India is seen as a major growing market to performance motorcycle manufacturers. Although flagship motorcycles from most of the international companies are present here, there is not really a choice in the mid segment iin the everyday usable range.
India lacked the performance touch from the two-wheeler industry for a long time. But it wasn't always like that. There were a number of motorcycles that offered the rider a good thrill, although their displacement was small.
Here we take a look at 5 motorcycles that brought a real spark to motorcycle enthusiasts. Any biker from the 80s, 90s and the early 2000s will still wish these machines were around. These motorcycles offered sheer riding pleasure without any modern day electronics. It was just man and his machine.
The story continues in the next slide.
The Hero Honda CBZ literally started off the 150 cc motorcycle in India. It was introduced in the year 1999. The CBZ was a scaled down version of the Honda CB series. The motorcycle was made by Hero Honda Motors and was equipped with an original 156.8 cc engine made by Honda. The bike was the first 150 cc bike and created a segment of its own, which made other manufacturers enter this segment.
The CBZ was also one of the first motorcycles to introduce hydraulic brakes in the modern era. The Keihin slide type carburetor with an accelerator pump gave the bike very good performance along with its 5-speed gearbox.
4. Yamaha RX100:
The RX100 entered Indian shores as knocked-down kits in 1985. The motorcycle had a very responsive 98 cc air-cooled, two-stroke engine. They were produced till the year 1996. The 11 bhp engine was potent enough to propel the bike to 100 km/h.
The motorcycle is still first choice when it comes to two-stroke fans. The motorcycle had die hard fans. In the days where the choice was between old british bikes that were available in India and modern two-stroke performance machines, the RX100 clearly stood apart and offered way more performance than bargained.
The RX100 made way for its successors like the RX135, RX-G, RXZ and the Tiger, the last of the two-strokes from Yamaha.
3. Suzuki Shogun:
If the RX100 was the giant, the Shogun was the giant slayer. Introduced in the year 1996, the Shogun created its own fan club and followers. Powered by a 110 cc engine that churned out 14 bhp, the motorcycle delivered very good power for the rider. The Shogun featured a multi-port, two-stroke petrol engine with a special induction resonator and Tricone Megaphonic racing silencer that was tuned for city use.
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The motorcycle had very good handling and the power delivery was evenly distributed throughout the rpm range than giving instant power output like the RX100. The Shogun, not only outperformed the RX, but also looked light years better.
2. The Royal Enfield:
Founded in the year 1893, the company is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the world that still produces motorcycles. Royal Enfield's flagship model, the Standard 350 was the unbeaten champion when it came to long distance touring. The right side gear-shift and left side brake limited the motorcycle from being bought by everyone, since it was unique.
The weight of the motorcycle or the sluggish power delivery was not at all a bother because they were really smooth and felt like they were made to take on highways. In 1994, the company introduced a 500 cc version of the Standard which many individuals took to their liking, those who wanted to express themselves on the highways. Motorcycles are still being made and the company shows no signs of slowing down.
1. Yamaha RD350:
The Yamaha RD350 is nothing short of a legend! The two-stroke, parallel twin, 347 cc engine produced 30.5 bhp. The RD was the first true sports bike produced in India by Escorts. The fuel was fed into the engine via "Reed Valves", which made the motorcycle very unique. It was sold in India from 1983-1990.
The RD350's twin cylinder engine along with its 6-speed gearbox gave unmatched performance, and the frame, which was similar to the TZ250 and TZ350 series factory road race bikes, made it a very impressive handling motorcycle.
Poor fuel efficiency gave birth to the detuned version known as the "Low Torque" which still produced 27 bhp. The Low Torque RDs back in the days had a top speed of 150 plus km/h, which is impressive even compared to motorcycles today in India. The RD350, which sold for under INR 20,000 today fetches above INR 1.5 lakh and prices go upward for better kept motorcycles.