Akshai Varde Of Vardenchi Will Go Full Retro On Your Motorcycle
Akshai Varde’s first motorcycle, a classic Royal Enfield Standard 350, was entrusted to him at 22 years of age. With a creative soul and deft fingers, he promptly stripped it down, reinforced the chassis, restructured the body and added custom paint and chrome, taking six months to transform the regular model into the machine of his dreams.
In 2005, Varde rented a small space to work on his first custom bike project for stand-up comedian Ash Chandler. Seeing his slick creations cruising the roads of Mumbai, people were soon waxing eloquent about the wizard who cast magic spells on motorcycles. Understandably charmed by him was Bollywood actress Sameera Reddy, a bike enthusiast herself, who went on to marry him in 2014 — effectively proving right the notion that ‘The bikes get the girls’. We spoke to Varde about his tryst with mean machines and his dedication to making his fellow bikers’ dreams come true.
Why did you decide to start customising bikes?
“I was extremely passionate about motorcycles that looked and felt fantastic. However, back in 2005, when I first started, one had to import such bikes as these models weren’t available in the Indian market. Furthermore, everything on display was standard and boring. I started customising motorcycles purely as a hobby that fortunately turned into a full-time business.”
What sets you apart from your competitors?
“We have a strong engineering approach to the build and have delivered revolutionary single-sided swingarms and belt drives that were later adopted by others in the industry. This, coupled with the intricate details of each model is not only wildly aesthetic to look at but also greatly enhances the ride quality and serviceability of the motorcycle.”
Which is your favourite bike to work with and why?
“The Enfield is the most obvious choice due to its overall offerings of an affordable motorcycle such as the engine power, exhaust output and overall dimensions in weight and structure. Also, the transformation of an original bike to the customised Vardenchi is so drastic and complete, that it always ends up being great value for money.”
What has been the most creative request made by a client?
“Jackie Shroff’s Skeletor was one of the most memorable builds; it was very challenging due to the extreme nature of the project and really fun at the same time. The Vedic was another interesting model to put together.”
What is the approximate cost of getting a bike customised by you?
“As a company strategy, we offer customisation in a more scalable and practical format. We have a range of after-market upgrade accessories and DIY Kits, which start at 2k for accessories and 65k for a complete kit. A complete one-off build could start anywhere at 1.5 lacs and go up to whatever extent your imagination permits.”
How would you describe the Indian consumer’s aesthetic these days?
“I think the Indian consumer is veering towards a very retro style when it comes to bikes. It’s why Harleys and Enfields are all the rage right now. Some of my best work has also been on the Enfield, so forgive me if I’m a little biased.”