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Old 14th April 2010, 21:38   #16
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CLASSIC ERA-THE PENULTIMATE

Fill it, shut it and forget it.

Not just a marketing slogan, but a marketing legend in the making.
All thanks to the legendary 100 cc mill from Honda, one of the most efficient engines on earth coming from the world's biggest manufacturers of Internal combustion engines.
As the country's first 4 stroke engine was mated to the new heros, 1985 marked a landmark year in the Indian 2 wheeler industry with Hero Honda officially coming into existence as a Joint venture between the Munjals led Hero Group and Honda Japan to bring together the best no hassle commuter bike for the masses, with unmatched performance, fuel economy and above all, emissions, way below the limits imposed by Government of India that time. The company first launched the CD 100, followed by the CD100 DX and CD 100 SS in the late 80s.

1985 also marked the year when a new writer is born.


These bikes were certified hits in the making. It gave the aam janta lots to cheer about and especially the working class which liked the bikes' user friendly nature and ease of maintenance, it heralded a new era in Indian motorcycling. Another big legend was being created, more about that later.
The company opened its first plant IIRC at Daruhera, in the outskirts of Manesar, Haryana.

The company also bought world class infrastructure, manufacturing processes and Japanese work culture to the Indian industry which resulted in increased productivity, minimization of waste, pollution and above all, employee satisfaction.

Now, if bikes enjoyed all the success, how can new age scooters be left behind?
Kinetic engineering had announced a tie up again with Honda of japan and this gave birth to a never before seen scooter in the Indian market-the variomatic Kinetic Honda DX.

Unlike other scooters which had 4 gears, the KH had a CVT transmission which eliminated the use of clutch and it required just the dab of the throttle to accelerate the scooter. Futuristic styling and super ease of use made it a blockbuster amongst the working class women, especially in central and south India and college students too had developed a craze for this 2 stroke 100cc scooter. Soon, it was a common sight amongst a sea of chetaks and supers.

LML, too finally launched its new age 150 NV 2 stroke scooter which was quite different from what bajaj had offered in the early 1990s.

A new segment was also emerging in those golden days-that of mopeds, small motorized 2 wheelers powered by small capacity engines which was a cross between a cycle and a motorized 2 wheeler.
MOPED
got its name from MOtorized PEDal powered vehicle, in which the engine had to be started using pedals like you ride a bicycle!!

IIRC, there were 2 companies that offered mopeds-the Avanti and Luna, which later came to be known as Kinetic Luna.

Luna in fact was a generic name for mopeds as Amul to butters.
The south central parts of the country were the biggest markets for these mopeds as again the demographic market was primarily working class women and college students.

Now, the competition is beginning to become intense as the heat is on in the beginning of the 90s.
As the classic era comes to a close, its time for a new dawn of the golden era, which marked some of the best times for the industry.
Kyonki blockbusters are made, some came and went, some stood, and some stand tall eternally in a splendid way.

To write the correct script, you need the correct mindset and golden opportunities which can knock only once in a lifetime.

Now, what were these golden scripts which were made by the golden brains that scored the golden goals for the industry?

Find out next, when I start penning down the next chapter, the chapter on the golden era..


Last edited by sidindica : 14th April 2010 at 21:43.
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Old 15th April 2010, 09:06   #17
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Here comes Sid again, with another fab job. Rated thread 4 star, waiting for photos to make it 5...

Thanks Sid once again.
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Old 26th April 2010, 20:50   #18
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THE GOLDEN ERA

The yippie crowd, deprived of a two wheeler of thwir choice, finally rejoiced when Japanese giant Yamaha relaunched itself as a maker of lightweight performance bikes by launching its RX 100 in mid 80s timeframe. Powered by 2 stroke 100 cc high rev engine, mated to immensely lightweight chassis gave it an unimaginable power to weight ratio which resulted in maniac like pickup and performance.
Just what the young teens wanted to show of their girlfriends, it captured the imagination of the Indian youth unlike any other brand that time, it virtually created a segment of its own and immediately Yamaha got a first mover advantage and people were waitng in hordes to get hands on what was billed as India's first performance bike on a budget. Sleek looks only added to its appeal. Hero Honda, ruffled by the bike's sleek response immediately faced a threat for its CD 100 bikes, though the target market for that was entirely different-a middle class working man who looks for a no hassle bike to own with best in class mileage.

