So you thought Harley riders are all about rippling muscles and beer bellies? Apparently, the Chennai ones are idli lovers!
What images come to mind when you think of a biker gang riding Harleys on the highway? Tattoos? Paunches? Long-haired, unkempt men?
You will be surprised when you ride with the hogs in Chennai. Given that Harley Davidson came to Chennai a year ago, there are over a hundred Harley owners in the city. And the local chapter of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) rides on the last Sunday of every month.
“It’s nothing like what you see in the movies. We have a lot of vegetarians, people who love their curd rice and idli-vada. Many of them don’t look like Harley riders!” says 45-year-old Bala Chandrasekharan, a lawyer and the director of Harley Owners Group, TN.
Last month, they all rode to Kalpakkam and came back for breakfast at the new ID at Phoenix Market City. “There’s nothing like a delicious south Indian breakfast at the end of the ride,” Bijal Patel, treasurer of the chapter, explains their stop at ID, where the bikes were displayed for public viewing, much to the envy of people walking in to the mall.
“The only other gang is the Bullet owners that organises such rides,” says Bala. “There’s not much of a choice for bikers in Chennai. The only option is ECR. On any other stretch we will be stuck in traffic,” he adds. Which is why the Harley owners participate in all the regional hog rides and the annual national hog ride.
The Owners group is an independent body; the company and dealership offer only technical and service support. “It’s not promoted, but supported. Such as during the national hog ride, the company organises for safe parking, live bands, DJs, rock bands and special events on bike care,” explains Bala.
The Harley Owners Group is one of the largest riding groups in India. For the national hog ride in Goa during the first week of February, over 700 bikers showed up.
The annual calendar is decided at the beginning of every year. The Eastern Hog Ride to Bodh Gaya happened in March. The Western Hog Ride to Nasik will happen between April 12 and 24, where bikers will meet at Sula Vineyards. The Southern Hog Ride is planned for September when bikers will converge in Hyderabad. “Next year, the Southern Hog Ride will come to Chennai.”
It’s a mixed group of bikers. “Our youngest rider is 22, and the oldest, over 60. Out of the 100 owners, about 30 of us are active riders and ride every weekend,” adds Bala. “We also meet to discuss updates, customisations, riding gear etc. We don’t encourage anyone to ride with us without the gear.”