Dr. Yazarloo is many things: she’s a marketer, a fashion designer, an entrepreneur and a karate champion. She wears many hats but her most favourite headgear is a helmet. This Pune-based fashion designer is one of the most badass superbikers you’re likely to meet.
Dr. Maral Yazarloo holds a PhD in marketing as well as the title of ‘India’s best female Superbiker’. While the former is based on her thesis, the latter is because of her mileage. Till date, Dr. Yazarloo has clocked over 140,000 tarmac-melting kilometers on her superbikes. No, that’s not a typo – we did mean superbikes. Plural!
In a country where the term “biker” is loosely used by anyone who’s as much as rented a 125cc Honda Activa during their two day vacation to Goa, this Pune-based lady rider is as real as they come. Dr. Yazarloo has made a conscious attempt of making sure that her face and her looks are not used as a popularity tool. She loves biking for what it is and she doesn’t want to use it to be labeled the “biker chick” and garner likes on Instagram. In her own words, “Biking doesn’t have a gender. It’s important for me that I don’t use my looks or my body to get attention for what I do. A biker means a fully geared person – helmet, boot, gloves, etc. Women who post pictures wearing hot pants [on bikes], I don’t judge them but I don’t call them a biker either.”
Love at first sight:
Being born in Iran, riding motorcycles was probably the last thing on her mind. “In our childhood, we never saw big bikes or superbikes and I never even knew that I was going to like it or love it or have a feeling towards it,” she reminisces.
She rode her first kilometer as late as in 2010 and since then she seems to have made up on all the lost time. Her decision to buy a motorcycle came in a spur of the moment. While on a work trip to Mumbai, the Pune-girl stepped in to a Harley Davidson showroom for curiosity’s sake; as soon as she laid her eyes on the 1200cc Harley Davidson Forty Eight it was love at first sight. “So I stepped inside and saw this gorgeous bike. It was the Forty Eight. I totally loved it, it had a really nice colour (orange flake) to it. I went to the guy and I told him, ‘I want this one.’ He said, ‘But we don’t have one for a trial.’ I said, ‘I don’t want a trial, I just want this bike,’” recollects Maral. She instantly put down a deposit for the bike and received the delivery of her first Superbike – a Harley – a month later. But little did she realize that that would be the start of a life-long obsession.
Soon after her first ride from Mumbai to Pune, she joined HOG (Harley Owners Group) and started going on HOG rides across the country. Perhaps, that was her first realization that she’s been bitten by the biking bug. In her own words, “That was when I thought I could call myself a ‘biker’.”
Dr. Yazarloo’s collection of superbikes has now swelled to four fire-breathing beauties two of which are pictured above. Here garage has a Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special (replacing her Harley-Davidson Forty Eight), a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Special, a Ducati Diavel and a BMW 650GS.
She’s a marketer by day, working for one of the biggest realty developers in India; fashion designer by night, working for her own fashion label ‘Maral Yazarloo’; and a hardcore biker by the weekend, most of her weekends are spent riding one of her four superbikes across the country.
“I don’t remember the last time I had a weekend. I don’t really understand the concept of Saturday- Sunday. People usually sit at home, relax and do their things; fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t have that liberty.
“I usually work from 9.30 am to 7 pm for Panchshil Realty and after that I design [for my fashion brand]. So I reach home and work till 11-12 o’clock at night: doing my designing, sketching and everything.
“Only time left for myself is the weekend. And because I love riding, I usually end up doing really long rides over the weekend. For example, I ride from Pune to Bangalore on Saturday and come back on Sunday,” she says.
It’s not easy performing three roles each one of which is a 24×7 task in itself. “If you have love and passion for many things and you’re not really sure which one to choose or ignore, what you will choose to ignore is your sleeping time, your food time and your party time; these things will start getting out of the picture,” explains the multi-tasker.
Rise of the cult
For the longest time, Dr. Yazarloo was the only female HOG rider in India. Though she shared great bonding with all the male HOGs, she always missed having another female rider; while the boys had their brotherhood, she was missing her sisterhood. Then again, it’s not just about having women who can ride; making sure they have the right attitude was even more important. “In India, [there are] few women [who] get into biking not because they love the sport but because they love the attention,” she says with a straight face. She hates the fact that few women used bikes as props to post pictures in short, skimpy clothes just to garner likes.
To rise above this mediocrity, the realty marketer started looking for women with the right attitude. “You don’t want to take a lady who, after 100km, will say, ‘I can’t take it, I am tired.’ I started thinking that I wanted my own cult. Because, for me, it is a cult,” she exclaims. And that’s when she spoke to other female riders and things began to take shape.
