The legendary Yamaha RX100 and its successors

The Yamaha RX100 is a legend. This bike single handed-ly changed the way India commuted, and set a benchmark for two stroke bikes, for a couple of decades to come. Today, let’s take a look at how the RX100 has evolved over the years, and how some of its fans are keeping the nostalgia alive, and kicking.

How did the RX happen?

Yamaha RX100

The RX100 was easily the single most influential motorcycle of the 1980s. Even Yamaha couldn’t have anticipated the bike’s massive success. It was actually born a radical. When Yamaha’s RD350 failed spectacularly, the Japanese motorcycle giant went back to the drawing board.

Yamaha RX100 Brochure 2

Yamaha saw TVS-Suzuki succeeding with the AX100, and sought to outdo the former. The RX100 was born. Back then, the 98 cc-11 Bhp-95 Kg bike was much faster than the other two stroke bikes around. It was reliable and affordable, too. Soon, a cult developed around the RX100, which remains strong to this day.

Yamaha RX100

The RX100’s production run spanned between November 1985 and March 1996, and until the RX-G replaced it, the bike was one of India’s best selling two stroke machines, ever. The bike was actively raced, rallied and motocrossed. And a bunch of tuners worked their magic on it to make it go faster, and faster.

After the RX100, what?

Yamaha RX-G

In the mid-1990s, emission norms started getting stricter and four stroke bikes, led by the Hero Honda CD100 and Splendor started dominating sales charts as the demand for better fuel efficiency increased. Two strokes were on the wane. Slow to change, Yamaha gave the RX range a big capacity boost. Say, hello to the RX-G.

Yamaha RX100 Brochure 1

Yamaha replaced the 98.2 cc two stroke engine of the RX100 with a 132 cc unit. Power went up from 11 to 11.8 Bhp, but torque dropped from 10.4 Nm to 10 Nm despite the capacity increase. Yes, strict emission norms took their toll, and the RX-G never really did well.

Time then, for the RX135

Yamaha RX135

By now, two strokes were getting obliterated by four strokes but Yamaha wasn’t giving up yet. The company revamped the RX-G’s ignition system, and launched the RX-135, a bike that had the same 132 cc engine, but added power and torque of about 12 Bhp-12.25 Nm. The RX135 did enjoy some success but could never really become a rage like the RX100.

Yamaha RX100 Brochure 3

From commuter to sporty

Yamaha-RX-Z

To tackle the four stroke onslaught, Yamaha came up with another variation of the RX series, the RX-Z. One of the most radical looking two stroke bikes ever built in India, the RX-Z was a sensation that every college going kid in the 1990s drooled over.

And the emissions get even more tighter

Yamaha RX135 5-Speed

At the turn of the millennium, emission norms got even tighter, and Yamaha responded by adding a catalytic converter and a five speed gearbox to the RX135 and RX-Z models. They featured a nice power boost – 14 Bhp from 12 Bhp, while torque got a minor boost 12.5 Nm from 12.25 Nm.

Yamaha RX-Z 5 Speed

Both bikes were eagerly lapped up by two stroke fans but most of the market preferred the more fuel efficient four stroke commuters. The RX135 and RX-Z stuck on until 2001. After this, Yamaha continued to sell the RX-135 4 speed, equipped with a catalytic converter, until 2003, before it was culled.

Now what?

Yamaha RX100

The RX range of motorcycles aren’t dead. In fact, scores of RX100s and RX135s can still be seen on Indian roads but their numbers are rapidly declining. While a bunch of enthusiasts continue to lovingly look after these two stroke legends, the Indian market is now completely dominated by four strokes.

Studio Motor's Yamaha RX135 Cafe Racer 4

Yes, you can’t buy a single new two stroke bike in India today. And that’s almost the case globally. Two strokes are dead, except in ships and trains. Coming back to RXs, a lot of modified examples are surfacing. Here are a few such examples.

Yamaha RX100 Scrambler Custom 1 IRONic Engineering's Yamaha RX100 Cafe Racer 2 Bombay Custom Works' Yamaha RX135 based cafe racer custom 1

The rise of the RX clubs

RX-Z meet

 

As two strokes went out of production, nostalgia around them soared, and cults got resurrected. The RX series, easily among the most popular two strokers India has seen, now has a fair share of clubs in almost every corner of the country. These clubs regularly organize meets, rides and even help members procure hard-to-source spares.

Here are a few links to some of the popular RX clubs of the country,

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6

How much does a used RX cost?

Yamaha RX-100

This varies. Bikes can be picked up from the scrapyard for as little as Rs. 5,000. A well restored example of the RX100 will cost about Rs. 40,000 upwards. RX135-5 speeds and RX-Z 5 Speeds are quite expensive in South India while little demand exists in North India, where they can be found for much cheaper. All in all, the cost of the bikes vary wildly with region and condition.

Images courtesy 2,5,7, 3, 6, 16, 17