The curious case of India Bike Week

By | February 23, 2016

First off, a little background about me. I don’t like cruisers, Royal Enfields, Harleys, the lot. I don’t like biking festivals, India Bike Week, Bike Festival of India, Intra-Uterine Device whatever. And I run this blog like John Oliver runs Last Week Tonight, without giving a single fuck, and getting a lot of them.

Today’s question is this:

Why does India Bike Week exist?

And the answer is this:

Because Harley wants HOGs to have a place to show-off, while other manufacturers use it as a stage to market their own products, and for the people behind IBW, it’s just good business. 

If you search online for motorcycle festivals in the world, one name stands out above all the rest: Sturgis. It’s probably the biggest such event in the world, with the 76th edition happening this year. There’s a remarkable connection between Sturgis and IBW, Harley Davidson.

Harley appears to be the biggest force behind both these events, and it’s easy to tell that by how overpowering their influence is. I’ve written about the preferential treatment HOGs get at IBW, and Sturgis is at least partially, if not completely, Harley’s bitch.

But why does a company that’s been making motorcycles for more than a century feel to need to organize these giant city-level traffic jams?

Marketing and advertisement.

Most manufacturers try to market their products on the merits of the said product. Speed, agility, power, looks, reliability, and cost of ownership, among other things, are what KTM and Suzuki and Kawasaki and Yamaha use to advertise and sell their products. But how do you sell a motorcycle that sucks at all of these attributes?

Build an aura around it, make it into something special, something more than just a motorcycle, and then pump money to brainwash people into believing your marketing bullshit.

Royal Enfield has used this technique since the beginning of universe, but they just copied Harley and created smaller, cheaper, shittier versions. Rider Manias are nothing more than India Bike Weeks for Bullet riders. Once enough number of people know about RMs and IBWs, they want to experience them at least once, and it doesn’t matter if they come back or not, because the next generation of brainwashed zombies is already looking forward to be disappointed.

It’s a self-sustaining shitfest.

But here’s the problem, IT WORKS. There are far too many gullible sobs around who’d believe anything and do anything to feel a little better about their life.

You can tell how convincing the marketing bullshit of these companies is by the fact that thousands of normal human beings show up at these “festivals”, get drunk on overpriced booze, eat roughly a tonne of dirt along with crappy overpriced food, walk through each other’s piss, shit and vomit, and still want to do this every fucking year.

Have you ever wondered why there’s no equivalent of India Bike Week in the car industry? Because there’s no manufacturer out there who’s still making old, leaky, under-powered cars in the name of tradition. There’s no place in India where car enthusiasts get together and get smashed, because nobody is paying money to convince them to.

It’s also a manifestation of putting your motorcycle on a pedestal and worshiping it, to convert it from something mechanical that helps you taste adventure, into a mystical collection of metal and fuel that apparently has a soul. Manufacturers with below-par products are the ones peddling this mindset, because they simply have to.

From a purely motorcycling standpoint, these events are next to useless, apart from the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals. However, in my experience, when you do meet people who you like at the venue, your first thought is invariably to get the fuck out of that giant dust cloud, so you can at least talk in peace without some stupid music destroying your hearing or some fat assholes fighting at the next table.

And yet many people go, good people. I’ve done IBW twice now for fucks sake, and why? Because for many others like me, it’s an excuse to ride, a very moronic excuse, considering how dangerous the already dangerous roads of Goa become with so much more traffic, but an excuse nonetheless. If you’ve done one biking festival, you’ve done them all, but we still keep going, because we are eternally hopeful that somebody will understand what we really want.

Only Motorcycle Travelers Meet understands what we really want.

To the people behind these biking fuckfests, I have a new motto for you.

We know your bike sucks, just like your life, but come to us, get so drunk you can’t walk straight, rev the tits out of your bike in neutral, fight with people you’ve never met before, look at plenty of prepaid cleavage and thighs, eat shit, and come back again soon!

Here’s someone else who agrees.