A single spark from her was enough to ignite a fire and bring to life what is today known as the ‘Lady Riders of India’; a tightly-knit family of 21 of India’s most hardcore female superbikers.
Lady Riders of India
Lady Riders of India is not just a biking club but more of a support system. All the bikers are fiercely protective about one another and this sense of camaraderie has been ingrained in all of them by the mothership herself.
Following are the few requirements to join their club:
1. You need to have been recommended by someone from within the group
Of course, the first is that you need to be introduced into the group by an existing member.
2. You need to have put at least 10,000 km on a bike with more than 650cc capacity
While they don’t discriminate against the make of your motorcycle, it’s important to have a 650cc bike because that’s the only way you can stay up to the speed with the pack during rides.
3. No backbiting or gossiping behind the backs
One of the most important elements of this club is NO BITCHING! “I’m sure other clubs don’t have a rule that if you gossip you will be out. My club has it. It’s a briefing that’s given to all the girls – no gossip, no backbiting,” adds Maral.
Promoting road safety
Every member who joins the group undergoes an onboarding process. Safety is of paramount importance and wearing head-to-toe protective gear is a no-brainer. In fact, that’s just the first step. Even before their first ride the first thing a member needs to do is put up a Facebook post with their name, blood group, emergency contact number and medication details tagging everyone else so that if anything goes wrong during rides, the first person who comes to know about the situation can relay the necessary information and the person closest to the incident spot can take necessary action.
Another way in which the mama bear tries to avoid unfortunate events altogether is by encouraging her pack on improving their skill set. Talking about technique improvement she says, “When you do California Superbike, when you do Big Rock, when you do road riding and when you take different courses in and out of India; that’s when you’ll cover all aspects of riding which will help you in real life situations. Because then you’re technically a much better rider and your reaction towards things on road improves significantly.”
Dr. Yazarloo is extremely particular about women’s safety. “I myself follow these rules and also advise it to everybody else: not to stay on the road when it gets dark; do not pull over in empty dhabas or other places; the petrolpump that you get in shouldn’t be the towards inside in the lane, it should be on the road. All these factors are very important for the ladies to keep in mind when they’re on the road.
“Maybe it sounds easy but it’s not. I ask them to get as less attention as possible. Say, your hair is long, you have to tie and keep it inside your helmet/jacket. The gear shouldn’t have any indication (pink, glittery, etc.) that it’s a lady rider when they’re alone,” advises the karate champ.
@Regrann from @ridetobeone – RIDE TO BE ONE BLOG ‘The Journey from Bhutan to Myanmar’ We exited from Bhutan and headed to Siliguri. On account of the earlier breakdown with Pankaj’s bike, we could not take the risk of ruining the engine. So we transported Pankaj’s bike from Thimpu in a Balero, while I rode my bike to Siliguri. It is true when they say, ‘When it rains, it pours!’ We were greeted at Siliguri with the news from our Visa Agent that my visa for Myanmar was rejected; and Pankaj’s visa was not valid for entry into Myanmar by road. So I flew to the Myanmar embassy in New Delhi to get our visas sorted. In the meanwhile, Pankaj stayed back at Siliguri, as Joshua was to arrive with the parts to fix the bike. Things finally started to look brighter. The officials at the Myanmar Embassy were awesome. I provided them with the documents and the next day, our visas were ready! And Partner’s bike got fixed too! He and Joshua rode our bikes to Guwahati, to make sure that the bikes were okay and fixed. For the first time in several days, I saw a little smile on Pankaj’s face. I took a flight from Delhi, directly to Gauhati. Got into my gear, jumped onto my bike and headed towards Kaziranga. As soon as we set off, it started to rain. A little chilly, but the roads were good – moreover we were glad to be back on our bikes once again. Read the complete blog at www.ridetobeone.com/road-stories-journey-bhutan-myanmar/ @maralyazarloo @trivedipankaj @panchshil_realty @ladyridersofindia #ridetobeone #bmwmotorrad #bmwmotorradindia #bmwmotorradgermany #biker #bike #superbike #tribe #fashion #design #designer #couture #photographer #documentary #book #bereal #beyou #panchshil #life #happiness #gratitude – #regrann
Lovechild of Feminism and Biking
Lady Riders of India is a group that’s practical and not theatrical. They help one another to be a better rider. Dr. Yazarloo says, “I don’t have that mindset of saying that ‘I’m a woman, I can do everything.’ No. We are women and we have some limitations which we need to know about them and we need to make ourselves better with the skill that we add. Hence, we advise all our bikers to train with California Superbike School, CS Santosh’s Big Rock Park, etc.”
