Ram Nair was an impressionable teenager growing up in India when Steve McQueen almost burst out of the big screen in The Great Escape.
Since that first viewing, there was always only one motorcycle for the Bangalore-based rider. After several decades of ‘making do’ he finally captured a fragment of the Technicolor moment etched indelibly in his memory.
Bonneville moments in history
“I was a young boy when McQueen tried to leap the fence on his Triumph Trophy. That, on top of the Salt Flats and land speed records, meant it had to be a Bonneville because they were moments in history that never left me. And they never will,” he says.
“From the age of two, I sat on my dad’s bike and was a bit naughty riding on private roads where I lived before I was 18. I dabbled with all sorts of bikes but always wanted a Bonnie.”
That day came closer in his mid-40s when he travelled to the Doha Triumph dealership in Qatar, from his then home in Dubai, with the sole purpose of making a childhood dream come true: “I knew what I wanted, went in and bought my Bonnie.
“I rode off feeling like a movie star and every time I go out I feel like Steve McQueen revving his engine before trying the leap. It’s a unique bike because it captures the spirit of an age but has a modern build quality.”
When he returned to Dubai, his 2008 Bonneville was a rarity. “They’re becoming more and more popular in the United Arab Emirates these days, so in a group of 100 riders there would be about 20 of us on Triumphs, but back then I was a novelty. We still get all the attention and that helps to keep you feeling young too.”
Ram, who has also owned a classic Tiger, now prefers more sedate rides through the stunning Indian countryside on his all-terrain Bonneville.
He says: “It’s the perfect bike for any conditions, even if some of the mountain roads aren’t great. I have swapped speed and going off-road for a more relaxed ride now though, so the Bonnie’s suspension and shocks do all they need to for me.”
So what’s the best ride in India for a man in search of eternal youth?
“If you ride south from Bangalore to Kochi in Kerala, stopping along the way at Ooty, you will discover forests and mountains and get the perfect snapshot of what a great place India is to ride.”