Female Bikers from India who’re changing the motorcycling scene.
Riding a motorcycle is velocity like poetry, eternal moments pass by in the saddle escaping the stuttering flow of time and space and purpose. We course on two wheels in the flight of free spirit to avoid the fatigue of routine.
Although our society has linked motorcycling with males, riding is beyond discrimination. Ask a person who loves to rides motorcycles, they’ll tell you simple reasons why they like to ride.
Despite being the second-largest market for motorcycles in the world, there is a yawning gap between male and female bike riders in India.
But today, the times are changing and changing for good.
These days a lot of female bikers in India are actively riding motorcycles, thereby promoting riding among other females.
I would like to appreciate the efforts of FMSCI who are working on improving motorsports in India and inviting female bike riders to participate in races and rallies.
Although the number is few, their efforts are encouraging more females to start experiencing motorcycles.
Who’re these badass females?
Today, you’re going two know three passionate bikers from India who’s lives revolve around motorcycles, their names are:
- Kalyani Potekar.
- Urvashi Patole.
- Shreya Sunder Iyer.
And don’t worry it’s not just a dry intro of them, but a series of interesting questions.
So let’s begin with the Kalyani Potekar.
A professional motorcyclist from Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, Kalyani Potekar was awarded as “Outstanding Woman in Motorsports” by FMSCI (Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India).
Kalyani has participated in various motorsports event across the country like Honda National Championship, Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC).
Apart from achieving the motorcycling glory, Kalyani enjoys photography and indulges in adventure sports like paragliding, skiing, and mountaineering.
In Conversation with Kalyani-
1) How did you discover your passion for Motorcycling and who supported you the most in your endeavor?
“Well! It all began at home. When I saw my father battling it out on a dirt track in a motocross race. My journey started from National MRF Nylogrip Motocross Championship, December 1993 at Ooty. I was hardly a month old baby in a cradle on the track with my dad. So, Racing is in my genes!
2) Do you think more riders should join riding schools? What future do you see for motorsports in India?
“Yes of course! I always promote safety. I would suggest riders must join riding schools and learn necessary riding skills which will definitely help them to ride safely on the roads.
We have excellent bike racing academy in India like California Superbike School, Apex racing academy, Honda ten10, and TVS racing school.
For the female bikers in India, there is a new world awaiting. I’m glad India is now focusing on giving the same platform to women as men.
Special thanks to FMSCI. I wish more and more girls make their way to motorsports.
Want to race motorcycles on the track? Here’s my article on how to become a motorcycle racer in India.
3)Can you tell us about the most cherished moments that you came across in your life because of motorcycling?
“I always had a dream of representing India at the International level and compete with the boys. This dream turned into reality when I was chosen for FIM Asia Cup of Road Racing to represent FMSCI at Thailand and Taiwan Race Track in Oct 2017. Not only I represented India but also secured the 3rd place at the same racing event.
Recently, FMSCI honored me with “Outstanding woman in motorsports” award. And that’s something that I am proud of.
4) Which is your favorite motorcycle and what advice would you give to female in India who want to begin riding?
I love big bikes. And currently, own a Triumph Street Triple. My wish has always been to have a KTM Superduke 1290 and a BMW S1000RR in my garage.
For the female bike riders in India, please stop getting influenced by the “wannabes” on social media platforms.
Safety always comes first. As I said earlier, we do have proper riding for lady bike riders in India where you are trained under professional instructors under all safety measures.
Glad to share that Federation of Motorsports Club of India (FMSCI) is promoting female bike riders in India. So girls here is your chance to learn and turn your dreams into reality.
5) What other passions do you have in your life apart from motorcycling and what role does passion plays?
“Apart from motorcycle racing, I love riding horses. I have represented central India in many equestrian championships. Back in 2011, I was awarded “Best Rider India” in New Delhi.
Also, I have a passion for photography and adventure sports.
Talking about passion, it is as essential as breathing! Without passion, there is no life. It helps us to conquer our fears and makes us confident and determined.
If you wanna live your life to the fullest, you have to “Be Passionate”!
The second biker is Urvashi Patole.
Urvashi is adept at taking responsibilities, she is a marketing officer at The Saddle Store, founder and board member at The Bikerni, which is an all-female motorcycle club, and last but not the least, the co-founder at A couple of Adventures.
She has been touring all over the country along with other female bike riders in India who are members of The Bikerni. The journey of these women is inspiring lady riders of India to embark on a journey with their motorcycles without any fear.
In Conversation with Urvashi-
1)Which is the most exciting Motorsport format for you?
In the world of motorcycling, the format that excites me the most is dirt and rally racing on motorcycles.
It’s one thing to go around almost on circles testing your endurance and another to feel the hard challenge of traversing new terrains and problems with the motive to win.
So yes, as Flat Track is the flavor of the session would definitely like to explore more of that.
2)Talking about Motorcycles, which motorcycle has given you the best memories, and which motorcycle do you suggest for a beginner in India?
My Royal Enfield Classic 500 has accompanied on the majority of my escapades and given me the best memories. She has broken down majorly only once in our journeys and has taken me to the mountains and to the southernmost tip of India.
It all depends on your comfort and confidence, you can even begin with a RE Classic 350 or a Thunderbird as it’s a good option for touring, when you go for a smaller cc ride, as your riding improves, you tend to think of moving to a bigger bike anyways.
