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    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ?

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    The biggest biker bash in the country is courtesy Royal Enfield, and hundreds of zany Enfielders. Here's what the 2010 edition of the Royal Enfield Rider Mania was all about

    Flashbacks are strange things. How they make memories flower-fresh – so fresh you can almost smell them. The apprehension of the first long ride on my spanking new Std 350. The company of some of the best riders in the country, who had also grown to brothers over the last few months. The corners which flowed from one into another, like an endless ribbon of tarmac that you wished never ended. The steed, the speed, and the good vibrations. All rushing back to me, just like the road.

    The last time I rode down this road, for this purpose, was in 2004, for one of the initial comings of the Rider Mania. Things had changed a wee bit since that ride. My Std 350 was now owned by someone else. The Classic 500 loaned to me by Royal Enfield had packed up 100 kilometres into the ride, blasting the hopes of a good, long ride after ages into oblivion. Things didn’t quite seem as peachy from the small pillion perch of my fellow rider’s non-thumper.

    But there were old friends waiting at the other end of the journey. Buddies made over long, tough days on the road. Mates made after blasting Bullets out of corners at silly speeds, after pulling bikes out of sand at together 12,000 feet. Out of sharing smokes and unsolicited advice over bonfires. This was an event to relive those friendships. And for the common love of a bike that had brought us all together.

    Coming together – that’s what RM is all about. Back in 2003, a little after the Enfield club culture had begun to spring up in cities all over the country and rise to its potential, the simple but brilliant concept of riding down in strength to a common venue to get to know fellow riders came around. Today, the effort has grown into India’s largest bike meet, but the idea remains more or less unchanged. In fact, over its many iterations, the event has evolved into some sort of an annual pilgrimage for clubs to ride together to.

    For 2010, the event headed back to the Vagator hill top in Goa in a repeat of last year. The long and eventful overnight ride meant a liberal power nap was necessary, and by the time we reached the venue the sun had already downed. We had missed the Figure of 8 and the Slow Races, but the entry was in tune with Jolly rock DJ BlackJack’s spinning biker anthems. The mood was exactly as it should be after a day of hard riding – in fact many clubs had ridden for two days to get to Goa – chilled out and cooled down with ultra-cheap biker brews. Shiny chrome bikes had begun lining up for display for the next day’s custom bike competition too. Bangalore-based Thermal and a Quarter, easily one of the most talented rock bands in the country brought the crowd together with its great set of originals and twisted covers in front of the stage that read “The Thump that Binds”.

    The next day was when the serious skill competitions were lined up for, including the dirt track races and riding trials. While the event might be fun, I know how seriously the clubs take the competition – in fact, this is often the only chance in the year when riders get to pit their competence against other equally talented riders from around the country. Stripped down 350s and 500s adorned with knobby tyres lined up on the track just outside the venue enclosure. The spread of bikes in each category was great – there were the old cast iron 350cc engines to the modern AVL 350s, from kitted out LeanBurn 500s to bone stock Classic 500s. The track itself was fairly bumpy which made life tough for riders, and the ultimately the smoothest riders were rewarded. The Roadshakers from Pune showed off their domination over dirt, as Pravin Patil and Baljeet Gill walked away with top honours in the 350 and 500cc class.

    The dirt track races were followed by trials sessions. The unique form of competitive riding had participants haul their heavy metal over obstacles like tyres, rocks and through hay – with penalties incurred for grounding feet, and disqualifications for ground the bike. Many managed to do exactly that – just 9 of the participating 21 riders finished the course, with lots of scraped engine sumps, bent footpegs and lost side stand springs.

    Some fantastic custom bikes based on Royal Enfield models had also rolled in from all over the country, with a bunch of learned men walking about and speaking to the creators to judge the Best Custom Bike of the show. The award finally went to the Vedic by Vardenchi from Mumbai. The most popular bike of the show by popular vote though was Javeen’s C3 from Kottayam, a splendid exercise in imagination and bike craft. What really impressed us though was the hand-crafted Phantom from Indore, about which you can read in the box.

    The final day was one for relaxed fun, save the high-tension Assembly Wars in which the team from Goa managed to take apart the wheels and control cables of the bike and put them back on quicker than any other club. Then there were the arm wrestling competitions rounded off with a beer guzzling contest – few remember who won that one. More music and partying followed, accompanied with customary prize distributions and votes of thanks which rounded off the weekend.

    Rider Mania as an event has been through its share of ups and downs, so much so that it has now split into two RMs every year, the other one being rolling meet organized by clubs which changes locations from year to year. Another testimony to the free spirit of the biker breed that refuses to be chained down in any way? Irrespective, two big bike parties in a year are better than one, so we probably won’t hear many complaints.

    The bottom line is that RM remains one of the most fun weekends in the calendar for Enfielders, and not just for the ten-bucks-a-pint-beer. It’s a pity that in one of the world’s most prolific two-wheeler nations, only one bike maker has the vision and gumption to see the potential of throwing a party. Surely, motorcycling in India has grown into enough of a lifestyle even if the steeds are not thumpers. They might differ in their love for torque vs. revs, but our breed of riders shares the same idea of having a good time. Nevertheless, when other companies choose to go this way, they will have the rocking beacon of Royal Enfield’s yearly dose of bedlam as an example.

    credit : zigwheels .com

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