Motorcycling - Story

Musafir Nicc: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey!

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Having a passion for riding is common. But nurturing the passion and taking it to the next level is what “Livingit” is all about. As a part of the #IAmLivingit series here’s the story of a Musafir Nicc, whose passion for riding lead him to conceptualize a riding community which over a period of 6 years has evolved into a riding tribe, with the tribe’s riding experience of 20,07,752 kms. Established in 2011 “The Musafirs”, with a riding experience of more than 75 rides ( at least one ride a month), have slowly but very steadily, grown into a definitive cult, and have redefined the laws of community riding with their safety rules and love for a leisure-filled ride.

Rachana Jain from Livingit caught up with Musafir Nicc, the brainchild behind “The Musafirs”, about how this journey began, his passion for riding, and much more. Here’s Musafir Nicc- up, close and personal!

Livingit: When and how did you start RIDING? Tell us something about your journey?
Musafir Nicc: The passion for riding was always there. I was always fascinated about these machines that run on two wheels. But it wasn’t until 2009 that I brought one of my own. The first day that I got the motorcycle home, I wasn’t even confident that I’ll be able to ride that heavy machine.

Add to it the fear that many well-wishers instilled in me by saying, “Beta, koi chota halka–fulka bike le lo… yeh nahi chala paaoge,” and it left me completely shaken. A close friend, Deepak Mestry, who owned a similar motorcycle helped me get the bike home from the showroom and offered guidance on how to ride the thing. From the time I booked my machine, until a couple of months after delivery, our discussions would revolve only around the motorcycle with him explaining the nuances of riding or maintaining it.

Livingit: What struggles did you encounter when you started?
Musafir Nicc: The initial days weren’t easy – I weighed about 60 kgs and handling the 200 kg motorcycle felt tough – just when I gained a little confidence, in October 2009, I went skidding off the motorcycle with my friend (who’s now my wife) sitting pillion. Result: One month out of action. Shattered confidence.

A busted knee. And a firm resolve – TO MASTER AND TAME THIS BEAST.

In December 2009, I began training myself –gathering knowledge from all accessible sources such as the literature available on the internet, talking to experienced motorcyclists, youtube videos. It is then that I learnt that listening to experts or watching videos is one thing – but hands-on practice is the key to correctly apply everything you learnt.

Musafir Nicc : Mastering the Art of Motorcycling and How!

You’ll never be able to make a perfect corner just by watching youtube videos or reading how to do it! You have to find safe places and practice it in a controlled environment to master the art. I learned that while astride a motorcycle, many things are to be done in an intuitive manner but it is extremely important to know the counter-intuitive aspects of motorcycling – like counter steering or anti-target fixation.

Livingit: What was the first motorcycle that captivated you as a kid?
Musafir Nicc: As a kid, having a motorcycle, any motorcycle was a dream. Back then, no one in the family or even my extended family owned one, neither knew how to ride one. The first time I got on a motorcycle, as a pillion was probably when I was 13 – that memory is still fresh in my head! The sense of freedom, the thrill, and excitement on that motorcycle ride was unparalleled – it is the same feeling I get when I’m riding one today. So it wasn’t about “Which Brand” captivated me – the concept of motorcycling fascinated me.

Musafir Nicc

Livingit: Did you have a mentor/guru who you followed? And how did it help?
Musafir Nicc: I knew nothing about motorcycles. Deepak Mestry introduced me to it. I would often reach out to him and his guidance made me appreciate the little-known nuances of being a motorcyclist. He is the one to ignite the spark.

Livingit: How adventurous has the journey been till now?
Musafir Nicc: It has been one hell of a journey… and I’m sure it’ll be the same in future.I got my first motorcycle in 2009 and started long distance motorcycle touring in 2010. Since then, not a month has passed in which I did not do a long distance ride (300-plus km riding).

I have done 100-plus tours, including solo rides and the ones with The Musafirs Motorcycle Club . Yet, the excitement on the eve of every ride, seldom allows me to sleep. The days I ride, are probably the only days when I don’t need an alarm to wake up.

Nicc leading the clan

Each ride, even if it is a destination that I’ve been to in the past, is a new adventure.

