Buying and owning my first bike; a 20-year-old Suzuki Max 100

I couldn't even dare to look at the Yamaha RXs since those motorcycles were trading hands for at least triple my budget.

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I moved to Bangalore earlier this year for college and decided to get myself my own motorcycle. I didn't have the need for one though, I live within a walking distance of 5 minutes from my college, and almost everything I need is a minute away from my place. However, I missed riding a motorbike, and although the occasional scooters and motorbikes I rented gave me a fun experience, I really wanted to have my own one in this new city. I took one look at my savings account and dived into OLX.

I wanted something within my very modest budget of Rs. 20,000. Beggars can't be choosers, however, I did have a set of requirements that the bike had to fulfill:

  • It had to be a manual motorcycle, an automatic scooter just wouldn't cut it for me. Back home in Calcutta, I'd just replaced my 2015 Honda Shine with a 2020 TVS Ntorq Race Edition for my dad, and irrespective of how smart, peppy, feature-loaded, and cool the scooter was, it was no match to the Shine when it came to riding feel, at least to my eyes.
  • It had to be something that was retro and iconic.
  • I really wanted a 2-stroke, but I didn't eliminate 4-strokes that fulfilled the other criteria.

I eventually narrowed it down to the first generation Hero Honda CBZ, the Hero Honda Karizma/R, the Bajaj Pulsar Classic 150/180 and the Suzuki Samurai. Bangalore being Bangalore, I couldn't even dare to look at the Yamaha RXs since they were trading hands at at least triple my budget, if not more.

Days went by, and my search yielded no fruit. All the bikes I came across were either over-priced, or in an extremely shabby condition, or had incomplete paperwork. They were not even worth visiting and checking out.

One fine day, I came across an ad for a 2001 Suzuki Max 100. The pictures looked okay and the ad mentioned the paperwork to be in order. I gave a call to the seller (it was a dealer), and went to see the bike that evening.

My first impressions were:

  • The bike had FC valid till March 2022, which was honestly all that I wanted. Insurance and PUC were pending though
  • It was a single-owner bike
  • It had the original Mikuni carburettor.
  • There were dents on the fuel tank, a dent on the exhaust shield, and a rather large cut in the seat cover. No visible rust.
  • The indicators were from some modern bike.
  • It ran in a straight line, stopped in a straight line.
  • The bike would shut off at idle, which again didn't seem to be a big deal.

I negotiated a little on the price, signed the documents, and rode her home. I was happy and extremely nervous at the same time. Every time I slowed down, I had to keep on revving the bike in order to keep the engine running. I hoped to myself that I hadn't made a big mistake.

Being new to the city, I had no information on skilled two-stroke mechanics here. The few that I came across on Team-BHP were all located far from my place. I took the bike to a garage in my neighbourhood and asked the mechanic to set the idle. While he did that, I also decided to give the bike a complete strip down service, since I didn't have any info on when and how it was last serviced. Seeing the bike getting stripped eliminated the main fear from my mind: the chassis was completely rust-free.

The final bill I received from the mechanic had the following in it:

  • Engine Oil- Rs. 350
  • Front and Rear brake shoes- Rs. 175+170
  • Sprocket Rubber- Rs. 180
  • Wheel Bearing*2- Rs. 330
  • Sprocket Bearing- Rs. 220
  • Air Filter- Rs. 80
  • Manifold Rubber- 150
  • Gearbox Sprocket- Rs. 180
  • Front Brake Shoe- Rs. 175
  • Gearbox Sprocket Lock- Rs. 20
  • Tank Rubber- Rs. 45
  • Clutch Cable- Rs. 95
  • Samurai Muffler- Rs. 250
  • Spark Plug- Rs. 100
  • Glasswool- Rs. 150
  • Labour+Washing= Rs. 650+100

Total: Rs. 3,245

I went home and got a new insurance policy from Acko for Rs. 932. When I received the bike the next day, it felt way smoother, stopped better, and looked like a million bucks. Time for some pictures:

The first time I saw the bike

The dent on the exhaust and the fuel tank

Me taking a test ride

Dropping it off at the mechanic's place

Completely stripped down

The original Mikuni carburettor

The next set of pictures were taken after I got her back from the service and took her for a spin around my area:

Getting a PUC test done later that night

My first visit to the petrol pump to get a PUC wasn't as good as I'd hoped it to be. It was at night so I'd ridden with the headlamp on. I then filled petrol worth Rs. 360, 2T oil worth Rs. 40 and then proceeded to the PUC stall. There, the bike just wouldn't fire up even after using the choke. I tried everything, I switched the fuel tap to reserve, took a 5 min break, and nothing would work. Then I noticed the headlight switch was in the on position. Turned it off, gave it one kick, and the bike fired up immediately. In the process, I'd managed to blow out the headlight. Got the PUC done, and came back home.

Next day I bought a headlight bulb and took it to my mechanic to have the bulb replaced. The old bulb wasn't blown, which is odd, but the headlight worked with the new bulb. Weird. We realized it was a wiring issue and left it to be sorted out at a later date. The headlight blew up again later that night, and I decided to fix it in the next month when I'd have money again.

I rode the bike like that for a month, and finally got the electricals sorted yesterday. The bike originally came without a battery, so I decided to add a battery to the system in the hope that it'd be more reliable going forward. It costed me an arm and a leg, but I guess that's fine.

This time, the bill consisted of the following parts:

  • Samurai Wiring Kit- Rs. 420
  • Samurai LH Switchgear- Rs. 490
  • Samurai RH Switchgear- Rs. 200
  • Samurai RR Unit- Rs. 240
  • Amaron Pro Rider 2.5Ah Battery- Rs. 850
  • Battery clamp and belt- Rs. 100
  • Samurai yoke and levers- Rs. 220
  • Samurai Lock Set- Rs. 780
  • Samurai Choke Cable- Rs. 50
  • RX100 lever adjusters- Rs. 40
  • Samurai Accelerator Cable- Rs. 140
  • Front Brake Cable- Rs. 135
  • Flasher- Rs. 110
  • Fiem Mirrors for RX100- Rs. 240 for a pair
  • Swiss Round Indicators- Rs. 380 for a set of 4
  • Labour- Rs. 750

Total: Rs. 5,240

All lights and electricals work now, and the throttle feels way more eager, thanks to the new throttle cable.

What I like:

  • Looks. I've always been a sucker for retro-looking bikes, and this one fits the bill perfectly
  • Power. It isn't half as powerful as the other bikes out on the road today and isn't even as powerful as my erstwhile Shine, but believe me when I say this, it is an absolute hoot to ride
  • Seat space. The flat seat ensures the availability of an enormous amount of space. Reminds me of my dad's old HH CD Sleek, which could carry 4 of us comfortably.

What I don't like:

  • Absence of a fuel gauge. I'm new to the world of old bikes without fuel gauges, so I'm still trying to adapt myself.
  • Stability. The bike is stable as long as I don't have anyone heavy sitting at the rear. In those events, the nose tends to lift up every time I'm on the throttle.
  • The dearth of skilled mechanics near me. Rectifying this would probably involve me getting to know more people who are into two-strokes and taking their suggestions, but no luck so far.

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