Nevertheless, not to be left behind, Hero Honda launched an all new bike which had sporty looks and a sporty riding position, targeted as a premium offering n the youth bike segment. Powered by the same 4 stroke 100 cc engine, the bike was aptly named-SLEEK. While initial sales were encouraging, the dust settled down and HH could not replicate the success of the CD 100 series, so sales were best described as mediocre. Yamaha RX 100 continued to sell in good numbers, and there was its cross town rival-kawasaki, which upgraded its KB 100 to KB 125 RTZ to one up the RX 100 in that segment. More was merrier and the customer was spoilt a bit for choice that time.

Another crosstown rival, Suzuki entered the Indian market in the mid 80s with a couple of 100 cc two stroke bikes in partnership with Chennai based T.V. Sundaram Iyengar and sons, popularly known as TVS. The alliance was called as TVS-Suzuki and the bikes were launched as TVS Suzuki Max 100 and another bike was simply known as IND Suzuki, mainly targeted at semi urban commuter segment.

If the bikes were facing action, how can the that time dominant scooter market be left behind?

Bajaj launched upgraded versions of its super and chetak scooters with 12V electric DC dynamo technology, the priya was phased out and these scooters were made more modern with the adition of turn indicators and jazzy metallic paint shades.

But the biggest surprise by bajaj came when it launched a street legal version of enduro bikes called the bajaj SX Enduro, which could be freely purchased at any bajaj showrooms across the country. While technical specifications are unknown to me, the bike was again a segment buster in our country. While enduro bikes are known as dust busters, this segment buster already had bitten the dust more than it could have sucked in. People could not get this concept of riding this type of bikes with high mounted shockers and stiff suspensions with bone jarring ride quality, retail sales were disastrous, though the racing clan bought it in decent numbers, that time the dirt bike race was also quite popular in India. But everything has its time and just as popularity vaned, so did the production of this bike. RIP.

Lohia Manufacturing Limited, or LML, launched 2 scooters, called the sensation which had India's first scooter with a scootcase (LML's term for office briefcase) to increase utility quotient and it was infact marketed heavily as its USP, and the Indian working class immediately gave it a certified hit status.
While other scooters looked plane jane, LML fired another salvo by launching a lightweight 150 cc scooter, called the supremo, tagged as the king of the road. Heavily marketed, the sales were good but modest at best due to its problems with quality of body panels showng premature wear and tear after heavy abuse. Simply, LML's reputation which was that of a high quality premium scooter maker, established by 150 N, was getting a bit tarnished.
Not giving up, LML finally launched a new scooter that it should have launched in first place-it was the high quality version based on 150 NV called the select. More stylish and durable, and later even available with first for an Indian 2 wheeler aditional headlight called nightvision (not kidding, the term used was this), it finally gave bajaj some sleepless nights. How did bajaj respond? Find out later.

Meanwhile, kinetic fired its first salvo at the step through segment by advertising its product-the K4-100 as India's first bike that gives over 104 kmpl under standard test conditions. While its fate is unknown, it did create jitters in ad world. Similarly, in moped segment, TVS launched its upgraded and more powerful version of Champ, and Avanti launched its cobra 3G, (also claimed to go over 110 kmpl)moped to give competition to the long time perennial bestseller-the Luna.

Now, in the coming years, a splendid blockbuster is being created behind the curtain, while in another curtain raiser 2 crosstown rivals will fight it out in the mass performance bike market when one gives double whammy to another.

However, the Indian 2 wheeler market is about to witness its biggest ever sales disaster.
Its often said that an aircraft with propeller of a lightweight helicopter with a propeller can only be propelled if its kept within that weight limit. if it is overweight, it can crash even before takeoff.


Similar tragedy happened that time. What was that beginning of the end?

Find out next, as the golden era promises to strike even more golden hits..


