iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Hari Warrier, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 20, 2013
Big bikes are buzzing in India. British brand Triumph is launching next week. American Harley Davidson announced two new bikes last week, to be built in the US and India. Japanese Kawasaki launched two super Ninjas earlier this year. And on Sunday, samurai Suzuki, perhaps the quietest player in the superbike (bikes with 1,000 cc-plus engines) category, announced a club for its big bike owners: the Suzuki Biking Lords.

A bikers’ club is not unknown — Delhi, for instance, has one called the Group of Delhi Superbikers, or GODS, a private group established way back in 1998. Harley has the Harley Owners’ Group or HOGs, which is a global phenomenon. Little wonder, then, that riders have high hopes of Suzuki’s initiative.

Said Atul Gupta, executive vice-president, Suzuki Motorcycles India Ltd: “We are looking at it as an interface between bike owners and the company. We have developed a mobile app that becomes a closed social media group — owners can meet, coordinate rides, share experiences and pictures etc. And using it, they can also get in touch with the company, instantly.”

Said Dr Arun Thareja, head of ENT at Maharaja Agrasen Hospital in Punjabi Bagh and founder of GODS: “Suzuki has the biggest range of superbikes in India apart from Harley, so this is a welcome initiative.”

He felt that most big bike brands have little visibility, including globally revered ones such as Ducati, which is defunct in the country, and BMW, whose products are “unreasonably priced”.

Said Arvind Nachaya, director at Citi, Mumbai and owner of a Suzuki Hayabusa, “This club is important for Suzuki. With many brands coming in, they need to build brand loyalty, and this will help in that.”

“Let us see what Triumph does,” said Thareja. “If they get pricing right, the market is theirs for the taking.

Though local assembling can bring prices down, Suzuki’s Gupta said they have no plans to take that route as the volumes don’t justify it. If the new club does well, a plant may come at a later stage.