Hero Honda CBZ (1999-2005)
The CBZ arrived at a time when India was making a big transition from the world of two strokes to the world of four strokes. Until the arrival of the CBZ, a truly sporty four stroke bike was missing in India. This bike filled the void beautifully and is in fact one of the best designs to come out from Hero Honda. The CBZ used a 156 cc four stroke motor and made about 12.6 Bhp, making it the most powerful four stroke bike on sale this side of the Enfields. The CBZ’s fat rear tyre, and the upswept exhaust swept most young buyers off their feet.
Bajaj Boxer (1997-2004)
The Indian two wheeler market transitioned from scooters to four stroke motorcycles, and Bajaj Auto was left wondering in the woods. The bike maker from Akurdi fought back, and spectacularly, with the Boxer. Launched in 1997, the Boxer was a reworked Kawasaki KB-4S, built with a bullet proof four stroke motor that promised over 99 Kmpl. Mileage was a big selling point of the Boxer, which also drove home a traditional Bajaj strength – value pricing. Together, this combination in the Boxer brought Bajaj out of the woods, and gave India a low cost, super efficient commuter machine,
Honda Activa (2001-present)
The two stroke engined Kinetic Honda automatic scooters were noisy, aged badly and spewed quite a bit. The Activa from Honda, came as a fresh breath of air. The Activa was so refined that a running engine at idle could barely be registered even by those sitting on the scooter. This won India over, and the Activa proved to be very, very reliable and comfortable in the long run. In fact, the Activa kick started the automatic scooter market in India, and single handed-ly brought back the scooter into the reckoning. The segment has only grown since then.
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 (2000-present)
Royal Enfield was staring at bankruptcy as it was stuck with low quality, fuel guzzling bikes that no one wanted. The bike maker roped in AVL to rescue it and the AVL 350 engine was born. This motor’s swansong came when Royal Enfield put it in a Thunderbird, a bike that became an instant hit. With 18 Bhp-32 Nm, and decent reliability, this engine showed that Royal Enfield was on the path to making desirable, reasonably reliable motorcycles. Apart from saving Royal Enfield, the Thunderbird also opened up India’s leisure riding market.
Kawasaki Eliminator (2001-present)
Bajaj missed becoming the first cruiser maker in India as Royal Enfield launched the Thunderbird 350 a year earlier. However, the Eliminator, with a lot of Japanese content, was a better cruiser than the former. It also came with a kicked out riding position, a first for the Indian market. The Eliminator had a potent 175 cc engine that put out 15.2 Bhp, enough to kick the Royal Enfield’s butt. A fat 15 inch rear tyre and a low slung stance gave the Eliminator a proper Boulevard cruiser appeal. The bike continues to be sold, albeit as the Bajaj Avenger.