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Old 29th April 2010, 13:51   #19
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THE GOLDEN ERA

August, 1945.
An atom bomb, codenamed the little boy, was dropped from a B 29 bomber by Col. Paul W. Tibbets, who was also the lead man in this mission. The era started with a bang, but ended in a whimper, a whimper of cries of more than half a million inhabitants of Hiroshima city which ceased to exist on that gruesome afternoon. More than 60,000 people ceased to exist in a matter of hours, just by that immense force of a single atomic bomb.

Similarly, there were two brands, but each has a different story to tell.
  • One started of with a bang, and still continues to bang the competition even today.
  • The other, again started of with a big bang, but ended up with a disaster in a short term.
1994 marked a very important milestone in the Indian Motorcycle industry when Hero Honda launched its first maiden 4 stroke blockbuster-the splendor. It gave the aam Indian working class public everything it wanted-competitive price, best in class ergonomic riding position and lightweight design, clean looks, segment best fuel economy from that legendary 100 cc Honda mill and to top it all,lower emissions, HH reliability and service available at length and breadth across the country.

This bike became a legend and it single handidly changed Hero Honda's fortunes forever. It went on to became the best selling motorcycle on earth for 4-5 continuous years and also made HH the world's biggest two wheeler company for 9 years in a row, reinforced by the fact that more than 1 crore splendors today roam the country's roads and despite the immense competition it faces today, it still remains one of HH's major cash cows. Even in seconds market, it enjoys a high resale value.

While the splendor became an overnight established blockbuster, behind the curtains, another company was setting up its shop in India, little knowing that its maiden offering will be nothing less than a market disaster.

Yes, it was BMW Moterrad which entered the Indian market in the mid 90s with its maiden offering the F 650 which had something that the Indian market had neither seen, nor experianced before. It was the country's first premium sportsbike to be priced in six figure rupees, an astronomical sum of 4,50,000-5,30,000, depending upon the region. Powered by a single cylinder 652cc engine with a crushing 48 bhp of power output, it was clearly a rich boy's toy. Despite being heavily advertised on TV and print, especially the auto mags, it was a sales disaster from day one. the Indian public didn't take the idea of a motorcycle-priced-equivalent-to-a-3 box-sedan formula and fewer than 25-30 were sold in the first year.

Dismal sales made BMW drop the prices to all-India level of 4,11,000 and even this led to dire consequences for the product and the brand as a whole.

In the final stages of the product's existence, the price was kept a more realistic 2,75,000 and the leftover pieces were sold, this marked the end of an era and BMW packed its bags and left the Indian market for good.
How many bikes were sold, how many still ply on the Indian roads is still unknown to me but it was clearly a case of misunderstanding the Indian market, which had not even reached the maturity phase in mid to late 90s.

Cross town rivalry between Yamaha and Suzuki intensified when Yamaha RX 100 was beginning to register a decline in sales and its parent, the escorts group was planning to phase out its rajdoot range of bikes.
The RX's novelty value depleted with the advent of newer bikes from suzuki, first in line was the shogun, a 2 stroke 150 cc IIRC power bike which was heavily advertised as "the boss" in both TV and print and the stunts shown captured the imagination of the Indian youth unlike other brand. The bike was well received and sent TVS's cash registers ringing. Sales in central and southern India smashed all records and this also marked the era where youth started to modify these bikes to get more power, torque and initial bursts of neck sapping acceleration.

The second shot was fired by Suzuki in the form of the country's first mass produced 5 speed transmission bike, called the shaolin, badged as "high sprint gear". The 5th gear was useful in terms of better top end highway performance and increased mileage and at the same time, lowering the emissions, which were the single biggest handicap of 2 stroke bikes. The shaolin did succeed initially, but later its novelty value too faded. Why? Find out later.

Now what did Yamaha do to counter this double threat? It simply upgraded its RX 100 to be more environment friendly and renamed it the RX-G. But sadly, even this step did nothing to save Yamaha's declining fortunes and this was the phase when Yamaha saw its brand image as a maker of performance bikes taken a beating that lasted many years.
It even launched a rebodied version called the RX-Z with race inspired fenders, a fairing and some designer bits and pieces etc.
Again, sales were modest at best.

However, Yamaha decided not to give up. Just as the late 90s saw India change 3 prime ministers in a short span of time, Yamaha made its third attempt to revive the brand and launched an serious upgraded version of RX 100 with a simple formula-bigger is better. It rebored the 100 cc engine to 135 cc and increased power and torque, and this in turn gave birth to a new bike-the RX 135.

