Akshai Varde - Founder, Vardenchi Motorcycles In An Interview With CrazyEngineers
Nine years back, Akshai Varde started the company called 'Vardenchi Motorcycles' with a team of 3 and Rs. 2 Lakhs in funds. His passionate attempt at the remodeling bikes business has grown today to a workforce of 22, where people shoulder the responsibilities of the various aspects of the company like Design and Engineering, Production, and Quality Assurance. What began as an idea to bring beautiful artworks on the streets of India, has now become a nationally known brand. Akshai has a degree in hotel management and has been designing the custom modified bikes for almost a decade.
From the initial days of founding a startup where believers in you and your idea don't come easy, to being the face behind the company that developed the magnificent looking bike in Bollywood Star, Akshay Kumar's movie 'Oh My God', Mr. Akshai Varde has faced it all with poise.
We are proud to present a candid interview with the man where he answers questions asked by members of CrazyEngineers. Read on to know what Akshai has to say.
CE: Could you give us a snapshot of the custom bike design process?
Akshai: To be honest the source of the design is the customer. We read into his personality in the best possible manner and reflect it into the motorcycle aesthetics such as proportion, colour schemes , graphics and finishes. We follow an interesting process of sketch to 3D and then to build. But each process has an engineering and creative approach.
CE: How did ‘OMG! Oh My God' happen? (That was seriously great marketing, even if indirect. I personally came to know of Vardenchi post that film)
Akshai: I think OMG was a win win for both sides. Akshay Kumars production house was looking for someone who could design and build a heavenly motorcycle that would suit his character in the film. Our design and build capabilities gave us the opportunity to deliver way beyond their expectation and hence they used it widely in the film and as well as every marketing medium. We were overwhelmed with the response the film brought.
CE: What are the possibilities of modifying 150/200 cc bikes into the Vardenchi-kind?
Akshai: The 150-200 segment I feel still falls in the commute segment where the purchase decision is primarily governed by economics and budgets. The quantum of spenders in this segment and the amount they will spend may not keep a vertical dedicated to it profitable. But the 200cc upwards segment is now picking up momentum and we are considering some foray into this space.
CE: Do you foresee a bike that functions like the Batpod made in India?
Akshai: Not really.
CE: Have films like Ghost Rider or Batman influenced your customisation process?
Akshai: All vehicles in film influence guys across the globe. We are no different at Vardenchi and love to see a cool set of wheels.
CE: Why are you concentrating more on Choppers? Do you have any idea to change the shape in future?
Akshai: The flavor of the period Vardenchi started customization was choppers. However over time I think our design sensibilities have evolved to offer a more ride performance oriented and user friendly design. Going ahead we would like to offer a unique genre that we can possibly dream up.
CE: Would you consider modifying scooters like the Vespa and Honda Dio to custom grade quality as well?
Akshai: Is there a market?
CE: Driving a lengthier bike is difficult than driving a smaller size. In most of your customised bikes, you had increased the lengths; Is there any major technical challenge?
Akshai: There definitely is a technical change which has its advantages and downsides. The advantage being straight line stability and the downside being low maneuverability. But over all, I think it's worked well for us.
CE: Most of your customized bikes are custom made Royal Infields. Have you ever taken a challenge of modifying a ‘Honda 250VTR' or 'Ducati' - a low or very high end bike?
Akshai: The honest truth is that when we started customizing motorcycles, Royal Enfield was the only one that offered the kind of platform that was exciting. Decent power. Great sound and something heavy to woke with. Over the years we have tried a number of platforms but I think the Enfield has worked well in terms of design and business scalability for us also. We do plan to work on motorcycles that can offer us a large enough customer base. We like to see many enjoy our products.
CE: Where do you source parts from?
Akshai: We mainly design and manufacture what we need but in the case of wheels and tires and some other components we source from Singapore in the east and UK and America in the west.
It is very important for young engineers to learn on-the-go. The best learning experience comes from working with a startup which is in its infancy stage as it offers a plethora of opportunities to learn and help develop skill sets.Saurabh AroraLybrate