Every rider has a unique story about their foray into the world of motorcycling. A story of their relationship with the machine they call their own. A machine that runs on two wheels. The seeds of this fascination are often sown very early in life – when the future rider-to-be, still an infant, learns the ropes of riding a bicycle. And as he grows and masters the art, the canvas of his exploring mind expands to newer pastures. And as sure as the beat of his heart, his passion for two wheels grows into an infinite allure for arguably one of the greatest innovations to come out of the industrial revolution – a motorbike.
Motonomous was born from such a fascination for everything two wheels. We are privileged to meet amazing personalities from the motorcycling community as part of our daily grind. That’s what makes our work such sheer fun on an ongoing basis.
This blog post is about one such passionate rider. A dear friend first and then a client – Mandar Sukhtankar.
Many from the riding community would identify with Mandar as one-half of Team Dirtsack, makers of quality motorcycling luggage and accessories. Mandar and Jaydeep have built the brand while concurrently continuing with their respective professions. Mandar straddles between being a flight engineer and working on path breaking luggage systems with dexterity. Aye that’s true. But one would wonder what gets this aviation engineer to work passionately on motorcycling gear. And the answer is quite obvious to those who’ve known Mandar – it’s his undulating passion for motorcycling and everything Jawa - Yezdi!
Mandar has been a Yezdi fanatic for eons. His own 2-stroke Yezdi has taken him to faraway places, and that too at a time when the upper stretches of Northern Himalayas were still out of bounds for a majority of riders and the sport of long distance mountain biking had just started attracting the hard core.
So on the eve of the ‘Forever Riders Meet’ organized by the Yezdi and Jawa Owners’ Club of India (YJOCI), we thought it would be a good idea to chat up with Mandar about his passion for the 2 stroke engine. Sudeep from team Motonomous got chatting with Mandar to know about his tryst with Yezdi, the cult of Yezdi-Jawa and a lot more.
Sudeep: So Mandar, what’s the story of your romance with Yezdi?
Mandar: For me the Y has been synonymous with freedom. It was my first bike purchased out of my own earnings and that meant a lot in terms of independence, freedom and that’s what got the riding spirit into me. I still remember the day I set my eyes onto this rusted contraption lying in someone’s backyard trying to fight off the elements and petty thieves. It was begging to be rescued. It had been shot at and wounded, but still standing. It didn’t take too much of convincing to make the elderly but proud owner to part with the bike. He was happy that his t(rusted) partner of over 15 years had found an admirer who promised to restore her to her former glory. Despite three years of rust and a bone dry tank, all it took was a sip full of petrol straight into the carb. The engine roared to life, hesitantly in the beginning and more confidently as she warmed up (to me). The beat at idle was so steady; you could set a Swiss watch with it. After a brief stop at a tyre shop to inflate the tyres, the ride home had me smiling from ear to ear.
Sudeep: That is WOW! Am sure the old man would be proud of how you've treated the machine after it changed masters. So what keeps drawing you to the 2 stroke machine time and again?
Mandar: Have you heard the saying " The greatness of this man was his simplicity".... the same applies to this bike too. It’s a very simple machine, designed to function on bare minimums, to keep going when all hope seems to be lost. There are certain simple but nifty features that make this bike so reliable - like interchangeable wheels that make it possible to carry a spare wheel; the semi-automatic clutch that allows you to keep going even through traffic jams with a broken clutch cable; the long stroke front shocks that offer point and scoot capability over the roughest of terrains and deepest of potholes.
The bike not only got me outdoors, it also got me a great gang of friends to do so with. These were all professionals and businessmen, men of their own making who vouched for the trustworthiness of their machines and who were ever willing to go a few hundred extra miles for a cup of tea in the middle of the night. People who would stand by you in your deepest sorrows and would laugh on your silliest jokes. This was the formation and the early years of the Yezdi and Jawa Owners’ Club of India.
Sudeep: Yes and we’ll talk about you and YJOCI as we move along this chat. But before that, can you share about some memorable rides you have done on your Yezdi?
