If you've grown in the 2000s as an auto enthusiast, American television really opened you to the world of choppers, cruisers and custom motorcycles. These were outrageous creations that would later be delivered to their respective owners. They were anything but subtle and that's what made American choppers so iconic. Over the years, a lot of custom bike houses in India have tried to replicate these choppers with their own iterations, based on existing production motorcycles. However, as India opens up to more expensive and personalised choice of motorcycles, it is Avantura Choppers that promise to fulfil your American dream. No, this isn't your Royal Enfield engine in a new body shell, but a new Indian bike manufacturer that intends to take on the Harleys and Indians of the world. The young company is building authentic American choppers in India and got a spin in its newest creations.
The Rudra and Pravega from Avantura share the same underpinnings but differ largely in design. The Rudra is closer to home when it comes to the authentic chopper design and equally intimidating as well. The wheelbase at 2180 mm is glaringly long and the massive front wheel and fat rear wheel are anything but subtle. The length stands at 2960 mm, which is as long as an entry-level car, thanks to the massive rake of 38-degrees. The Rudra stands out between the two offerings and certainly packs an appearance on the road.
(The Avantura Pravega sits tall but is heavier with a kerb weight of 347 kg)
The Avantura Pravega, on the other hand, is more in-line with the standard American cruisers. It stands tall over the Rudra with a raised handlebar, teardrop fuel tank, while a massive alloy wheel continues to serve purpose at the rear. Just to give you perspective, it's slightly like the Harley-Davidson Dyna Softail and the one you will find easier to adapt to once on the saddle. However, the Pravega is much larger compared to the Dyna with a length of 2627 mm and a wheelbase of 2006 mm. The Rudra and Pravega use a 21-inch wheel up front and a massive 18-inch with a wide 280-section tyre at the rear, and there is absolutely no dearth of chrome on either offering for those wanting to make a statement.
Both bikes are mammoth sized and we say with absolute subtlety, and it takes a massive 2000 cc V-Twin engine to propel these motorcycles. Hit the start button and a growling thump welcomes you. It will intimidate you and question what you exactly signed up for. The specifications remain the same with the S&S sourced, air-cooled engine serving purpose. It is actually one of the biggest motorcycle engines you will find in India, smaller than the 2300 cc motor on the Triumph Rocket III. A large amount of torque is available from as low as 1000 rpm and the bike is roaring to go with even the slightest input. The short-stroke engine allows for ample of surge all the way up to 5000 rpm with a little more juice left. You could cruise easily between 130-140 kmph without feeling any fatigue.
While we didn't get a chance to really see what the engine is capable of, we did get a glimpse of what it feels like. Like any other air-cooled motor, the S&S is also susceptible to heating which is common for our weather conditions. But the motor does not really feel hot if you are constantly on the move. The bikes use a 6-speed transmission sourced from Rivera, USA and the unit has been calibrated decently to the engine. The clutch remains heavy, which is expected of a bike this size and a slipper clutch would certainly be helpful. We did incur a few false neutrals through the ride though and Avantura has promised to look into it.
We started our ride with the Rudra and with a kerb weight of 344 kg; the bike is a task to get used to. You sit low with a height of 574 mm, and manoeuvring does take some effort at a standstill. However, 15 minutes on the saddle and we quite liked how the bike felt. Surprisingly, the Rudra feels extremely accommodating and even with the low-slung stance, it's a hoot to ride. The chopper is surprisingly quick around corners and leans sans any drama. Obviously, you cannot go all foot-peg scraping but it's definitely fun on the move.
(The Avantura Pravega is a proper mile muncher and gets a more conventional riding stance)
It's a similar case with the Pravega, which sits heavier at 347 kg. However, we did feel the bike is more established for touring. The rake angle is lower at about 34-degrees, and feels more convenient to ride. You sit tall with a good view of what's ahead and we do think it would make for a nice mile muncher, especially with a larger fuel tank of 21 litres over the Rudra's 17 litre unit.
(The suspension setup comes from Progressive and is firm but not unsettling)
A lot of the handling attributes also go to the suspension sourced from Progressive. The unit has been tweaked for Indian road conditions and works for the most part. Ride quality is pliant without being too plush and is just firm enough to not unsettle the rider on a bad patch of road. However, a nasty pothole will throw you off the seat. That's also when the bike's weight is really felt as you slow down to tackle inconsistent tarmac. For the most part, the weight disappears completely once on the move.
