The expansive Aamby Valley
situated on the outskirts of Pune is a unique hill city for the well-heeled
that has been carved out of the bowels of the earth and wrapped around in the
beautiful arms of mother nature. It recently witnessed a special event of the
Tiger Training Academy hosted by Triumph Motorcycles India, the iconic British
Around 30 odd motorcycle
journalists in India had the chance to experience the ingenuity of honing one’s
skills when it comes to off road motorcycling. It was not an event to win a
coveted trophy, nor was it meant to choose who the best was; it was simply a fun
experience that had all the ingredients of safety, awareness and skill built
At 54 years of age, I felt it
was a bit daunting for me initially to climb on to a massive 800cc triple
engine Triumph Tiger motorcycle and attempt to clear obstacles that one would
usually give the pass. But several minutes into a reassuring and educative
speech by the legendary Vijay Parmar, the chief instructor for this Tiger
Training Academy initiative, I was all pepped up and ready to take on the
Everything from the right
riding gears to riding postures to the abilities of the Tiger motorcycles were
explained to the enthusiastic bunch of journalists, many of them in their
twenties and rearing to tame the motorcycle and the terrain. Vimal Sumbly, the
enthusiastic biker and managing director of Triumph Motorcycles India went up
to the journalists and reminded them of the fun that they were to experience.
The Tiger Training Academy is,
incidentally, a special initiative by Triumph to train the Triumph Tiger owners
on riding safely both on and off road conditions. The course in Aamby Valley
was a pure off-road experience bundled with lots of tricky obstacles, from
simple cones to steep inclines and wading through water, while moss, rocks,
rubble and the intermittent rains ensured that our challenge never got
easy. The Tiger motorcycles come in two
different ranges, the XR touring range consisting of the XR, XRx and XRT, and the off-road
biased XC range consisting of the XC, XCx and the XCA. The one I got was the XCA which has features
like three riding modes, advanced on board computer, hand guards, CNC machined
foot rests, aluminium radiator guard, etc. The bike is equipped with traction
control and switchable ABS and its 800cc triple engine produces 94hp.
We were put into four
different batches of 6 or 7 each and each batch had to complete one obstacle
before moving on to the next one. The first obstacle consisted of manoeuvring around the cones, either standing
or sitting on the bike and then climbing up a steep hilly tract and coming down
a very narrow path between two rocky mounds. Several boys stumbled, a few fell,
but I managed to clear it all when my turn came.
Similarly, wading through
water, slush and climbing up and down a few steep slushy and rocky inclines
were next in line. Each of that I did with great care and skill, and also with
a bit of trepidation overcoming me once in a while. The motorcycle’s ABS and
off road riding mode kicked in at the right moments with adequate braking and
traction control. The torque and power of the engine combined to give the bike
remarkable thrust and speed.
While several journalists
fell, several stalled their engines (I did that a few times), and a couple of
them were not able to complete the entire course, what one learnt from this
experience was something that would always be treasured. The purpose of this
academy is to train Tiger owners how to handle their motorcycles in tough real
As for me, the icing on the
cake was getting my Tiger Training Academy certificate saying that I had
successfully completed the course at the Aamby Valley. The lesson I learnt was
simple: A good off road motorcycle with some great features may look
intimidating but when you ride it right, skilfully, carefully and in a much
disciplined manner, you can even make the Tiger purr!!
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