Allwin Xavier on a Yamaha R15 V3 bike
© Allwin Xavier
Motorbike Road Racing

How to become a professional motorcycle racer in India

Kerala-based riders Allwin Xavier and Anfal Akdhar explain their career trajectories and how someone can get started in motorcycling racing in India.
Written by Shail Desai
7 min readPublished on
While still in the fifth grade, Allwin Xavier had his first good look at a motorcycle when a cousin visited his home.
His feet didn’t reach the pegs, nor did he have an idea of how the machine worked. But there was this unspeakable joy of sitting there on the fuel tank, twisting the throttle and imitating the purr of the engine, pretending to be like one of the many bikers he saw zipping past his home in Thrissur.
It was no different for Anfal Akdhar. By the time he was 14 years, he was sure that riding motorcycles was what he wanted to indulge in someday. Soon, he discovered the world of racing and was instantly drawn towards it. But his parents’ reluctance meant that he had to wait until adulthood to finally have a chance at hitting the track.
Today, 22-year-old Allwin and 20-year-old Anfal ride at the Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship for their respective teams, harbouring dreams of hitting the big league sometime in the future.
Here, they give insights into their own journey while highlighting how a bike enthusiast can enter the world of racing.
Partiicpants at the Indian National Motorcycle Championship

Partiicpants at the Indian National Motorcycle Championship

© Allwin Xavier


Start off as young as possible

Like most other sports, it is imperative to get into motorcycles racing at an early age to have a bright future. 22-year-old Allwin competed against riders as young as 11 and 14 years in the Novice category at the 2020 Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship.
“If a rider is under the age of 18 years, he or she will need approval from a guardian in order to race. But at that age, the advantage is that a number of teams will take care of the rider and manage all the expenses. For instance, Honda has a separate category where they work with riders at the grassroots and groom them over the years,” Allwin says.
He did a lot of his initial research through online videos to understand the nitty-gritty of racing, before getting on the track.
“At 22 years, my opportunities are almost over. Racing has a lot to do with age. If you look at the world stage, a lot of the guys around my age are already established world champions in different leagues. And MotoGP is a contest to find the best among the proven champions. So starting off young helps you gain a lot of experience. For example, eight-time world champion, Marc Marquez, started on a motorcycle at the age of three,” he adds.
Bike racer Allwin Xavier stands with his race bike while drinking Red Bull

Allwin Xavier

© Jishnu Vaimeethil


Enrol for basic training and get your license to compete

Once Anfal had the opportunity to chase his calling, he started looking up his options online. The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) has around 16 accredited academies, which take a beginner through the basics of track racing. In April 2019, Anfal joined CRA Motorsports in Coimbatore, where he picked up the certification to ride on the track.
“My initial concerns were about safety, but I soon realised that the riding suit, boots, gloves and helmet make it a very secure affair. Once you are over it, it’s all about the adrenaline rush,” Anfal says.
Allwin first did an open track session to assess his skills. He then joined California Super Bikes in Chennai, where he was taken through theory and track sessions over three days. At the end of it, he procured a certificate that made him eligible for a racing license.
“It’s hands-on training where a coach follows you out on the track and irons out your flaws. The three levels of training give you all the basics that you need to ride on a track,” Allwin says.
The certification from one of the accredited academies is essential to apply for an FMSCI license. For those under the age of 18 years, a guardian’s approval is also required to procure a license.
Anfal Adkhar participates in the 2021 Indian National Motorcycle Championship

Anfal participates in the 2021 Indian National Motorcycle Championship

© Allwin Xavier


Get some regular professional training with a team

In August 2021, Anfal made his debut at the National Championships with Rockstar Racing. At the Palakkad-based team, he found a mentor in Mohammed Shafin, who readied him for his first race. With just three professional race tracks in India – in Chennai, Coimbatore and Noida – the duo would visit Bengaluru and make the most of a 1km karting track for their training sessions.
“It’s a small track, but really helps improve riding skills. We would spend about a week there each month,” Anfal says.
In Bengaluru, Shafin would lead Anfal on the track, and guide him on the riding lines, braking marks and body position.
“I think it’s critical to have a personal coach if you want to get into racing. If you’re just riding by yourself, the focus is only on the times that you register. With an experienced rider in front of you, a lot of the learning happens simply through observation,” Anfal says.
Allwin too trains with his team when they group once a month. However, he also organises his own practice sessions back home in Thrissur.
“Besides practicing on the track, I also do a lot of off-road training around my home. It not only helps you understand your wheels better, but is also a great way to improve fitness levels,” Allwin says.
Bike racer Anfal Akdhar stands with his bike while drinking Red Bull.

Anfal Akdhar

© Jishnu Vaimeethil


Try to get a sponsor early in your career

Motorcycle racing is an expensive affair in India. The most basic investment is Rs 1 lakh each season that a rider must pay to get on a team. If you put in good performances on the track, there are chances a sponsor will support you in future years.
Allwin had a good debut season with Rockstar Racing in 2020, bagging a few podiums and other finishes in the top-5. It was enough to earn him a ride with Chennai-based Sparks Racing, who offered him a year-long contract at a subsidised fee.
“A rider only gets paid when he gets picked up by a factory team. Only Honda and TVS have a factory team at the moment, which means most have to pay to get a ride. For the first year, my parents supported my passion. This year, I am backed by some motorcycle enthusiasts from Kerala. I also have the support from an established motorcycle accessories dealer for my riding gear support. It’s heartening to know that they realise my potential and I’m grateful to them,” Allwin says.
Anfal highlights how landing sponsors is a bigger challenge than racing bikes in India, unless one can get onto a big budget team.
“It’s still manageable if you are racing in the Stock category. Once you’re in the Pro Stock category, you need about Rs 6-7 lakh during the first year to build the bike. So it gets really expensive when you’re getting into this category. After that, it costs about Rs 1.5 lakh for each season to maintain the bike,” Anfal says.
Anfal Akdhar particpates in a bike race.

Securing sponsorship is very important in motorsports

© Allwin Xavier


Enlist for smaller races to get practice

As a prequel to the National Championship, most riders step out for pre-season races that are put up by private organisers. These are single rounds of two races that set the stage for the season ahead.
“There are about 15 races that a rider can be part of each year. Besides these races, there is also an endurance race where riders work in teams of two to finish the most number of laps,” Allwin says.

Focus on physical fitness to be a better racer

Besides the work that goes into honing skills on the bike, a lot of effort goes into preparing the body for the rigours of motorcycle racing. Anfal has taken to a daily badminton routine that helps with sharpening his reflexes and agility. He has also been building his endurance through running.
Allwin has been working with Anish Shetty both on and off the track. A professional racer and CrossFit athlete, Anish has a planned routine for Allwin that he follows even during the offseason.