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Old 28th March 2010, 22:23   #1
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Default Revisiting the glorious chapters of India on 2 wheels


I am planning to go on a trip. In a thumper.
To discover nayi bharat ki nayi tasveer.

Before that I fill it. Shut it. and Forget it.
I start my Shaan ki sawari. And become a rajdoot.
I shout Chal meri luna.
Because I am the boss.
Because I am a wing rider.
So I enjoy the quality.
But wait..
Where's my girlfriend avanti?
She power starts her Kinetic Honda.
And says-yeh dekho, why should boys have all the fun?
I kickstart a vespa, and say "lets make love", riding an LML.
She accepts and says-yeh dekho! Hamara Bajaj!
And my heart beats.
My racing instinct ignites the touring spirit within and I shout,
"Dhak Dhak Go".
I go ahead, way ahead and distinctly ahead.
Because I am definitely male.
I recall my granddad's Jawa and his friend's yezdi in the 1970s.

Truly, its the case of love aaj kal.
I remember those glorious days, because those were the days...

Get back to work and don't drive me crazy.

Hoodibaba! I just had a bath and just put on my clothes and I go "wind biking".
My whole body and clothes are now dry, but wait, my b*tt is still wet.
Heck, I decide to ignore it and live extreme and ride alongside the cliffsde.
Because I live off the edge.

Yes, my racing DNA has been unleashed until I burn the flame.

Holy cow!
My trip has just ended and I am still dreaming.
I breathe a sigh of relief when I read that the twin sparked saas bahu war is over.

But wait, are these just slogans? mere slogans?
No, These are not just slogans that reverberate around us.
They represent India on 2 wheels.

Currently the second largest two wheeler market on earth and on its verge of becoming a numero uno.
Its tough.
And becomes tougher.
Than the toughest.
So, its just the survival of the fittest.

and its cut throat. Because to survive, you need strategies.
And those strategies can be only delivered by
golden brains.
To score
the golden goals.
And target the tug of wars.

Waah..ajeeb daastaan hai yah,
kahaan shuru kahan khatam,
yeh manzilein hai kaunsi,
na tum samaj sake na hum.

But building turfs is not easy. It involves months and years and decades of hard work.
And passion.
And ambition.
And above all, dedication to build and sustain the empire.

But behind all this, they leave those glorious chapters, those chapters that were forgotten, but never foreseeable.
The Indian 2 wheeler industry has experienced many successes, failures, ups and downs, some came, some went, some sank without a trace even worse than titanic, and some still go on, and on, and on in a splendid way.

My silver jubilee celebrations are not over yet. Its just the beginning.

So are you ready?
Come along, wear your helmets, and ride with me as I take you through all the glorious chapters that India has experienced in the past few decades and continues to do so today.
How times have changed, and what better time to pen down this mega article Live here in front of you all members, here at team brake horse power.

I don't know when this journey will end.
It can take hours, days, weeks and maybe even months.
But at the whole, it promises to be equally enjoyable.
And of course, be prepared for a roller coaster ride with some surprises.
And goosebumps.

And of course, that sidindica's touch of Hinglish quirkyness will also be there.

This writeup will be divided into 3 parts:
  • classic era
  • golden era
  • modern era
While I will try my best to cover each and every possible launch here, I request members to contribute with experiences along with photographs sourced from wherever possible.

So come along with me for a ride of your life time.

(But before that, sidindica's safety message number 1:
  • Never zig zag ride your two wheeler.)

Last edited by sidindica : 28th March 2010 at 22:28.
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Old 28th March 2010, 22:33   #2
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Riding gear : Checked.
Pop Corn : Checked.
Pepsi : Checked.

Let's vroom Sid. !! Now post quickly.
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Old 29th March 2010, 15:10   #3
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waw. sid as usual very nice write up!

Currently the second largest two wheeler market on earth and on its verge of becoming a numero uno.
who is first in 2 wheelr market? is it China?
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Old 29th March 2010, 16:01   #4
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Amazing start for another Nostalgic Thread...
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Old 29th March 2010, 16:05   #5
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The Boss is back on the work.This time on two wheels. WOW. Mazaa aayega.
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Old 29th March 2010, 17:19   #6
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While India as a market only just started to grow in the new millennium onwards, the Indian 2 wheeler industry shares a rich heritage for the past many decades with many companies that came and sold 2 wheelers, especially bikes in the classic era.

