Feature: India Bike Week 2023 – India’s motorcycling mecca

    What is it exactly that makes thousands of bikers pan-India attend the IBW? A first-time attendee tries to explain.

    Published On Jan 07, 2024 07:00:00 AM

    11,220 Views

    India Bike Week 2023 dates.

    No matter what you ride, the answer to why you ride is often the same. Camaraderie. Brotherhood. Freedom. The call of the open road. Meeting like-minded thrill seekers. The list goes on.

    As I set off from my home at 4am, I was confident of the fact that I’d have beaten all the traffic (both two-wheeled and otherwise), but within 15 minutes, I chanced upon my first group of riders heading to IBW who’d clearly been thinking along similar lines. Over the course of the journey, I must have ‘bumped into’ at least a dozen riders every few minutes. So much so that I needn’t have even set my GPS to Goa because of how frequently I came across these fellow travellers headed to the same destination.

    All manner of motorcycles to see from raging superbikes to heartwarming retros.

    It really doesn’t matter what you ride to IBW, but the fact that you do ride is a big part of the experience, and once I reached Goa, the narrow streets of otherwise sleepy Vagator were now alive with the sound of all sorts of motorcycle engines.

    This being my first time at IBW, I went in fresh as a daisy and with zero expectations about anything. To my pleasant surprise, everything was so much better than I had imagined. The entire atmosphere was tingling in a way only a motorcycle festival’s atmosphere could. If you can’t find a stall to cater to your genre of biking at IBW, sir I doff my hat to you. From stalls catering to apparel, gear, vintage machines, the newest bikes and custom bikes, there really is a slice of the motorcycling pie to suit everyone’s taste. 

    Seeing the FMX display was equal parts enthralling and petrifying.

    And if you want to engage in a spot of racing, there’s various activities like flat tracking, slow races, obstacle courses and time attacks as well. For all my dear daredevils, there’s the wheel of death and this year there was an electric display of FMX showmanship by Austrian Thomas Wirnsberger and Sebastian Westberg from Finland. I remember feeling the strangest concoction of celebratory and scary emotions when I witnessed those madmen perform superhuman feats mere feet in front of me. 

    If you're not content with being just a spectator, you can compete in various events.

    And this year was a veritable who’s who of new models breaking cover at IBW. Aprilia’s spicy RS 457, Triumph’s updated Tiger 900 range, those achingly well-detailed Bonneville Stealth editions and the return of the legendary Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R were my top picks among all the new bikes this year. 

     

    There were new bike launches and showcases galore at IBW.

    But it wasn’t just bikes, getting to listen to some really veteran riders talk about their escapades had a two-wheeler travel junkie like me completely riveted. Hearing them impart their pearls of wisdom, and share their tips and tricks for long days in the saddle as well as how to stay fresh and spontaneous over the course of a long trip was truly eye-opening. I look forward to implementing all that on a long ride quite soon.

    To top it all off, there were some delectable food stalls which I would quite often raid after a long day of ‘work’. Chomping down barbequed meat while listening to some good music and discussing bikes with fellow enthusiasts along with a brewski in one hand is my idea of nirvana.

    Live music acts are a big part of the draw at the IBW.

    This year marked 10 years since the first IBW took place, and while the event has truly come a long way and become a fixture on many a motorcyclists’ calendar – quite a step up from its humble and rather niche beginnings – I still believe all of us can yet make it a better, more evolved place. For starters, it would be nice if there was a bit more shade (wherever possible) just like TVS had managed with their Motosoul festival down the road. Having some respite from the harsh sun (strangely, it was burning hot in the afternoon despite it being December) really helps you enjoy everything that little bit further while remaining fresher.

    Not just a diverse bunch of bikes, there was a lot of riding gear catering to different needs and budgets on show as well.

    Mainly though, there needs to be some way to limit the number of people holding their engines against the rev limiter (sometimes for even minutes at an end). While it’s an individual’s choice, the sheer eardrum-piercing noise can ruin the fun for other people. This is something that has persisted for the last ten years and perhaps the event can have a separate section where those who enjoy doing this with their bikes (and those who enjoy watching it) can entertain each other while letting the others soak in what is otherwise a very enjoyable event. Just a thought.

    What IBW has provided me over these three days is something quite uniquely charming and endearing. I would never have thought of myself as one of the people who would’ve been so gung ho after attending just one iteration, but gladly, here we are! See you next year for sure, dear reader and fellow biker!

    Aprilia Bikes

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