Bullet the blue sky: Indian choppers roll at Rider Mania 2017
For bikers like Ricardo Pereira, an affair with the Royal Enfield Bullet is one that’s lifelong, unwavering and beyond a shadow of a doubt. “An Enfield touches your soul, that’s one of the main reasons why it’s the bike of choice for modifiers,” enthuses Ricardo, who runs Bulleteer Customs in Bengaluru. “It’s the only motorcycle I know of, which from the moment you set your eyes on it, you want to make it your own... exclusively!”
Ricardo is one among a handful of builders who will return to the Rider Mania festival at Vagator, Goa, this month to join the rumble of over 6,000 bikers, and showcase their custom creations. He has two new bikes for display, and is ever grateful for the Royal Enfield platform, having released some of his best creations here, over the last six years.
“It’s easily the best three days on our calendar,” says Ricardo. The highlight is the custom zone, where the best modified Enfields of the year are placed on show. “It’s the best place to meet and admire builders, and promote camaraderie among this metal-shaping, Enfield-loving community,” offers Ricardo.
The Royal Enfield cult
This year’s edition of the festival sports the theme, ‘Music, Mates and Motorcycling’, with three days packed with talks, competitions and, of course, group rides with “Thumpers” from all over the world.
The hosts have lined up motorcycle art shows, apart from dirt tracks, slow races, maze chases, and trials — an obstacle course to test one’s riding skills (with a special category for Himalayan riders this year).
Live music and stand-up comedy is on the cards too, while you can settle in with the pride of experienced riders at the Long Distance Travel Forum, or saunter over to the stalls to stock up on motoring gear and apparel.
“Our biggest metric of success is the burgeoning community — one that is growing to be the largest in the world,” says Rudratej ‘Rudy’ Singh, President, Royal Enfield. “Rider Mania is a place for this community to come together, celebrate their individual journeys, share experiences and be inspired,” he adds, extending an invitation.
For builders like Bimal Amarnath Menon, of Emperor Motorcycles, Kochi, the event will be all about the mechanical details and finer technical aspects. “I’m heavily influenced by vintage designs,” says Bimal, speaking of levers, switches and special elements in his creations.
Ultimately, the purpose is to make “the starting of a motorcycle into a theatrical event,” he adds. “When people curiously watch a rider operate a bike, that becomes an integral part of the custom art process, and completes the experience,” he declares.
The custom bike scene is growing stridently, acknowledges Adwait Samant, of Jedi Customs, Mumbai. “Attention to detail coupled with neat engineering are the core values,” he avers. Mahesh Patel of Forscher Customs, also from Mumbai, agrees. “More bikers prefer Enfields today, also so they can be a part of the cult of riders,” he says.
A symbol of freedom
Customising has many sub-types, notes Bimal. “From simple to avant-garde, from purpose-oriented racing machines to rolling sculptures. The Bobber and Cafe Racer are greatly appreciated here,” he says.
“The Bobber is a prime example of being raw and rebellious, while the Cafe Racer has a certain nostalgic feel,” he observes. “Royal Enfield is the only company building a motorcycling culture in the country,” he affirms. “And the Bullet has become a symbol of personal freedom, for both men and women.”
Validating that assertion, Pratima Hebbar, founder of the women riders group, Hop on Gurls in Bengaluru, will be present to bolster the female contingent. They will be joined by members of the Royal Falcons Motorcycle Club, Chennai, who will be riding down to Goa for the event.
Ricardo lends more perspective, especially for enthusiasts who are tuned into the engineering. “Custom bikes require a lot of attention in every aspect, which leads to a network of highly skilled professionals, be it for precision engineering of the chassis, beautifully carved bodywork and seats, or heat-treated paint jobs — all geared to push the envelope of design and performance,” he explains.
While all eyes will be peeled for unique wheels at Rider Mania, there will be an attempt to find the most unique bikes. As Ricardo puts it, “You want your bike to be different from all the others, so many riders give their bikes a nickname. Then maybe a comfortable handlebar, a silencer to make that thump awesome, brighter lights, fatter tyres, bobbed fenders, seats... the list goes on.”
For true-blooded bikers, he insists, that list is never likely to end.
Spotlight: More power
Ahead of Rider Mania, Royal Enfield unveiled a new four-stroke, single overhead cam, air-cooled, 648cc parallel twin cylinder engine that will power the next generation of RE motorcycles. Developed by teams at RE’s new UK Technology Centre in Leicestershire and in Chennai, the engine is made to deliver power and torque at lower RPMs, with an output of 47bhp and 52Nm torque.
The focus is on adequate torque, spread through the rev range, so that riders can tap into it any time without the need for excessive shifting. As a result, the engine feels fun, potent, and easy-to-use. The single-piece forged crankshaft at the heart of the engine is a first for Royal Enfield. Using a 270-degree firing order, this gives a high degree of character to the engine’s power delivery. Also, thanks to a balancer shaft, unwelcome vibrations have been eliminated, say the makers.
Royal Enfield Rider Mania will be held in Vagator, Goa, November 17-19. Join the
@RoyalEnfield community on Facebook and Twitter. Visit royalenfield.com