From Salman Khan riding bike to Aras stunting in 43°C, the Gixxer Day tour was an eventful one
Aras Gibieza is no stranger to the Indian soil. He toured India twice in 2015 entertaining audiences in nearly a dozen cities; owing to the affection and the fandom that he received during those trips, the Lithuanian returned once again in 2016. But this trip would be unlike anything he’s experience ever before. Firstly, Aras Gibieza shared the arena with one of India’s biggest superstar – Salman Khan. While the Dabangg Khan didn’t pull off any wheelies, that didn’t stop the Mumbai crowd from cheering their lungs out. Secondly, according to the meteorological department, April 2016 had been the hottest month in the recorded human existence. At Aras’ hometown Vilnius, the mercury peaks out in summer months at a scorching 17°C. When Aras landed in Delhi for his first show of the Suzuki Gixxer Day Tour, the temperature was hovering around a lukewarm 43°C. As we walked into the air conditioned tent next to the stunt arena minutes before his show, the bike mechanic was seen holding Aras’ helmet against the air conditioner. As a stream of water dripped out of his helmet’s air vents, Aras exclaims, “Hey, look, my helmet’s sweating too!” While the Suzuki GSX-S 1000 is liquid cooled, in India, Aras had to be ice-cooled to keep him from overheating. The helmet was packed with ice till seconds before every stunt show to keep him cool and focused enough to pull off those physics-defying stunts.
As the helmet’s air vents acted as water outlets, we sat down with the two-time European stunt biking champion to ask him a few geeky questions and understand the sport better:
So, which was the toughest city to ride in?
Weather-wise, it was hot everywhere. But from riding point of view, Shillong had the toughest tarmac. It was dusty with lot of bumps and the tarmac kept scraping away. My training of riding on ice helped me there.
Do you specifically train for ice and snow?
I don’t specifically train for ice and snow but where I live, we have ice 3 months in a year and during that period I can’t skip my training. So, in 2009, I built my tyre for ice riding and tried it for the first time. Realized it was fun and so I continue doing this every winter.
Do you think the same tyres would’ve helped you Shillong’s bumpy surface?
Those tyres have spikes on them. It wouldn’t have helped me there; on the contrary, it would’ve made it even worse. It would’ve scrapped out even more of the loose gravel. Grip would’ve been an issue. With spikes, you can only ride on ice.
You tweak tyre pressure before every show. How does that help?
That helps a lot. If it’s a bigger place, like at Mumbai’s Inorbit Mall, I need more pressure in the tyres for the circles to go wider. But for a place like Shillong where the width of the arena is less, I need to keep the circles smaller. For such places, I need to reduce the tyre pressure.
You change the pressure due to the surface or also due to the temperature?
No, for the temperature fluctuations, we don’t need to change the tyre pressure. To deal with temperature changes, we only need to change tyre compound. Here, because the surface was soft, for better traction, we used soft compound.
You’re used to doing stunts on your Ninja 636. How was it doing the same stunts on the Suzuki GSX–S 1000?
Suzuki is more powerful and weighs more. I’m really enjoying riding this bike. Even the engine is different and works differently. Both bikes are nice. After riding this bike only 4-5 times, I was able to do most of my tricks which I’m used to doing on the Kawasaki Ninja. So, yes, Suzuki GSX-S 1000 is also a good bike for stunting. But you need to know what you’re doing because this bike is very powerful and hence it’s difficult to control. But once you get the hang of it, it’s a very good bike to do stunts.
You ride a Kawasaki but here you had to ride a Suzuki. What modifications did you ask them to make to the GSX-S 1000 while they were prepping it up for you?
I sent photos of my bike and told them about the modifications that needs to be done. They crash cage, hole in the seat, bigger sprocket, hand brake are some of the things. Idle screw to pick up the idle RPM also had to be set right.
You managed to shred 3-4 set of tyres in first two shows and one training session. How did you manage that?
It’s easy. When you have 1000cc at your disposal, it’s really easy to shred tyres.