It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Akshai Varde is a Mumbai-based motorcycle expert (and buff). Like most practitioners of hobbies-turned-into-careers, each bike he customizes through his Motorcycle company, Vardenchi Motorcycles, is more like a work of art rather than a hunk of hot metal and wheels. And their superlative riding quality is something he refuses to compromise on either. After over 5 years of hands-on experience, a company which has diversified to Pune and Goa, and over 200 personal bike customizations for customers, he's at the very top of his game.
Guylife - What's your first car or bike memory?
Akshai Varde: My first bike memory was a honda 250 VTR that my dad had when I was around 2. I've ridden around on that bike with him a lot.
Guylife - What's your background--what did you do before starting Vardenchi Motorcycles? How did you get started in this business?
Akshai Varde: I began with wanting to be a biomedical engineer. Realising that maths was not my cup of tea, I moved to dentistry. Now the thought of having my hands in a lot of people's mouths everyday threw me off and I decided to study hotel management which was very cool back in the day.
I worked with the hotels for a while before joining an airline as a flight attendant which I did for 3 years before starting to customize bikes as a side business. It all started on the day when I took my then-hardly customized bike out for a spin and saw a really nicely customized Royal Enfield. I took it up as a personal challenge to beat that job, which I did.
That first bike got me a lot of attention, which made me think about a business in this unusual field. I started a company called the Mumbai Motorcycle Company in 2005, rebranded it to Vardenchi in 2006, and the rest is history!
Guylife - Which is your favorite bike (from the showroom)? And which bike do you love modifying the most?
Akshai Varde: I like the Ducati. I think it represents a great blend of design and technology. I enjoy customizing the Royal Enfield the most.
Guylife - What car do you drive? And what's your dream car?
Akshai Varde: I drive a custom Contessa Classic 1.8 petrol. My dream car is the Bentley GT Continental.
Guylife - What bikes do you ride for fun? What's your dream bike?
Akshai Varde: The bikes I ride for fun are the bikes I build. My dream bike is a Confederate Motorcycle.
Guylife - Where do you get your engines and other spare parts?
Akshai Varde: We use the Royal Enfield as a base but build most of the custom parts in-house. We import some of the parts that we can't source locally, like wheels and tyres.
Pictured here: The Stealth
Guylife - Who are some of your famous clients?
Akshai Varde: We've built bikes for Jackie Shroff, Karan Grover, Ash Chandler, among several others
Guylife - What are the strangest or most bizarre requests you've ever received from clients?
Akshai Varde: We've had a lot of bizarre requests like cigar holders or beer can chillers and stuff like that, which are actually quite cool to try and implement. We are happy to please our clients with whatever they wish and look at each special request as a challenge.
Guylife - Who are your idols in your profession?
Akshai Varde: My idol is Ratan Tata. He's not from my profession per se, but I admire the way the man carries himself and what he stands for.
Guylife - How much does it cost to personalize a bike?
Akshai Varde: Customizing costs for a bike depend on the features that you choose. But the cost generally ranges between Rs. 1.5 lakh - Rs. 4.5 lakh.
Guylife - How many bikes have you modified?
Akshai Varde: We have custom-built close to 200 bikes till date.
Guylife - Which is the most expensive bike you've ever built?
Akshai Varde: The Skeletor for Jackie is the most expensive bike we’ve ever built.
Pictured here: Jackie Shroff's Skeletor
Guylife - Which is your favorite bike from your collection?
Akshai Varde: My favourite bike from my collection is The Stealth (pictured above)
Guylife - Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into the bike modding culture?
Akshai Varde: My advice to anyone entering this trade is to learn the craft and the economics involved. Build a team and work really hard.
For more about Akshai or Vardenchi Motorcycles, visit his website. You can also ask him any automotive questions you may have on Guylife's expert page.
-Pictures courtesy Akshai Varde and Vardenchi Motorcycles-
With Skyfall, director Sam Mendes mixes the old an...
If Bollywood ever went down the 007 agent route, w...