Taking the road less travelled

The Bikerni, India’s first all-women motorcycle association, celebrated its fifth anniversary on Sunday.

January 18, 2016 12:00 am | Updated November 17, 2021 03:12 am IST - NEW DELHI:

At 7 a.m., a clutch of heavy motorcycles burst through a thin layer of winter smog in Outer Delhi’s dusty Mukarba Chowk.

For most bystanders, the scene — a bikers’ group in leather gear — comes across as just another gang of boys out on a Sunday trip. However, much to the surprise of the roadside tea seller, at whose stall this gang halted, all the bikers were turned out to be women — once they removed their helmets!

This unique bikers gang, called “The Bikerni”, India’s first all-women motorcycle association. On Sunday, the group took a motorcycle trip to Karnal lake in Haryana to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the association.

For The Bikerni co-founder Urvashi Patole, this was only a “mini-trip”, as the group included a few inexperienced riders as well. The community has come a long way since its inception in 2011 in Pune, said the 27-year-old Urvashi, who suffered a major head injury just a year after its formation but chose not to give up on her passion.

“The Bikerni was formed to fill the void that exists in the male-dominated motorcycling community. Me and Firdaus Shaikh, the other co-founder, shared the same passion and hence began the journey,” she said.

In five years, The Bikerni has attracted over 400 active members, with chapters in Delhi, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai and Chennai. More interestingly, not just young women, but members starting from 18 to those in their 50s.

In 2013, the group organised the largest all-women motorcycle expedition from Delhi to Khardung La in Ladakh, which won them a special mention in the Limca Book of Records. The route includes the highest motorable road in the world.

“It was a dream come true. We were a group of 10 women and we chose to ride Royal Enfields, which is considered rather macho,” added Urvashi.

The association now targets to achieve a much bigger record, but the plan is being kept under wraps.

“We intend to set more exciting records — those that will have international certification. Besides, efforts are on to connect those who are spread in the remotest corners of the country,” said Shabnam Akram, an active member.

She added that The Bikerni aims to spearhead women empowerment through the medium of motorcycles. “Why should women hesitate in anything? We want to encourage women to go on adventures they would have never thought to go on before. Besides, at Bikerni we teach women to ride bikes, we help them source bikes and riding gears. Bike maintenance workshops are also organised for them,” added Shabnam.

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