When Britishers ruled India, they could often be seen riding bikes from various makes like:
  • BSA
  • Norton
  • Harley Davidson
  • Triumph
  • Enfield Cycles Co etc.
and some more were present. Many bikes were powered by water cooled 2 stroke power trains mid mounted onto the chassis.
Many of these prized possessions are still in the hands of many vintage collectors today and can often be seen roaming around the country, especially during classic events and rallies etc. Many fan clubs for the same are also set up and are often active.

Royal Thumpers

As time progressed and India gained independence, many of these companies either shut shop or stopped selling bikes or went back to their home turf. But one company had decided to transfer its technology to its Indian arm and assemble motorcycles here, initially by CKD and then integrate fully manufacturing processes into one unit.

In 1949, Royal Enfield Motors was established and it set up an assembly plant in Chennai. Catering to the demand of Indian army and police initially, it used to assemble its iconic motorcycle-the BULLET 350 4 speed with kits imported from UK's Enfield cycles, which itself was almost dissolved despite being sold to Norton a while back.

In 1955 Enfield of India started assembling Bullet motorcycles under licence from UK components, and by 1962 were manufacturing complete bikes. Enfield of India bought the rights to use the Royal Enfield name in 1995.
So in the subsequent years, Enfield cycles UK fully transfered its technology and gave licence to manyfacture motorcycles under the Royal Enfield brand name with Bullet moniker, the latter derived because of its now famous thumping engine sound that resembles a bullet being fired from a shotgun.
The legacy of weapons manufacture is reflected in the logo, a cannon, and their motto "Made like a gun, goes like a bullet."

The Bullet nameplate and its line of motorcycles remains the oldest nameplate still in production on earth, even after 60 plus years with constant refinements and upgrades. More on that later.

The motorcycle enjoyed good demand both from Indian public and army and police personal alike, who liked its robust, sturdy construction and torquey motor which had mile munching capabilities. Heavy body and comfortable saddle also made the Bullet a favourite amongst the long distance touring community, even though the bike lacked refinement and often had problems with oil consumption, cold starting, early wear and tear etc.

1974 was a landmark year for my dad, who purchased his first bike, a Royal Enfield 350 from meerut for about 7,000 rupees. A die hard Bullet fan, his was the first enfield 350 in our entire family and was admired by his friends and family alike. Two years later, in 1976, there were not one, but 2 owners, one added from November 11 1976 onwards. yes, you guessed it right, it is my mom.

Enfield Indians (The Indian Chief)

From 1955 to 1959, Royal Enfields were painted red, and marketed in the USA as Indian Motorcycles by the Brockhouse Corporation, who had acquired the rights to the Indian name, and had stopped manufacturing in the Springfield factory in 1953.
But Americans were not impressed by the badge engineering and the marketing agreement ended in 1960, and from 1961, Royal Enfields were available in the US under their own name. The largest Enfield "Indian" was a 700 cc twin named the Chief.


Forever Bike Forever Value.

remember this slogan?
Yes, it dawned a new era and enfield finally got its first competitor in 1960 when a Mysore based motorcycle company, Ideal Jawa India Limited began to sell Jawa and CZ motorcycles, later rebranded as Yezdi.

The roots of JAWA go way back to 1927 when Frantisek Janecek began manufacturing Wanderer motorcycles under licence in 1927 in order to diversify the interests of his arms factory.

Having bought the tooling for a 500 cc model, in 1929 he rebranded the machine with the name JAWA, derived from the first two letters of the words "Janacek" and "Wanderer".

Yezdi was a cult bike not for only its cool retro looks, but it was also relatively lightweight and had a distinctive sound, different from that of the bullet. The college students of the mid 1960s to early 1980s had craze for this bike and simply loved it.

The Ideal Jawa company manufactured many Yezdi based models listed like:
  • Jawa 250 Type 353 Kyvacka called 'A' Type (Under Licence)
  • Jawa 50 Jet 'A' Series known as Pionyr in Czechoslavakia (Under Licence)
  • Yezdi 60 Jet 'B' Series
  • Yezdi 250 'B' Type
  • Yezdi 250 Oilking 'C' Type
  • Yezdi 250 road king 'C' Type
  • Yezdi D250 Classic
  • Yezdi 250 CL II
  • Yezdi B250 Deluxe
  • Yezdi 250 Deluxe 'C' Type
  • Yezdi 250 road king (CDI) 'C' Type
  • Yezdi 60 Colt
  • Yezdi 60 Colt Deluxe
  • Yezdi 175 (CB Points)
  • Yezdi 175 Deluxe (CDI)
  • Jawa / Yezdi 350 Twin Type 634
  • Yezdi 250 Monarch
The Jawa's and the Yezdi Roadking models were the most popular followed by Yezdi Classic.

