‘What’s in a name?’ goes the age-old Shakespearean adage. Seems like the answer is, quite a bit! For Vijay Singh, 26, the names of his motorcycles are distinctive, and singular indeed. They are not only representative of the riders he builds for, but also the quality and vintage of the bike itself. Ranging from ‘Nandi’ and ‘Aghori’ to ‘Bittoo’, an especially unique characteristic of these baptized beauties are their very Indian, and if I might add, very ‘solid’ names.
Rajputana Customs, or Rajputana Custom Motorcycles, is but a fledgling in the market of high powered and custom-made bikes. However, many features set them apart, and stoically so. While they do not discriminate between prospective clients, and work strictly on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis, RCM has not ventured to modify or customize a ‘superbike’ unlike most other outfits such as their own, which seek out the more-moneyed cousin before looking at boulevard cruisers.
Singh is also quick in pointing out that this bike-building and metal-crafting is something he enjoys and “loves to do” and is not simply business or work. This is more than apparent from the non-conformity to traditional notions of demand and supply that RCM has chosen for themselves (not being seduced by the “numbers” and producing only up to 10-12 bikes a year). Singh wants to build at least a good 70 pieces that are exclusive, before even considering making a money-churner out of his enterprise. “We’ll see how life goes from there – for now, I’m easily content”, he says.
Exclusive is the by-word for all of their designs. The motorbikes are truly a class unto their own, with careful detailing, Indian and Rajasthani motifs adorning the burnished metal of the vehicle. Another distinctive feature is the camaraderie that flows easily in the workspace between Singh and his employees. There is an abundance of jocular remarks, and friends and family are always welcome to lend a hand, and get some grease on ‘em!
“The 2 most important things in the workshop are happiness and loyalty. We all work under the same roof, and that’s what matters here”, Singh says and adds, “It is also important for me to instil a sense of worth in all of my employees.” He is proud of the matchless works of art that are wrought by metal-fabricators in his smithy. Driving him also, is the recognition of the worth of ‘karigari’, and the depreciative connotations society has attached to the occupations of ‘denter’ and ‘painter’. It is moreover his cause to change this in whatever small way that he can.
While the crew at Rajputana Customs usually get a brief from their clients, they are given a “big free hand”. Singh himself undertakes a big chunk of the designing. Laughingly he quips that though he’s not a designer, “as you keep building the bike, it keeps taking shape”. This brings me to the design and logo of Rajputana Custom Motorcycles, a shield in the centre offset with two crossed rajput kataars and wings spread out, “to symbolize freedom”.
His Rajput identity is important – “That’s never left me, it’s a part of my upbringing and identity”. Indeed, even in 4 years of studying in Canada, he could always be seen sporting his home grown mojris!
Slipping into a pair of mojris, not the same ones as in Canada, Singh is getting ready for a pre-wedding party. Not his, it is his cousin who is about to take the plunge. Singh hastens to add he has no plans in the offing, and remains an adamant bachelor. For now. Axle, a large and looming Doberman is his constant companion instead.
He’s mindful of the future, but is convinced that he will be never be far from a bike in all his life. Whether or not RCM will go into large-scale production, or keep it simple, is not yet a question he has an answer to. For now, he is satisfied to ‘play it by the day’.
From building the very first, Original Gangster, in 2010 and showcasing at the Auto Expo in New Delhi the same year, Vijay Singh and his motorcycle dreams have come a long way. Beautiful machines may not be his business propaganda, but they have definitely become the metier of this dynamic Rajput princeling.
“Doing this comes easily to me”, Vijay Singh, in conversation with EMAHO.
Other RCM names include ‘Lightfoot’, ‘Laado’, ‘Uno’, ‘Chingari’, ‘Loco’, ‘8-Ball’, ‘Raangad’. For more details, and indeed for a customized bike, click here.
Written by: Ruchika Tara Mathur (India)
Photographs: Vijay Singh Ajairajpura
Video Credits: Starving Artists Video