The ring-ding-ding of the exhaust, sweet smell of motor oil burning and an intoxicating power band that makes most four strokes feel tame is what the two stroke enthusiast lives for. Emissions and the need for high fuel efficiency has killed two stroke motorcycles and scooters in India. Things weren’t like this always. There was a time when Bajaj Auto, riding high on the Chetak 150, ruled the hustings, and even Yamaha, with is performance focused two stroke commuter motorcycles, managed to show Hero Motocorp (then Hero Honda) a clean pair of heels. We had the Rajdoots and Yezdis of this world adding to the variety while Kinetic launched India’s first automatic scooter, and a two stroke at that. So, let’s blast of into the past, into the world of the two stroke legends of India.
[Image courtesy Team-BHP]
The Yamaha RX100 is perhaps the single most influential motorcycle of the 1980s. The RX100, sold between 1985 and 1996, symbolized performance for the masses and popularized affordable two strokes like never before. 11 Bhp from a 100cc two stroke motorcycle that weighed 100 Kgs was all India needed to go fast.
The Yamaha RD350 came along even before the RX100, arriving into India as the Rajdoot 350 in 1983. The 350cc, twin cylinder two stroke motor on the bike made 28 Bhp in Low Torque trim and 31 Bhp in high torque trim. This made the RD350 the most lusted after performance bike in the country. Of course, the RD350 couldn’t match the 100cc bikes in fuel efficiency, and this meant poor sales and that the bike had to go out of production in 1989.
[Image courtesy TheAutomotiveIndia]
The RX100 was replaced by the RXG, which further made way for the RX135, a motorcycle that featured 4 and 5 speed gearboxes, and a 14 Bhp output. In the 1990s, a 14 Bhp in a 100 Kg motorcycle was something and the stock exhaust being ditched brought out two more horses. 16 Bhp in a 100 kilogram motorcycle was something. The RX135’s swansong came with the RX-Z though. Sharply styled, the RX-Z became a collectible instantly.
[Image courtesy TheAutomotiveIndia]
Kinetic Engineering Limited tied up with Honda to give India her first two stroke automatic scooter. The Kinetic Honda made commuting effortless and the scooter was peppy and stylish enough. The Kinetic Honda scooter was often the first set of motorized two wheels that many youngsters first rode.
Kawasaki, through Bajaj Auto, was the first manufacturers to introduce an affordable dual purpose motorcycle in the form of the Enduro SX. The motorcycle was built around the KB100’s 10.5 Bhp engine. India wasn’t ready for a dual purpose motorcycle yet and the Enduro SX promptly bombed.
The Bajaj Chetak two stroke scooter, to put it simply, moved India. A rage across middle class gentry, the Chetak was a utility machine out and out. It could move the house if required and the side engined scooter was extremely torquey and reliable. The Chetak’s 145cc two stroke motor put out 10.8 Nm, and operated through 4 gears. It was the Chetak that gave Bajaj Auto its dominant position in the 1970s, 80s and up to the mid 90s.
The Suzuki Shogun was one of the most powerful sub-250cc bikes of its time. The two stroker managed 14 Bhp from a 108cc engine. The motorcycle was an instant hit among those who craved speed. Developed from TVS Motors’ racing effort with the Supra, the Shogun had mad acceleration that helped beat the Yamaha RX-G and the RX135 in outright performance.
TVS Motors did a strange thing with the Shaolin. The South Indian two wheeler giant bumped up displacement to nearly 140cc, added a five speed gearbox, but went easy on the Bhp numbers (11.8 Bhp). The idea with the Shaolin, was to give India a two stroke motorcycle that could cruise highways for hours, and with excellent reliability. It was no surprise then, when the Shaolin beat the Shogun in many rallies across the country.
Yezdi Roadking 250
The Yezdi Roadking 250 was slipped into India as one of the most modern two stroke motorcycles from Ideal Jawa, a Mysore based motorcycle maker who made the Czech designed motorcycles. The Roadking 250 was also one of the most powerful two stroke bikes in the country, after Yamaha stopped producing the RD350. The Roadking 350 put out 16 Bhp and had a genuine top speed of 120 Kph, which was quite something in the early 90s.
The Yezdi 350 was a poor cousin of the Yamaha RD350, and a motorcycle that offers toned down power and torque when compared to the Yamaha. However, the more primitive Yezdi 350 was cheaper, and this was the premise that Ideal Jawa hoped would work. The 2 stroke, parallel engined Yezdi 350 never took off. Yet, as an iconic motorcycle from the 1980s, the Yezdi 350 does have its set of fans.