Livingit: Tell us about your bike?Why do you ride only this brand?
Musafir Nicc: I have a 2009 Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark christened BlackDawg, and Jhilmil – my KTM Duke 390. Both have their own charm – the 44 bhp Jhilmil is swift, peppy and fast. On papers, it has the potential to touch zero to 200 kmph within 9 seconds – though mine has never done it because my approach is based on the Musafirs Motorcycle Club’s ideology #safetyissexy. When on long rides with the Musafirs Motorcycle Club, the usual convoy of 50-60 motorcycles stretches for about a couple of kilometers – with each of them doing speeds of about 80kmph. Jhilmil helps me traverse between the shepherd and pilot without too many efforts or strain on the engine – it is barely pushed outside its comfort zone.

On the other hand, Blackdawg is more relaxed and more than happy to do 60 kmph – though it can reluctantly be pushed to 110 kmph. Many people think that it is the bike that matters for long distance riding – but seldom is it so – it is the mindset of the motorcyclist that matters the most. We’ve had people riding Piaggio Vespa and Yamaha Ray (both ungeared, low-displacement scooters) for long distances with us.

We’ve seen people doing Khardung Pass in Ladakh on 100 cc motorcycles. I’m no brand-fan – for me, it is about the reliability of the machine and service provided by the company. Enfields have taught me how to handle breakdowns and do quick fixes on the bike. The Duke has seldom given me such an opportunity.

Blackdawg to zip around

Livingit: Do you like to modify/customize your bike too? Tell us something about what you’ve customized?
Musafir Nicc: I’ve done functional modifications to my motorcycles – I remember on the Leh ride, the seat on BlackDawg gave away. The first thing I did on getting back is spending a day with my fabricator friend, use high-grade stainless steel to create a seat plate then and add cushioning to ensure comfort even on 1000-plus kilometre rides. The other change I did was adding auxiliary lights to ensure that my path always stays illuminated.

Third, I’ve changed the rear shock-absorbers on BlackDawg and replaced them with Hero Karizma’s suspensions to improve the ride quality. Replaced the rear tail lamp assembly of the Thunderbird with that of Classic because the original one, that sits on a single welded clamp tends to break when riding for long distances on testing, largely off-road circuits.

Livingit: What is your profession?
Musafir Nicc: I’m a marketing communications manager with a procurement services and technology company in Mumbai – GEP. Been in this field for almost 10 years now.

Livingit: Has riding helped you in your work life in any way? Has pursuing your passion every conflicted with your work? How frequently are you riding now?
Musafir Nicc: Riding helps me balance things – I often come across colleagues frustrated with work. Riding keeps me calm in my professional and personal life. I’m among those fortunate few who have had good, understanding and supportive bosses at work.

The key being that, just like when riding on the road, your engagement with people should be a no-surprise one – because sudden changes can lead to mishaps. Deliver what is expected from you at work, plan your rides well in advance and discuss it with your boss.

Musafir Nicc : Mastering the Art of Motorcycling and How!

The leaves you get, though they get deducted from your PLs, are a privilege especially when you want two weeks at a stretch for long tours. I commute to the office on one of my two motorcycles every day. I go out for short rides (250 km – 600 km) once every month and longer circuits (3000 odd km) twice-thrice every year.

Livingit: Who are your real-life ‘Motorcycling Heroes’?
Musafir Nicc: Sameer Malik and Ansar Ahmed.

Sameer is the owner of Ram Motorcycling Company. He and one of his mechanics, Kismat Ali – they are my CHAMPIONS and know inside out of any Enfield. Sameer was the one whose valuable advice helped me set up processes in the Musafirs Motorcycle Club. He appraised me with ‘What Not To Do’ when on rides.

Ansar used to be a pro-biker and now owns the brand ‘Biking Brotherhood Gears’ – His tips on riding not only helped me but many other Musafirs – following a few sessions with him, even a novice starts riding like a pro.

Livingit: Tell us about your best & worst riding experiences?
Musafir Nicc: There is nothing called the worst riding experience – Period. You have good riding experiences and challenging ones that leave you with a lot of learning experiences. My solo ride from Leh to Mumbai tops the list of my best riding experiences.

Nicc with his team at Spiti Valley

The most challenging one was my ride to Spiti Valley last August where I rolled down a cliff and was wheelchair bound for a couple of months.

