Money no bar for Superbike Enthusiasts in India

How many of you get a chance to catch a glimpse of a superbike in Flesh, let alone getting close and personal? The answer is - very very less.

Well I’ve been a fan of these Superbikes since ages, but unfortunately haven’t been able to buy one. The reason is obvious - the High, High price tags are associated with these powerful mean-machines!

But there is a certain segment in India, which is passionate about these niche superbikes and also have the bank balance which helps them indulge in their costly hobby!

Courtesy such enthusiasts, the niche superbiking market is growing at a very slow rate, but it is growing.

FYI Yamaha alone has sold about 125 superbikes, YZF R1 and MT01, since its launch in December 2007.

Suzuki with masterpieces like Hayabusa and Intruder has sold about 100 of them since 2006, while Honda and Ducati are others in the market.

"It's like an addiction, an adrenaline rush," says Arun Thareja, a 46 year old head and neck cancer surgeon at the Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, New Delhi. "You literally feel you're a cheetah as these machines are awesomely powerful" adds Thareja

He is the President of GODS (Group of Delhi Superbikers) which has 25 members ranging from doctors like him to businessmen and students. The group has a fleet that consists of almost all major superbikes ranging from Yamaha R1, R6, Honda CBR, Hayabusa etc.

The superbikes enjoy a cult status in the country since most of them are imported. Indian manufacturers are yet to enter this elite segment as they are more focussed on delivering what is most in demand than in catering to a niche segment.

One may think it is the youth that is most enthused by superbikes. But age is no bar - owners include teens, young actors like John Abraham and middle-aged professionals like Thareja.

There is also an equally thriving grey market of superbikes as import duty is as high as 113 per cent. To avoid this, people dismantle them and import them as spare parts, which attract only 25 per cent duty. It is then re-assembled and sold.

"It's a crazy passion for crazy machines," says motoring critic Murad Ali Baig. "These bikes are for the seriously rich. I don't think India can have a very big market for such machines, at least in the near future."

The yearly sales of the Superbikes is 600-700 units and another factor that the market of these bikes isn’t expanding is lack of good, smooth roads in the country.

But all said and done, Superbiking is a hobby, a passion which can't be explained. Bikers in general, and superbikers in particular are a different breed altogether. You can't expect explanations from them. The feeling of having a powerful machine under you and the feeling of zooming away from all your worries with a single twist of the wrist is unmatchable and unbeatable.


Vishal Chopra

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