Was it a success that Yamaha wanted? Yes and No. Yes, because the Indian public actually liked the concept of more power etc, but only did the hardcore loyalists took to it. Mediocre at best.
No, because, the end 90s marked the beginning of the end of the 2 stroke era. Stricter emission regulations and the Indian public's shift to lighter, more fuel efficient two wheelers spelled the doom of performance based bikes.

Now, coming to the scooter segment, it was a 2 man show between LML and Bajaj in the geared scooter market with Bajaj drastically upgrading its chetak and super scooters, by launching Super excel, and in addition to that, they also launched 2 additional scooters-the cool looking Bravo with reed valve technology and classic SL, a tarted up chetak both with anti dive front shock absorber technology.

LML gradually phased out its sensation and supremo scooters and launched an unconventional 2 stroker-the prithvi which could be distinguished with a stepney mounted integral taillight. It was mainly targeted at rural markets where it sold well. The other 2 scooters-the NV was upgraded with improved mechanicals and so did the select, which was now called as the select 2.

Kinetic's sales were dropping and a big business plan was being developed for kinetic which included many twists and turns. More about it in my coming posts.

While scooter segment was beginning to get dull, it was the scooterte segment that was witnessing all the action. TVS, LML and Hero launched their products in this segment dominated by Bajaj Sunny, which was witnessing declining sales.

TVS actually kickstarted this segment with the launch of the scooty, a tiny gearless, 60 cc 2 wheeler that was an immediate hit with college girls and working women due to its ease of use and peppy pickup and trendy styling. This product proved to be a blockbuster for TVS and continues to do so today, by dominating this segment.

Bajaj did upgrade its sunny to sunny spice with a completely new body and trendy decals and colours but was not sufficient to revive the sunny brand. Eventually, it was phased out.

Ditto for LML, which launched the trendy with a jeep like side mounted stepney, priced at rock bottom 17,000 rupees. Sales were dismal.

Hero
launched a vehicle called the winner in this segment but that too was a sales dud despite catchy TV commercials being aired proclaiming "chodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani"..

The moped segment was not to be left behind with it too witnessing its fair share of action, especially in south-central markets of India. Luna was toppled by multiple mopeds from Hero (puch stable) and TVS (champ and its stablemates). These mopeds provided more power and torque for sam amount and lack of upgrades in the pipeline forced Kinetic to shut doen its Luna business in coming years, so was avanti which was a forgotten history that time.

But things will begin to look rosy in the next chapter of golden era as a new legend is about to be created in India's 52nd year of independence.

New segments will be created and the golden minds there will do everything they can to win the consumers in cut throat Indian 2 wheeler market.


All this and more, coming up next, as the golden era of 4 strokes has just began....
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Old 29th April 2010, 15:03   #20
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first in line was the shogun, a 2 stroke 150 cc IIRC power bike which was heavily advertised as "the boss" in both TV and print and the stunts shown captured the imagination of the Indian youth unlike other brand.
But, Sid, Shogun was a 110CC machine

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But sadly, even this step did nothing to save Yamaha's declining fortunes
Due to faulty ignition timing
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Old 29th April 2010, 15:10   #21
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But, Sid, Shogun was a 110CC machine
Shogun & later Shaolin both had 135cc 2-stoke engine. My tutor (who also happened to be my neighbour) had a Shogun in black (the saffron & pink sticker one). I loved the exhaust note, & the crazy speeds that he could manage with the machine.

Sorry Shogun had 110 cc engine only... but it was the best.

Last edited by CARDEEP : 29th April 2010 at 15:16.
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Old 29th April 2010, 15:48   #22
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Suzuki Shogun: 108.2 cc, 14 Bhp, 4 speed, Brutal acceleration but buzzy top end: Great for city slicking.

Suzuki Shaolin: 138.2 cc, 11.8 Bhp, 5 speed, Equally quick off the line but creamy at the top. Good for highways too.

