Life On Wheels – Sarthak Darolia, Prateek Darolia and Nihal Raheja

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was brought down by these three gentlemen.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in Sydney, Australia by Mark Hawwa. It was inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper astride a classic bike and wearing his finest suit. Mark decided a themed ride would be a great way to combat the often-negative stereotype of men on motorcycles, whilst connecting niche motorcycle communities together. That first ride in 2012 brought together over 2,500 riders across 64 cities. The success of the event encouraged the founder to consider how it could be used to support a worthy cause. RITZ caught up with Sarthak Darolia, Prateek Darolia and Nihal Raheja, the men who have brought this ride down to our very own Chennai city.

They started the Motorcraft Madness Academy in 2014 and it has only been expanding since. Their passion for biking started at an early age and when they saw it as a prospective career option, they jumped at it. Bringing down the concept of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, under their brand, was just the beginning. The ride was created to change the way people look at bikers. Soon as it gained awareness, the group started supporting causes such as prostate cancer research and suicide prevention programs. People who enrol in these rides across various cities donate directly to the cause, thereby maintaining complete transparency.

Motorcraft Madness Academy is the lifestyle brand that the trio have created under which they operate various products and services pertaining to motorcycles. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, plus a Chai Sutta Ride, fall under the event side of the brand. Service Plus is one such service under the brand – it is the ultimate bikers servicing dream. Its a technology based service centre which allows the customers to book their bikes for servicing through an app and with zero hassle. “We also provide a 24X7 delivery service. Service plus was launched a few months ago.” Prateek Darolia adds, “Right now we are working through some bugs on the app, but just through word of mouth we are meeting the targets we set.”

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“We started a smaller bike riding experience which we called the Chai Sutta Ride. There we organised one-day biking trips to places around Chennai for enthusiastic bikers, as well as people who would like to sit pillion on a bike through these rides. It was created to explore off beat locations in and around Chennai. Prateek says, “The plan we started off with was for people to go out, get on their bikes and see some wonderful places. But as we started expanding we began thinking of curating longer rides and activities at the destination we planned the ride too, making it a fun experience.”

Talking about how the guys themselves found their love for bikes and the trips they have taken individually, they recall the most memorable one. With broad nostalgic smiles on their faces, Sarthak recollects, “The most memorable one was when we rode through Rajasthan; my brother and I toured Rajasthan for a month and a half and did more than 5000 kms on that trip. It was winter in Rajasthan and it was just us two on our bikes, probably the best trip we have ever done.”  Nihal remembers, “I toured Himachal on my Bullet for over two weeks, did about 1800 km and it was the best trip I have ever taken.”

While talking about what provoked them to start the company, is a very clear answer.  Prateek says, “The point was to create an office space from which you don’t want to take a vacation and that is exactly what we are building. It is our passion for bikes that led us to start something like this.” Future plans include expanding Service Plus to a national level which means opening centres in all metro cities. To cater to bikes from ‘Activas to Enfields’ is what they are targeting. “We want to provide a hassle free servicing experience for everyone,” tells Nihal.

When asked about the kind of support and advice they have for new bikers or people looking to buy a bike, Sarthak says, “Depending on the kind of riding and the purpose behind why someone is buying a bike we suggest what we feel is perfect for them. With the means that we have, we try and give them rides if there is such a bike here and help them through the decision. We ask them not to make a rash decision. Our collective advice to all young and new riders is ‘please wear a helmet’. Safety is always paramount. The other thing we would like to leave people with is, ‘If you get into this hobby, take it seriously.”