Dr Maral Yazarloo-Patrick

From action movies and video games to scenic solo trips in movies, motorcycling has always been projected as a man’s game. Well, about time we ride away from these outdated stereotypes. Women across the country have been going after their motorcycling dreams for years. They’ve been travelling across countries and continents, creating biking groups and riding their motorcycles come rain or shine, motherhood or jobs. We spoke to three women bikers in India to get a look into their experiences on the road, why they love riding and their hot tips for anyone looking to gear up and get started. 

Dr. Maral Yazarloo-Patrick

A fashion designer from Iran, Dr Maral moved to India 15 years ago and is one of the first three women to have travelled all seven continents on a motorcycle. Her one-and-a-half year journey didn’t just include 64 countries: it also involved a wedding and a pregnancy. Halfway through her ride, in Machu Picchu, she married her now-husband Alex. The day after her wedding, she was off again, only to return home 11 months later. “I married a man who knew I was following my dreams and never asked me not to. He was my backbone and emotional support throughout.” 

women bikers india, maral yazarloo, urvashi patole, jesslina nayyar, women motorcycling
Dr Maral Yazarloo-Patrick

When she found out she was pregnant, Maral was just about to begin the most difficult part of her ride—the journey through Africa. But she knew she had to continue. “I didn’t want to look at my kids as the reason I wasn’t able to achieve my dream,” she says. So she rode on. “Alex would send my diet chart, protein shake and pregnancy pills. He kept track of my sonographies and would check the map to book me appointments in the next big city. I didn’t miss a single scan or check-up.” Their daughter Nafas was born three months after her world ride. For now, only short rides are on the agenda for Maral, who wants to spend as much time as possible with Nafas. “A lot of people have asked me why I do what I do. If a man does it, there are no questions, but if a woman does it, we need to ask why. I have realised that I like to dream big and sometimes, I need to go in directions that don’t make sense to people. If they don’t see life the way I do, I can’t explain myself to them.” 

Pro tip: For Maral, being prepared is the most important thing you can do when riding. “Always be fully geared and follow every safety rule. Take all the classes you need and ride with a group on the road to start with. That way, you will always have someone watching your back and make sure you’re safe.” 

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Maral with her husband Alex and daughter Nafas

Urvashi Patole

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Urvashi Patole

A dirt track racer and adventure rider, Urvashi is considered one of the pioneers of the women motorcycling movement in India. In 2011, she, along with her biker friend Firdaus Sheikh, founded Bikerni—an all-women biking group. What started as a 40-member group in Pune has grown to become a 2,000-member group today, with chapters across the country. “We have chapters across India who ride together, organise meet-ups, workshops and trips,” she says. “It’s all women so we understand each other well. Everyone is supportive and it’s a lot of fun to crack up together and just leave our troubles behind.” 

Her fascination with motorcycles goes back to the age of seven, when she saw her sister’s friend ride up to their house on a 350cc motorcycle. “I fell in love with the grace and confidence she exuded and knew I had to ride a motorcycle one day.” Patole has been touring and racing since the age of 22 and has a special place in her heart for riding off the road through dirt. “My favourite motorcycling experience was in 2011, when 11 of us women rode down to Khardung La in Ladakh. Now, that trip has become a part of the history of women riders in India.” 

women bikers india, maral yazarloo, urvashi patole, jesslina nayyar, women motorcycling
Urvashi Patole

Of course, beyond the joy of riding, there have been serious concerns about doing all-women road trips. They always had to be extra attentive and careful on the road to stay safe. But things are changing. “Today, women are more accepted in this space and we have members like Aishwarya Pissay, Anam Hashim, Jai Bharathi and Candida Louis who have broken records and made the women motorcycling space even stronger.” Although it’s been 11 years since she first started riding, Urvashi remains just as fascinated by the beauty and experience of a motorcycle trip. “The thrill of riding through dirt, slipping, controlling and sliding is just inexplicable.”

Pro-tip: For Urvashi, it’s all about finding your own rhythm and enjoying the ride for what it is. “Find your own comfortable space to learn. Don’t be pushed to ride faster on a group ride. Start at your own pace, learn how to navigate your motorcycle and understand its nuances. Find groups that you connect well with but also take time out to ride solo. It’s a different experience altogether.”  

Jesslina Nayyar 

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Jesslina Nayyar

For Jesslina Nayyar, life is all about motorcycling and travelling. As an army kid, her childhood was scattered across the country, building in her a love for exploring new places. Her motorcycling journey began early in her teenage years. “I would go out with my friends who had motorcycles, riding from Noida to Gurgaon and back for hours—with them riding pillion,” she says. That was just the beginning. Today, motorcycling is like a morning cup of tea for Jesslina—her day simply does not start without it. And she doesn’t need smooth city roads anymore either. Literally and otherwise, she has an urge to go off the beaten path. “I’ve always been adventurous and prone to making a choice where I don’t know where the road is going to take me,” she says. “My favourite route so far has been from Uttarakhand to Munsiyari. And the real challenge begins when there are no proper roads to a destination.” 

This sense of adventure seeps into every aspect of her life. Apart from motorcycling, Jesslina is a sucker for running, working out, surfing and diving, and has even played basketball at the national level. She even chose a profession that would allow her to travel for work. As a professional fashion model, she often has to shoot at new locations. “I always extend my stay for a few days after the shoot so that I can cover each and every corner of that place—always on a motorcycle, of course.” 

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Jesslina Nayyar

People’s biases do serve the occasional speed bump though. “I was once at a motorcycle shoot and I assumed that the client chose me because they knew I ride motorcycles,” she says. “But at the beginning of the shoot, he was so scared to watch me just sit on the motorcycle that he assigned me a person who would help me at all times. He thought I was too fragile to handle the bike,” she laughs. “When we started shooting and he saw me ride with total control, his jaw dropped. He later apologised for being so sexist.” 

Pro-tip: Apart from the basics of gearing up and riding safely, Jesslina believes it’s important to get out of your own head. “So many women are constantly told they can’t do certain things and some of them end up believing it. People are always going to talk, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I think that riding a bike is one of those few experiences in life that allow you to take the handlebars and define your own path.”

women bikers india, maral yazarloo, urvashi patole, jesslina nayyar, women motorcycling
Jesslina Nayyar




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