Indian automotive market’s love affair with the high mileage vehicles is well known. However, there have been times when manufacturers launched a few products to satisfy the enthusiastic souls of the country. We bring you ten legendary bikes that taught Indians to go fast!
The RD350 is still found in many collector’s garages. Escorts and Yamaha together tied hands to launch India’s one of the first performance-oriented bike. The legendary bike was launched in 1983 with advanced engineering. RD stands for Race Developed/Derived series and the motorcycle was nothing less than a wet dream for enthusiasts.
It was the first parallel twin cylinder bike that was built in India. It was powered by a 346cc two-stroke, advanced engine port, parallel twin engine that generated 28 Bhp (low torque variant) and 32 Bhp (high torque variant). The bike came with a 6-speed manual transmission and was the fastest bike in the country. Yamaha did cost-cut for the Indian market like the omission of disc brakes but it did not stop enthusiasts from getting their hands on the bike.
Yamaha launched the RX100 to tap into the budget conscious enthusiasts. The 96 kg bike was powered by a 98.2cc two-stroke engine that churned out a maximum of 11 Bhp. The quick acceleration of the bike made it pop wheelies even in the second gear. It was one of the few bikes that could 100 km/h in those days. The bike also featured a CDI ignition system, which was much more reliable.
In the early 1990s, the bikes were becoming quicker, especially after Yamaha turned up the heat. TVS launched the Supra to take on on the RX100 but then with its tie-up with Suzuki, it launched the powerful Shogun. The lightweight bike was powered by a two-stroke engine that displaced 108cc.
TVS did not worry about the mileage with this bike. It offered advanced port geometry that helped the engine to churn out 14 Bhp of power but mileage took a hit. The engine returned only about 25 km/l but enthusiasts loved the power-to-weight ratio of Shogun’s 100 kg package. The Shogun also had a distinct exhaust note that enthusiasts still become nostalgic about.
Yamaha launched the RX-Z in India after the success of the RX100 in India. The bike was launched in the 1990w and it was based on the Yamaha RX-135. It was powered by 132cc, air-cooled, 2-stroke engine same as the RX-135 and RXG but it produced more power. The high revving engine produced around 14 Bhp at 7,500 rpm and 12 Nm at 6,500 rpm. It could go up to 120 km/h.
The bike offered low resonating exhaust mufflers, disc brake at front and telescopic suspension at the front and dual shocks at the rear. The bike was considered as a scaled down RD350. The five-speed transmission allowed it to cruise at high speeds while returning a decent fuel economy.
Hero Honda CBZ
Hero Honda CBZ came at a time when the two-stroke engines were slowly making their way out from the automotive world. CBZ is said to be the segment starter of affordable, four-stroke performance bike in India. The bike came with a stylish design that attracted the youth.
It was powered by a 156cc, four-stroke engine that produced 12.6 Bhp, making it the most powerful four-stroke bike excluding the Enfields. The design elements like a wide tyre and upswept exhaust turned many heads on the road.
Bajaj Pulsar 180
In 2001, Bajaj launched the Pulsar 150 and the 180 in the market with a slew of “Definitely Male” advertisements. The 180cc variant was quite popular in the market because of its performance and the way it looked. The 178cc engine of the bike produced a maximum of 14.8 Bhp and 13.2 Nm, which made it one of the most powerful four-stroke bikes in the country.
Hero Honda Karizma
Bajaj was gathering the performance-frenzy crowd after the launch of Pulsar twins in 2001. In 2003, Hero launched the semi-faired Karizma that became an enthusiast’s delight. Hero Honda’s newest launch attracted many youths to the showrooms across the country and the ZMA, as it is called by many became a popular topic.
The 223cc four-stroke engine of the Karizma was developed from a Honda motocross engine. The super smooth and extremely reliable engine produced 17 Bhp and with a 5-speed gearbox, the bike could do triple digit speeds casually. It became India’s first sports tourer and is still used by many enthusiasts for long distance rides.
Yamaha has delivered from time to time for the Indian market when it comes to performance. In 2008, the Japanese brand launched the R15, which truly showed what four-stroke engines are capable of. Yamaha’s popular two-stroke products were out of the market and the R15 made sure that Yamaha’s name shines again in the market.
The advanced engine of the R15 was loaded with features like 4 valves, liquid-cooling and DiaSil bore. The small 150cc engine produced a maximum of 16.8 Bhp and 15 Nm. It came with a 6-speed transmission and proved to be a perfect track tool for the beginners with its deltabox chassis.
KTM 390 Duke
After the discontinuation of Yamaha RD350, the Indian bike enthusiasts never got a chance to relive the thrilling surge of power from a bike. In 2013, KTM changed that with the launch of 390 Duke. The single-cylinder, liquid-cooled 373cc engine of the bike produced a healthy 43 Bhp. The weight of 140 kg made the bike a first choice for the riders who were looking for power. The 390 Duke also came with an affordable price tag and became an instant hit in the market.
The Roadking came as a powerful, 2 stroke alternative to the Royal Enfield Bullet in the 1990s. The bike offered a good performance and had a good handling too. The Roadking was powered by a 250cc two-stroke engine that generated a maximum of 16 Bhp – 24 Nm. The power enough was enough to make the 140 kg bike go quick off the mark. It was one of the first performance two-stroke bikes in India as Jawa also offered the 350cc twin-cylinder at the same time, but that bike never became famous due to the high cost.