Probably the only place in the world where you will get free advice on engine oils along with your plate of Biryani. Mount your saddles as we rev through one of India’s most unique museums.
WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT
A way from the city’s humdrum, Frazer town is a quiet suburb in Bengaluru. Right in its heart, on 15, Wheeler road is Legends Motorcycling Cafe & Museum, the first of its kind in India, is the offspring of a two-decade love affair between a man and his mean machines. The two-storied building, tastefully Gothic-like, which houses the museum, along with a café, has a satisfyingly retro air about it. Everything is vintage about this place, and each object seems like it has a mysterious tale to be explored.
An unstoppable biker, S.K. Prabhu says he biked down each and every highway across the country. And at 42, he is living the dream of countless men. He not only started this beautiful café and museum but also a vintage motorcycle cult amongst the youth.
One enters into the café and is welcomed with a homely vibe and a lot of themed furniture. The quotes and biking collectibles convince you to spend the afternoon. The ground floor is the dining area and the flight of stairs takes you back to post war era. More than 20 vintage, well-kept motorbikes line the walls. All of these bikes are in prime condition and Prabhu rode them there himself. Prabhu started collecting in 1992 and is always on the lookout for the next vintage bike that will adorn his wall. Although, the cream and red-hot Cezeta, a 1962 model scooter from
Czechoslovakia — more of a slightly overweight darling amid the other macho motorcycles — is definitely the showstopper.
In the in-house café on the ground floor, the mood is set with some jazz and blues only punctured by the low din of bikers discussing engines and spare parts over authentic south Indian coffee. This is the only floor that serves food. The old record player, the hand-operated coffee grinder and the roasted Arabica beans, they take this café to a completely distant and nostalgic place. The odd five or six tables are unique on their own and sometimes just not enough for all the bike enthusiasts that flock the café and museum, especially on Sundays.
The seating arrangements are all wood and give a rustic feel. The salon-styled high chairs against a massive wooden bar table remind you of stories from the Wild West. Everything on that floor gives you a very ‘been there, done that’ look. As if everything there has been through an adventure. Just to break monotony they also have one Singer sewing machine table. The tables, chairs and even the refrigerator are conspicuously classic.
The crockery is mixed and matched, making you feel like you’re having snacks at a friend’s place.
The menu is handwritten and it lists various options for breakfast lunch and even dinner on all days, probably because this could very well be one of the only
A stroll will make you pause and admire the made in England, militarymodeled motorcycles of the Second World War like the Norton 500 cc and James ML 1942 Hand-gear.
museums that stay open to all from 6 am to 11 pm. You can pick from eggs and toast to a full plate of biryani and paya.
One thing you wont find a dearth of, are photo frames. In fact in one corner you will even find the pictorial chronicles of owner Prabhu’s biking adventures. Prabhu thinks the older generation of motorcycling still brings in the crowds and takes pride in keeping this spirit alive. Some of the motorcycles he’s acquired took a lot of time and effort to get to his museum.
Some of them had to be imported from countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand. A few of the motorcycles date back to the 1920s and 1930s.
A stroll will make you pause and admire the made in England, military-modeled motorcycles of the Second World War like the Norton 500 cc and James ML 1942 Hand-gear. There is also an American 1962 Whizzer. The BSA collection, Mr. Prabhu’s favourite and hung on the wall, includes a 1924 BSA 250 cc with round tank and carbide lamps, a 1928 BSA 500 cc flat tank with carbide lamps, and the BSA Bantam D1 1962-1966. The BSAs are all made and imported from the UK. Among these bikes, a 1962 German Florette, NUS and a DKW Hummel take the cake. Prabhu maintains and takes care of these bikes on his own. He takes a little too much care of the Italian Lambretta Innocenti 1960.
Often you can see a huddle of bikers outside, in the parking lot of the café. For some this has become a hangout spot and for some, just a quick stop at their
favourite café on the way to work. Crammed with an astonishing collection of motorcycles whose vintage dates back to 1924, this museum has all the ingredients to write a small portion of biking history. And with an unconventional host, a vintage setting and filter coffee along with rare rides, Legends motorcycle café and museum makes for a worthy Sunday trip.