But if you still want to go for a lower cc, stunner, Yamaha R15 and gladiator, and pulsars are all reliable bikes.
If you’re looking for touring bikes in India, this article will help you.
3)What are the most important things a person should keep in mind while touring long distances on a motorcycle?
Remember that you don’t own the road, you are sharing it with other travelers. Carry smart and don’t overload your luggage, it’s always smart to carry a sleeping mat or tent + first aid and emergency utilities such as a toolkit, some dry snacks, a knife (not for violence) and your hydration pack.
Keep track of your fuel mileage, your air pressure as well as your own health. Stop if you’re drowsy or hungry as it’s better to be freshly minded while riding.
Be friendly with the locals and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if such a situation comes. People are good, don’t forget that.
4)How did you come up with the idea of starting The Bikerni and how has it grown until now?
14 years ago, when I started motorcycling, I remember how people looked down upon women motorcyclists. Men couldn’t fathom the fact that we could ride as well as them and even better.
There were times when I had to physically save fellow riders from men who tried to eve-tease and even molest them.
That’s when I put my foot down and started ‘The Bikerni’ in 2011 – A path-breaking movement for female bike riders in India that now stands at 1000 active members.
What gave me immense strength was my motorcycle that didn’t ask me not to ride it, being a woman.
All it took was my urge to break barriers of judgments supported by my unbreakable passion for riding.
It was the purpose of not letting any other girl faced the troubles I had encountered to get into the world of motorcycling.
I desired to create an equal platform for women motorcyclists all over India and give them the chance to go on adventures.
So in Jan 2011, I kick-started The Bikerni, and now we have more than 1400 members and 14 chapters.
Get in touch with The Bikerni on Facebook.
5)Where here are you eager to go next? Do you have plans for international rides coming up in the future?
The only place that is literally untouched in my map is the North East, and I plan to explore the North East on motorcycles and cover it on my blog.
And the reason why it will be revisiting my roots is that my mother is from the state of Mizoram, of royal blood, she’s from the Chawnghtu Clan (who were headhunters and one of the major clans of the state).
She got wedded and went away with my father, an Army Officer posted in Mizoram for jungle warfare training, when she was 16 and reconnected with her family years later.
My mother is too weak to travel due to her health and always urged me to reconnect with my relatives there and know my roots.
So, this 15-20 day trip will cover the beauty of the North-East and my journey of bonding better with my riding partner and husband, Sourabh and a journey into my origins from the maternal side.
The third biker on our list is Shreya Sunder Iyer.
Multipotentialite is what 26 years old Shreya refers to herself as, and I don’t disagree a bit. Shreya Sunder from Bangalore is the first woman to be a part of any racing team in India, and also the first female rider in India to participate in the Indian Rally Championship.
Apart from her active participation in Motorsports, Shreya is a professional singer and an Interior Designer by Profession.
In Conversation with Shreya-
1) Can you tell us how you got into rallying and what inspired you to take the beaten path?
Motorcycling had me hooked on right from the first time I rode one, probably when I was 17. Since then I’ve traveled a lot on motorcycles.
I learned more and more and the curiosity and urge to get better kept growing. After starting dirt and off-road rides and wanted to explore more robust and varied terrains.
To my surprise, I got an opportunity to participate in the KTM Adventure tour in Dubai, which was mostly riding a KTM 450 EXC on the desert dunes. It helped me learn a whole lot of new things for understanding the motorcycle and techniques of riding on terrain like that.
Finishing the ride across the dunes was a great learning experience for me, and it was `after that tour in Dubai that TVS Racing spotted me and my association with the team began.
Since then I have been racing as a rallyist representing the TVS Factory racing team in the Indian National Rally Championship.
2) What would you like to tell females bike riders in India aspire to be in motorsports?
One of the biggest things that hold us back is the fear of trying something that’s looked upon as unconventional. I believe, once we decide to face our fears and get out of our comfort zones, half of the battle is over.
Motorcycling has always been associated more with men, but not anymore.
Yet Of course, in India, Motorsport still needs a lot of support, more people need to be encouraged, especially lady riders of India.
3) Can you tell us about the most cherished moments in your life that came of motorcycling?
There’s never a bad experience when you’re on a motorcycle journey. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own way. But my first solo trip to the Himalayas will always remain extremely special.
4) I also heard that you are passionate about singing, tell us more about that. Are you currently working on any songs?
I’ve been immensely passionate about music ever since a child, and I learned Indian Classical Hindustani and Carnatic music. Be it performing or listening, varied genres interest me. From playing a lot of blues and jazz to singing for a couple of Kannada films – Operation Alamelamma and Chamak, music has always had me entirely consumed.
The song Kanna Muchche Kaade Goode from the movie Chamak is a recent one sung by me and is extremely special to me.
Apart from playback, I’ve also performed as an individual artist in the past and currently working on songwriting and my own compositions.
5) Being a rally rider, whom do you admire the most, a MotoGP rider or a rally rider?
Can’t choose between them both. Rally and track racing both challenging in their own ways, and I follow both very carefully. There’s Many of them I admire in the sport, really can’t pick just one.
Valentino Rossi has always been a favorite among the Moto GP riders. Rally riders, there are many I look up to. Laia Sanz being one of them.
Note: We also interviewed Vaishali Bhagat, a 48-year-old biker who’s known to be the queen of motorcycle touring. You can read the interview here.