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Over the past few days, there has been a real big ruckus created on social media sites and forums after an image started circulating on Whatsapp. The image stated that motorcycles from Yamaha's RX series along with other two-stroke bikes like the RD 350, Suzuki Shogun, Yezdis along with the Bajaj Chetak & Kinetic Honda scooters and many others would no longer be seen on the roads thanks to an upcoming ban.
The image seen here has been sourced from a team-bhp forum post
While the source of the original image is still not known, the news ignited a heated discussion on social media and on forums among two-stroke enthusiasts outraged by the image. As per the image, the ban would come into effect on April 1, 2019. Bangalore-based news channel News9 then got an interview with V.P. Hikkeri, RTO Commissioner, Bangalore after learning that the ban was proposed for the choked streets of the Garden City.
In the interview, RTO Commissioner Hikkeri stated that they were looking to ban two-stroke bikes from the streets of Bangalore. He told News9, "There is no other option. Many take care of their bikes like they take care of their own children. But, if adequate measures are not taken now, then there will be more problems in the future. Hence, we have planned to ban these bikes."
As per the News 9 report investigating the matter, the ban would come into effect in two to three months which coincides with the ban date mentioned on the image circulating on the Whatsapp messaging app.
The news comes as a shock to the citizens of Bangalore especially those that are part of the thriving two-stroke community in the city. Two-Stroke motorcycles are a way of life and rite of passage for many Bangaloreans and the city is also known for its thriving racing scene, where these bikes usually dominate the drag strips.
The two-stroke smoke show and ‘Braaap' soundtrack is one that still resonates in the Garden City and the sights and sounds of one passing by sees many a head turning to peek and hear these beloved bikes as they zip through traffic.
While most other cities in the country have ditched their two-strokes for the more eco-friendly four-strokes, the same cannot be said of Bangalore.
Many a two-stroke rider from Bangalore can still be seen sneering at the new bikes as they pass and often spitefully refer to the four-stroke engines of the same displacement as ‘four jokes'.
Bangalore's strong two-stroke community is expected to come out in full force against the proposed ban, which in itself cannot be just put into motion willy-nilly.
While the RTO can look into banning two-stroke motorcycles, they cannot do so without a change being made to the Motor Vehicle Act. The ban itself requires an amendment to the act, and even if the state government passes the amendment, it will only affect riders in the state of Karnataka.
If and only if the Government of India proposes a ban on two-strokes will such changes happen across the nation.
DriveSpark talked to a few well-known two-stroke enthusiasts from the city of Bangalore to get their thoughts on the upcoming ‘ban'. Here's what they had to say...
Pictured: Deepak Chinappa's 1995 Suzuki Shogun
When asked for his thoughts about the ban, 4-time National Racing Champion Deepak Chinappa told DriveSpark,
"The government is going about cleaning up the city the wrong way. They should first clean up their own act by banning old buses and trucks from the city limits. Two stroke bikes and scooters are not run every day by their owners. Most of us only take our bikes out occasionally and even then you would only see a small percentage of 2 stroke bikes on the road."
Pictured: Baba Blaze with his 1996 Yezdi Roadking
Two-stroke enthusiast and racer Baba Blaze was more vocal about his disapproval of the ‘ban'. He stated,
"This is a targeted attack on enthusiasts. Percentage of two strokes on the road is minuscule because maintenance, fuel average, and spare parts are not available to practically ply these vehicles on a daily basis, so the reason for a ban can't be justified. If two strokes are banned, what happens to the livelihood of mechanics who have specialized on the bikes for years? Also what happens to owners who have spent lakhs restoring and maintaining these vehicles? More than vehicles, these are an emotional entity for us. Most two-stroke vehicles owned by us have been passed on from our parents or grandparents."
Pictured: Gokul Yumm with his 1986 Vijay Super
Gokul Yumm, the founder of the Bangalore Classic Scooter Club, which has over 80 members with two-stroke scooters stated,
"The RTO banning two strokes is a move that doesn't make sense and wouldn't work in the first place. They should instead concentrate on making tests for Fitness Certificates more stringent."
Pictured: Vishal Agarwal's 1984 Yamaha RD350
"Banning of two strokes is not recommended. The RTO should go after vehicles if the fitness certificates have not been kept up to date. The RTO, if required, can ban these bikes which do not have updated fitness certificates or are not road legal."
Pictured: Maqsood Baig's 1986 Yamaha RD350
Maqsood Baig, another two-stroke enthusiast and collector also talked to DriveSpark. These are his thoughts on the ‘ban',
"If the ban does go into effect, it would be a real tragedy for the two-stroke community in Bangalore. To be honest it is definitely like an arrow piercing my heart. These are not everyday rides and are only ridden occasionally. We treat these bikes and scooters like they are a part of our family."
While not defending the RTO's proposed ban, it is quite easy to see why such a thing may inevitably become a reality. As a nation, we are currently on a quest to bring down our pollution levels and are on the fast-track(by Indian standards) towards electrification.
Two-stroke vehicles are a lot more polluting than current and upcoming four-stroke bikes and cars which will have to meet even more stringent rules from 2020 when Bharat Stage-VI emission norms go into effect.
With the government going green, it would not come as a surprise if the Sword of Damocles finally drops on two-strokes. Sometime in the future, we could end up losing those iconic sights and sounds we associate with two-strokes.
Till then, get your helmets and riding gear on and head to the roads, let's enjoy our two-strokes when we still can. Braaap On!