Into the mind of the rider with Gaurav Gill, India’s top motorsports star. By Gayatri Moodliar
PRODUCED BY VIVEK PAREEK
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MUNEESH TARSEM
STYLED BY MAHAIPAM KASHUNG
HAIR & MAKEUP BY SUNIL GAUTAM
LOGISTICS KRITI PRODUCTIONS
LOCATION JW MARRIOTT JAIPUR RESORT & SPA
It’s not about the destination. We’ve heard that a million times. It needn’t be either, because the mind of the motor-head turns a bit differently. If you’re into automobiles, you look at each milestone not just as your friend and your guide, but also as a marker for the next challenge.
Gaurav Gill, arguably India’s best rally racer, is no stranger to the road or the trail. A triple Asia-Pacific Rally Championship drivers’ champion and World Rally Championship competitor, he has been into bikes and cars since he was a boy. The idea of a road trip on a luxury tourer, the Honda Gold Wing, took him back to his racing roots, because Gaurav started on motorbikes, competing in the National Motocross Championship before he made the transition to four wheels.
He’s no stranger to Honda motorcycles, of course. “When I was younger, we had the iconic VFR750RR. My uncle would take me out on these amazing bikes, and I learnt so much from him— the way he used to ride, the way he took care of the bikes, and the way he loved his machines,” he says.
The plan was to ride from Delhi to Jaipur and back. That was the plan. But once we were on the road, Gaurav found detours, picked his way through highways and country roads. Because, when you’re on the road, you don’t want to stick to an itinerary. You want to explore. “It’s very important to understand and bond with the machine. You have to respect it, you have to understand how it works, you have to be one with it. The Honda Gold Wing is a brilliant machine, a completely different kind of bike,” says Gaurav.
Though he largely concentrates on four wheels now, he appreciates the idea of the bike more than ever. With the Gold Wing’s Ride Modes, Gaurav could choose between Tour, Sport, Rain or Economy, getting the power he needed and altering the bike’s shift points as the terrain changed. In fact, with the Cruise Control enabled by throttle-by-wire, the Gold Wing’s manoeuvrability and ride comfort is masterly. For an experienced motor-head like Gaurav, technology plays a large part, not just because it can determine performance but because it can make a journey more engaging for the modern, smart rider.
Plus, being on the road is about the connect between a man and a machine, about how you can feel the pulse of individuality. Gaurav knows this better than anyone. “The bond between the driver and the machine has to be one hundred and ten percent. I can feel every inch of the contact from the tyre, every time the suspension moves, I have to feel every part of it. It’s in my DNA. It takes a lot of time, effort and years to learn these things,” he adds.
Good roads are not always a given, and passionate bikers know that the idea is to enjoy the ride, not concentrate on speed or take unnecessary risks. Gaurav, himself a motorsports star, says this is the cornerstone of being on the road. “The priority when I ride a motorcycle is always safety. I want to ensure that while riding a motorcycle, it’s very important that I remain focussed on understanding my vision, and my vision has to be clear: there should never be blind spots,” he says, echoing the thoughts of the world’s most experienced bikers, professional or leisure. That’s where the Gold Wing’s electric windscreen (which can move up and down, and change its angle), full LED lighting (including on the instrumentation) and fairing (which offers excellent wind and weather protection) really come handy.
Gaurav says that being on the road is about who you are as a person. If you’re not passionate about it, you will eventually lose interest. But, that is rather rare. Bikers run on adrenaline and emotion, and that heady combination defines the machine as well. Technology has enabled enjoyment like never before, but it can’t be complicated. Electronics shouldn’t frustrate you, so it’s a good thing that the Gold Wing has easy-to-use controls mounted on the handlebar or centre console. We loved the seven-inch TFT colour display, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay, which lets you integrate your iPhone seamlessly. The electronic smart key with an “answer back” feature (which lets you find your bike in the dark) is great, too.
More than anything, being on the road is about the freedom of being out there. You have to feel it. You have to feel the emotion. You have to live the journey. When you’re on the road, you are not just facing the elements, you’re beginning to understand who you are. To Gaurav, it’s all about how much passion one has towards machines and motorsports.
Why? “Because whatever your personality is, it’s actually going to transpire into the way you are as a rider, or even as a sportsperson,” says Gaurav.
Regardless of the distance you’re riding, or the amount of time you spend behind the handlebar, there’s an innate appeal to taking to the road and just riding away. It’s almost spiritual.
The 2018 Honda Gold Wing is recognised by riders across the world as a genius long-distance luxury tourer. At its heart is a 1,833-cc horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that is peppy and reliable, with just the right displacement to tackle terrain and climate. The bike also features a sevenspeed automatic DCT (dual clutch transmission), which allows for seamless switching of gears for a smoother, more efficient ride. And, with the new double wishbone front suspension, four riding modes and a compact seat placement, you couldn’t ask for a more comfortable bike to travel cross-country.
The MT Blade2 SV helmet is tested rigorously for its toughness and uses special absorbent fabrics. It also includes a drop-down sun visor. The SCIMITAR Metro riding jacket is practical yet sleek. It features elbow, shoulder and back armour for better impact absorption and mesh fabric for maximum ventilation. RYO Onex riding boots are super comfy, with an anti-slip outer sole. MICOMY Axe riding gloves are versatile and great for all riding needs. Great riding gear is available at Honda BigWing, IFFCO Chowk, Sector 25, Gurugram, Haryana. Phone: +91 124 4007045
The JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate after a day’s ride. The majestic property is set amidst the Aravalli hills, and has suites, family rooms and villas with private plunge pools—which is where Gaurav planned his trip and contemplated his journey. Amenities include a stunning pool, a full-service fitness centre, multiple dining options and the famous Spa by JW.