Every journey matters when loved ones await: Jafar Behbehani

Passion for riding is at the heart of every biker’s journey, and a few days back, I had the privilege of interviewing Jafar Behbehani, the driving force behind TriStar Motorcycles, and indeed the riding scene in the region.

By Smriti Rana Singh
Special to The Times Kuwait

Nestled in the vibrant Shuwaikh industrial area, TriStar Motorcycles boast a collection that caters to every bike enthusiast’s adventurous dreams. And the man behind every individual’s craving for biking is Jafar Behbehani. Behbehani’s knowledge and experience, spanning over four decades, has earned him the position of a trusted advisor and mentor to bikers of all levels. And rightly so!

As soon as I entered his office, my attention was drawn to the ‘wall of fame’ as he fondly calls it. Photographs from his youth and encounters with notable personalities adorn the wall, reflecting his glorious biking journey. Family photographs on the wall showcased a shared love for biking, a passion that runs deep within the family.

Jafar’s personality exudes warmth and vitality, drawing people in with his infectious charm and genuine concerns for bikers. Despite a few bumps along the road, nothing can bow him down. Instead, he stands tall, driven by a singular mission: to make biking safer for everyone.

Contrary to what one might expect, Behbehani’s affinity for biking did not emerge at an age when the idea of owning a bike captivates every boy. “I’m really a safety-minded person. Until I finished university, I never thought that bikes are safer than cars,” says Behbehani.

Despite the initial notions, Behbehani’s curiosity peaked when he came back to Kuwait after completing his bachelor’s degree. It was then that the wheels of his biking journey were set in motion.

“I took my friend’s Honda 100cc for a ride. Almost 100 metres, I hit the curb,” recalls Behbehani. But that only prompted him to delve deeper into motorcycles. “Within a week, I purchased my own bike- a 550 cc model. And then I had an accident and I couldn’t find the spare parts to fix my bike, so I bought a new, bigger bike,” reveals Jafar. And then there was no looking back.

Jafar says focus on promoting motorcycles was minimal back then, mainly due to the preconceived notions surrounding how unsafe motorcycles were. “I tried selling various bikes but there were no sales. So, I transitioned my focus and continued running TriStar Garage, specialising in Mercedes repairs,” shares Jafar.

Eventually, through a combination of determination and serendipity, Jafar secured the role of BMW Motorrad’s Importer . “By fate or fortune, I continued to pursue my passion for bikes, exploring new opportunities along the way,” adds Jafar.

Jafar on his daily routine with his BMW C1

For BMW, there were no sales for seven years. “However, despite the initial sales being slow, we gradually gained traction, particularly within government institutions, such as the traffic police, military schools, and Amiri Guard. We also became the preferred supplier for these authorities, supplying motorcycles in bulk quantities. Additionally, we secured the BMW motorcycles importership in Saudi Arabia. The partnership lasted for a long 10 years.”

Today, the market for motorcycles has grown substantially, a testament to Behbehani’s unfazed commitment to promoting biking culture and safety over the years. With time, the negative perception of motorcyclists has also improved. “The presence of hooligans didn’t increase, but the number of upstanding individuals grew steadily. We now have lawyers, military personnel, ambassadors and even women actively taking up biking,” shares Jafar.

Interestingly, Jafar Behbehani established Kuwait Riders back in 1988. “Remarkably, in just one week, our group grew from one to seven. From there, the momentum continued to build, giving rise to hundreds of groups and clubs across the entire Middle East. Now, of course, others have taken over and expanded the movement,” states Jafar modestly.

Jafar also established the Kuwait BMW Motorcycle Club, believing that BMWs international reputation would attract a broader audience. And as the sales of Ducatis increased, it became evident that Ducati holds a prestigious status in the world of bikes. “Ducati commands a certain sense of luxury and performance, just as Ferrari in the automobile realm. As the popularity increased, we established the Kuwait Ducati Club. Additionally, as more women began riding, the Kuwait MotoLady Club was formed. The club is first of its kind in the Middle East, representing femininity and empowerment,” says Jafar.

Bader the youngest future generation family rider with his father Masoud Behbehani at KMT track

These clubs serve as both a means of promotions and a platform for various activities like blood donation rides and breast cancer awareness rides to sensitise masses on important health issues while giving back to the community. Laying an emphasis on the importance of preserving life, Jafar says, “The blood spilled in an accident could potentially save someone’s life if it were donated instead. We have been doing this since 2004. In our most recent blood donation camp, we gathered an impressive 58 bags of blood.”

Furthermore, Friday mornings at the MovenPick, Al Bidaa are a spectacle to behold. Around 200 bikers from clubs around Kuwait gather for coffee before riding further for breakfast. “This also sets a positive example for responsible riding, encouraging others to follow suit,” says Behbehani, whose contribution in fostering a thriving biking community in Kuwait is undeniable.

While we were interacting, Jafar reached out for his phone and showed me a photograph of his adorable little grandson Bader zooming around the tracks. “He is the tiniest one out there today,” he chuckles proudly. “Started young just like his father,” adds Jafar, whose son Masoud Behbehani is a renowned racer himself.

Talking about tracks, Jafar says, “In recent years, seeing the surge in interest in motorsport, state-of-the-art race tracks have been established catering to various disciplines. MotoGP, Formula 1, go-karting, motocross and drag racing circuits have become a hub for bikers seeking adrenaline-fueled thrills in a safe and controlled environment. This has helped bikers stop performing dangerous activities on public roads and has also given a safer platform for little stars, like my grandson, to learn and grow,” adds Jafar.

“Safety is paramount for us and that’s why we deal in BMW and Ducati at TriStar Motorcycles. While affordability might seem out of reach for a few, but the premium quality and innovative features that these brands offer makes the investment worth it,” says Jafar. For instance, BMW has ABS crucial for rider safety, since 1984 when even cars did not have then.

