This article is late, by more than a year. Yes, I’m lazy. Yes, I’m more interested in abusing random people than write something that makes some sense. Are we done? Yeeeessss, I’m a foolish, ignorant, jealous crybaby who follows nothing of what he preaches. Happy now? Shall we?
How I met Sapna:
Ahem, right, so the first time I went to Banglore from Bombay on my 390, I was looking to buy a new lid. The one that I loved was really hard to find, but then my luck shined like it had never before! Saw a post on Facebook from a shop called Let’s Gear Up, and they seemed to have the SOL SL68SII Metal Man Orange in stock. Messaged them to check on size, and was told they don’t have anything below L. So much for my luck eh?
But then it was luck only that made me check out that comment again, which was now edited and said they DO have S and M! If I hadn’t checked it, I probably never would’ve known, since there wasn’t any notification. Ran out, found HSR layout, and located the shop. There was nothing remarkable about the way it looked, and I thought I’ll go in, buy, and run back.
Went in, and saw Sapna sitting on the counter. I didn’t know where to put my shitty little Vega helmet, so I just threw it next to the door. She picked it up and put it on a helmet rack, which I didn’t even know was supposed to be a helmet rack. The shop was big, at least against the ones in Mumbai, which make you feel like you’ve just entered a Hobbit’s house.
I could see some Spartan jackets, Viaterra luggage, and racing suits with TBG written on them. Sapna brought in the helmet, and it looked gorgeous! Before this point, I had never used a “good” helmet, they had all been badly made contraptions of plastic and stickers, with little or no padding inside. I picked the helmet and tried to put it on the way I was used to! I remember the sound of the padding pulling off from the rear and the sides, as the helmet got stuck halfway on my head! It didn’t feel this funny back then.
Sapna fit the padding back in and then told me how to put on a “real” helmet, to tug on the straps and pull it in. It felt so nice to finally wear a lid that didn’t roll in front of my eyes every time I took a breath! By this time I saw a gentleman sitting on the side, doing something on his laptop.
How I met Sukesh:
RiderZone had just begun a few months before this, and I used to think of myself as the epitome of motorcycling journalism! I told Sapna of my plans to start a Zomato type of service, where people would be able to rate motorcycling stores, dealerships and service centers. Yes, I still haven’t done that, haven’t we already established that I’m lazy and useless?
To be honest, I thought I’ll get some discount by showing off my imaginary popularity 🙂 What I got is something completely different. The gentleman sitting on the side doing something on his laptop introduced himself as Sukesh Ashok Kumar, the owner of the store. He was wearing a Microsoft T shirt, which made sense later when he told me he works at Microsoft, because I can’t imagine any other situation in which it’ll be OK to wear a Microsoft T shirt.
What followed was a lesson in riding gear, how it’s made, what’s best, what’s not. He explained to me, in painful detail, everything that goes into making a good piece of riding jacket and pant. I was slightly confused by this point, because I thought he was just a shop owner who likes to ride motorcycles. I was about to be surprised.
That TBG racing suits I told you about? He made them.
I picked one up, and my arm nearly broke off. If I was wearing one of those suits, I guess I would just steal bikes, taken them to their top speeds, then just randomly jump off and have a fun time sliding around hitting stuff. It felt solid, felt like you could trust it with your life.
Then he took out one of his new track gloves, and also gave me an 18,000 rupee fancy looking Knox glove to compare it against. He told me about the little things that made the TBG glove so safe, like the way the pinky and the third finger were fused, like the way the sliders on the side of the palm and wrist helped prevent serious injury. He told me this was the first batch and he was planning to sell it for around 6000 bucks. I should’ve got one, it definitely felt better than the Knox.
What was supposed to be an in-and-out operation turned into an hour long discussion about everything. He even demonstrated to me how the back armor used in TBG suits adapts to the rider’s shape, by taking it out into the sun! He told me he designed a suit for a 7 year old kid who was getting ready to start racing. He told me about his riding group Born Riders who have never missed a weekend ride for the past many years. He gave me a look into his riding gear designs in some software that I still do not understand.
The personal touch:
I could’ve spent much longer there, but then you gotta get on with your life. Went to the counter, asked how much, gave my credit card, and got it. Congratulated them both for living a biker’s dream and went home thinking about how useless my life is! Didn’t wear the new helmet on the way home, don’t know why.
Fast forward a few days, and I finally put it on for a short spin around Bangalore. It fit exceptionally well, I had never been this comfortable on my bike! The fairy tale lasted a few minutes only, as my head started paining like an alien progeny was trying to spawn out of it. Sent a message to Sapna asking if this was normal, and she said yes it takes a while to get used to a new helmet. Now I know that’s true, especially when you’ve never used a proper, well-fitting helmet before.
She followed up after a few weeks, and it was all good by then! That kind of personal touch is completely unheard of in the riding gear business. I have no idea why, but all motorcycling related shop owners behave like proper dickheads, I don’t have single experience of being treated nicely apart from this.
What’s in for the future?:
Over the months I’ve seen Track Breed Gear become The Breed Gear, with a number of product launches serving a wider variety of riders than just race junkies. They’ve released the following products that I’m aware of:
- Touring gloves
- Street gloves
- 1 piece leather suit
- 2 piece leather suit
- Hoodie that looks hip and comes with CE approved armors.
I’ve heard their website will be up soon, which would really take away the pain of searching for their stuff on Facebook. Things look good.
I think they are destined to go big, especially with their cheeky marketing strategies! Most of their promotion is done through word of mouth by people who understand how good their stuff is, and the rest is done by Sagar Sheldekar’s butt, with that 1 piece suit that he wears in all PowerDrift videos. I’ve recently heard Sukesh left Microsoft and will now fully concentrate on TBG, so I expect asses to be kicked all around.
Sapna and Sukesh are a rare combination of people who understand both business and biking.
Most riding gear manufacturers in India are pure businessmen, people who are serving a market demand because they can. This is what makes TBG stand apart, and the reason I think it’ll be a legend, a market standard in the not-so-far future. I wish I could do it, or at least help in some way, but then my business acumen is as good as a cat’s ability to be nice. I wish them the best and hope to see more of their products saving lives!