Bangalore is not only slowly earning the reputation of being another Indian city that never sleeps, as a vast number of daredevils astride their mean machines zip along the roads in the dead of night, but is also being dubbed as the 'sports bike capital of the country'.
Following the tragic deaths of Md Azharuddin's son, Ayazuddin and relative Ajmal, on September 11 - MiD DAY does a reality check in the city to cover the illegal drag racing scene and found an emerging trend.
Sports bikes are revving up on city roads
The drag racing scene has witnessed tremendous transformation in the last few years and of all the old areas where impromptu drag racing challenges happened, only a few continue to flourish.
However, racers are now heading to unfamiliar and secluded areas around the city to avoid brushes with the law.
Deserted stretches in the vicinity of Devanahalli Road, or abandoned bylanes close to Kamakshipalya are quickly becoming hot spots for these so-called speed demons gather and burn rubber.
According to members of these groups, the area is never pre-decided and only participants are informed of a tentative area about an hour or so before the race starts.
"We are being extra careful and we don't want to generate pointless criticism. We do not encourage youngsters, who might be encouraged to drive rashly and we only invite friends and participants who have been a part of the circuit for over a decade," revealed one race group member on conditions of anonymity.
Furthermore, with many areas in the outskirts witnessing weekly races, the few residents or commercial establishments in the surroundings are in the loop.
"They are in fact our sources, who tip us off in case the cops are approaching. We indulge in drag racing since it is our passion and we all own sports bikes and use it only for this purpose," claimed another drag racer, who has been racing for over 10 years.
'Sports bike capital'
According to iconic sports bike companies in the city, Bangalore is slowly acquiring status of 'Sports Bikes capital of the country'. This boom was noticed in the past six months, as sales of sports bikes, which have been launched recently in India have shown interesting numbers.
"We have been selling sports bikes like hot cakes in the last six months. We haven't noticed such enthusiasm in the last couple of years. We sell over three sports bikes per month and at least two cruiser bikes.
In fact, since March this year we have sold over 10 super bikes. Despite the high cost and a 45 day waiting period, people have already paid advances for the 1300 cc Hayabusa," said Harish Wadhwa, CEO, Suzuki dealership.
Ducati Bengaluru also mirrored the same sentiment.
"Sales have gone up for Ducati as well as other brands and youngsters are taking tremendous interest in this segment.
The city has always been the favourite hub for super bikers as the climatic conditions favour year round biking. Being the IT hub, professionals who travel abroad constantly are aware of the bigger machines and the charm of getting astride.
We have been witnessing a huge demand for SBK 848 Evo and SBK 1198sp, which are priced at around Rs 15.84 lakh and Rs 25.08 lakh respectively," said Jatinder Singh, AGM Matrix Agencies Private Limited (from Ducati Bengaluru).
The traffic cops are unaware of the situation and are currently seeking to bring about a ban on drag racing in a more organised manner. While the cops ponder, the daredevils continue to head towards the next secret drag race somewhere in or around the city and play with fate.
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