Livingit: Do you have any tips for people starting out?
Musafir Nicc: There are three types of motorcyclists – the commuter, the mile-crunchers and the organ donors (pun intended). You can target being in one of the first two categories – but definitely not the third. The organ-donor class of motorcyclists are the ones who ride without helmets and gears and are often seen splattered on the highways with organs donated on the road.

Even before the first time you sit on a motorcycle, buy yourself a good helmet – not the 300 Rs “challan-bachao” roadside helmets. And remember, the helmet is used to protect your head – completely ineffective if you hang it on your mirror or elbow. I’ve seen people riding superbikes, without helmets – their justification usually is along the lines of: “I’m riding a 10 lakh bike – how will people know it is me if they cannot see my face when I wear a helmet”. Please do not belong to this category.

The next one is for parents buying motorcycles for their kids, often they relent to their kid’s wishes and buy them a motorcycle before they turn 18 – most of these kids, with their youthful josh are not just a threat to other road users but also themselves.

Remember – a motorcycle is not a toy and riding one, is an art and to master it, you need to train yourself.

Livingit: How do you set goals? For yourself or for your club?
Musafir Nicc: I’ve got it simplified in my head. It is never about the destination – it is about the journey. And this holds true for both, myself as well as the club.

Musafir Nicc : Mastering the Art of Motorcycling and How!

For instance, my goal is to become a chief marketing officer of a multinational company someday – and I am sure in future I will get there. But the key is to enjoy the journey to the top. Just like on a 2000 km ride, it should not be about finishing the 2000 km but rather enjoying each and every km along the route.

Livingit: Tell us something about your gear – your current collection/brands you use. What is your favourite piece of equipment?
Musafir Nicc: I’m not a big spender on gears – and I have just one of everything necessary. A riding jacket (Cramster), a riding pant (DSG), a pair of highway touring boot (Tarmac), a pair of off-roading boots (Sidi), a regular use helmet (Sol) and a touring helmet (Airoh). There are no favorites – I care for each one of them equally. But now it is time for an upgrade – most of these have served their period of use.

Livingit: How much would you have spent on RIDING till now approximately?
Musafir Nicc: I’ve never calculated – but a rough calculation including the bikes, the equipment, fuel etc., it should be in the range of Rs 12-14 lakhs. But it should never be about how much has one spent on riding – the question should be how much has one gained from riding.

Livingit: What are your favorite events around RIDING that you cannot miss?
Musafir Nicc: I cannot miss any of the Musafirs rides; I remember that after the fall down the cliff, the next ride I was there in a wheelchair, jealous of not being able to ride but yet doing what I love doing the most, spending time with my motorcycling buddies.

Nicc Planning the river crossing at Spiti Valley

Livingit: What has been your most memorable RIDING moment till now?
Musafir Nicc: The solo ride from Leh to Mumbai tops the list followed by a very short 250 km circuit with Jhilmil just one more motorcycle – the Blackdawg and my wife riding it.

Livingit: What is the latest activity you have done- share with us your experience?
Musafir Nicc: January 2017 – The Musafirs Motorcycle Club’s 6 th Anniversary ride from Mumbai to South Goa. 60-plus bikers, serpentine formations, breakdowns, fun. An experience that cannot be described in words. We are an open bike club – you have to join us to experience it.

Livingit: What do you feel has been your biggest achievements/accomplishment?
Musafir Nicc: The biggest accomplishment till now has been creating a platform for like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts – and delivering on the expectations of fellow Musafirs in terms of adventure and fun.

It has now become a close-knit family and we watch each other’s back – on the road and off it as well.

Livingit: What are top 3 things on your bucket list?
Musafir Nicc: Bucket list in terms of riding:

  1. Bhutan – May 2017
  2. Leh – July 2017
  3. Spiti – August 2017

These are the ones that currently occupy my mind’s maximum bandwidth.

Musafir Nicc has had one hell of a journey, from owning his first bike and experiencing his first slip to mastering the art of motorcycling. Surely, it all wasn’t easy, but Nicc made sure that come what he will achieve what he has set out for. And he did so and continues to do so. 6 years, thousand’s of km’s of riding, but he is not done yet. Musafir Nicc is Livingit to the fullest. So get inspired, follow and nurture your passion. Take it to the next level just like Musafir Nicc.

Looking for more inspiring stories? Read here the journey of India’s most loved motocross racer Aravind KP-Man who is too fast for the road!

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