With the Indian motorcycle industry expanding at a massive rate, the focus is slowly shifting from the manufacturers to boutique custom bike builders and modifiers across the country. Modifying your bike used to mean changing the paint job or getting projector headlamps, but the various customisation houses are showing us that it can be so much more. From changing the entire structure and look of existing bike models to building completely new ones from scratch, these designers are rewriting the rules of how bikes should look.
Rajputana Custom Motorcycles
Rajputana Customs is a small motorcycle outfit based in Jaipur. It was started by Vijay Singh in 2009 when he decided to build a custom-made bike around the 350cc engine of a Royal Enfield Classic. The bike, which was named Original Gangster, received rave reviews at the 2010 Delhi Auto Expo. Following this, Vijay Singh was introduced to John Abraham who became his first customer when he commissioned a bike, the Lightfoot from Singh. After that, Rajputana Customs has gone from strength to strength and established itself as one of the most reputed builders in India.
Old Delhi Motorcycles
Bobbee Singh, the founder of Old Delhi Motorcycles is a restoration specialist who purchases vintage Royal Enfield bikes and transforms them into works of art which he then sells to a global customer base. A 18 minute long documentary movie, Old Delhi Motorcycles starring Bobbee Singh was shown at the New York Motorcycle Film Festival last year. He loves British bikes like Norton, BSA and Triumph besides Royal Enfields. Old Motorcycle Customs is all about restoring the vintage look and feel of the bikes more than the technical aspects.
What started off as a small backyard project in 2005 has now developed into a small business. In their own words, they are driven by “an insatiable urge to make things better, be it design aesthetics, handling or just plain appeal, we are always pushing the envelope of design and performance.” The Gunner 540 by Bulleteer Customs, which looks absolutely brilliant, won the prestigious ‘Best Custom Bike (Judges Category)’ in this year’s Royal Enfield Rider Mania.
TJ Moto’s founder, Tushar Jaitly can be termed as an actual gearhead as he grew drawing sketches of cars and went on to study automobile design. The 24-year-old custom builder’s first project was his own Harley-Davidson Iron 883 which he called Nadia. The bike was widely applauded at India Bike Week and led to many more builds from him. Jaitly’s customization style is minimalistic in nature. He crafts various required components himself for customization while procuring others from other bike component firms.
Akshai Varde, the man behind Vardenchi Motorcycles is currently Bollywood’s favourite custom builder. His first custom bike was a 1977 Royal Enfield which he made as a personal project. Ash Chandler, who is a comedian and actor residing in Mumbai, spotted Varde riding the bike and was so fascinated by it that he asked Varde to make one for him. That’s how Vardenchi was born and actors like Akshay Kumar, Jacki Shroff and Sameera Reddy (who married Varde) are all on its customer list. Akshai, along with his in-house crew of 32 members. specialises in making neo-retro bikes and he plans to open exclusive showrooms soon.
Road Rage Custom Builds
Road Rage Customs was started in 2009 by Gabriel D Zuzarte and is based in Mumbai. They started with modifying motorcycles to look like classic American Choppers built especially for the Indian road. Soon after that, they expanded to modifying cars, SUVs and RVs as well. In this year’s Rider Mania, the Squadron by Road Rage Customs won the most popular custom bike award.