Published in Bike India Magazine : 2005. The follwing is the article script.

Dawn of the Bikers

Text and Photography and Article Design: Sundeep Gajjar (Sunny)

The other day I was giving an entrance interview for a reputed Indian designing institute, surrounded by a round table of educationists waiting to poke at my intellect with visible demonic satisfaction and occasional know-it all sneers. One of the interviewers being panel psychologist asked me why I liked biking so much and from what I was trying to run away from in life by going on long rides to the Himalayas and all.

That might sum up the state of biking in our country. If the torch bearers are like this, it is but obvious that the current generation will have to form their own rules out of the Algaeic mass of our biking populace. This mass which is dominated by mileage fearing men and blissfully performance ignorant executives. This section of bikers force to be termed as Commuters. No other species would you find so motivated in their task to bike from point A to point B religously using the Djisktra’s shortest path algorithm to the limit!

Why do I need to rip on an empty road ? Why do I need to go to the mountains every now and then, and that too on two – wheels? Why is that I will leap on the bike evento the local grocery? Because for me, biking is a way of life.

These feelings are alien to the commuters and the non – bikers effectively creating a vast spectrum of individuals in our nation who relate to biking in vastly different ways.

The world being a small place encourages winds of change and trends originating in one hemisphere to blow across the continents and affect the psyche of individuals, especially youngsters. The Indian teenager was no exception, with the release of many automobile related feature films in the west like the Fast and the Furious, Biker Boyz and Torque, India saw a slow but gradual increase in biking related activities. But still the effect was limited to the higher strata of society who could afford those DVDs and expensive bikes.

And then one fine day no one knew what hit the nation – Dhoom! I am still trying to grasp the enormous coverage and appeal that Hindi films have over the length and breadth of India. Without any hesitation I would now divide the Indian biking trend timeline as Pre – Dhoom ( PreD ) and Post – Dhoom ( PostD ). Auto Expos, English films, nothing could have had an impact and education about superbikes as this film did. Now everyone knows what a Hayabusa ( or the Dhoom bike ) is – big, colorful and fast!

The next biggest thing in India after cricket, bikes – every gali now has cricket pitches and heavily modded bikes. The group could be as compact as 4 riders or could be as extensive as dozens of them. It could be focusing on general city biking, chit-chat or focused on disciplines like street stunting, long rides, or just street racing. Ultimately the group behavior boils down to the interests of the resident expert or the consensus appointed leader, if at all. Every colony has its own biking group. Concept of brotherhood in biking is still in its infancy in India and therefore group integrity and activities are interest and extrovert oriented rather than internal satisfaction and developing biking skills. Some groups, relatively less in number, are coming up on the lines of groups in the west. These groups undergo proper christening rites, individual member rules briefing and planned group meetings and agenda. Efforts are made to instigate group loyalty and faith towards the leader. Unfortunately in many groups individualistic attitude prevails preventing absorption of mass bikers and expansion. To the majority of the Indian biking present gen the most attractive part of the bikes is ( no offences ) the rear of the bike - the tyre. Tell any of them that the rear of the bike looks skinny and you will have hit the weak spot! While there exists such deep rooted love for cosmetics in most of them, there are another breed of biking groups who prefer to ride without any light emitting source on their two - strokes even in pitch black on the streets! Reason ?

Having a headlamp will slow the bikes down and will prevent the front end of the bike from reaching out to the heaven! These 2 - strokerscan be taken as synonymous to the teenage anorexic, fully ported and load shedding.

broth·er·hood : the feeling that men should treat one another like brothers. Biking Brotherhoods are becoming a major tool and necessity for most youngsters to relax and vent their dissapointments and negative emotions. If we ignore the inherent danger ascociated with two - wheels on the road, there is no other cheaper and effective way for a youngster to develop himself and to socialize. Be it unconsciously, there are brotherhoods sprouting by the minute all over the sub - continent.

Biking brotherhoods are not only a tool for the group members themselves, this congregation when out rolling in a formation on the road is indeed one sight to behold, never failing to get attention of young and old. This very charisma of biking in a group can also be used as a medium to pass on intelligent messages to all stratas of society. Such an intense feeling of unity and power perhaps could only be felt in a battlefield on ground zero. Technology is also proving to be an important tool for many blossoming biking groups in India. Most have at least a Yahoo Group as their online presence. Some of them even go ahead and make themselves a .com website with messageboards. There is no question about it that the most powerful, fluid, cheap and extensive medium for publicity is the internet for now. Harnessing its power to spread the biking commandments is a different funda altogether which the clubs will slowly figure out.

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