R, 790 Adventure, 690 SMC R and even the KTM 150 SX. Even Pol Espargaro’s RC 16 MotoGP machine, Matthias Walkner’s KTM 450 Dakar Rally bike and Bo Bendsneyder’s Moto3 weapon blessed the hallowed grounds of Hilltop. What no one saw coming (except for us media fools) was the Swedish brand Husqvarna.
After spending more than an hour ogling at these machines, it was time to move on to see what the Brits and the Japs had in store. Triumph’s Rocket 3 R had taken centrestage, with the OG Tiger T100 and Speed Twin standing beside their modern counterparts. The highlight of the Kawasaki stand was the H2 SX, a bike that I had been dying to listen to and see in the flesh. And to my luck, a gentleman took delivery of that supercharged beaut at the IBW, and the first thing he did after cranking her up was rev the nuts off the bike. I felt sorry for the bike but by evening it had become a regular sight. Every biker pulling up on his million-dollar motorcycle with a fancy end can would make their bike scream. I couldn’t bear it any longer and headed straight to the Big Trip tent.
The Big Trip tent was a different world in itself. While the whole venue was lost in riders revving the nuts off their bikes or simply ogling at the motorcycles, the Big Trip Tent was a place that isolated you from everything else and yet kept you connected with motorcycles, all while sipping on a cold one. In few of the sessions I had attended, I got to hear the craziest adventures. Never in my wildest dreams could I fathom taking an old M80 moped from Kanyakumari to Kashmir or spending six months in southern Australia relying on nothing but old-school paper maps. But then again, I couldn’t sit there for long (I was at work, remember). There was something reall special going on near the Big Trip tent.
IBW was hosting the country’s first-ever time-trials Flat-track event, organised by Rajputana Customs and Harley-Davidson. Enthusiasts from across the country gave their best to win the 50k cash prize. Then there was the Hill Climb, organised by the School of Dirt led by Ouseph Chacko. Armed with a 100cc kwacker, the aim was to make it to the top of the hill, overlooking the serene waters in the shortest time possible. It was all fun and games till Ashish Raorane came in and scorched the trail by conquering the hill in less than 12 seconds.
Like every year, there were some big names from the world of motorsports and this year, it included KTM’s legendary rider Giovanni Sala and renowned stunt athlete Rok Bagoros. FMX4Ever were there too, doing jaw-dropping stunts on their freestyle KTMs.
This was all too much for a two-day fest. Attending one event meant high chances on missing another good event. It was all chaos. Maybe I had too many expectations or maybe Rider Mania had raised the bar too high for me.
Though the event didn’t turn out as per my expectations, it was special. Special because everyone from scooter bravehearts to litre-class brats were under one roof, enjoying and bonding over their love for two wheels. Special because just like IBW, my days of touring with my supersport are back, after a year-long slumber. Until next year, IBW!