Here are five motorcycles that, according to us, changed the game with their arrival in the Indian motorcycle world.
Yamaha Rajdoot RD 350
This was India’s wake up call to the world of extreme motorcycling. This was THE motorcycle that made Indian riders feel what it was like to be insanely fast. With a 350cc two-stroke engine developed by Yamaha, this bike was made in India by Escorts group under the brand name Rajdoot. Some of the features included things like “Yamaha's patented Torque Induction System using reed valves, 6-speed transmission, autolube system, mechanical tachometer, 12 V electrics and 0-60 km/h in less than 4 seconds,” which made this bike way ahead of its time. Rumours are/were that many state police teams were given this bike to use on a daily basis, but soon were discontinued. Reason being, many policemen suffered injuries as they were not accustomed to the power this bike delivered, and the braking was not good enough to match up the acceleration of this parallel-twin, two-stroke monster. Some people also called it the “Rapid Death 350”. The dual exhaust and the unique sound made it look and sound like no other bike ever. And even after being discontinued in 1989, the bike still remains an icon across the globe.
Yamaha RX 100
The chain snatchers’ bike – the Yamaha RX 100 was developed mainly to be a volume seller. A very distinctive sound, an instant and responsive 98cc two-stroke engine provided an acceleration which was very manageable and usable unlike the RD350. The bike was manufactured from 1985 to 1996, as Yamaha was forced to stop its production in 1996 due to stricter emission norms. Some of the ‘tuned’ RX 100s have finished a quarter mile drag race in almost 14 seconds. To put things in perspective, a BMW S100RR, which produces almost 200bhp, has finished it in 10.2 seconds.
Hero Honda CBZ
Launched in 1999 for the first time with a made-in-Japan Honda 157cc engine, this was one of the first few motorcycles in the Indian market with a disc brake at the front. The good looks of the motorcycle meant that it remained unchanged for more than five years. This was also the only bike at that time which gave a competition to the likes of the Bajaj Pulsar. Things went haywire once the production was stopped in 2005 and the CBZ was replaced by CBZ Xtreme which failed to encash the iconic image the CBZ has earned for itself.
Bajaj Pulsar 180
Taking cues from the success of the Hero Honda CBZ, Bajaj realised the potential of the performance-oriented motorcycles and launched the Pulsar twins in 2001. While the Pulsar 150 went on to become a cult figure in the Indian market, the Pulsar 180 was the most menacing bike of that time. The 180cc engine produced 15bhp of maximum power, but the acceleration and the speed made it extremely fast for that time, and helped it earn an iconic status.
Hero Honda Splendor
This is the motorcycle that changed the way Indian commuted. The first generation of the Hero Honda Splendor was launched in the year 1994 and went on to become a legend. Clubbed with reasonably good looks and an unmatched fuel efficiency, the Splendor was an instant hit in the commuter segment. As of 2009, the Hero Honda Splendor was selling at a rate of one million motorcycles per annum. Such was/is the success of the Splendor that even after 20 years of its inception, Hero is in no mood to let go of its most prized possession, and is now available in five different trims.