“However, at TriStar, accessibility is a priority. With BMW bikes ranging for 2000 to 45,000 dinars and Ducati models from 4000 to 35,000 dinars, there is a wider spectrum to accommodate various budgets. Moreover, we also sell dealer-approved pre-owned bikes at remarkably reasonable prices, ensuring cost is not a barrier for enthusiasts looking for top-notch rides.

And it does not end there, TriStar prides themselves on being a full-service company, offering services such as registration renewal and bike inspection. Remarkably, they are the first ones to provide pickup and delivery services as well. Going the extra mile, Jafar says their success is intertwined with the satisfaction of their customers. “We assist them in obtaining permits or licenses as well. I work tirelessly to navigate these hurdles and advocate for our customers,” says the proprietor of TriStar Motorcycles.

Taking customer safety to another level, he says that they provide aspiring riders training at their TriStar Academy, where the primary focus is on how to handle bikes effectively and prepare for traffic tests. Jafar, from his extensive experiences, spanning back to getting his own license in 1974, imparts wisdom about three critical factors: the bike, the rider and the gear.

A typical group ride for blood donation

Talking about investing in good gear, he says, “We have innovative solutions like cool vests that lower body temperature by 15 degrees simply by adding half a litre of tap water. No matter how hot it gets, wearing proper motorcycle gear, including jackets, is essential for insulation and protection. Flip-up designs helmets are also available for convenience and comfort. There is no excuse to not wear them,” exclaims Jafar.

“As a matter of fact, I have been wearing my seat belt since 1966. I made sure to wear a helmet from the very first bike I rode. In lieu of proper riding gear, I improvised with a padded ski jacket for added protection. Some policemen questioned my decision to wear a helmet or use a seatbelt, implying that it was unnecessary unless I intended to race! However, things have changed now. Back then, it used to be quite different. Today, this is not just an accessory anymore, but a necessity,” remarks Jafar.

“When my youngest son, Abdullah, was three years old, I took him for his first bike ride. Of course, I made him wear gloves and other protective equipment and yes, he questioned it too saying he didn’t need it. But I knew, falling is not just a possibility but inevitable too. And sure enough, 20 minutes later, he took a bad fall. His gloves had these small pebbles engraved in them and since then, he knows the importance of safety gear. So, you teach them early and they’ll know,” shares Jafar.

Behbehani also criticises the use of inexpensive plastic helmets, often given to delivery riders for a fraction of cost offering minimal protection in case of accidents. “The delivery riders take risks to fulfil their duties and provide for their families. They have deadlines to meet. We must empathise with them and give them space,” advices Jafar, urging others to be patient and accommodating. He stresses the need for both education and enforcement of laws to ensure road safety for all. Jafar says one must see everyone on the road as someone’s loved one, just like themselves, waiting for their safe return home!

Accidents can happen anytime or in any sport, but taking precautions can mitigate risks. Jafar shares, “I have met with accidents too but thankfully, I never suffered major injuries due to my quality protective gear. In fact, it only inspired improvements and innovations. Once, I even found myself marketing for them in the hospital. I ended up convincing them to undergo training at the academy,” quips Jafar.

Jafar believes it is our behaviour as individuals, whether we are riders or car drivers, that ultimately shapes our safety on the road. “It’s a two-way street when it comes to road safety. While I emphasise the importance of car drivers being vigilant and aware of motorcyclists, I also advise bikers to acknowledge their vulnerability on the road. Regardless of who’s at fault, motorcyclists are undoubtedly more susceptible to injury in case of an accident,” adds Behbehani.

Jafar further emphasises on the importance of signalling, using lights, honking horns, and wearing reflective clothing to make riders more visible on the road to avoid accidents and ensure their own safety. “I always guide bikers to remain calm and avoid confrontations with other drivers. If someone is acting aggressively, it is best to pull over and let them pass.” says Jafar. He further adds that car drivers must take care to watch out for bikers, while bikers should also ensure they are respected and given the space they deserve. Jafar states, “Only by mutual respect, we can create safer roads for everyone.”

Additionally, he advises people to refrain from using mobile phones while driving as distracted driving can have serious consequences. “Also, always be mindful of how you dispose of the waste. Hazards like potholes, dead animals or even trees add another layer of danger for bikers. And to top that, flattened beverage cans or glossy advertising leaflets on the road may cause the bike to skid, posing a serious risk to the lives of riders. So, we must keep our roads clean to ensure the safety of all road users,” exudes Jafar.

Currently, Jafar Behbehani rides BMW C1 since it offers safety features like seat belt, windshield wiper, heated grips, heated seat and safety cage. I ride many other bikes as well but BMW C1 is my favourite. “Give me hundreds of Rolls Royce and take this away, I will not agree,” jests Jafer, while praising its practicality, agility and functionality which he says suits him the best with his Kuwaiti national attire, emphasising the need for choosing the right bike, taking into account that suits an individual’s physique and comfort level.

When asked about the profound impact he has had on the biking community of Kuwait, his eyes light up with a twinkle of pride and satisfaction. “Well. Let’s say every day, I get 20 kisses on the head!” In Kuwait, there is a handshake and then a handshake accompanied by a little peck and then comes a handshake with a kiss on the head, a way of showing respect for the elderly and for those at higher positions. “And let me tell you, I get that quite a lot! Quite pleased, indeed.” This only goes to prove the trust and respect people have for Jafar’s leadership and commitment to excellence. And Jafar’s unique perspective reminds us that making a difference can come in unexpected- and sometimes affectionate- ways.

Read Today's News TODAY...
on our Telegram Channel
click here to join and receive all the latest updates t.me/thetimeskuwait

Back to top button