On a sunny morning of April 2009, I did something no other 19-year-old girl in our village had dared to do. I rode my brother’s Royal Enfield Bullet for the very first time. A three-kilometer ride on a paved road in Kunnathukal village, tucked away between the border of the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
It wasn’t a perfect ride, I had never ridden a motorcycle before. But, it was magical, the day I truly felt free. Every now and then, my mind goes back to this memory. It’s my favourite.
When my editor asked me to write about how I fell in love with cars and bikes, it was more than excitement that I felt. At the back of my mind, I heard the sound of an engine starting and getting ready to go for a ride. That's how I feel whenever someone talks to me about these machines. It's not just passion for me. It's my true bliss.
At a low point in my life, it became the only thing that kept me going. If happy, go for a ride. If things are a bit unpleasant, go for a ride. That's how I started falling in love with these mean machines. Especially motorcycles. The adrenaline rush they bring, is incredible.
No one asks a man why he loves cars or bikes. But, when a woman is passionate about it, people are curious to know why. I'm sure I'm not the first woman to face that question. It's more complicated when you pour your heart out to those who might not get the drift of this particular passion. But, gearheads aren't precisely known for baring their souls. So, getting the profoundly personal, and sometimes even nostalgic story behind a person's favourite car or bike isn't easy.
So, taking you back to my story. I was envious of my brother. He had got a bike as his birthday gift, while I received a gold necklace. We share our birthdays. I told my mother that a bike would’ve made me happier, and she glared at me for being ungrateful.
For a girl who comes from a village, to fall in love with motorcycles was unheard of. But, mum who was progressive, had my back when neighbours or relatives would say that motorbikes are not for women.
She always liked me being independent, she had a two-wheeler that she allowed me to ride when I was little. When I turned 18, I got my two-wheeler license. I was thrilled! It felt empowering. Two years later, I started driving cars.
A friend and fellow-motorhead who noticed my love and interest in motorcycles gave me his bike and asked me to ride it. Doing what true friends are meant to do, he taught me the tips and tricks of maneuvering a motorcycle. That day I manage to ride my first 100km properly. You might think I'm exaggerating. I’m not. That day I knew I was born to ride. That ride was the turning point in my life.
Soon, finding ways to explore this passion became my favourite thing to do. So whenever I got the time, I made sure to go on test drives of all the cars and bikes that launched in the market. It helped me build my knowledge around it. And with few career shifts and twists and turns, I met a person who offered me a job in his automotive company.
A whole new world was waiting for me. The deeper I went, the more it felt like home. I have lived through many motoring adventures.
For instance, the first time feel of a Formula car - it was surreal. Only motor heads will probably truly understand what I'm talking about.
Following a passion comes with perks. I made friends who share the same passion. We would ride miles, encouraging each other and talking about life, which are memories I'll always treasure.
One of the best ways to connect with others is through a shared interest, and biking can be a great way to make like-minded friends.
When I say I love my car and bike, it's more than just a cliché. I love spending time on it. How many of you enjoy cleaning your car? Have you ever had a conversation with it? Do you feel connected? Do you spend more time driving or riding around? Do you feel hurt when something happens to it? For all these questions, if your answer is yes, trust me, you got the drift. Being passionate about automotive is an expensive taste to a certain level.
By expensive, I mean you will spend a lot of your hard-earned money, but trust me, it's worth it.
Renting a bike in Dubai
Recently, I moved to Dubai. And, one of the things on my soon to-do list is getting a motorcycle license.
Are you looking to rent a bike in Dubai? After some research, I found that the average cost for renting a premium motorcycle will come around Dh1500 per day, including 5 per cent of VAT and all other required accessories like helmets, riding jackets, and gloves. You will also get roadside assistance and comprehensive insurance according to industry standards.
Do I need to be a resident in the UAE?
Not necessarily. So even if you are on a visit visa, you can rent a bike provided you have a valid motorcycle license.
Documents you need:
Emirates ID/passport/GCC ID
Motorcycle driver's permit (International motorcycle permit may be required if you are in the UAE on a visit visa/ UAE residents need valid UAE driver's license with motorcycle classification).
What are the extra charges?
You need to buy a Salik tag which is available online. And there is a fully refundable security deposit that has to be paid when renting any motorcycle. The deposit fee will depend on the type of motorcycle you choose.
You can fill an online form for most rental services to choose your ride and mention all your details. Payment can be made using a card or through and online payment gateway in most rental companies. Worried about insurance? Most of the rental services are insurance covered. So, it's a hassle-free process. But, there are a few clauses you need to be aware of, especially if an unprecedented situation occurs. This differs depending on the company you are renting from.
So, before filling a form, make sure to ask for of all the information and legal clauses you need to know. Make sure you always go to a trusted service provider. For that, you can do a bit of market research. There are also many automotive groups on social media where they share helpful information.
That being said, what if you don't have a motorcycle license and want to get a feel of it?
Don't worry. There are few rental services in Dubai where they offer special facilities for those who can't ride a bike. One rental service company said they have come up with a new package, which includes a motorcycle of your choice along with a tour guide. So you can be a pillion rider enjoying the view.
There is an excellent selection of top of the line, classy motorcycles, including Harley-Davidson, Honda Goldwing, BMW, Kawasaki and a lot more. Most of the bikes are cruisers with a lot of extras added, providing comfort and class along the ride. But, as I said earlier, it is an expensive taste, and you can always stay in your budget if you know the drill.