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Harley Davidson and Pranav Nanda.

New Delhi, March 13 -- Pranav Nanda's Harley showroom is called 9 Bridges Harley-Davidson and spreads over 12,000 square feet. According to a sales person it is among the biggest in the country. Adjoining it with a see-through glass is the workshop. All models of Harleys adorn the floor. There is also Harley clothing and gift items on display. Harley Davidson Apparel and Accessories are the rage in the US and Canada. They even have a classic Harley Juke Box!

Pranav's bike is painted with his birth sign. It is a brilliant paint job, and full marks to whoever has done it. I know it is done in Ahmedabad but names are kept away.

Pranav says: "We encourage our buyers to ride the bikes. We've sold round three hundred bikes in Gujarat. We have a Harley Club and every month or two they organize long rides. 'They' means the club members do so, not us the show room. "

I ask whether people ride the Harley serious long distances: "Yes they do. We have an owner who has done over 18,000 kilometers in ten months. He is a lawyer by profession. We have quite a few like him". I am surprised as Ahmedabad is basically a car place and not a bike one. And hey! The next thing I know I am given a helmet and asked to choose any bike I wish to ride.

My first choice for a ride is a 'Forty-Eight' which he says is great as "the slammed suspension and solo saddle gives it a massive street attitude". I didn't quite get that but once it starts; the unmistakable Harley exhaust sound fills the streets for sure. The vibrations reminded me that I am on a V twin torque-mobile. I pull out from a red light and the acceleration is so hard the bike feels it is leaving me behind. The ride position is strange, with short straight handlebars and foot-pegs way forward. My entire riding style has to change and adapt to the new ergonomics. It takes time to getting used to.

The huge V twin engine gurgles along at low rpm and high speeds. The torque from the V twin is so enormous once in 3rd gear the bike feels like an automatic. From 20 to 100kmph is at hand just with the throttle, no need to change down or up. Come human obstacle and I press the horn. The person jumps out of his skin and even a car swerves for a fraction of a second. It is the most potent and impolite horn I have ever heard on a vehicle. But it works wonders and that's what is needed. I am not sure if this bike would be suitable for extreme long rides as the vibrations started to get me a bit. For short bursts it is good. The bike maneuvers easily and the weight cannot be felt once in motion.

Pranav's decision to own a Harley showroom is itself an interesting one. Pranav's family Nanda happens to own the largest Hyundai agency in the country.But young Pranav only dreamt of owning a Harley motorcycle ever since he was a kid.

He had a picture stuck in his bed room of a Harley. Each night before going to sleep he would ogle at it till his eyes closed. He grew up and joined his family business and began to run the Hyundai agency, slowly and steadily till he knew all the ropes. But at the back of his mind was a Harley!

In his own words he says: 'I was in Delhi more than a year ago and had to visit an office. Below the office was the Harley show room. I stopped dead in my track, went inside and literally forgot my business appointment.'. He continues: "I saw the bike I wanted and called my wife and told her I am buying myself a Harley Davidson. My wife protested and reminded me that I'd never ridden a bike in my life and there I, wanted a big heavy one like a Harley'. He argued with her for a while and made up his mind, in an interesting way. He said "Ok, I am not buying the bike, but I am buying an agency of Harley... then let us see where I go from there". And that's what he did! He brought Harley Davidson to Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

I have seen people who have made their hobby their profession.. Some have made immense sacrifices to be able to do this; others have been bestowed with it. The name that comes to mind first is Anand Dharmaraj of Bangalore who chucked his big job, left his comfortable surroundings in America and came to Bangalore to do something with motorcycles. Another name that comes to mind is Willie Nutkens of Holland. His passion was for just one make, BMW motorcycles. Eventually he came to be the biggest collector of BMW bikes in the world! I visited his place and wrote about him in these columns. I also said that if one is a BMW freak and not visited Nutken's collection, it is like being a devout Muslim and not visited Mecca. Pranav joins this club.

The next bike out was the Fat Bob of Pranav Nanda himself. This is a complete contrast to Forty-Eight. No ear shattering exhaust note, hardly any vibrations from the engine but felt just enormous for my size. When I had to make a U-turn to return back and the bike slowed to a crawl, my heart was in my mouth. The bike felt so heavy, I was scared what if it tilted over! The extreme low riding position and being able to put my feet flat down saved the day. Gujarat has the perfect roads for Harley type cruiser. Straight, flat and well paved. The V twins thrive on this type of a tarmac. Once on the highway fast speeds felt effortless. Perfectly stable, smoother than a Harley ought to be as I began to chew up kilometers like a hungry kid in an ice-creamstore. On a curvy single lane mountain road any Jap bike will run circles round it, but show it the horizon and see the fun.

The highways in Gujarat or for that matter any roads are wonderful to ride on. At once one is reminded of riding a big Motto Guzzi 1300 cruiser in Canada. I hazard to say the surface is as good as any world-class roads in the West, or even Australia. What separates riding such a heavy big cruiser here is the traffic sense. It is the same all over India and Gujarat is no exception. You need to be constantly alert.

Before I knew it, the Harley was going faster than all the traffic. The armchair sitting position lulls your senses to the speed. This can be outright dangerous, even fatal. Besides, a crash on a 300 kilo bike can cause havoc. This realization, and the fact that the Harley was loaned to me by Pranav, made me automatically slow down.

On the down side, for me, it is too big and the stretch to the pedals and bars too much. The weight of the bike is obvious when you hit a crack on the road or even the smallest undulation. The front end makes a sound from the steering bearing that is rather harsh. Also, the chrome pipes running under your legs can get hot. You have to be aware of all this. I got off the bike exhilarated but not convinced. I need more time on a Harley Davidson to be able to say, if I had the moolah I'd have one in my garage. But for Pranav Nanda, he made his childhood dream come true, and that has made hundreds of dreams come true for bikers in Gujarat.

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Publication:Wheels Unplugged
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 13, 2013
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