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BW Businessworld

One For The Road

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I need your clothes, your boots and your mote-ah-cycle." Drums roll, cymbals beat and you move to the edge of the seat. And Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger begins a white-knuckle chase in The Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Remember his Fat Boy, a 1990 Harley-Davidson? Remember Arnie's black leather jacket and the pair of black glasses with light scratches on the lenses? Remember the bad boy in you who always dreamt to hit the roads the tough way?

You may not have a Fat Boy in your garage, or any motorcycle for that matter, but who's stopping you from looking cool in a biker jacket (without bullet holes), shades or boots. But if you do ride one of those heavy machines, then you have to go the whole nine yards — with a Harley-Davidson labelled jacket, t-shirt, trousers, bandana, gloves, helmet, boots, and while you are at it, a tattoo as well.

The good news is that now you can buy all that, and a lot more, from your nearest Harley showroom. There are currently seven of them in the country — in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad — and they stock nearly all the merchandise available abroad. And in case there is something that you have spotted online but is not available here, they can source it for you.

But picking up the right gear isn't child's play. Consider this: There are 32 different types of leather jackets. Add to that the rain wear, mesh jackets and canvas jackets in various styles and colours, and you have a mini-jacket market. So which one should you pick? If you aren't really a biker and its only style that matters, go for the one that looks the best on you. Select from black, brown or the Harley orange leather jacket. But if you are out there to get dirty on the wheels, and not to impress a lass or two at the pub, you need to get the stuff that can also protect you in a crash. There are leather jackets with reflectors, back support and elbow guard, while the trousers can have knee and hip protectors and other support material to absorb impact. Gauntlet gloves, lightweight body armours and distortion boots are some of the fancy, yet functional, products available. Also, get a heads-up on helmets; you have over 50 varieties to choose from.

(BW Pic By Subhabrata Das); OPTIONS GALORE: Yamaha and KTM showrooms house rider accessories (BW Pic By Tribhuwan Sharma)

Biking, however, is not just for men. From fingerless gloves to sleeveless denim vest to diva helmet, Harley sells a dedicated range of merchandise for women and kids, too. Add to them a twisted pave diamond ring sporting a Harley logo and a rose skull watch and you know what we are talking about. For children, there is a range of t-shirts and accessories. You can probably start your very own biking gang and have your family dress up in the iconic brand. Hell's Angels, anyone?

But if more than cruising cool, it's the speed that thrills you, check out the range of merchandise on offer by Yamaha. Lay your hands on a R15 cap for just Rs 299 or shop to your heart's content by getting an armoured mesh jacket, pants, helmet and a pair of gloves. That apart, you can also pick up Yamaha/R15 labelled pit-shirts, t-shirts, laptop bag, backpack, wrist watches, key chains and more.

Harley-Davidson (HD)
Rs 15,000
Yamaha R15 Rs 5,000
KTM Rs 14,890
HD Rs 1,500
Yamaha Rs 1,950
KTM Rs 5,270
HD Rs 1,800
Yamaha Rs 560
KTM Rs 650
HD Rs 8,000
Yamaha Rs 4,500
HD Rs 6,000
Yamaha Rs 1,600

For those looking for smartwear that gels better with the routine lifestyle, there is the series of products from the naked street bike FZ. Take your pick from sports jackets, tribal jackets, long-sleeve t-shirts, polo shirts and riding trousers. And the women may not despair. They can look cool in tank tops and t-shirts.

If you believe in ‘Be Indian, Buy Indian', then you are in for a treat. The legendary Royal Enfield will soon launch its range of merchandise and accessories. Offering a sneak preview, Royal Enfield showcased a range of well-crafted, meticulously detailed, purpose-built motorcycle gear at the Delhi Auto Show two months ago. Soon you will be able to get into one of those flagship leather riding jackets that spell quality not only in terms of design, but also safety and have passed stringent European norms. Then there is the all-weather nylon riding jacket with a waterproof membrane providing protection against the rain, and a removable thermal lining that tames the cold. The outer shell has a nylon mesh which keeps you cool during the summer months. You can also pick up dark glasses which are ‘anti-fog' and host of other items such as backpacks, motorcycle utility luggage systems, oil and water-repellent boots, key chains, motorcycle clocks and, of course, helmets.

Another desi company, our own ‘Hamara' Bajaj will also be offering merchandise. Though strictly speaking, these will not be Bajaj, but KTM, the Austrian motorcycle maker (in which Bajaj has a stake) and which has racing as core to its DNA. By the end of this month, you could pick KTM-labelled vented jackets, team t-shirts, polo shirts, caps, gloves and hand-guard. "I need your clothes, your boots..." you can tell them. But unlike Arnie, remember to say "please".

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 12-03-2012)