Srikrishna Natesan talks to avid biker Ravi Kiran who loves the freedom that biking offers him.
There are guys who wake up at midnight to gaze at their girlfriends' faces and there are guys who wake at 3.00 a.m. to sneak in to their garage to admire their bikes.
Ravi Kiran is one such guy; someone who wears his riding passion on his sleeves. A well known face in Chennai's biking circuit, the guy lives half his life on the road and works with bikes the other half. He talks bikes and riding to NXg.
How did your love for bikes begin?
I have been passionate about cars and bikes ever since I can remember, so when it was time to choose a career, I knew what I wanted to do: beat a straight path to the gates of the automotive industry.
I've been riding ever since I managed to get my license. College life was limited to using the bus and walking, and it has probably made me appreciate motorcycles even more when I finally managed to get one. My first bike was an RD350, almost on its last legs but I'd waited eight years to own one, so it did not matter. I am on an eternal quest to own and/or ride every make and model of motorcycle available.
Which was the longest ride you've ever been on?
Definitely the one to Ladakh. It is the most challenging trip within the Indian border in terms of terrain and needs planning, not to mention the unpredictability of climate. The chill of the mountains froze me more than I liked, but the isolation and the landscape more than made up for it.
*touchwood* My bikes generally run quite reliably on a trip. I go good lengths to make sure they are prepared and are looked after well. All the garage time I spend justifies the uninterrupted fun on the highways.
Funny story? My helmet rolled down the valley after Rohtang pass. I didn't want it to become a funny story of how I went down the valley and needed the army to rescue me, so I rode the remaining distance to Leh with my head draped in multiple layers of cloth till I got a cheap replacement. Needless to say, I was frozen.
You work for Royal Enfield. What is so different about Enfield bikes?
It's fun working at Royal Enfield. It's very different from a regular job with the culture being motorcycle centric. We talk motorcycles all day and there is a certain passion in everyone who puts their effort into each function. Royal Enfield bikes are unique and stand apart in a crowd. They have a timeless appeal. Most of our customers today are quite young and our challenge now is to make products that match their expectations.
About Rider Mania...
Rider Mania is an annual gathering of Royal Enfield enthusiasts at one common location in the third week of November. It is a ritual that most of the regulars come to, one way or the other. Riders prep their bikes and start their journey days before the event. As you approach the dates, all roads lead to Rider Mania. The energy levels are high and it is a spectacular sight to see close to 600 bikers at one place. (More info at: www.royalenfield.com.)
You run an ‘orphanage' for bikes, as in anyone who wants their bikes to be taken care of when they go out of station calls you. True?
Guilty as charged. Motorcycles are often a reflection of one's personality. I am humbled by the number of friends and motorcycle enthusiasts who have trusted me with their precious machines while they have had to travel. These days parking comes at a premium and, in an apartment, most neighbours do not understand the requirements of proper parking for motorcycles.
My father, an automobile engineer, taught me to be persistent. My mother, probably because she is the only one who never gives up on me.
Finally, why riding?
When you are on a ride, you are in a different dimension. It makes all the hard work behind the desk worth it. It makes up for all the nonsense you put up with during the few months before the ride. For most of us, our calendars go from one ride to the other. The people you meet on a ride are new acquaintances. It's just human connect. It's a sense of freedom.