Meanwhile, while these 2 companies were fighting a two way battle in our turf, a third one is about to enter with a bang and it too promises to have a cult following.

Yeh Shaan ki Sawaari kiski thi? Find out next..

(Sidindica's Riding safety tip number two:

Always wear helmet, advisable and highly recommended for both rider and pillion, while riding a 2 wheeler.

(some facts courtesy wikipedia and magazine archives)

Last edited by sidindica : 29th March 2010 at 17:20.
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Old 30th March 2010, 14:35   #7
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keep it coming.
keep it coming..
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Old 1st April 2010, 22:15   #8
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Shaandaar Bhi, Jaandaar bhi, dumdaar bhi, Yah thi aap ki apni Rajdoot 175.
Often referred in my books as the favorite motorcycle for doodhwalas, it was lanched somewhere in the late 70s/early 80s by escorts India Limited.

While it did not win any beauty contests, its rugged looks and exceptional durability made a hit amongst the rural folk, and it was heavily promoted by our bollywood machoman often saying-yeh haar humko de thakur, nahi to yeh bike mein tere sar pe chada doonga.

Yes, you guessed it right, it was our very own Mr. Dharmendra, who's rugged looks made a perfect fit for that bike. It had a cult following, especially amongst the milkman due to its load lugging frame and a powerful 175 cc engine. It was made in two shades IIRC-black and royal maroon.

Another bike that became a legend in the 70s/80s era was the iconic Rajdoot Yamaha RD 350 torque induction.

In this case, RD in Yamaha's terms=Race Derived. Manufactured in India between 1983-1990, it was a licensed copy of Yamaha RD 350 B modified to suit Indian conditions.

Even though the production of the aircooled Yamaha RD350 had ended in Japan in the mid 1970s due to stringent emissions norms, it was a technically advanced motorcycle in the Indian market in 1983.
It had 7-port 2 stroke parallel twin engine, Yamaha's patented Torque Induction system using reed valves 6-speed transmission Autolube system, mechanical tachometer,12V electrics and 0-60km/h in less than 4 seconds. In the interest of cost, the front disc brake of the RD350B was substituted with a 7" twin leading shoe drum brake from the Yamaha RD250.

The last bikes were reported to be sold in 1991.

The Yamaha RD350B was substantially modified before it was productionised in India as the Rajdoot 350. The engine was detuned, the carburettors were rejetted for fuel economy rather than performance, the front disc brake was substituted for a cheaper 180 mm TLS drum brake, the instruments were copies of the older yamaha R5, the alternator had less output and the tank graphics were re-badged "Rajdoot" and not "Yamaha".

The only Yamaha branding was on either side of the engine. The early bikes had high Japanese part content, but Escorts India indigenised most of the parts in less than three years.

Rajdoot 350 was made in two models - High Torque (HT) and Low Torque (LT).
  • High Torque (HT)
The HT was made from 1983 to 1985. It made a respectable 30.5bhp@6750 rpm, detuned from 39 bhp (29 kW) by restricting the exhaust ports of the Yamaha RD350B. The carburetors had smaller jets. Most HTs had the left engine cover casting marked "Made in Japan". The mufflers had flatter ends. HT exhausts made the raucous "RD growl" compared to the more toned-down LT beat.
  • Low Torque (LT)
LT was made from 1985 to 1989. It only made 27 bhp (20 kW) since the exhaust ports were restricted even further. Carburetors were jetted small in the interest of fuel economy. All LTs had the left engine cover marked "Made in India". The mufflers had slightly tapered or conical ends. The exhaust note noise was more of a burble at idle, compared to the roar of the HT exhaust. The build quality was poorer than that of the HT models. The only notable upgrades to the LT were Kokusan Denki electronic ignition in 1988 and slightly stiffer front forks in 1989.

Though production has long ceased, the Rajdoot 350 remains an iconic and desirable motorcycle among Indian riding enthusiasts, with well-maintained running models fetching healthy prices. Various owners' clubs exist in a number of the country's cities and large towns.

