We chat with Vivek and Manoj and get behind to what it means to be a petrolhead and 2 wheeler fanatics
Arnab : Vivek, you have been into motorbiking since you were very young. Tell us about your past bikes and your progression through the different bikes as you moved from India to Dubai.
Vivek : Coming from a family of petrol-heads, access to motorcycles and cars was easy. Living in India, I have been riding my cousins’ bikes since the age of 10. This was the year where the Japanese motorcycles started to make their way into India. My feet wouldn’t reach the ground but with one of my cousins riding pillion, I never had a problem. My dad had restored 2 British classic bikes from the 50′s, a Sunbeam S8 and a BSA A50 but these were too heavy for me then. These bikes later went on to become my weekend rides. Having always had access to a variety of motorcycles including a Yamaha RD 350cc (High Torque) during my school and college days, I never really owned a motorcycle , till I started working. This was a Honda 160cc.
Moving to Dubai happened in 2004, and I hooked up with friends who were biking and soon I was nicknamed “the fastest pillion in Dubai” by a few friends as I used to ride pillion with CarbonOctane’s Pradeep Warrier. My first bike here was gifted to me by my wife. This was a 2003 Honda CBR 954RR which was bought from a good friend. After the 954, I have gone through two other Fireblades, a CBR 600RR and also added two more bikes to the collection, a Triumph Speed Triple and a BMW R1200GS. I recently parted with my HRC limited edition CBR1000RR. I regretted this decision soon after, but the bike has gone to a good home and you never know ….. Maybe it will be back one day.
Arnab : Manoj, as with Vivek, you have also been around motorbikes, how has the ride been so far?
Manoj : It has been a very interesting trip, filled with both the joy and perils of riding a bike. It all started back in 1986 when I got a Suzuki KB125 back in India during my college days. During those days got to ride lots of my friends’ bikes that were available in the Indian market. After moving to Dubai, finally got it together and picked my first bike here, a Suzuki RF400. It was a wise step I think, starting small. Moved to the Honda CBR 600RR for a year and then on to the Yamaha YZF-R6, which was a great track bike. After three years, sold the R6 and picked up the Kawasaki ZX-6R. With all the trials and tribulations of working life, I did not get a chance to fully enjoy the ZX-6R. So I decided to move to a different type of riding style I could enjoy all the time. The BMW 1200 GS was the type of bike I was looking for and was lucky to get a new one.
Arnab : Both of you have moved, temporarily, from track attacks to road riding now. Your choice of bikes, has it been because of the change in riding preference or you wanted to get back into a more upright position for those long rides?
Vivek : It definitely is due to a change in preference. I got so bored of doing the same 4 configurations at the Dubai Autodrome. I soon realized the need to do some things differently. Road riding and touring were some of the ideas I had in mind. Besides, it was also brought to my attention that 95% of the world is off-road and I wanted to have the option to go “there”.
Manoj : Well the choice of the BMW was mainly due to a desire to change my riding style and to be able to enjoy the long rides without crouching for a very long distance. I find I am able to maintain a good pace sitting in an upright position.
Arnab : How has the biking culture evolved since you moved here?
Vivek : The fact that the number of bikes doing the regular runs on a Friday morning has gone up from a handful of bikes back in the day, to different groups on a variety of mortorcycles including Royal Enfields speaks volumes. This can also be felt and experienced during a visit to the Dubai Autodrome on a track day. However, this market is far from mature and has a lot of potential.
Manoj : The bike culture here has made huge strides. Back when I moved here in 1992, it was a treat to see the big bikes make appearances on the road. When I started riding in 2004, it was always a small group doing the Kalba rides. Now there is always a good number of riders on the Friday mornings.
Arnab : Tell us about your bikes
Vivek : I currently have a Triumph Speed Triple 1050 and a BMW R1200GS.
The Triumph Speed Triple is an urban sport bike displacing 1050cc and putting out about 130 bhp @9250 rpm. Its unique 3 cylinder inline engine combined with the engine note that is emitted through the dual Arrow pipes is nothing short of awesomeness. It sounds as unique as the bike itself and is an absolute pleasure. Another advantage with the Speed Triple is that it can be setup for the track as well.
As for the BMW R1200GS, the bike has proven itself over and over again all over the world across various terrains. The shaft driven, horizontally opposed air cooled twin cylinder 4-stroke putting out about 105 bhp @ 7500 RPM is an ideal all-rounder, both on and off the road. The bike is also comfortable for a passenger over short or long journeys.
Manoj : The BMW 1200GS is a great bike that is fit for being used every day. I think it is one of the best buys I have done. All I have to say is that it takes the rough with the smooth.
Arnab : Any plans on getting a new one, or adding more to your fleet?
Vivek : I’m impulsive about buying bikes, never know what’s in store. Watch this space !
Manoj : Not at this point in time.
Arnab : Both of you have the BMW GS1200 which has been featured in movies and documentaries for cross country/continent tours, any such plans?
Vivek : Definitely, a long journey is part of the plan. It will happen when the time is right. My travels have always been impulsive with very little planning. However, I do realize that it’s not that simple and might need some planning. It might just happen earlier than expected. Manoj recently suggested a ride from here to London in June 2013.
Manoj : It has always been a dream to travel a long distance on my bike. With my BMW I do plan do that after hearing tales from my friends who have done such long trips. Maybe next year, let’s see how the logistics work out.
Arnab : If you do, what are things that you would need to have done to your bike or the preparations required?
Vivek : A brief look into the Touratech catalogue gives you an idea of how much there is to touring, and the equipments available to have a great trip. However, I would focus on storage, safety, protection, comfort, reliability, etc.
Manoj : Of course there are lot things that need to be done to the bikes before such a trip could be undertaken. Lot of protection, like the crash guards and storage boxes would need to be fitted. Getting the necessary paperwork, visas, tickets and permits would also take a lot of time. All in all a good three months of preparatory work.
Arnab : Lastly, any suggestions for potential new bikers in the UAE. I have seen a lot of new riders jumping on the Hayabusa directly, what do you have to say to that?
Vivek : I definitely would not suggest a Hayabusa or even a 600cc sportbike as a first bike. There has to be a natural progression. If someone really must buy a powerful sportbike, he must do the courses offered by the California Superbike School and stick to doing track days before riding on the road. That way, he or she has an opportunity to learn from mistakes. Might never get that on the road. Last but not the least, “people need to budget to buy proper protection before the bike is bought”. Many people save up just enough to buy a bike.
Manoj : My suggestion to new riders is that you start small. Anyone can get a license and go and buy a big bike. Please don’t, till you get used to riding here. There is no shame in starting small. On my little 400 back in the day, I had lots of fun riding with my friends on their 600′s and 1000′s. It’s not about posing, it’s all about having fun and there’s nothing like learning the basics.
Photos By Brian Donegan