Cheers,

Jay
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Old 2nd May 2010, 18:11   #23
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GOLDEN ERA-THE PENULTIMATE

The late 90s years spelt the beginning of doom of 2 stroke bikes due to ever tightening emission regulations, which will come in effect from the new millennium. Just as Euro 2 norms in 4 wheelers marked the end of carburetors in major cities and switch to fuel injection technologies, the 2 wheeler world was adapting the stricter Euro 1/ India 2000 emission regulations which preferred clean burning 4 stroke motors to noisy and polluting 2 strokes. all companies rushed to get their 4 strokers in the market as soon as possible.

Bajaj replaced its KB 125 with Kawasaki 4S champion, with K-tec 4 stroke engine to counter HH commuter twins. It sold decently but still couldn't match the success of the blockbuster splendor that time. At the mean time, Hero Honda launched a modern version of splendor for passion-ate customers and aptly named the passion. the mechanicals were the same, just the body and name was different. It sold like hot cakes amongst style conscious commuter biker clan.

But bajaj wasn't willing to give up. It launched another bike-the aspire directly targeting the passion with a 110 cc engine. But again, poor seat comfort and improper marketing killed it prematurely.
Bajaj's third attempt, the caliber with a 112 cc engine was just the blockbuster that bajaj was waiting for and finally, success knocked its doors. Aggressive marketing, stylish looks and improved heavy duty refined kawasaki mill contributed to its success.

While not much action was seen by TVS-Suzuki in motorcycle segment, the company too was getting ready to relaunch itself but that would take a much longer time than expected. Same for kinetic, which did launch the Y2Kinetic series scooters with improved refinement and lower emissions standards.

Bajaj added its first scooter to its stable, christened the legend and it began a new era for powerful, efficient, considerably less noisy smooth running scooters with environment friendly emissions standards. the scooter was a sales success.

Contrary to the legend's success, TVS's first foray into the scooter market, the 4 stroke spectra was a major sales disaster for the company in the long run. To counter the legend, TVS launched the scooter under its own brandname, marketed it properly, especially in scooter crazy west and south central parts of the country. Sales were good at best, but word got around that the scooter had an appetite for petrol, read poor mileage, was too overweight and its body was not exactly abuse friendly.
But the biggest handicap that this scooter faced was poor availability of spare parts and poor A.S.S. by dealers, which led to its doom.

Bajaj in the mean time finally launched the 4 stroke version of its long running chetak nameplate and phased out the super, classic SL and bravo scooters citing consumer shift patterns and declining demand. the sunny too was eventually phased out after being hit black and blue by TVS scooty, which monopolized the scooterite segment.

LML which was planning a major JV to enter the 4 stroke motorcycle segment in the coming years, too upgraded its NV SPL and select II scooters to meet the ever tightning emissions standards. All other of its models were discontinued.

However, the year 1999 witnessed a creation of an entirely new segment-that of a premium performance motorcycle. And pioneering the new segment was none other than Hero Honda, fresh from the success of splendor and passion, launched its mush awaited 4 stroke 150 cc bike and christened the CBZ. It also launched a new ad campaign-"desh ki dhadkan" around mid august 1999 on the occasion of India's 52nd year of independence. It too was priced at a premium touching about Rs. 60,000 IIRC approx. It had a combination of deadly proportionate design, sleek looks powerful 150 cc 4 stoke Honda motor and a claimed 0-60 timing of 6 seconds. Hero Honda did not expect to really garner huge volumes and decided to keep production of this bike in limited numbers, giving it the status if a flagship. the bike sold well, but bulk of its sales were confined to major metropolitan cities only. Silky smooth motor were praised but the bike did not exactly win brownie points for its mileage. Yet, CBZ went on to become a cult bike with a decent number of fan clubs to its credit.

Royal enfield also actually launched the country's first diesel bike, named the taurus and sold in limited quantities in select parts of the country in the mid 90s. Its fate and number sold are still unknown though.

But people who often thought ki main kya karoon ram mujhe budhdha mil gaya finally got their answer when enfield asked them," kab tak jawani chupaogi rani?"..

the company launched its Bullet 500, Much more modernized version of its bullet with metallic paint shades and all the traditional features of a modern bike called the electra and an improved and refined version with a 5 speed gearbox called the machismo in the coming years.

Now as India enters the new millennium, this will commence the start of a modern era...
Competition will become more and more intense than ever before and the industry's thrust to create more blockbusters are more thrust worthy than ever before...

