In India, there are bikes, and then there is the Bullet. There are bikers bound to their rides by reason, and there are the ‘Bulleteers’ bound to their ‘bulls’ by emotion. I belong to the latter category. I own a Bullet.
I have had to push the damn bike to the nearest petrol station under searing heat many a time. And of course, I have got stuck in traffic many a time due to the engine overheating. But I still love my Bullet and believe this is my bike for life.
Here are my reasons:
1. My past and a childhood romance:
My love for the bike started at a very early age – around 9, if my memory serves me right. This family friend of ours used to visit us often – a very broad, heavyset professor who always dressed in whites – a white shirt and white dhoti. He used to ride a black, classic Bullet. It had a rear-wheel mud-flap wide enough to be used as a road sweeper and had stringy leather strips coming out of its handles. The sight of this professor riding towards us – an over-proportioned man in whites riding an equally over-proportioned black beast – always mesmerized me. That was probably the beginning of my romance with a Bullet.
Plus, look at the contenders when I was growing up (in the ’80s in India): There was this pregnant looking Bajaj scooter and a lean but ordinary Lamby (Lambretta scooter). So how could I not be drawn to a Bullet that stood headlamp, cylinders and mud-flap above the rest?
2. My heroes always rode a Bullet:
Another big reason for my emotional bond with the Bullet was probably the movies. The hero of our movies (Malayalam) always rode a bullet. The movies always had a gang of thugs creating a ruckus and a Bullet riding hero kicking their butts. The scenes used to go like this:
- Villains cause ruckus
- Grand entry of our hero: quite contrary to the laws of physics, the thump of a Bullet always preceded the sight of our hero (a blur, initially) coming into the scene.
- Blur got clearer and bigger as the hero came closer.
- Sometimes he beat up the thugs while riding the bike; sometimes, he leapt off the bike onto a thug (thug bites the dust). And sometimes, he takes his time to park the bike, place a cigarette on his lips, borrow a lighter from the villain, light his cigarette and then proceeds to do some serious ass-kicking.
- A Bullet was always the hero’s companion.
You see, it was difficult for a kid growing up in the ’80s in Kerala not to be enamoured by the Bullet.
3. Ride a Bullet – Be a man!
Where I come from, owning a Bullet increased your macho-ness. A Bullet and its rider are looked upon with fear and respect. While in college, my friends with Bullet were treated like royalty (they always got an extra parippuvada or 2 free from fans) while we, the lesser mortals, languished in the wilderness of dark college corridors.
4. The ride is good.
Make no mistake: a Bullet offers a good riding experience as well – I remember when I switched from my Splendor to a Bullet, 3 things I immediately noticed were
a) the fullness and firmness offered by the …(hmm…stay on topic here buddy) … grip
b) the seating comfort and
c) the thump.
I felt surer and ‘steadier’ riding the bullet. (Re-read this para – who said Bullet isn’t sexy?)
5. Not high-maintenance (unlike some of my other human friends).
I have owned an Electra (not the best of Bullet models, I know) for 7 years now, and I haven’t had to spend much money on maintenance. The spares aren’t costly either.
6. Being part of a clan; owning a conversation starter
As a Bullet owner, I feel special to be part of a clan – I haven’t seen this kind of brand loyalty for any other vehicles in India. Plus, my bike has been a good conversation starter; I sometimes get total strangers coming up and talking to me (about my bike) just like we are long-lost friends!
7. A Bullet isn’t an inanimate machine.
A Bullet isn’t just all iron and steel put together. Bullet for me (and I suspect, for most of us Bullet owners) is a living, breathing, loyal friend. When I go on aimless rides with my son, he asks me where I am taking him. My reply, almost always, is: “I don’t know. Let us go where the ‘Bullet Man’ takes us”. Then I switch to a hoarse voice and detail out a route plan to him. When the Bullet Man takes over my body, I feel different – I become more adventurous and offbeat route plans come to me automatically. Plus, I sound cool. I love being a Bullet Man!
You go now. Do you love a Bullet? Are you a Bullet owner too? What are your reasons for loving a Bullet?