The market for modified mobikes is still at a nascent stage in India

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Nov 24 2012, 08:21am hrs
To many, a motorcycle is not simply a commuter vehicle but also a style statementand thats where the art of customisation steps in. Although one can find motorcycle customisation shops in almost every major city in India, the quality they offer leaves a lot to be desired. And most of them dont have the technical expertise to give us a choppera type of motorcycle that is modified (chopped) from an original motorcycle design to have a unique hand-crafted appearance, the main feature being its longer frame design and a stretch front end. This is unlike the field of car customisation where we have had companies like DC Design that have been giving us some fine quality customised cars. But things are getting better and, over the last decade, we have seen some companies churning out some decent quality choppers. One such is the Mumbai-based Vardenchi Motorcycles, which was established in 2005 by Akshai Varde, who, in an interaction with FEs Vikram Chaudhary, shares that the demand for customised motorcycles is steadily growing in India, and that customisation doesnt necessarily means compromising on safety. Excerpts:

Some feel a motorcycle is just hot metal and wheels

Our bikes are made for othersfor those who believe that a motorcycle is a mirror image of his/her personality. In fact, our motorcycles are well-engineered and built with great precision, and reflect the owners personality. We offer an entire range of custom motorcycle building solutions including sheet metal fabrication, structural fabrication, in-house painting, conceptual sketching, 3D designing of parts and assembly unit. A team of 25 experts ensures that each machine not only looks spectacular but also rides exceptionally.

How does it reflect the owners personality

Every motorcycle built at Vardenchi is unique. Customers can choose the colours, graphics, handle design, size of the tank, rear tyre widthalmost anything that make up hot metal and wheels. And once a client approves the computerised 3D model, it takes about 45 days to build that unique machine.

What is the base machine you use

We custom build Royal Enfield 350cc and 500cc motorcycles. The engine specifications remain unchanged to retain serviceability. Only the air-filter and exhaust are changed. The Royal Enfield thump is maintained, but can be made deeper or louder as per customer demand. The customer can either provide us with a brand new motorcycle or it can also be provided from our end. We have also created machines for promotional activities.

Yes, recently Akshay Kumar rode one of your bikes in the satirical comedy film OMG: Oh My God!

That was a great accomplishment for us also. The makers of the film saw our work online and got in touch with us. They explained the need, which was a designer motorcycle with a larger than life appeal and something that resembled the chariots of the gods so that it went well with Akshays character in the film. We were excited about doing it, and in just a few weeks we created the bike.

So you created a special bike for the movie

Yes, we designed an exclusive motorcycle for the movie. It took us 45 days to design and build the OMG chopper. Each and every component was hand-build with great precision. It had some unique features like a 300mm rear tyre, double-sided wing arm, custom alloy wheels, air brushed graphic design, and a long handlebar.

Your bikes are some of the most radical designs, where do you get inspiration from

The inspiration is automotive space itself, which has so much to offer in design. Our teamcomprising of engineers, industrial designers and graphic artistsclosely follows not only the continuous evolution in design of high-end cars like BMW, Audi and Mercedes, but also the same in products such as electronic gadgets, phones, furniture. Our motorcycles reflect the same. Design has no limits.

Which are the markets for your radical designs

The market is still at a nascent stage. Maximum demand is from metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.

It is a fact that bikes should not be modified much because modifications can make it unsafe. How safe are your bikes

The design process is carried out keeping several factors in mind, safety being an integral and the most important part. Once a motorcycle is complete, it is thoroughly tested to ensure production has been carried out in the prescribed manner and it is fit for great riding.

I can ride a Royal Enfield confidently at high speeds, but can I ride a modified Royal Enfield as confidently at such speeds

The tests performed on our motorcycles include high speed testing at up to 120 kmph. And these are performed on and off the road to ensure handling and suspension performance. The bikes are tested for critical braking as well.

What kind of market research you do before launching new models

Each bike is a unique one where we spend time with our customers to understand their requirement. Hence, each motorcycle arises out of customer requirement.

What is your after-sales service programme like

We back each motorcycle that we sell regardless of the city it is sold in. In Mumbai, we offer a very comprehensive after-sales support that includes picking the bike up and dropping it back after servicing. In all other cities, we offer parts support, online technical support, and technicians.

What kind of competition you currently face

Since we are among the pioneers, competition is little.

Are you also exporting your bikes

Not yet, but there are plans in the pipeline. You will hear from us on the same soon.