Holding on for dear life, Leo Mirani finds out what riding a speeding Bullet feels like. Names cease to exist in this club. You are known by the name of your bike, be it 'Chief', 'Godspeed' or 'Juggernaut'.
THEY CALL THEMSELVES THE Inddiethumpers. Inddie because they’re Indian, Thumper because they love the thumping sound of a particular kind of motorbike. The group in question is a city-based motorcycle club. The sound in question comes from the engine of that fine beast – the Royal Enfield Motorcycle.
Also known as Bullets or ‘bulls’, these motorbikes stir in the loins of men and make jelly of many macho motorbike aspirants. Love drives men to do strange things. Why else would three grown men – Rasik Narula, Damanvir Sidhu and Ravi Soni – get together to establish a network of like-minded Enfield enthusiasts in December 2001? That it is now India’s largest Bullet club says a lot about the kind of affection this monster attracts.
There is neither a membership fee, now formal rules and regulations. All you need is an Enfield bike (any make, any model) and a real sense of passion for it. What you get in return is the pack of riders to cruise with, routine trips in and round Maharashtra or beyond, and a whole lot of friends for life. There’s also an annual two-day function, organized by Royal Enfield Motors, which draws enthusiasts from across the country. “The atmosphere is amazing,” says senior member Prem Joseph. “You will never see so many Bullets in one place at one time. It’s something we all look forward to.”
The pinnacle of cruising, however, is a pilgrimage to Ladhak. Biking down thousands of kilometers, often without roads or any sign or civilization is, for most Thumpers, the zenith of biking. There is no other bike that can make the trip,” adds Prem. “They would just break down on treacherous roads. It’s not hanging around in Ladhak or sightseeing, we bike simply because we love it.” Rasik Narula, founder member, believes riding on Khar Dungla – the world’s highest motorable road – is the best part of the exercise.
While these guys are pretty laid back about most things, safety is never taken lightly. “We never ride or go pillion without helmets. We are not into racing and discourage our members from even trying. We also generally wear leather jackets or at least thick denim jackets while riding, because they keep your skin from getting scraped if you fall,” says Rasik.
That they are a passionate bunch is obvious, Rasik for example, bikes from his house in Juhu to work at Cuffe Parade daily, come rain or shine. “I carry an extra set of clothes if necessary,” he smiles, “but nothing can keep me from riding to work.” And yes, names cease to exist here. You are known by the name of your bike, be it ‘Chief’, ‘Godspeed’ or ‘Juggernaut’.
Maybe those who own a Bullet alone know what it’s all about. The rest of us will simply have to manage with a glimpse of those machines every Sunday. See you at Carter Road.
KYA BIKE HAI
- All Enfields in the world are exported from the factory in Tamil Nadu.
- An average Bullet weighs as much as 180 kilograms. A 350 cc model could cost up to Rs. 70,000, while a 500 cc could set you back by Rs. 85,000.
- Many senior members have been riding Thumpers since they were in school, picking it up from their dads and uncles along the way.
- The founders found early members by accosting Bullet riders on the street.
- Members range from 18 to 45 years and include software engineers, bankers, hotel managers and students.