When not sitting in his office creating strategies, working with large companies as well as start-ups, Shahnawaz Karim is out on his bike, experiencing the rush of adventure through his two wheels. A guru when it comes to those wheels, Karim runs a website called wheelsguru.com to share his passion and expertise with others who share the same. Shahnawaz Karim is one of the Top 3 Fastest Riders in India under the 600cc category!
Team Livingit connected with Shahnawaz for the series #IamLivingit and it was a pleasure to know about another passionate side of biking, i.e., racing. An adventurer by heart, Shahnawaz has travelled across the globe and loves the mean machines (Well, for us, they are motorcycles!)
Riding a race bike is an art – a thing that you do because you feel something inside.
LivingIt: When did you start riding?
Shahnawaz Karim : I started riding when I was 12. My Uncle used to leave his motorcycle at my home when he went back to his native place every couple of months and that was the time I used to take his bike out, try to ride it and experiment etc.
LivingIt: How has riding developed into a passion for you over the years?
Shahnawaz Karim : Before riding motorcycles, I used to ride bicycles, and I used to ride fast. Fast enough that I would race along with the DTC bus on the highway, on my way back from math tuition. When I told my parents that I want a motorcycle, my father used to say ‘you ride so fast/dangerously on cycle, you would ride a motorcycle even faster’ and said no. I figured out that I would need to buy it on my own so I started working during my 12th standard and bought myself a Hero Honda CBZ by the 1 st year of college. It was by this time I had also started applying for the Motorcycle racing in MMSC track.
LivingIt: Your ride down the world’s highest motor-able road, Khardung La pass, back in 2013, is not for those afraid of heights. Do you enjoy challenging yourself on dangerous terrains?
Shahnawaz Karim: I was not the first one to do so. So, it was a) Do-able, b) you don’t look at the ditch while riding. Yes, I still challenge myself of dangerous terrain. I believe that you have one life and you’ve got to experience it completely. I have heard of cases of people breaking their bones while falling from their bed. At least if you break the bone, you do it with grace! Khardung La was just the beginning and there on, there are various dangerous terrains that I have ridden as well.
LivingIt: Do you prefer to ride on track, road, trail or off-road routes? Why?
Shahnawaz Karim : I love both, I started with track riding in my initial days and then gradually I’ve developed a liking for trail riding as well. If I look back both the styles of riding are different and they teach something that could be accommodated in the other. For example, the trail or dirt riding makes you comfortable when your rear and front tyre is sliding and when you apply the same technique in on the track you can push yourself even more to outperform.
LivingIt: What are the biggest differences on the road that you notice when touring in India compared to places abroad such as Italy?
Shahnawaz Karim : I’ve till now been fortunate enough to ride on some of the international as well some Indian roads. Both have their own charm. The roads or for that matter the fellow road users in India are very occupying. You must be alert every time and this gives you a lot of challenge and pushing your level. While the roads in Italy or Spain are very relaxed, paved, winding and with bigger motorcycle it also becomes very forgiving as well.
LivingIt: How do prepare/plan for a motorbike tour?
Shahnawaz Karim : My tours are planned in a very short time. This is doable as my riding gear and saddle bags are always packed with the travel essentials like the puncture repair kit, Pump, some spares and my travel clothes. Just need to add the toiletries and we are ready to roll from the packing perspective. The most important aspect is then the motorcycle which I service or make sure that it’s in nice condition a day advance – and I make sure to get some sleep the night before.
LivingIt: What are some of your all-time favourite bikes?
Shahnawaz Karim : My all-time favorites are the Yamaha RX 100 and BMW 1200 GS/Ducati Multistrada. I have been fortunate enough to own an RX100 once and it was a superb machine. The bike that really moved me to motorcycles, however, was the Yamaha R1. I saw that machine on Overdrive magazine in 1999, and that was it.
LivingIt: What bike do you currently ride?
Shahnawaz Karim : Currently I am riding – Hero Impulse and KTM 390 Duke. I have also had previously owned an RX100 (‘89), RD350 (’83), Hero Honda CBZ (2002), Yamaha R15 (2012)
LivingIt: You’ve gained quite a few achievements in the Indian motorsport scene as in 2013 you were awarded the title of being one of the top 3 fastest riders in India under 600cc, but you’ve also taken part in quite a few more races. What are some of the races you are most proud of?
Shahnawaz Karim : Motorcycle racing for me is fascinating. It can be fancy yet intimidating at times. I’ve participated in Circuit races in Chennai – One Make races and came third. Another event is the Speed sprint where I again came third. I would not say that I am proud of that one particularly because I was not in the 1 st position, however, the Yamaha One Make races were pure bliss! I have also participated at the KTM Duke 390 at Buddh International Circuit.
LivingIt: Describe the thrill of motorbike racing – why this sport?
Shahnawaz Karim: As I mentioned I love the rush of adventure. It’s the adrenaline that once kicks in that give all the mental drive. Also, as a person I am a driven person, who is all charged up. It’s that feel that probably makes me not believe in the dangers but more on the thrills that it would give. And for that thrill, it’s totally worth it!
LivingIt: How did you start training for motorsports?
Shahnawaz Karim : So, Yamaha and TVS used to organize their riding clinics as well as training camps where they used to provide motorcycles for budding riders to learn skills and then participate in the One Make races. I believe it’s because of these brands there are a lot of new and amazing riders from India who are coming into the international circuit and recognition as well.
LivingIt: How do you balance your passion for biking and blogging, with your profession being head of Marketing at Spectranet?
Shahnawaz Karim : Spectranet is a great service for high speed truly unlimited internet in your homes. My job takes away at least 5 days a week, however, it motivates me for the weekends to explore the motorcycling more. Then there are long holidays and I still can take days off.
There’s another side of me that is also a free motorcycle rider. I have also designed a motorcycle jacket that could be converted to a backpack, thereby enabling the riders to carry their helmets when they are not wearing it. This is not just passion but a direction towards designing products that help you successfully negotiate situational risks. The product gets launched next month!
LivingIt: How important is following and sharing your passion to you?
Shahnawaz Karim : I believe that my passion drives me to do things that I have never done before, explore places never been before, and think beyond my own expectations. If you don’t have your passion aligned to you, you are not doing justice to yourself.
Livingit: Do you have any advice for riders who are just starting out?
Shahnawaz Karim: Every day I am starting out fresh, every day I am learning something new. Just don’t be afraid of it. Try to master something and leave a mark in this world. Get away from the shackles of your daily monotony and just ride! The motorcycle never understands excuses.
Wishing Shahnawaz a great future in motorcycle racing and looking forward to the release of the jacket that he has designed. It’s in moments like these that you feel great about coming across a passionate person who can proudly say #IamLivingIt