Management shakeups, creation of new Joint ventures and spray and pray to catch the prey will be the toast of the modern era.

However, behind the pop up toaster, a new product will herald a dramatic comeback for a struggling automaker and will shake up the segment like never before...


Kyonki, itihaas gawah hai ki jiski haar kar jeet hoti hai, use hum sikander kehtain hain.
Aur apne desh mein ek aisa hi sikander dhoom machane ki kagaar par hai.


Kya aap jaan na chahtein hai ki kaun hai woh mukkadar ka sikander?

Find out next, as the story takes a paradigm shift from here and promises to be more chilling, thrilling, and above all, pulsating....
Kyonki, jo jeeta, wohi sikander..
..

Last edited by sidindica : 2nd May 2010 at 18:14.
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Old 2nd May 2010, 19:46   #24
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Hey Sidindica,

There was actually an Enfield 200 or something like that available in the late 1970s. My friend used to own one and it was an object of fancy for lot of kids those days. I saw very few of them on the road though. You should add that to the list to make it complete.

I was lucky to own a thumper and two RDs in my younger days. I own this now to keep me happy these days.
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Old 2nd May 2010, 21:28   #25
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GOLDEN ERA-THE PENULTIMATE



But bajaj wasn't willing to give up. It launched another bike-the aspire directly targeting the passion with a 110 cc engine. But again, poor seat comfort and improper marketing killed it prematurely.
Bajaj's third attempt, the caliber with a 112 cc engine was just the blockbuster that bajaj was waiting for and finally, success knocked its doors. Aggressive marketing, stylish looks and improved heavy duty refined kawasaki mill contributed to its success.

The Caliber came before the Aspire. The Kawasaki Bajaj Caliber's engine was an unrefined mill. Bajaj got the refinement stakes right only with the Kawasaki Bajaj Caliber 115.

Bajaj added its first scooter to its stable, christened the legend and it began a new era for powerful, efficient, considerably less noisy smooth running scooters with environment friendly emissions standards. the scooter was a sales success.

Contrary to the legend's success, TVS's first foray into the scooter market, the 4 stroke spectra was a major sales disaster for the company in the long run. To counter the legend, TVS launched the scooter under its own brandname, marketed it properly, especially in scooter crazy west and south central parts of the country. Sales were good at best, but word got around that the scooter had an appetite for petrol, read poor mileage, was too overweight and its body was not exactly abuse friendly.
But the biggest handicap that this scooter faced was poor availability of spare parts and poor A.S.S. by dealers, which led to its doom.

The Bajaj Legend also bombed. It was never a sales success.
...
That's about it.

Cheers,

Jay
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Old 2nd May 2010, 22:37   #26
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Amazing write up
Please include Enfield Mofa , Fury in your article.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 09:40   #27
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Quote:
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Hey Sidindica,

There was actually an Enfield 200 or something like that available in the late 1970s. My friend used to own one and it was an object of fancy for lot of kids those days. I saw very few of them on the road though. You should add that to the list to make it complete.

I was lucky to own a thumper and two RDs in my younger days. I own this now to keep me happy these days.
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That's about it.

Cheers,

Jay
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Amazing write up
Please include Enfield Mofa , Fury in your article.
Thanks for the correction and updates. Given my seriously limited knowledge about 2 wheelers, I too look forward for many contributions and updates, and if I go inaccurate somewhere, you all are free to pinpoint it and correct it.

cheers
sid
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Old 3rd May 2010, 09:54   #28
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Well in the mid 80's to early 90's I remember several two wheelers that are being missed out here
1. Hero Majestic, Hero Panther
2. Silver plus
3. Explorer (this ad was rocking to show a lady in pillion writing a letter to show the smoothness of the vehicle)
4. RE Zundapp/Fury 175
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Old 3rd May 2010, 10:49   #29
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Explorer was a sleek looking bike from enfield, right? and did it have spokes or alloys?
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Old 3rd May 2010, 10:52   #30
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Explorer was a sleek looking bike from enfield, right? and did it have spokes or alloys?
IIRC alloy wheels. They were very peculiar (cannot recall how) but I liked them.
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