Breaking stereotypes: Women embrace off-road riding in Bengaluru

In recent years, the passion for off-road adventure, driving and riding, among Bengalureans have surged.
Enthusiasts flocking to academies and dirt parks scattered around the city’s outskirts to master the basics of bike handling and honing skills for challenging competitions.
Enthusiasts flocking to academies and dirt parks scattered around the city’s outskirts to master the basics of bike handling and honing skills for challenging competitions.(Photo | Special arrangement)

BENGALURU: A constant blur of speed, obstacles, and uneven terrain, off-road trail riding is not for the faint-hearted. Whether you’re on a lean, mean two-wheel machine or cocooned in a four-ton trail-eating SUV, both require deft skill and, more importantly, self-belief and confidence. Over the last few years, the launch of affordable adventure bikes, starting around Rs 1.5 lakh and 4x4s, priced between Rs 8 and Rs 10 lakh, has driven adventure-seeking Bengalureans to flock to academies, eager to learn the crucial skills needed to conquer unexplored trails.

Moto Farm, near Kanakapura, launched just before the lockdown. Despite a challenging beginning, the facility has since flourished, teaching riders not just how to operate bikes but how to fully enjoy and master them. “Now, there are affordable motorcycles to choose from, which wasn’t an option earlier. The affordability has changed riding in India, encouraging more off-road adventures,” says Dishank, the founder. “We train people for both off-road and on-road riding. We don’t adhere to old-school methods of just getting from one place to the other; we focus on enjoying the process and mastering proper techniques.”

They provide customised training for two-wheelers with packages priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000 per day. The clientele typically ranges in age between 26 and 40, with increasing interest from women. “We are striving to break the stereotype that motorbiking is solely for men or that women can only engage in touring, not proper off-roading,” he says.

Meanwhile, as the sole dirt park conveniently close to the city, Tribal Adventure Cafe near Devanahalli has become a hub for young motorsport enthusiasts. It attracts those aspiring to enter various racing categories, from motorbikes to 4x4s. “We get a lot of interest from young kids aged five to 15, especially since we post about our training on social media.

Sameera Dahiya
Sameera DahiyaPhoto | Express

Corporate groups are looking for weekend activities as well. With motorsports having gained more visibility, parents are keen to involve their kids in the sport,” shares Dev Venkatesh, co-founder and principal trainer. “We saw a significant increase post Covid. Before that, we had more adults interested in adventure riding. Now, we see a lot more kids and aspiring racers joining us. During the Covid-induced lockdowns, many people had nothing to do, which led them to start riding motorcycles. This shift has brought more young talent into the sport.”

A self-taught adventure rider turned rally racer, Sameera Dahiya has been sharing her passion for riding with fellow enthusiasts, particularly women, for the last few years. Despite the growing interest in adventure riding in general, mainly due to the exponential increase in popularity of motorsports in recent years, Dahiya finds women to be well behind their male counterparts due to various obstacles.

“Interest and accessibility are key factors. Off-roading is a sport, not just an additional skill. Many women struggle to connect with off-roading due to fear, as it involves a significant adrenaline rush compared to tarmac riding, which is more about mental and physical coordination. Some also don’t have the right motorcycles for off-roading; their bikes are more suited for touring or city riding, which limits them both mentally and physically,” she explains.

Nonetheless, Dahiya, once a techie, has noticed a growing interest among women to break that stereotype and is offering one-on-one and group workshops, helping encourage more women to embrace the thrill of off-roading.

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The New Indian Express