As it usually is, my morning started long before sunrise, although, this time, it felt different as I rather enthusiastically emerged from under the covers. After completing my morning rituals, I quickly kitted up and rode straight to the Bombay Custom Works workshop, a good 50 minutes away, but somehow, this time, the trip felt much shorter. I parked my bike, walked up to and knocked on the bright red door. All was quiet. I knocked a second time, but still no response. I started to get worried and took the phone out of my pocket and called Prabhu, the resident BCW crew member, but he didn’t pick up. I frantically re-dialled, and was thankfully met with his sleepy voice at the other end asking me whether I had already reached. I heard his footsteps as he shuffled to the door and unlocked it.
The red door slowly creaked open in the silence of the daybreak and there it stood in all its glory. I finally got my first proper look at Barood in person, and to be honest, it truly is a sight to behold. I gingerly wheeled the motorcycle out into the empty street and set it on the main stand, taking a few steps back to just admire it in the early morning light. Built tastefully around a cast-iron Bullet 350, Barood stands true to its name, ready to ignite a flame of longing in the hearts of almost everyone who sets eyes on it. I turned the ignition on, pulled up the choke, checked that the fuel tap was open and then pumped the kickstart lever a few times before going for the money shot. Lo and behold, it slowly, but surely growled to life. I can tick off ‘started a cast-iron Bullet in one kick’ off my list then.
The low, deep thumps of the engine reverberated in the narrow lane in front of the workshop as I put on my helmet, took it off the main stand and slotted it into first gear. The mechanical clunk of the gears meshing together sounded no sweeter than the bells chiming at a place of worship. I slowly released the clutch lever and the motorcycle pulled forward as I recalibrated my mind to the position of the gear shift lever on the right and the brake lever on the left of Barood.
I took it for a spin around the block to make sure that everything was working fine, and by that time our photographer, Govind, had arrived and was waiting in his car. As soon as I turned the corner, I could see a twinkle in his eyes as he caught sight of Barood (I have seen that exact look only a few times before and it involves a certain ‘Farm’ in Chennai). We quickly headed to the docks to make it in time for the sunrise and were greeted by looks of fascination on the faces of all the people we were passing by. Surprisingly, the cast-iron engine ran pretty smoothly, and while the brakes are still questionable, the feeling of being astride such a work of art is second to none. Heads swivelled, eyes followed suit as people tried to catch a glimpse of the black and gold motorcycle. Maybe that was the reasoning behind the pursuit of all things beautiful, the undivided attention of anyone in the vicinity, if only for a motorcycle, but not just any motorcycle. It was Barood.
Built by Shail and his team at Bombay Custom Works, Barood was born out of the concept of a retro-minimal project that should evoke a certain feeling of lust. Fair enough to say that they have hit the nail on the head, dead centre then. With a silhouette reminiscent of the old flat-tank motorcycles, an intricately engraved wooden seat, a girder-suspension system on the front end and a wide handlebar, Barood is certainly one stunning specimen. As described by Govind, Barood is something that you would definitely want to park in the middle of your living room and build a coffee table around. A work of art that you would display proudly, and probably roll out on the weekends for countless others to ogle at. Form over function, yes, but what stunning form nonetheless.