Ngathingpei Khayi

You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis

The Man and The Machine

He calls himself a Motographer, a motorcyclist with camera. Sundeep Gajjar is the only Indian to be invited at World Ducati Week (WDW) 2012 in Italy. Meet the person who is also the founder of India’s biggest biking club.

As there is saying, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And that’s exactly what Sundeep Gajjar is doing. Vrooming on the best bikes in the world, go places, click photo and write about them. His latest feat, rode Ducati Multistrada 1200 to Italy all over from Dubai for almost 35 days, covering 10,000 Km to take part in WDW 2012.

“I had a very important task, Mission: Red Planet. I had to take one of the best touring motorcycles in the world back to its birthplace, across the ten countries while capturing it in the incredibly diverse environments and landscapes I would be going through.” With the excitement of a young boy who just got hold of a new toy, Sundeep continues, “the ride started on 19th of July 2012 from the Ducati Dubai showroom. It was really hot, though MultiStrada’s console showed 47 degrees, but I am sure that it must have been fifty! After braving the heat of UAE, I met with a small hiccup and had to skip Iran and restart the trip from Istanbul. Turkey was amongst the warmest with gestures like offering the traditional Turkish black tea at petrol stations being common. I exited from Turkey to Greece at the Ipsala border. The highlight in Greece for me was the Meteora Monastery area where I could see orthodox Greek monasteries literally hanging off cliffs!  Then Bulgaria, it was devoid of any kind of traffic or problems associated with big cities. Next up was Dracula’s land – Romania, the high point of the trip was the ‘world’s best road’ – the Transfagarasan and TransAlpina Highway, which is the highest road in Romania. From there to Hungry and then to Austria. The penultimate day saw me enter Gorizia, on the border of Slovenia and Italy.” 

“The proof of Ducati making some of the best motorcycles in the world with one important ingredient – passion, was at the WDW. 65,000 people visited it in four days. Everywhere it was red, everywhere it was Ducati, and it almost appeared that most people would love to die on it, rather than give up their Ducati for anything else,” with a smile of contentment says the rider.

“The final statistics stood at 10,000 kms, 10 countries (Dubai, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria and Italy), 35 riding days, 47 degrees maximum temperature (in Abu Dhabi), 6 degrees minimum (in High Tatras, Slovakia), 6000 photos, 30+ hours of video, 20+ mountain passes, and 20,000 words in the daily blogs. The experience was priceless and the icing on the cake was to meet Valentino Rossi at the WDW,” showing the souvenir autographed by the god of motor biking.

It all started in 2002 when he was learning Computer Graphic Designing. To practice his learning he started a single web page and wrote about his bike. “I used to uploaded foreign imported bike photos and those days there were not so many websites of this kind. People started to view my content, so to make it more interactive I started forums where people can join and share views. By 2006, we have like 30,000 people on the forum. Today xBhp (Extra Braking Horse Power) is India’s Largest Motorcycling Platform with almost 50,000 registered members.” All he had was rented camera and his Bajaj Pulsar 180 and running after super bikers. People thought he was crazy but he knew what he was doing.

Italy WDW 2012 arrival

Today he is invited by big names like Ducati and BMW. “After founding xBhp, I started doing cross country and international road trips on super-bikes. Since 2006, I have done India thrice (Honda Fireblade, Yamaha R1 and Yamaha FZ1), Australia once (Hyosung GT650R), New Zealand twice (Kawasaki Concours 14 and Suzuki BKing), Ireland (BMW R1200ST), Italy (Ducati Monster 1100), USA (Diavel on the West coast and K1600GTL from LA to New York), the European Alps, Malaysia, and my latest and biggest ride, Mission Red Planet from Dubai to Italy on a Ducati Multistrada,” says 32 years old bike fanatic.

If that was not enough, he chooses to do something totally different from what the world was doing. When all the prints were going digital, he went the other way round. “In 2010, I came out with a magazine xBHp. The aim of this magazine was to capture the high quality photography content that I capture on the paper. You won’t find such quality in whole Asia-Pacific and we don’t out source from any other auto-magazines. Its all ours,” says Sundeep who is also on the Canon Pro Panel for India.

Sundeep with Rossi

Sundeep has already done two photo exhibitions in Melbourne and one in India. “I want to develop as a photographer. As a biker you can’t do much but the more you are on the road, the better you are.” But of all, the best thing about his job is that he doesn’t have to own the bikes but get invited to test ride the best beast around that world. “Riding bikes keeps you young and there is nothing better to have a job related to it. But it’s not just about the bikes but the experience. My photos are not just product shoots but behind each photo there is a story.”

Talking about the experience, he shares, “India is a beautiful place but driving here is like a hell. The truck drivers are mad on the high way, there is no sense on Indian road. On that it’s very hard to find empty roads here. Motor biking is a style, should take is as leisure and that’s next to impossible here.” But why doesn’t he has to worry about it, after all he is getting to ride on the best roads of the world. You are one lucky man! Many reading this story must be itching to switch job with you, even if it’s for one day.

(Published in Mandate Sept ’12, Page No. 14)

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