(The bikes get 6-piston caliper brakes from Beringer, a French company that makes brakes for aircrafts)
The Avantura bikes use six-piston calipers at the front and rear sourced Beringer of France. The company makes brakes for aircrafts and provided these massive units for the Rudra and Pravega. There's no ABS though, but Avantura says it will be there before the legislation mandates the same on all bikes by 2019. The brake feels though leaves a lot to be desired. The front brake does work well but also comes across as wooden. The rear though is more feedback rich in comparison, which is likely due to the rear weight bias. The bikes use Avon Cobra tyres that offer phenomenal grip, while the ground clearance of 150 mm ensures that you won't be scraping the underbelly on some poorly designed speed breakers.
The conceptualization for Avantura Choppers started seven years ago, while its two motorcycles - Rudra and Pravega - were worked up from the drawing board two years ago. The company has tied up with American Chopper veteran Kevin Alsop (former owner of Big Bear Chopper). Kevin now works as the Chief Designer at Avantura. He's a veteran in building custom motorcycles and was the brains behind the design of Rudra and Pravega. Both motorcycles are absolutely stunning to look at and offer every ounce of novelty that you would expect from such a creation.
The company has tied up with OEMs from across the globe for sourcing components and operates out of a facility near Mumbai, where the motorcycles are partially manufactured and assembled. The bikes have been worked upon to meet Indian conditions and are in the process of receiving the certification from ARAI as well.
The chassis has also been designed by Kevin Alsop, but is manufactured in India along with the handlebars, alloy wheels and other CNC components. Both bikes use the same chassis and cycle parts, while it is only in design that they differ. Both bikes use an all LED headlamp with a circular O-ring for the DRL. The setup looks lovely and is imported from a company in Taiwan. The supplier is the same that provides lighting solutions to Indian Motorcycle, we are told. The turn indicators are all-LED too and are sourced from Kellerman, Germany. The instrument console is rather simple with an analog tachometer and a digital display for the speed, clock and odometer. The leather seat is imported from the American company Mustang and has been cushioned in order to adapt to Indian road conditions.
(The LED headlamp is sourced from a company in Taiwan, turn indicators from Kellerman, Germany)
There is a host of personalisation options too. The bikes we tested were just one of the many styles you can ask for. Mind you, Avantura will personalise the motorcycle for you but not customize it. This means that the handlebar, alloy wheels and paint options are all swappable. Buyers can select from a catalog for something that suits their needs and the folks at Avantura will build it that way. So, while you will be able to get the flames or skull style paint options of your choice, do not expect the skull on a unicorn to be painted on the bike, if you so desire.
Both the Rudra and Pravega are extremely good looking motorcycles and live up to the expectations as well. The paint quality is immaculate and barring a few minor issues with the build quality, there isn't really much to complain about. Since we were riding the prototypes, Avantura says that it will iron out the finishing touches on the customer spec motorcycles. Both bikes get front set foot pegs, which can be adjustable up to three settings depending on your height.
(The ignition fob is very Harley like, and comes with an in-built anti-theft alarm as well)
On the left though is the chrome ignition box fob. You need to turn it clockwise to turn on the bike. It also includes a built-in alarm that will be activated at the hint of the slightest movement. A handy feature for when the curious hands come close.
Should You Buy?
As anyone who has dreamt of owning an authentic American chopper, this is as close as you can get to buy one in India. That is, of course, without the legal hassles of importing a fully built motorcycle from the US and then finding the right person to maintain the same. Like we said earlier, Avantura Choppers do have a few teething issues, but every new company does and they do acknowledge that the road ahead won't be easy. It took the company seven years since inception to build its two offerings and they certainly look promising.
(The Avantura bikes are promising despite a few teething issues)You would have to be an absolute fanatic to buy the offerings from Avantura and that would also be the target customer for the company. For those who've progressed from riding Harleys, Indian and the works, the Rudra and Pravega turn out to be the homegrown American chopper that is more than just eye candy. Avantura Choppers has put up its motorcycles for an asking price of ₹ 21.4 lakh for the Rudra and ₹ 23.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the Pravega, and that's not exactly cheap but also well within the range of the big cruiser motorcycles. The company is accepting orders with a build time of three months and will be establishing about nine dealerships by 2019 across major cities in the country.
Photography: Pawan Dagia