Creating Happy Bikers: The Story of Barrel Exhaust

Creating Happy Bikers: The Story of Barrel Exhaust

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

The story behind the vision of creating happy bikers

Whenever someone asks me the story of how it all started, the story of how Barrel Exhaust (and subsequently Barrel Motors) was created, it always gets me wondering, what if I had given up after my initial setbacks? Well, let me explain… Everything started with a dream of creating happy bikers. 

Finding My Calling

I quit my job in 2014 to finally follow my heart. Even though my current profession was paying me handsomely, I was in desperate search of my passion, or my true calling. I was often unsatisfied with my work which led me to go ahead and quit it to follow my dreams, but I had no clear path or plan of action in my mind. I was always fascinated by automobiles and fighter jets, but back then I lacked the clarity to see what destiny had in store for me. 

Great Companies Article on Giridhar Soundararajan

(The folks at Great Companies were kind enough to do an interview with me talking about the origins of Barrel Exhaust and beyond. This helped me to tell my story to bikers and bike lovers all around the world. Image Credits: Great Companies)

So, in the first year following my resignation, I tried my hands at building a couple of mobile apps, both of them failing eventually (miserably). By that time I had exhausted my Provident fund from previous employment. I was responsible for his parents, wife, and 5-year-old daughter. Even though in crisis, I was fortunate enough to avoid any impulsive short-sighted decisions. And of course, it was a great relief that I had no loans or EMIs to repay. 

But I started to hit rock bottom when I was even forced to sell my 2BHK home, it was a big shocker for me, one that took me some time to recover. As I locked myself in my room, deep in thought, funnily, as I was offered yet another senior position at a big corporation (which I once again rejected very politely), it finally hit me! 

It finally hit me that building premium experiences for bikers and creating happy bikers is the thing that I really want to do. I gave myself one final chance and this time I was going to follow my gut feelings and nothing else. So, even though my education is in business administration, my heart always was in engineering, in building things, and hence, with the dream of creating happy bikers worldwide, I started Barrel Exhaust in November 2015. 

Giridhar Soundararajan, Founder Barrel Exhaust, testing exhuasts

(Working towards what makes me happy, every day) 

Barrel Exhaust: The Humble Origins

But unlike in movies, in real life the story does not end here, life goes on and so do the struggles that come with it. Barrel Exhaust had a rather shaky start, we were riddled with problems from all sides. From managing employees to managing vendors, and everything in between proved to be a monumental challenge. Demonetization also had a major negative impact on the market for a temporary period, bringing the sales down by almost 50%.

During the initial days, it was mostly just me on my bike going around Bangalore, trying to sell my exhausts. Was it a struggle, yes absolutely, but given the opportunity would I do it again, a hundred times yes! The initial days were tough, but they were also the most fun! Filled with exciting new adventures each day and the possibilities were endless. 

Still, the challenges were real and they were big. Possibly the toughest decision for me was to sell off my beloved Hyundai i10 to keep my company alive. Sitting in my Hyundai i10 trying to figure the way forward when a message popped up on my mobile screen from that read “We buy any car in just 30 minutes flat”. I told myself that the families of the team were more important than this car. And we sold it. 

But I was finally not afraid, I was doing the thing that I love, and I was ready to give it my all! The struggles I faced during the initial days of Barrel Exhaust have led me to believe that every problem is just a misspelled opportunity. 

And just like even the darkest of nights always give way for the sun to shine, we too were able to turn the tides of fortune at Barrel Exhaust. As the team found out, they were super motivated, and we gradually increased the sales by 230%. We were receiving orders from countries like Thailand, Columbia, the USA, and more. And finally, I was able to walk into an automotive dealership (along with my Barrel team) and place the order for my dream SUV. It was a small step, yes, but it was the first step in the right direction, and after waiting for so long, it was truly incredible to see my dream finally coming to fruition. 

Barrel Exhaust engineers at work

(Our Engineers -- the secret behind our energy!)

From this point on there was no looking back. We started expanding our range of exhausts and other biking accessories to help enhance the riding experience of bikers globally. We were always driven by an obsession over quality, a trait that has now become synonymous with the Barrel Exhaust experience. 

The last 6 years have been filled with ups and downs and I feel this is going to be there for all in various degrees. Entrepreneurship is a practical course we sign up for and the lessons are hard. 

Struggle with low capital, unfair competitors, govt policy hurdles, manpower, pandemic, and the list is endless. Entrepreneurship is a tough job, but no good thing is easy.

The life that I am currently living is my best life ever, and I would never trade it for anything. 

Tomato Heart Story of Barrel Exhaust and Founder Giridhar Soundararajan(One of the first publications to tell the story of Barrel Exhaust, Tomato Heart also helped us reach more new bikers around the globe. Image Credits: Tomato Heart)

Looking Forward: The Next Steps

Moving ahead, we are super excited to work on new projects which include more premium quality products for superbikes and also exploring the possibilities of electric bikes and superbikes. Every day working with the Barrel team feels like a brand new experience, and I just want to thank my friends and family for sticking with me through thick and thin and believing in me when the rest of the world refused to. 

So, coming back to the question of what if I had given up after my initial setbacks? Well, guess we will never find that out! 

Up Next for Barrel Exhaust -- Barrel Electric
(The future will be electric. At Barrel Motors, we are super excited about what’s coming next. Are you?)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q. What does an aftermarket exhaust do for a motorcycle?
A. Acceleration is one of the main factors that influence speed when they hop onto their bikes. Replacing the factory-installed system with an aftermarket motorcycle exhaust allows the rider to significantly improve the peak engine horsepower of their motorcycle.

Q. Do aftermarket exhausts improve performance?
A. An aftermarket performance exhaust can free some of the power in your engine. These systems allow for a quicker, more efficient path for exhaust gases to escape. This means your engine "breathes" better, so spent fuel and air exit the combustion chambers faster.

Q. Who is the founder of Barrel Exhaust?
A. Barrel Motors (formerly known as Barrel Exhaust) was founded by Giridhar Soundararajan aka Mr. Barrel in November 2015.

Back to blog