April 19, 2018 5 min read
Offering an eclectic mix of track, mountain, and adventure riding, Raptik now boasts 42k Instagram followers and counting, with large thanks to his eye for photography. Followers accumulate for his perfect combination of powerful two-wheeled machines juxtaposed against a tranquil, picturesque Swiss backdrop.
"I was living a few kilometres outside of Bern [the capital of Switzerland] until I moved right into Bern in 2016. I enjoy living there because it's near my university and workplace."
When setting up for this interview, Raptik found it difficult to provide photos that aren't of motorcycling. Riding is a huge reason he loves Bern.
"Bern is only 30 minutes from one of my favourite mountain passes, the Gurnigelpass."
The Gurnigelpass is a high mountain pass that would put many twisties around the globe to shame. However, he doesn't flinch at the thought of steep, challenging mountain roads. In fact, he spends the off-season preparing for them using his newest addition.
"Only a few months ago I added a third bike to my garage. In November 2017, I got myself a IMR Copa GP 150 pitbike. I ride this bike on indoor go-kart tracks or on smaller outdoor tracks as training during winter and spring."
"For my journeys on the road, I currently ride my 2007 Suzuki GSX-R 1000R. Obviously, I had to take her to the race track as well to get to know the bike better. It would have been a pity not to take her 202 horsepower on the track to get to feel every single one of them."
Raptik doesn't spend all his time chasing scenery.
"When riding on race tracks all around Europe, I usually do that with my Suzuki GSX-R 750 K6. This bike is the perfect companion for my race track adventures for more than two years now."
There's no wonder as to how his life on two wheels started. His family tree was fueled by petrol, and he was surrounded by motorcycles for as long as he could remember.
"My grandfather owned about 25 different young- and old-timer motorcycles, my dad had owned several motorcycles over the years, my mother is a passionate pillion rider and my younger brother did his apprenticeship as a motorcycle mechanic."
Familiarity and community can go a long way, but passion is not something that is taught.
"[Growing up with bikes] wasn't responsible for my passion and love for motorcycling. It was only when my girlfriend started to spend the weekends with her family and friends on two wheels and I couldn’t join!"
Even though we could probably call him our fellow Petrolhead, his choice wasn't always on two wheels.
"I have always been more of a car guy before she brought me into this world. It really needed some commitment of my girlfriend and her family and two riding attempts on a parking lot until I finally accepted to test ride an appropriate bike.
"My first bike has been a Kawasaki [Ninja] ZX250R. I had this black beauty for only six months. I spent a lot of days and kilometers on that bike and learned so much before I was ready for something bigger."
"That’s when I called my motorcycle dealer and he immediately showed me a black and white 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600. I instantly fell in love with that bike and bought it."
In Australia, learner riders are limited to a LAMS (Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme) which restricts riders to lower capacity bikes for the first 3 years of riding. In Canada, there is no capacity restriction for learners. Switzerland has their own motorcycle laws that can get frustrating for those who are ready to upgrade.
"Because of the Swiss laws, I had to ride it with reduced horsepower [32hp] for two years straight!"
Once upgraded, Raptik could fully enjoy the roads offered by his beautiful country. The mountainous landscape offers some of the best hairpin corners in the world, with some insanely steep roads that are sure to make a tourist think twice about taking it too quickly.
"For me, the Sustenpass in Switzerland is the most awesome road to ride with a motorcycle. On the 45km mountain pass road, you’ll experience awesome road conditions and an even more spectacular landscape. The mountain pass usually opens in June and closes again in October so you should definitely check if it’s open or not before heading out there."
For motorcyclists, it wouldn't be considered true riding without the sense of adventure. We thrive on getting out of our comfort zone.
"My greatest bike-related challenge would be my off-road adventure with the Suzuki V-Strom last September. As you can guess by the bikes I own and previously have owned, I did not have any experience when it comes to off-road riding with a motorcycle until that day."
Raptik says it's a whole new experience when you're not on a sportbike.
"Riding a bike with studded tires felt ridiculously strange for the first few kilometers. I mean since I’ve been riding bikes, I was used having grip most of the time and that’s exactly what you’re looking for on the track. But on an adventure bike on off-road terrain, you have a hard time finding that grip."
The learning curve was intense, but as a skilled rider, he was able to adapt to the bike and environment eventually.
"The bike felt incredibly unstable and it was not easy at all for me to get to know such a bike in these conditions. But after a great learning session with our tour guide, I was feeling much more confident and started to enjoy the tricky conditions. Believing in my skills and myself made me improve my off-road riding in a very short time. I’ve had some crashes but getting up straight afterwards and riding on was the perfect way to deal with all that."
Using the knowledge and experience he has built up over the years, he does have a few things to say to new riders.
"Go easy on yourself! You won’t see any progress if you push yourself too hard. For some it’s easier, and for some it is harder, to achieve their goals. Especially when riding on the street: Know your limits and stay within them! There’s absolutely nothing to win when riding on the road."
When asked what Be Brave meant to him, he had a defiant answer.
"Being brave means to get back up after being hit and hit back even harder! If something isn't working right away, you shouldn’t just give up. Instead, you should try even harder to achieve your goals.
Success isn't a secret, it's a Mindset!"
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Flying Solo Gear Co would like to thank Raptik for his generous contribution of time, and his stunning photography.
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