India’s motorcycling magazine godfather is well-placed to pass judgement on the hundreds of bikes he’s been lucky enough to ride in 40 years of reviewing every one that’s ever been launched there.
After all, Adil Jal Darukhanawala’s love of riding has been in the blood since his grandfather and uncle imported the first bike into India back in 1903.
Now the Triumph fan’s son Jehan is following in his father’s tyre tracks in a pattern he says is repeating across the nation as Hinckley’s modern classics blaze a trail.
For The Ride caught up with Adil, in between editions of his four-strong stable of publications, to discover why he rides, his biggest regret and the secret to eternal youth.
When did you first get the riding bug?
It’s definitely in the blood. My grandad set up a bike shop in 1895 and he was selling touring bikes and safety vehicles like the ones that were being produced by Triumph at the same time.
I started riding at 14 and I’m now 61, but age is all in the mind. I started on a T175cc Polish bike, then got a Jawa 250, switched to Kawasaki and Honda, in fact anything we could get our hands on. Imported bikes were hard to get hold of, so we used to ride anything we could.
What’s the perfect ride?
Speed and location aren’t the most defining criteria for me. I like to ride at sensible speeds and feel good. Hitting the road makes you feel elated, especially when you become one with the bike; you find that rhythm and then achieve that magical state when man and machine become an extension of each other. If you haven’t experienced it, I can’t explain it.
Because of the fact that it’s all about finding a heightened state, it doesn’t really matter where you ride. That said, I do have some sensational roads around me as Pune is surrounded by hills, mountains and passes, so you are doubly blessed if you have a motorcycle.
I try to ride every weekend because work can overwhelm me if not. When I’ve had a bad week I go out on the bike and feel fresh, rejuvenated and ready to take on the next week and next edition. If you ride you have found the elixir to staying young.
When did you discover Triumph?
I was late to Triumph and that’s such a shame. I feel a little bit cheated because knowing what I know now I’d have loved one of their bikes when I was in my 20s. The importation of bikes was so heavily regulated until around 15 years ago, but since then Triumph has established itself as one of the premium brands here.
I guess there’s an element of unobtainability that made Triumphs even more desirable and made me want one even more. When they first started arriving in India they were the bike that everyone wanted.
I bought the first 2013 Thruxton R ever sold in Pune. It’s perfect for me now there’s a bit of fat around my stomach and my crouched-down approach to taking corners has given way to a more relaxed stance. I still wanted that sport feel though, so the Thruxton is perfect and very distinctive.
The popularity of Triumph means that generations of families are now following each other, just as my son is in my tyre tracks.
How is Triumph seen in India?
It’s very much a premium brand and people like the fact that it has been brave in bringing something new here. You have to take a few risks because if you’re not, you won’t add anything for the customer.
Triumph is regarded as being strong on strategy and design as well as the customer experience, which will help build bonds with future riders. But above all, its new bikes released in the last 10 years or so, like the Bobber and new modern classics, have all been technically strong and look fantastic.
Is there anyone else in the family who rides?
My wife subscribes to my riding and I have asked her if she’d like to join me pillion but she worries about what it will do to her hair. Don’t tell her but I prefer riding solo to get time to think and clear my mind.
… and finally. Did you know?
Adil has one of the largest collections of bike and car miniatures in the world, totalling 7,000.