India's first all-women motorcycle club breaks records
There are thousands of 'Likes' on the Bikerni's Facebook page and it proudly boasts, 'Limca Book of Records 2013: Largest All-Women Motorcycle Expedition to Khardung-La the highest motorable road from Delhi to Nubra Valley.' The group aims to promote women motorcyclists in India and provide them a platform to connect with each other. Firdaus Shaikh and Urvashi Patole, co-founders of The Bikerni, share their success story and reveal how they have battled against all odds to
Since when have you been riding?
Firdaus Shaikh: The first time I got on a motorcycle was when I was four years old. It was my cousin’s mini bike — a Honda QR. I’ve been riding the bigger bikes since the past 14 years. Currently I ride a Bajaj Pulsar 180 classic and Hero Karizma.
Urvashi Patole: I have been motorcycling since 11 years. I started off when I was just 14. I own a Royal Enfield Classic 500, which I prefer for my off-roading and motorcycle touring expeditions.
How did The Bikerni happen? What’s wrong with riding with the boys?
UP: When I started riding, I noticed that there were a few other girls like me who felt a tad left out on motorcycle rides. So I decided to start a Facebook group called The Bikerni in 2011 and added all the women bikers I knew and heard of. Firdaus and I created registration forms and voila! The Bikerni, first and largest pan- Indian motorcycle association for women in India, was
FS: There is nothing wrong in riding with boys. Rather it’s fun! You get to learn from each other and sometimes it’s fun to rub your riding skills on them... (giggles)
What was the reaction of your family, friends or loved ones when you told them about your passion?
UP: It has been a mixture of disapproval, jealousy, respect and admiration. I never told many at the start. There were some fellow motorcyclists I met when I was in college and I just had a Honda Activa scooter then. They would ridicule my stunts and going on rides on my scooter. Today things have changed. I ride many other motorcycles and my passion for motorcycling stays strong.
FS: My dad and uncle are avid bikers, but when they came to know that I am following their footsteps, they were scandalised! Initially it was difficult as they wouldn’t understand that even a woman could be equally passionate about motorcycles. My mum has been really
What kind of bikes do you like the most?
UP: I like off-roading bikes and tourers the most. Big, strong motorcycles suit my style of riding.
FS: Street bikes and sports tourers because they’re perfect for the Indian riding conditions.
One model you would love to own?
UP: KTM Adventure 1190 (sighs in admiration)
FS: Ah! One is too less… A Ducati Hypermotard — it’s totally orgasmic!
Being an all-girls riding group, how do biker boys react?
FS: Biker boys are really supportive and we’ve had many occasions where they’ve gone out of their way to help us.
UP: Ya, they even support us in our social cause rides and we are really one big family of motorcyclists.
Have you ever faced any harassment on your rides?
UP: I have been chased by cars, pushed by people on two wheelers, have had people messing my motorcycle in the parking just to harass a girl who dared do something they think is a male centric dominion. It doesn’t matter, because in the end they cannot break the spirit of the motorcyclist inside.
How do you cope with Male Chauvinist Pigs (MCP?)
FS: I simple ignore them. I don’t think they’re worth my time. ‘Keep calm, move on.’
What has been your biggest achievement yet?
FS: Riding to Ladakh has been the biggest achievement.
UP: Also, the fact that we managed to bring all women motorcyclists of India under one roof, that we have international recognition, and that we know so many amazing women is a big achievement.