Motorcycle Diaries

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One calls it the Beast, another calls it the Dodo and the third got himself a Fat Boy look-alike. Each of them have a common passion – designing motorcycles. The Harley-Davidson and the Royal Enfield engines set the stage for some awe-inspiring designs, specially crafted to suit individual fancies. Thirty-seven year-old Mandeep Singh's family couldn't understand his extended romance with bike parts and aluminium alloys. "I built my bike from scratch," says Singh. "In the initial phase, we hardly met with success, but in the end we nailed it. My family couldn't comprehend what the fuss was about since I had nothing much to show. All that changed when I fired up my bike for the first time. What I have today is a replica of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy."

He's just one among a number of biking enthusiasts who are doing to motorcycles what Dilip Chhabria does to cars. One trait common to all these self-made motorcycle designers, who build for themselves, is their passion for tinkering with machinery, for them it is a hobby. Never mind that they haven't been formally trained in the nuances of bike design. Ahmedabad-based architect Gurjit Matharoo grew up in Ajmer, watching his father dismantle and assemble a BSA 500 Twin. "My brother and I watched him do this several times, we would pass him tools, generally hang around. While my brother learned the trade of setting things right, I asked too many questions. Some I got answers for, some I am still asking," says Matharoo. His bike, the Bestiale, comes with a 750cc four-cylinder engine. "We wanted the body to be slim, yet monstrous, such that the massive engine resembles the ribs protruding from the skin of a wolf, for instance. The bike has thin ligament-like areas binding its muscular parts," he says. This kind of raw energy required research, time and money, Matharoo admits. "We have tried to use large capacity engines as a primary shell, on to which other components are directly bolted — saving weight by eliminating frame. It is said an extra coat of paint can alter the outcome of the first two positions in Formula 1. Imagine what excluding 10 kg can do in motorcycles that are much lighter than Formula cars," he says.

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