The Indian two-wheeler market has seen an exponential growth in the premium biking segment in the last few years. Almost all global brands are available here even with unicorn rides like Kawasaki H2 available to the masses (obviously the ones with deep pockets). Even Confederate, the American manufacturer of exotic street motorcycles in Birmingham, Alabama has found buyers who paid fortune to import it to India, one being our captain cool MS Dhoni.
But, which is man-sized ‘But’, the availability of these two-wheeled marvels does not guarantee ownership, for the usual buyer is still price conscious. Furthermore, he can easily find competitively-priced alternatives to the expensive Harley-Davidson, Suzuki Hayabusa, Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia, Triumph and Indian motorcycles. Some even go to the extent of modifying their 150cc bikes with cheap add-ons to resemble the premium ones at the cost of safety.
Back in 1980s and 90s, the days used to be very simple and so were the bikes available then. No hefty power figures, no technology-oriented riding aids and not tab on emissions. Those were the days when bike enthusiasts in India used to ride pretty minimalistic bikes and still feel on the top of the world. The legendary RD 350, Yezdi’s ruled the roost. Those who rode these were the centre of attraction at an ice-cream joint at night or day for that matter.
Out of sheer nostalgia, we bring a few bikes that we would love to see making a comeback to the masses that rode them in their prime and want to relive those simple days:
1. Suzuki Shogun
While Suzuki offered GSX-R models in the international market, we Indians were handed out an 108.2 cc, air-cooled, two-stroke engine bike that was capable of producing maximum power of 14.2 PS with 11.4 NM of torque. These figures are abysmally low and won’t give you any excitement. But apart from the numbers, Shogun is remembered as one of the most desirable bikes of that period. When the roads used to have abundant space and less traffic, the Shogun was colloquially known as the boss. It was in competition with Yamaha’s RX series. If ridden properly, it rewarded the rider with a top speed of 115 km/h in those days.
2. Bajaj Sunny
This cute little scooterette was aimed at the school going teenagers of the 90s when it was launched in 1990 and its production lasted for 7 years. Sunny Zip had a tiny 60cc two-stroke engine with a maximum speed of 50km/h. The scooterette just demanded a 16 year old teenager with a valid driving license for non-gear two-wheelers. These days when kids are driving expensive cars and bikes without obtaining license, this is a necessary panacea to treat this epidemic of underage driving. Besides teenagers, females and old aged people were the masses Sunny used to serve for.
3. Yamaha RX 100
The bike was launched in mid 80s in India and continued to be assembled till 1996. This was a motorcycle that still serves a few caring owners. The RX 100 was a peppy small bike of those days. Its potential was actually realised on the local dirt tracks and drag races. It’s the younger sibling of the monstrous RD 350 and served as the mule of numerous performance modifications. It looked vibrant in its trademark red with chrome fenders. Dirt bikes in the Bollywood films of 80s and 90s were based on RX series only. Yamaha needs to launch it as at least a special edition.
Yezdi was a motorcycle that was produced by Mysore based Ideal Jawa Ltd. It is possibly the best-sounding two-stroke engined motorcycles that came equipped with twin stubby exhausts. The bike had a semi-automatic clutch and what’s even amazing is that its kick-start pedal doubled up as the clutch pedal. The company is no more into functioning but there are some restored specimens roaming on the roads. If you wish to know more about this icon, try talking to a proud owner.
5. Yamaha RD 350
The big daddy of two-stroke bikes in India, unfortunately the bike didn’t see much success in the Indian market primarily due to the premium pricing and stricter emission norms that the RD could not meet. It has acquired a cult following and a legendary status among the real bike enthusiasts who are dying to lay their hands on the few bikes that are available in the market. For instance, a properly beefed up Yamaha RD350 can retail for INR 4-5 Lakh at present. But if finding one is a difficult task then finding an owner who is willing to part with his prized possession is like searching for a needle in a haystack. The engine specifications are enough to bring a stupid smirk to your face. Powering it was a 347cc, air-cooled, two stroke parallel twin motor producing 39 bhp of power at 7,500 rpm with 37.2 Nm of torque at 7,000rpm. The bike was capable of attaining speeds upto 170 km/h in those days.