The motorcycle market today is a mixture of bikes of all kinds – right from the humble (and ubiquitous) small capacity commuters to ones that can put a lot of cars to shame, both in terms of performance and price tag. Following our story about the globally popular bikes from the 1970s, here we take a look at the popular choices of the Indian two-wheeler segment from the same period.
But unlike today, the collection isn’t vast. Consisting mostly of imported/licensed bikes, the range was thankfully full of relatively large capacity versions, which in turn, led to the growth of the motorcycling culture in the country. And while the good old 2-strokes are almost extinct, the said period had quite a few of those. Sadly, we can’t feature the RD350 because it came in the decade that followed, but anyway, there are quite a few interesting bikes. Have a look!
[Image courtesy Carwale]
During the 1970s, the Madras-based bikemaker was slowly starting to sell its bikes with made in India engines. Post the G2 (codename) engine supply stopped from England, Royal Enfield starting making the engines in India.
The fanbase, the number of customers, and even the product portfolio has increased by a huge margin. And so has its market share.
Far from the cast iron engines of the past, the new Royal Enfields are more modern (in terms of technology) but still a favourite among the biking circles. Recent happenings have been very interesting: the launch of the lighter (and sportier) Continental GT café racer, development of new engines, and a new adventure tourer on the anvil(likely to be called Royal Enfield Himalayan)…
Rajdoot 175 and Rajdoot GTS
[Image courtesy Susel.Svasti]
Launched in 1960s, Rajdoot soon found love from everyone who liked rugged motorcycles, and the popularity didn’t subside until recently. What worked well for the bike, apart from the above mentioned tough nature, was an adequately powerful engine (175cc), simple looks, and easy serviceability. Escorts, responsible for introducing Rajdoots to India by collaborating with the Polish automotive company Cekop, also brought Yamaha to the country but eventually parted ways in the year 2001.
[Image courtesy BSMotoring]
In fact, the Yamaha RD350 was sold in India as a Rajdoot, with a massive ‘Rajdoot’ logo on the tank. That happened in the 1980s, but before that, a Rajdoot had already made it big thanks an appearance in the film ‘Bobby’. The bike featured was a Rajdoot GTS, which was colloquially called Bobby, had a very small frame and wheels, both just big enough to give MiniMotos a competition. The pocket rocket of a bike had the same 175cc two-stroke engine of the full size Rajdoots, and reached a cult status.
The standard Rajdoot 175 continued, following updates, until the model was discontinued due to strict emissions. The early versions came out with a round headlamp, while the later model got a rectangular headlamp. The first ever Rajdoot, according to the company archives, was manufactured in the year 1961, which happens to be same year when Yezdi was born in India, more on which is mentioned below.
[Image courtesy Gladiator.Wordpress]
It was the Mysore-based Ideal Jawa company that got the license to manufacture and sell Jawa bikes in India. Introduced in early 1960s, and branded Yezdi mostly, although certain models with Jawa monikers were also sold, the vehicles offered great versatility – they could scale mountains, go on long trips, and even handle everyday chores easily.
[Image courtesy Twisted-Bikez.Blogspot]
The Yezdi Classic, CL II, and the Roadking (at a later stage) held the manufacturer’s flag high. The two stroke engine was powerful, and the twin exhaust bike soon became everyone’s favourite. In terms of performance, the bikes came rated with a top speed of 110 Kmph (120 Kmph in case of the Roadking), which explains its relevance even today.