Bhopal's superbike craze in top gear
This 'city of
lakes' has a curious love affair with bikes, which unite the young
and old. And while motorcycle-enthusiasts regret the bike accident
which killed the son and nephew of former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin,
they say their passion for their mean machines will not lessen a bit
New Delhi: Till some
years ago, 23-year-old Jayant Verma was a compulsive thrill seeker
and the member of a biking gang in Delhi. Performing dangerous
stunts and indulging in street racing was a way of life with him,
till a major accident changed his life -- for the better.
It was the winter of 2009 when Verma, an erstwhile member of
Korrupt Ryderz, was performing stunts on the DND Flyway that
connects Delhi with the neighbouring suburb of Noida.
"I was performing a 'stoppie' on my Hero Honda Karizma when I lost
my balance and slammed down on the ground face first," said Verma,
who, like most of his friends, wasn't wearing a helmet.
A stoppie is a stunt in which the bike is brought to a halt on its
front wheel while the back wheel is lifted by carefully applying
"I broke my nose and six teeth and had serious injuries on my
face," added Verma, who took weeks to recover, both physically and
"I never realised the dangers involved in what I was doing just to
get an adrenaline rush," he said, adding that he has not touched a
bike since the accident and now rides a Honda Activa scooterette.
Earlier this month, a bike accident killed former cricketer
Mohammad Azharuddin's son Mohammed Ayazuddin, 19, and his cousin
Ajmal-ur-Rahman, 16, in Hyderabad.
While Rahman, who was riding pillion, died on the spot when the
bike skidded due to high speed, Ayazuddin died after battling for
life for five days.
Sadly, this has not had a major impact on the city's bikers, who
say it's "part and parcel of the game".
"These things happen if you are driving recklessly. There is
controlled aggression whenever we perform stunts or race...this is
no child's play," said 19-year-old Sunny, a Tilak Nagar resident.
The teenager eagerly awaits Saturday nights because that is when
he, along with his gang, is out on the streets, performing stunts.
The guys cover their faces with scarves and take care to fold
their number plates to avoid any police trouble.
"Though I am saddened by their deaths, it's a fact that whenever
you drive fast, you know the dangers involved. If you get hurt,
that's part and parcel of the game," said Sunny.
He also boasts of teaching others in his neighbourhood the "art of
stunting" for free.
"Thin traffic volume and deserted roads late night are ideal
conditions to train juniors," said Sunny, who owns a Honda CBR250R
and a bigger Yamaha YZF-R6.
Agreed Sohail, a biker from the old quarters of the city: "Early
Sunday mornings, at least twice a month, some biker groups meet on
the outskirts of the city and race."
Sohail, who owns three bikes, including a Kawasaki Ninja superbike,
refused to give out his group's name, but said usually a lot of
money is at stake and the best stunt performer or racer takes home
a lot of dough.
According to biking enthusiasts, around a dozen biker groups are
active in the city and they meet regularly on weekends. While some
of them perform stunts and indulge in street racing, others prefer
to go on long drives to tourist hotspots around Delhi.
However, there are also some mature voices within the community.
"We never indulge in racing or performing silly stunts on our
machines. These are very powerful bikes and require maturity and
experience to ride," said Shahbaz Khan of the Group of Delhi
Superbikers (GODS), a popular biking gang here.
Khan agreed that superbikes are a rage among today's youth.
However, a 19- or 20-year-old laying his hands on a superbike is
absolutely illogical, he said.
"I think the parents need to be stricter. I got my first superbike
when I was 26 and had eight years of experience of riding bikes,"
According to psychiatrist Samir Parekh, factors like peer
pressure, the glamour quotient and aura attached to bike racing
are what attract the youths.
"I know it's the parents who buy their kids such machines but I
would not blame them alone," Parekh told IANS.
"It's society that is collectively responsible for not realising
how a youth would be influenced by, for example, seeing a hero
dangerously riding a superbike," he added.
(Some names have been changed on request)
Vaishnavi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)