In the PDF given to all Lady Riders of India, two statements really stands out:
- In the world of brotherhood, we stand by/observe/support sisterhood, for the unconventional love of biking.
- We are women who lift other women.
Further explaining this, Yazarloo says, “My biggest belief for the women is that women don’t know how the world will change if the women standby other women. Women are not supporting each other – and this is the biggest problem which we need to recognize even before complaining about the society. And I wanted to make all these things right with this group.”
Their pride and feminism can also be seen in the club’s logo. It has a pair of wings to display ‘liberation and elevation from all the problems’; a pink heart to signifying their feminine side and a heart pour down into what’s the universal symbol of female.
Honestly speaking, Lady Riders of India is everything that’s correct with feminism and biking.
Being a well-known name in the international motorcycling scene, she’s been invited by various HOG chapters from across the world. She’s ridden in half a dozen countries (not counting the countries from her world tour) including a ride to the Red Sea in Egypt and a solo ride from Italy to the Swiss Alps, both of which remains two of her finest bike rides till date. Imagine an Iranian woman cruising down the highways in Qatar on a Harley Davidson! Now, that’s one way of laughing in the face of patriarchy. Having ridden across the length and breadth of the country as well as a number of international locations, the 36-year-old was itching to find something that would really push her.
The part-time fashion designer was part of another group who were planning to ride to London but the fact that the itinerary didn’t include Iran – her birth place – was the deal breaker. Later, she thought of doing a world trip on her own but her mother said, “You cannot go on a one and a half year ride around the world alone and take my sleep away. You can go, but not alone.”
She was looking for the perfect partner with whom she can ride around the continents. Suddenly it hit her: “There was that person who said he has done UK to India bike trip let me give him a call.” The person in question over here is none other than one of India’s most respected cross-country riders Mr. Pankaj Trivedi. The two met during India Bike Week and had a brief chat about well, what else, international bike tour.
Dr. Yazarloo called up Trivedi and put forward the proposal about the expedition. “We went for a ride together and we realized we’re complementing each other. I’m more active in the marketing part of it like communicating with emails, organizing with agents, border crossings, finance management, etc.; and he has excellent technical skills in the road maps, directions and fixing bikes; and then we found excellent match.”
While the two riders are perfect partners for this Ride to be One expedition, you couldn’t find more contrasting personalities. The fashionista and marketer Maral is an out and out extrovert while Trivedi is one of the most soft-spoken and quiet human beings you’re likely to meet. Ask Pankaj what’s his biggest challenge for the world ride is and he’ll reply with a grin “Maral.”
“My family and friends advises us that ‘Make sure you two don’t kill each other during the ride’ and he [Trivedi] says, ‘I won’t, but she might’,” laughs Dr. Yazarloo.
A weekend Mumbai to Goa road trip costs few thousands taking into account fuel, food and accommodation. Now expand this journey a thousand times over and add international border crossing charges, visa, bike spares, travel agents, etc. and it becomes a high seven-digit travel expense even with a shoe-string budget. Maral and Pankaj had earlier decided to do it with their own money and wing it. Fortunately, Maral’s employer – Panchshil Realty – graciously stepped forward and decided to pick up the tab. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. “In the corporate world when you tell them that you’re going to take your bike and go around the world, they really think that you’ve had a really bad day and you’ll be fine the next day. Because nobody leaves position, money, great lifestyle just to be a gypsy on the bike and travel around. They gave me couple of weeks to be ok and came back and spoke to me and I told them ‘I’m going.’ They gave another month and thought I’d be fine; but I was adamant and by then they finally understood that I was really going,” says the marketing manager.
Dr. Yazarloo has been working with Panchil Developers – one of the biggest realtors in country – since 11 years. She joined them as a fresher after her MBA and their association has only grown since then. In fact, her bosses are not only funding her trip but they’ve given her an open offer that whenever she returns the desk will still be waiting for her.
Now that’s the kind of sabbatical everyone wishes for.
Ride to be One
Ride to be One is going to be an 18 month journey covering 45 countries across 7 continents without any backup or safety net. Dr. Maral Yazarloo and Pakaj Trivedi commenced their journey on March 15 from Pune. Unfortunately, after riding half the distance to 22 countries, Pankaj Trivedi returned to India due to health reasons.
— Ride To Be One (@ridetobeone) December 1, 2017
However, Maral has continued her journey and she’s determined to see through the journey which is slated to be finished journey in the second half of 2018. This voyage will add another feather to Dr. Maral Yazarloo’s helmet which she can proudly place next to her desk back home in New Delhi where she’ll be making another exciting start: this time, it’ll be the start of her married life with her husband.