India Bike Week’s fourth edition review

Photography by Mehdi Naseeruddin

If you missed our coverage of the 2016 India Bike Week, here is a throwback to the event to refresh your memory.

Dougie Lampkin enthralled the crowd with his balancing art.

 The country’s largest biking festival has seen quite a shift from its earlier days where the festival was receiving a lot of criticism for being a Harley-centric one, leaving very little for other bike enthusiasts to indulge in and enjoy. That’s not true anymore. This year saw participation from Triumph, DSK Benelli, Mahindra2Wheelers, Indian motorcycles, UM Motorcycles and Ducati who also took the opportunity to launch and unveil their 2016 line-up.

Legacy Custom motorcycles’ Immortale won the biker build-off competition.

The venue was Arpora in north Goa — a shift from Vagator which has been its homeground for the past three years. The new location provided access to more space for the stalls and parking for the bikes considering around 12,000 riders from all over India and quite a few riders from across the globe came down for the event.
One of the defining features of the IBW is the ride down to Goa which has now become a tradition of sorts among the biking communities. The day before the festival, you can see throngs of superbikes occupying NH4. Bikers from all factions ride down to Goa from across the country and this year saw bikers from as far as Uttarakhand ride down. Apparently riding down to Goa for bike week is the right way to do it unless you want to risk being labelled a poncey biker. Thankfully, we had the Triumph Tiger XCA for the ride and were quite astonished by its ability to demolish miles in comfort. We also took part in the Tiger Training Academy which had a large off-road arena at the IBW ground where veteran rallyist Vijay Parmar took us through the finer nuances of riding off-road. Other than that, visitors could also participate in the Dirty20 Enduro challenge at the same arena.

Nine year old Sarthak Chavan surprised everyone with his Enduro skills.

Those who haven’t been to IBW envision it as a beer fuelled haze of motorcycles and scantily-clad women. Well some part of it is true. But that aside, there are quite a few things the average biker can do besides binge drinking. The opportunity to hobnob with prominent personalities of the biking arena like CS Santosh, Gaurav Jani and Rishad Bhumgara (Google them) and to witness first-hand 12 time FIM trials world champion Dougie Lampkin showing off the delicate art of balance were some of the highlights of the festival. The interesting part about IBW is that there is something for everyone. Movie buffs could enjoy the film festival — an IBW first. Numerous food stalls to keep the foodies satiated or you could walk around the myriad shops selling biking gear and accessories. Of course music has been a big draw with MIDIval Punditz heating things up.
Another major culture the IBW is promoting is the rise of bike building in India. It has risen not just in numbers but also in the quality of work and attention to detail. It is a visual treat to see the bikes displayed. A bike aptly named Immortale walked away with top honours. Then there was the IBW national stunt team championship which had 8 teams participating from across the country. The Mumbai team ‘I STUNT’ won.

Some eclectic vintage bike were on display.

While India bike week sees its fair share of enthusiasts, as in any biking festival there are going to be what we call pseudo bikers or posers. What was disappointing was the lack of protective gear, even a helmet on most of the riders despite the organisers providing gear lockers at the venue. Also, the decibel levels at the venue were off the charts and not in a good way. Imagine standing next to an unrestricted superbike being revved to its redline. Now imagine 50 bikes doing that together and you are close. There were a lot of joyous blokes incessantly revving the nuts off their bikes to show off their unrestricted exhausts. You could see the service heads of the present bike manufacturers revel in the future prospect of these bikes come to service with blown gaskets and fried piston rings. Good times for everyone. We did speak to the organisers about this disturbing trend and one interesting fact came to the fore. You see posers and enthusiasts are the opposing sides of the same coin. And guys like these make up the bulk of the attendees to the festival. So these are the guys that keep the festival alive and kicking financially. That shows the biking culture in India still has a long way to go. The organisers therefore should be commended for catering to both segments. I personally would love some more activities for the enthusiast though it has progressed quite a lot from last year and has been doing so since inception. And that is aces in my book.

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