My Bullet Tale: the Stripes & Sunshine Affair

A motorcycle today is infinitely more efficient & reliable, not to mention powerful & loaded with tech, than their predecessors of yore! There’s one aspect though that sits uneasy in the head and that’s the growing creep of tech. Some of it is inevitable, a bit is desirable even. But the heart still yearns for that simplicity of purpose that made me take to motorcycling.

Growing up, motorcycles had x-factor, a desirability that went beyond tech specs & the whole numbers game. Things had a sense of purpose, a rhythm that rewarded you with a heartbeat that could vary between calm and a raging war in just a twist of the throttle. It was a matter of personal pride, to be able to kick-start a motorcycle.

The Bullet is one such motorcycle that has always made me feel this way about it. It has witnessed some of the most historic developments of the country. From being an integral part of our freedom struggle, to being a mainstay of our armed forces even to this day, she’s a legacy that has been around for the longest time.

I fell in love with the Bullet motorcycle way as a kid. Back then, I fell for the way she came to life each time her owner swung down on that kick-lever. Later as I grew older, I fell in love with the simplicity of the design – an emotion, a sense of satisfaction even when she was at standstill. Then there were those stripes – an integral part of the Bullet legacy, the pin-stripes on the tank of the Bullet Motorcycle did something to my heart. That glossy black tank and those gold stripes have fuelled many a motorcycling dream, mine included.

The Madras Stripes, as they are called, are a legacy as old as the Bullet motorcycle itself. Painted by legendary craftsmen, only a select few are masters of this beautiful artwork. The hand-painted stripes are the handiwork of legendary craftsmen, who have been the custodians of this art since generations. The stripes have many who’ve tried to replicate the legendary pin-striping, some going on to devoting their entire life to it, both in all corners of the country and around the world. The other thing I have loved about the Bullet over the years is the hand-crafted chrome. Notoriously difficult to get right & absolutely unforgiving towards any flaws, the chrome is another integral element of the Bullet motorcycle legend. The signature shape of the mud-guards fore & aft glinting off the soft sunlight filtering through at day break, or just before sun-down is a memory that’s baked right into the heart, mind & soul.

Back in the day when we welcomed our first Bullet into the family, we couldn’t get the one with the chrome tank. It would take me years before I could get my hands on one. That tank in factory packaging sat there in a corner of the house, forgotten for half a decade, until a replacement was needed earlier this year. Breaking open the packaging that evening, the mind was filled with plenty hope but tinged with sadness over what sight would I be presented with. My worries proved to be unfounded and joy was restored as a chrome tank awoke from the cardboard darkness, and has been gleaming in the sunlight ever since.

The admiring glances from fellow motorists, the perceptible nod from non-motoring folk at the sight of an impeccable set of the hand-painted pin stripes or the handcrafted chrome is enough to make one smile with pride. And that my friends, is how this stripes & sunshine affair continues to this day…

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