Of ‘HOGs’ and other ‘pigs’
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When choices of meaningful leisure activities are limited, motorbike riding is the rage
It's a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie. As the immense herd of Harley-Davidson motorbikes powers down the highways leading off Bangalore on weekends, people freeze and gape. The 125-member Bangalore Pandhis, a club of fanatic Harley owners in and around the city, is two years old.
Bangalore Pandhis (pandhi is pig in the language of nearby Coorg), a cheeky take on the US's official HOG or Harley Owners' Group, is not a one-off. India is in the midst of a great leisure motorbike riding movement.
Across cities, motorbike owners are bonding over their shared passion for brands of motorbikes by joining exclusive leisure riding clubs. Clubs have sprouted up for Royal Enfield, Bajaj Pulsar, Hero Honda Karizma and TVS Apache motorbikes, and even clubs catering to imported brands like Ducati, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Hyosung.
Nothing captures the trend of leisure motorbike riding better than the revival in sales numbers of that British-era classic, Royal Enfield, in the last two years. Six months ago, Eicher Motors' Royal Enfield motorbikes sold at the speed of 6,000 every month. These days, monthly sales average over 9,000. From 54,000 motorbikes two years ago, Royal Enfield expects to double sales numbers this year. The factories in Chennai cannot keep up with the demand, leading to a six to eight month wait on some Enfield models.
Something is afoot, says Chennai-based Venki Padmanabhan, CEO of Royal Enfield, describing India's new love story. Padmanabhan, a returnee to India after a two-decade career overseas, is well-perched to provide insights.
The relative affluence of the 20-35 demographic in India is definitely rising. This age group of professionals and entrepreneurs has the financial muscle to indulge themselves, he says. Some of these bikes are not cheap. Royal Enfields, for instance, cost between Rs 1 to 1.7 lakh.
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