Mandar: The most epic ride that comes to mind is the 2005 ride to Ladakh. We called it ‘The Great Circle’ - up through Manali and down through Jammu. It was a YJOCI ride where we rode out as boys and came back as men. There was a newfound respect for our machines in our minds. We were on 20 year old machines with a full luggage load and we completed the entire trip without a single breakdown and stayed perfectly on schedule.
After I got married, my wife took an immediate liking for the biker way of life and we would go out on numerous trips together with the boys. Monsoons are the best time for these hard gripping bikes and there have been real epic night rides to Dapoli, Shrivardhan, Bhandardhara etc.
Sudeep: I vaguely know about how your love for Yezdi got you and Jaydeep together for Dirtsack. Can you share that story with us?
Mandar: The YJOCI was populated on Yahoo groups at the time and around year 2003 , we would meet often to discuss plans and equipment for the Ladakh ride, that's when Jaydeep (JD) popped up one day carrying the choicest treats and the most delectable food I had ever tasted You see, JD is the Executive Chef at Indigo Delicatessen. JD then went on, over the years to develop this amazing range of minimalistic-rugged motorcycle equipment which he called ‘Dirtsack’.
He offered me a chance to hop on to the brand, and we haven't looked back since then. We expanded Dirtsack portfolio from three products to over 24, including bike specific products and hard luggage systems.
Sudeep: I must say that we riders are glad you guys got together and took Dirtsack to another level from its beginnings. Forever Riders Meet (Western Conclave) organized by YJOCI on 23rd Jan, 2016 saw a sizeable turnout and great enthusiasm. You have been talking about YJOCI and its influence on the rider in you. What is the significance of YJOCI for you personally?
Mandar: YJOCI has given me privileged access to a lot of things; a social network, a ring of best buddies that includes my partner in Dirtsack, it has made me an adventure seeker, a risk taker and a skilful mechanic. Professionally I am an air plane mechanic, the operational word being ‘Mechanic’. Courtesy YJOCI there’s never a dull moment in any city I visit for work or otherwise, there is always an old clubbie with a spare bike who is willing to show me his favourite riding location or the local club watering hole.
Coming to the Forever Riders Meet, it was such a high to see stalwarts from the motorcycling world and fellow Yezdi-Jawa owners congregate together under one roof. It was a gathering of YJ lovers on a large scale with around 170 participants from Mumbai, Nashik , Pune , Satara and Phaltan. And then we had those who did not let boundaries limit their hunger for travel share their experiences with us. Deepak Kamath who circumnavigatedthe globe on his trusted Yezdi RoadKing; Pravin Karkhanis – he did a Mumbai – Rome – Mumbai way back in 1977; and young Rishad Bhumgara who recently travelled Mumbai – Myanmar and back on his 30 years old Yezdi. We have four generations of Yezdi riders amongst us and many more will surely follow!
Dirtsack co-sponsored part of the Forever Riders Meet expenses. It was a small gesture on our part for the community that has given us so much.
Sudeep: What's your take on the brand Yezdi in India? It has a following and a decent network of a thriving brotherhood. Where do you see the Cult of Yezdi vis-a-vis the likes of the Royal Enfields, the Harleys and the newer entrants like the KTMs?
Mandar: One thing that I noticed about the Yezdi clan is their humility. We all ride a bike that is no longer in production, isn’t very well known for high performance features and is on the whole so simple to ride, own or to look at. What binds us together is this unique love for this odd bike. I see the Y cult growing stronger over the years as scarcity of spares and common avenues brings us closer to each other. There is already an informal support system in place where there are people who locate old shops with spares and divulge the details to other clubbies who might have some use for it. No query on the various groups and forums goes unanswered and in case of a breakdown, help is normally just a few minutes and a cutting chai away.
Most clubbies have since acquired newer, more performance oriented bikes but I’ve seen them all holding on to and caring for their first love. The Yezdi is going to be here for a long time.
Sudeep: Every rider has this dream ride to accomplish on their beloved machine. Any long standing wish?
Mandar: What immediately comes to my mind is the overland route to Thailand. Someday some way but only on my trusted Yezdi!
So, that's Mandar, folks! A Yezdi-Jawa man to the core! Bones-to-bones.
#Motonomous #AintMonotonous #Dirtsack.