A group of owners of the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles show off their iron steeds
Visualise your favourite scenes from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and most likely one of the images that springs to mind is Arnold Schwarzenegger in his slick leather jacket riding around on a big, beefy motorcycle. The movie went on to become a pop culture classic, Arnold’s popularity soared to dizzying heights, and the name of iconic American motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson reached new shores. All of a sudden the Indian audiences had a new standard to consider the epitome of machismo.
Now that the brand has established a foothold in India, another well known Harley tradition has taken root, the Harley Owners Group (HOG), which promotes interaction and activities among owners of the motorcycles. With the number of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the district increasing steadily, a group of owners have made it a point to meet regularly and experience the joys of motorcycle riding.
“I remember that after I saw Terminator 2, I wanted to someday own a Harley, so when the Kerala showroom opened I didn’t waste any time getting one,” says Nirup Nair, Head, Business Alliances at Suntec Business Solutions and owner of a Harley-Davidson SuperLow. According to Nirup, the SuperLow is one of the classics that have emerged from the stables of the company, with other well known names being the Forty-Eight, Street Bob, Iron 883 and Fat Boy, which is the model that featured in the film.
Niyas Ali, chief executive officer of Southgate Tours and Travels, who owns a Street Bob in the city and a Fat Boy in Dubai, also credits the film for starting his love affair with the brand. “We have a good line-up of motorcycles within our group, with slightly flashier youth-oriented machines like the SuperLow and Street Bob to the Fat Boy, which is the superior cruiser,” says Niyas.
Sooraj Mohan, a tattoo artist who owns a parlour in the city, believes his interest in the motorcycle began in Manipal in 1996, where he was pursuing a diploma in Computer Science. “I got to ride a Harley someone had imported, and though I do not remember the exact model, the experience never left me, and I knew that someday I had to own one for myself.”
The group from the city makes it a point of participating in the long standing tradition of going on rides together every week. And despite the ‘biker gang’ image that the loud machines and custom riding apparel give them, Nirup and Sooraj insist that safe and responsible riding is something all of them take very seriously.
One thing the members all agree upon is that the bikes get them a fair bit of attention on the roads, thanks to the throaty engine notes. The rides also foster a companionship among the members of the group, with conversation varying from the specifications of their machines to their jobs and personal interests. “Riding together is a great way to meet people and there is a sense of camaraderie. Even if a rider from another part of the country comes to the South and posts on social media for help identifying riding routes and so on, all the members of the community from the concerned states come together to offer assistance,” says Nirup.
Even though they have a tempting assortment of machines between them, Sooraj says that each rider is very attached to his ride, with customisations being the norm. “These motorcycles are a passion and we modify them to our tastes. I was planning to add a seat for my wife to ride pillion but then I came across an accessory that enhanced the bike’s exhaust note and got that instead. Now my wife is a little jealous,” he says jovially.
Other branches of Harley owners across the State have got together to organise safety campaigns in connection with the Motor Vehicles Department, and the Thiruvananthapuram riders are now considering doing the same. In the meantime, they enjoy the time off from what Nirup describes as their “sane lives” to enjoy a shared passion.
In a time when people focus on getting four wheels to ferry the family and shop for grocery, a few prefer to experience freedom on two. So if you hear the roar of motorcycle engines and see black clad riders on their steeds bearing down upon you, give them some space and enjoy the spectacle.
Over 20 Harley Davidson motorcycles have been purchased in Thiruvananthapuram district.
The owners' group organises rides every weekend, and each ride sees a participation of eight to 10 riders.
The rides are usually to places in and around the city, though two members from the group participated in the HOG rally to Goa organised by Harley-Davidson India.
Between them, the group boasts four SuperLows, a Super Glide, a Street Bob, a Forty-Eight, an Iron 883 and a Fat Boy.