Another legendary cult bike to ocme out of escorts stable was the dinky rajdoot BOBBY in the mid 1970s. Powered by a 173 cc engine, It was cute looking, about one smaller than typical hulky motorbike and also carried an additional stepney at its side.

I recall ki jab hum tum ek kamre mein band ho, aur chabi kho jaaye, to bobby says- main hoon na! It was used in the movie bobby in the late 70s.

Really, those were glorious days of glamour.

But behind all this, how can the scooters be left behind?
Relieve the glorious moments of scooters in classic era, coming up in my next post.

(Till then, sidindica's safe riding tips number 3:

Please, please Never overspeed to impress your girlfriend. remember, your other half is waiting for you at your home.)

(RD 350 excerpts from wikipeia and magazine archives)
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Old 1st April 2010, 22:21   #9
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Amazing Sid! I know it would take quite sometime to start from the legends to come to the modern era. Well worth the effort from the scoop master now at work on the 2 wheels!!
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Old 3rd April 2010, 11:07   #10
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Chupke se kahin,
Dheeme paon se,
Jaane kis tarah, kis ghadi,
aage badgaye, humse rahoon mein,
par tum to abhi, the yehi....

Automobiles come and automobiles go. But legends remain...

thandi chaoon ko,
kaise keh diya

Lambretta. The name is enough to spark emotion amongst the bigwigs.
Vespa. Italian pride. From Piaggio.
Girnar 150. Forgotten yet unforgettable.
Vijay super. Indian yet international at heart.

Yeh sab to guzre huin zamane ki taseerein hai.

The classic era witnessed these major scooters being sold in India at the time of license raj which meant government regulated and controlled supply and demand chain and price dictatorship.
Meaning-long wait periods and sometimes luck by chance after putting deposit. I am talking about that time when communication was almost non existent.

To get these scooters, we often had to bribe officers or pay a premium even on booking, kyunki it often meant a collective effort narrated as:

Saathi haath badhaana, ek akeyla thak jayega, milkar bhoj uthana!

Nevertheless, these scooters looked majestic, big, powerful (at least on paper for that time) and often we could see munshijis riding them with pride in villages, or often sarkari officers wearing trendy safari suits or bell bottoms going to offices and the way these scooters became our part of culture, be it bollywood representing an aam aadmi or households where hubby-wifey going for a ride with their bal balaain etc, they too played an equally important role in shaping up the Indian two wheeler Industry.


It was a line of scooters originally manufactured in Milan, Italy by Innocenti but also manufactured under licence by API in India.

In 1972, the Indian Government bought the rights to the lambretta name and this led to the creation of scooters India Limited.

India was a country with poor infrastructure, economically not ready for small private cars yet with a demand for private transport.

Automobile Products of India (API) began assembling Innocenti-built Lambretta scooters in India after independence. They eventually acquired a licence to build the Li150 series 2 model, which was sold under the Lamby brand name for legal reasons. API continued to build Lambretta-derived models until the 1980s.

Vijay Super

In 1972, Scooters India Ltd. (SIL) a state-run enterprise based in UP, bought the entire manufacturing rights for the last Innocenti Lambretta model, the GP 150. Production began a couple of years later.

The first model launched was sold as the Vijay Delux/DL, despite SIL owning the rights to the Lambretta name which was only used on exported models. The Vijay was later enhanced and sold as the Vijay Super.

Further improvements were made in the final years of production by incorporating contemporary Japanese technology. SIL also distributed CKDs that were assembled in different parts of India and sold as the Allwyn Pusphak and Karnataka Falcon.

S.I.L. stopped producing scooters in 1998, but still manufacture limited spares for their Vijay/GP range of scooters. Their production now centres on the Vikram 3-wheeler, powered by a Lambretta engine.

Lambretta clubs globally

There are still clubs across Europe and the UK, both national and local clubs, devoted to the Lambretta scooter. The clubs still participate and organize ride outs and rallies which regularly take place during weekends over the summer months and have high attendance, some rallies achieve 2,500 paying rally goers.

Across the UK there are many privately owned scooter shops which deal with everything Lambretta, from sales, services, parts, tuning, performance and complete nut and bolt restorations.

