Let’s try this. Close your eyes and think of motorcycles and the men who ride them. What images come to your mind? The common answer; rebels with leather jackets, roaring down the road, defying all authority. In a gist, instantly cool. Did you know that many famous men were motorcycle enthusiasts? They combined their passion for things like adventure and music with a love for bikes. What is about men and their love for bikes? Shweta Bhatia speaks to a few men to find out about their passion for their machines
Riding the open road with the wind in their faces leaving them invigorated and inspired, motorcyclists have always found riding as the perfect outlet for their zeal for life. Riyaz Neem owns and manages an advertising agency. “As they say, there are two types of men; those who ride bikes and those who wished they did”, Riyaz shares. The first bike Riyaz bought was a candy red 100cc Kawasaki Bajaj in 1999. Today he owns a Triumph Bonneville, a Kawasaki 650 and a Royal Enfield Classic 500 with a sidecar. That is a good number of bikes. “It’s still one bike less than I should own.” So which one is his favorite? “ They all are but the Enfield is more than a bike. It takes me back to the days in my childhood when my dad rode one. It was a family vehicle with my mother sitting behind him and my brother and me squeezed into the sidecar. We recently recreated an old picture of my dad, my brother and I on the Enfield to relive the memory.” Sitting stiff armed with hands on the bars, slowly releasing the clutch, feeling that slap of wind on your face is a feeling that needs to be experienced. “Riding a bike is therapy for me. It’s soul satisfying and is by far the most fun one can have with their clothes on.” Riyaz says.
Michael Leonard runs a specialized automotive recruitment consultancy. He owns a 1982 BMW R65 (which he has had since he was 22 years old), a 1984 BMW K100, a 2005 BMW R1150RT, a 2005 Suzuki DR650, a 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 and a 2011 Enfield Classic 500. Some would say he has too many bikes but as any motorcyclist believes, there is no such thing as ‘too many bikes’. His affair with bikes started when he laid his eyes on his friends’ sister’s boyfriend’s Honda road bike. He got a part time job, saved up and bought his first Suzuki RM100.
He was only 13 years old. Surely, with so many bikes one would imagine they all would have been named. “Only the BMW R65. She was always been ‘the old girl’,” Michael shares. Surely a lot of time is spent on the road. So, what are the thoughts that go through when riding? “Sometimes I sing, sometimes I design modifications to the bike I am riding, sometimes I am just at peace with nature. But all the time I have eyes in the front and back because it’s a jungle out there”, Michael says. Safe to say that Michael is a veteran when it comes to owning and riding bikes so it would be interesting to know what would he recommend to those who would like to buy their first bike? “Get yourself a dirt bike. Learn to throw it around, learn to fall off, to skid and slide then tackle the road because the skills you learn on the dirt are invaluable!”
Aerospace aftermarket manager, Mohammed Belhaj, got into biking five years ago when he started building a bike and learned to ride. Currently, he rides a custom Ducati Scrambler where his kids designed the side covers. They’ve named it ‘The Scrambled’. His favorite memory, by far, has to be the North Italy tour he took. “I was riding in the rain for eight hours and was able to see the world differently without mobile phones or other distractions. It was a really good experience and a great memory.” Mohammed says.
Owner of a R9T, Ducati Scrambler and a Moto Guzzi California, Rami Halawani says that it’s the bike that chooses you, not the other way around. “The best feeling you get from riding a motorcycle is when you’re exploring a new place. Touring faraway destinations on a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience. Everything looks and feels different. People become less apprehensive to you as a stranger, they’re suddenly more approachable and eager to help. When I’m traveling, it opens up a whole new world of small details and human interaction,” Rami shares. “I recently went on a three week tour of Europe with a good friend of mine. UK, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland were the countries we visited. We chose to take the longest routes possible with no set plan in place. We would pick a city or a small town on the map and head there with no specific agenda. If we liked the place, we’d spend a couple of days before moving to the next stop. Along the way, we met the most amazing people and visited some of Europe’s most scenic destinations. We also learnt a lot about ourselves in the process. That experience is amazingly rewarding.” According to Rami, everyone should try riding atleast once. “Owning a motorcycle is a very individual process, it has to feel right regardless of what’s ‘in’ or what your peer group thinks.” Rami shares.
Burak Ertuna is in the IT industry for over 20 years, but originally he was a navy lieutenant in the early 90s. One of the biggest reasons he got into riding bikes was actually Tom Cruise. When he saw him riding the Kawasaki GPZ 900 Ninja in Top Gun, he fell in love. His first bike was the very same one as he saw. A proud owner of a 2008 Honda VFR 800 Interceptor, Burak shares that he made most of his best friends by biking. “It is not everything for sure but still quite something in my life.” The love of his life is fondly called ‘Cobretti’.
Liam Allen, a producer and director for a media company in Dubai, went on a long ride with a very experienced older rider who had actually sold him his Royal Enfield. They rode along the border between the UAE and Oman. That particular stretch ran up some incredibly steep mountains and even though his fellow rider had a bad drop and broke the clutch pedal, for Liam it was all about the journey. “It’s a meditative experience,” Liam says, “It’s therapy on wheels.” Along with the Enfield, he also owns a Moto Guzzi V7 Stone, an Italian beauty who’s christened ‘Guzzi Francesca.’ Having been a motorcycle enthusiast only since a year and a half ago, Liam wishes that he had enriched his life earlier by embracing it at a younger age. But surely he must be the envy of his peers and on lookers as he whizzes past. “Half of the people I know think I’m crazy to ride a bike on the roads of UAE. They’re convinced that I have a death wish. The other half wish they had the time to get a license and start riding themselves.”
At the end of it all, it is learnt that a motorcycle is more than just a ride for these bikers. It’s therapy. It’s freedom. It’s liberating. It’s an experience. They have one other benefit; they attract women. Even the nerdiest guy seems infinitely cooler.