RS MOTO: Getting in sync with and finding nirvana in Raajib dai’s motorcycle diaries

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RS MOTO: Getting in sync with and finding nirvana in Raajib dai’s motorcycle diaries

Jabbing the keys in the u-lock. Turning the switch on. Observing the green neutral light light up. Kick-starting the bike and igniting the engine. Feeling the noise of the VROOM VROOM. Gearing up. Balancing between the clutch and the accelerator. Moving forward and hitting the alleys, the roads, the highways, the hills, and every nooks and corners the bike can take you. 

It’s all about getting in sync with your bike.

To make things better, Raajib Sayami custom builds his bikes. And with that, he is not just in sync, he is in unison with his bikes. That feeling accentuates when you have fellow bike-riders along the journey, which most bike-riders would agree. 

Raajib and Sara Sayami have built a place where they can ignite that feeling.

 

Learning the nuts and bolts of building motorbikes

Getting connected with motorbikes runs in Raajib’s family. “I take it from my family,” says Raajib. Ever since he was a young kid, Raajib was passionate about motorbikes. Ten years back, he customized his first bike, a Royal Enfield, and he has been following his passion ever since. When asked about how he learned about building bikes, he says, “It just came to me naturally. I have tons of old bikes, and I custom pick each part of the bike to make it the way I want.” He adds, “We didn’t use internet much back then. We had magazines, and we saw these custom-made bikes. We thought we could do that ourselves too.”

In 2011, Raajib built Sara a Honda 100cc. “It was my first bike and when he found it, it was in a pile of parts on the floor of our friend’s basement. He took it to a friend’s garage and breathed life into it,” says Sara, “After a few months, I learned how to ride on that bike. It was a beautiful bike. And it was encouraging to hear all our friends ask for their own custom builds.”

In no time, there was a list of bikes to work on. So they made it official. “I made a logo, signed up on Facebook and we decided RS had to happen, even though we didn’t have a shop or business,” says Sara.

But that was not all that Raajib dai had in mind. He wanted to create a place where bikers could meet up, geek out, get their bike fixed or customized, buy quality products, have a beer and take off for a ride. “A small café. A small merchandise store. And tons of bikes. All in one place,” says Raajib.

However, it did not materialize right away. “I don’t know what happened, but it was not happening,” says Raajib. 


 

Kickstarting in Cambodia

Raajib and Sara moved to Cambodia for work. They operated RS MOTO from Cambodia. “I worked together with a custom-bike company in Cambodia. I learned a lot of things. But I realized I found it difficult to work with others,” says Raajib. By then, he saw a few shops, cafés and bars open around the idea of bikers meeting while he was in Cambodia. That is when he knew he had to do something in Nepal. 

“Starting from scratch in Cambodia and learning more about running a business pushed him to make the move back to Nepal,” says Sara. The workshop had always been the main part of the plan, but the place for bikers was Raajib’s vision.

Engineering RS MOTO

Humble as he is, Raajib dai says he only had the idea, but it was Sara who materialized the vision. “We had the space. Sara designed everything she wanted to do with the space,” says Raajib. After the earthquake in 2015, they started putting things together in the space. “Even the minute of details, such as a piece of wood, we had it made according to our design,” says Raajib.

With acres of space, RS MOTO is now a biker’s heaven in Nepal. It was finally opened on February 27, 2016. Made out of shipping containers, tin, wood and amazing art work, the place is engineered in such a way that you will realize that each element serves its own function.  There is a café, a kitchen, a small merchandise store, and tons of containers for Raajib dai’s garage. The aura heightens the vision Raajib dai had and how Sara materialized it.

The place is open to not only bikers. Everyone is welcome to live the experience Raajib dai has created. Also, because there are acres of space available, events are also organized at RS MOTO. 

The Restless Engine

One of the addictions of bikers is leather, and Raajib dai has also been able to give artistic touch to leather products with RS Chhala. “I went to buy some leather bags with my friends, and when I looked around in the market, they were extremely expensive,” says Raajib, “Then I thought, this isn’t hard at all. I can make it at a lot cheaper price.”

“Raajib is always thinking of making things with his hands, and almost always has bikes in mind,” says Sara. The leather bags he produces are made with bike-riding in mind, and “would withstand time,” says Sara. She adds, “When he went home from Cambodia for about a month, he brought some leather and tools, and started making bags. The first one was rough, but the second and the ones that followed were great.”

That has inspired his brother too. His brother Maneesh also makes bags daily. “Raajib’s mom was instrumental in the beginning,” says Sara, “She loves the products and gives design ideas to Maneesh and Raajib.”

They took the product to the Art Market at The Yellow House, and were able sell half of what they produced in one day. With that money, they invested in more leather and better tools. Though it is a good business, Raajib dai is a bit reserved about it. 

 

Bumps along the journey

“We had lot of freedom back in the days,” says Raajib, “Now, there are unnecessary rules that limit our individual goals.” Raajib dai is referring to how people resist to move forward when there are rules in place. “Freedom is your choice. There is always a way to exercise it despite the rules.”

 

The Entrepreneurial Spirit in a Rebel

If you ever meet Raajib dai, he will never say he is an entrepreneur. But the rebel spirit within Raajib dai has made him into one, and a very good one at it. However, for him, more than the business side of things, it is the passion for work and carving motorcycles that others can empathize with that matters the most. And he has a supportive life-partner in Sara Sayami who guides him and takes him to heights.

( Photos by Bibhas Maharjan Suwal and Lena Nikitina

 

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Guest Saturday, 20 October 2018