The Lambretta scooter is constantly growing in value; their rarity and increased demand means that a standard LI 150 series 3 (known as the standard scooter) in good condition will fetch over $5,950 whereas the rarer models of Lambretta e.g. the TV200 in mint condition has been sold for sums of up to $23,750.

Lohia Machinery Limited (LML)

The late 1970s saw Piaggio's famed vespa line of scooters entering into India in collaberation with the aforementioned LML brandname, even though earlier scooters just carried the vespa monicker. IIRC, there was only one model with a back mounted stepney on sale that time powered by 150 cc engine. The production line was established in 1978 at Kanpur with technical agreement being completed in 1984 and this actually started a scooter revolution, points which will be covered in later posts.

Now what is this Girnar 150?

This scooter I saw for the first time in early 1990s parked in front of my house and all that I recall was that it was a brand based at Gujarat and design was pretty long powered by 150 cc motor, looked similar to enlarged vespa 150 scooter.

Now as we continue to see
purani bharat ki purani tasveer,

its time to shift gears and look into
buland bharat ki buland tasveer...

yeh tasveer kiski thi?

Find out next...

Last edited by sidindica : 3rd April 2010 at 11:10.
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Old 7th April 2010, 11:36   #11
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Brilliant stuff Sid!

This is an amazing thread packed with a lot of old-school information too

Keep it coming!
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Old 7th April 2010, 12:22   #12
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Awesome writeup Sid. A real treasure of knowledge about the Indian two wheeler industry.
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Old 9th April 2010, 15:23   #13
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Wow!! treasure of information on Indian two wheeler saga! Keep it coming!
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Old 9th April 2010, 19:57   #14
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In my previous posts, we saw puraane Bharat ki buland tasveer, now its time to seehamaara aaj, hamaara kal, aur buland Bharat ki Buland tasveer, haan ji, Hamara Bajaj.

Bajaj Auto is one of the world's biggest two and three wheeler manufacturer (ranks number 4 in volumes), and India's second biggest two wheeler manufacturer in sales and volume.

Started by a Rajasthani merchant, it is based in Pune with plants in:
  • Akurdi
  • Chakan
  • Waluj; and
  • Pantnagar.
Bajaj Auto came into existence on November 29, 1945 as M/s Bachraj Trading Corporation Private Limited.
It started off by selling imported two- and three-wheelers in India.
  • In 1959, it obtained license from the Government of India to manufacture two- and three-wheelers and it went public in 1960.
  • In 1970, it rolled out its 100,000th vehicle.
  • In 1977, it managed to produce and sell 100,000 vehicles in a single financial year.
  • In 1985, it started producing at Waluj in Aurangabad.
  • In 1986, it managed to produce and sell 500,000 vehicles in a single financial year.
  • In 1995, it rolled out its ten millionth vehicle and produced and sold 1 million vehicles in a year.
Bajaj has grown operations in 50 countries by creating a line of value-for-money bikes targeted to the different preferences of entry-level buyers.

Between 1960 and 1970, it actually started selling imported Vespa 150 under the licence of Piaggio of Italy and in 1971 it introduced its first 3 wheeled goods carrier.

1972 marked a milestone in Bajaj's operation when it launched the country's first modern scooter, called the chetak, followed in 1976 by the super.
Late 1970s-early 80s saw the much loved Priya being launched by Bajaj and it became a cult scooter due to its name itself.

1981 saw Bajaj launching the country's first step-through, the M50 which was a cross between a scooter and a moped with a 50 cc engine, obviously the concept being inspired by the immensely popular Honda Cub in the 60s and 70s.
1985 saw the launch of a more powerful M80 which became very popular amongst the semi urban and rural folk.

Bajaj's entry into motorcycle foray
came in 1986 when it tied up with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Japan and launched a rugged 2 stroke bike called the KB 100 RTZ.

But at that same time, not one but two cult legends were incarnated in the Indian two wheeler industry because whenever I wanted to go for a loooong ride, I was told just to fill it, shut it and forget it, and my girlfriend wanted to comfortably ride by just dabbing the throttle without using the gears.

Two Companies, one partner, legends in the making.
Yeh Ek se Bhale do kaun the?
Or kaise yeh 1-2 ka 4 aur 4-2 ka 1 hua?

Find out next...

(excerpts from wikipedia and mag archives)
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Old 9th April 2010, 20:15   #15
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Nice going sidindica. Quite informative.
Waiting eagerly for your next post.
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