Red Bull X-Fighters: Flying Bulls

A  gravelly parking lot in Gurgaon. Four 250cc two-stroke KTMs. For the first 15 minutes or so, I couldn’t care less about their riders – two-stroke motocross bikes are one of the most awesome types of motorcycles ever. Then, out of the corner of my eye I catch a sinewy arm extending itself towards my own feeble limb – a typical feature of professional motorcyclists, I note. Except me. ‘Nick De Wit’, says the dude, one of the four Red Bull X-Fighters. Perhaps he thought it best to stop me before I made off with his bike.

Another athletic-looking chap walks up, as cool as a cucumber. Without saying a word, he kicks his KTM to angry, buzzing awakeness. And without any apparent effort, he has the bike’s front knobbly pawing the air well above my head. It comes at me and I dare not move. The rider coolly manoeuvers past me, lands the front wheel and guns it across the lot, the mad sound echoing, I imagine, in all of Gurgaon. That’s Nick Franklin for you. They say they’re checking their bikes. But it seems to me, they need only half a chance to start having fun. That’s the biggest reason they do what they do, I suppose. They’re genial fellows in general. They even humour the dozens of urchins that have been attracted to the colourful, noisy and smokey motorcycles.

Between adjusting air/fuel mixtures and changing spark plugs, they tell me that these bikes are the best for their jobs. They weigh only 90kg and by my reckoning, they must put out 45-50bhp. And with sprockets bigger than most dinner plates I’ve seen, it’s no wonder Franklin loves his wheelies.