In conversation with Vijay Singh Ajairajpura, the driving force behind Rajputana Customs Motorcycles (RCM), a Jaipur-based motorcycle outfit that changed the face of bike restoration in this part of the world.
Thanks to his father’s long-standing affair with two-wheelers, a young Vijay Singh Ajairajpura got introduced to motorcycles much earlier than his contemporaries did. He grew up riding a 500 CC BSA Falcon before getting onto bigger beasts. Upon completing his higher studies and returning back to India, he found that his old motorcycle had been donated to his factory electrician. Vijay took this as a turning point by choosing to take the road less travelled- he would build a bike for himself, from scratch! He reached out to Royal Enfield, who were kind enough to sell him their brand new 350 CC Unit Construction Engine to get starts. With that and the help of a master metal fabricator and ex-racer who Vijay refers to as Shakur Ji, Vijay got down to assembling his first-ever masterpiece which came to be known as Original Gangster. After its exhibit in the Auto Expo of 2010, the Original Gangster attracted a substantial trail of customised motorcycle orders.
Today, RCM contributes approximately twelve bikes per year to India’s diversifying motorcycle heritage. And what’s more, RCM has earned the proud patronage of motorcycle enthusiasts, with the entourage being led by none other than the Bollywood celebrity John Abraham, who happened to be Vijay’s first client. Abraham’s customisation- Light Foot stands amongst the first in Vijay’s extensive fleet of masterpieces to which he ascribes unique names such as Aghori, Rajmata, Jordaar, Laado and the likes. And what’s more, the unique essence of RCM doesn’t end here, in fact, this is just the beginning. An oft-said but firmly maintained pledge at RCM entails that no one design is repeated again. Hence, bespoke automobile crafting is taken to a whole new level of authenticity, whereby each customisation is planned keeping the character and priorities of its future owner. The careful crafting of every masterpiece is given a final finishing touch with Rajputana inscriptions, which, according to Vijay is his personal exhibition of Rajput culture through what he is most passionate about- motorcycles.
Under Vijay’s unparalleled leadership, RCM is presently close to 4.5 lakh followers on Facebook and many more admirers offline. Looking back at his seven-year-old journey, Vijay shares some personal and professional insights with Rajputana Collective, all of which reverberate the power of following one’s passion and dreams.
Rajputana Collective (RC): What sparked off your particular interest in motorbikes and in their customisation/ restoration?
Vijay Singh Ajairajpura (VSA): ‘Having grown up around bikes i’ve always had an eye for them and having built my first bike from ground up there was no turning back. Our team at RCM strive to challenge ourselves with every project in hopes of getting better at the art of customisation and restoration.
RC: Amongst the various motorcycles that you have worked on, which has been your most challenging project?
VSA: ‘Jordaar’ was the first Harley Davidson we built from ground up. We built a sleek stretched out frame to cradle a HD 883 engine at its heart. The bike also sports a one off front linkage suspension, plenty of custom metal fab, massive 23inch wheels, intricate koftkari & damascus detailing. We had 3 months to build the bike for India Bike Week and given the amount of work involved we had bitten of more than we could chew, but we worked around the clock and got the bike looking decent. Since then we have given ‘Jordaar’ a lot more TLC with time in hand and now she shines bright and stands strong.
RC: In your varied collection, which is your most distinguished/ prized/ favourite piece and for what particular reason?
VSA: I really like my Second World War BSA M-20 called ‘Laado”. She's olive green with big balloon tires and plenty of brass with black leather to go! Having been manufactured in 1942 riding “Laado” on an easy Sunday with fairly empty roads is a pretty special feeling.
RC: Is there a particular motorbike outside your collection that you aspire as your ‘dream vehicle’? If so, which one?
VSA: There’s no one motorcycle I can think of to be honest. They all have their own special magic if you tap in.
RC: What is your least favourite aspect of motorcycle restoration? VSA: The amount of time these things take! haha
RC: What is your personal opinion on present-day motorcycle customisation/ restoration in India? VSA: It’s great to see so many people embracing motorcycling again and trying/refining their customisation/restoration skills.
RC: How would you recommend further diversifying/ enhancing India’s curation of motorbikes? VSA: Over the last few years the Indian 2 wheel sector has been reforming rapidly, prospering, and getting more informed globally. Everyone in the Indian motorcycle industry should push down their path and further their skills if we are to have a truly diverse and rich motorcycle heritage
RC: In what way does your vision take forward Rajputana Customs? What are your future prospects?
VSA: We will always look to do new challenging things in this magical world of two wheels and as long as we have the drive to keep exploring we will build, ride, and race these machines.
Vijay continues his great work on bikes through his Jaipur-based Rajputana Customs workshop. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, to visit his website, please go to http://rajputanacustoms.com/.