Nowadays, India is one of the largest markets for two-wheelers in the world, but this was not always the case. A couple of decades ago, the number of different two-wheelers being sold in India were very limited. This led to a lot of bikes and scooters from the 80s and 90s achieving a cult status among the bike enthusiasts in the country and some of these vehicles are revered even till today.
Here’s a list of 5 vintage bikes (which were once sold in India) that the bike enthusiasts of the country would love to see in the market again.
1) Rajdoot (Yamaha RD 350)
Perhaps the most iconic bike to ever be sold in India, apart from Royal Enfield of course, the Yamaha RD350 or Rajdoot as it was popularly known, was an immensely powerful 2-stroke bike that was launched in India in 1983. At the time it was the fastest bike to ever be sold in the country. Due to its high price, low fuel economy and unavailability of expensive spare parts, the bike was not a success in the market and it was discontinued in 1989. However, it amassed a massive fan base and became a collectible for enthusiasts; Even today, there are numerous RD 350 biker groups who get together with their precious Rajdoots and reminisce about the good old days.
2) Yezdi Roadking
The 60s and 70s were a time when Royal Enfields had not yet gained the massive popularity that they enjoy now. In this bygone era, it was the Jawa (later renamed Yezdi) bikes that were the craze. Of all the bikes they ever made, it was the Yezdi Roadking that was the most popular. Featuring a 2-stroke 250cc engine with twin exhausts, the Roadking started selling in 1978 and was well received, winning multiple races in India. The production of the Roadking stopped in 1996 when the entire Jawa/Yezdi factory was shut-down due to the growing competition from Japanese bike makers. But, the Yezdi Roadking remains an invaluable collectors item for bike enthusiasts till this date.
3) Yamaha RX 100
Of all the other vintage bikes on this list, the Yamaha RX 100 is the one bike that can be seen on Indian roads in the greatest numbers. A successor to the RD 350, this slightly smaller and less powerful bike ticked all the boxes which the Rajdoot did not. It was more affordable, had a better fuel economy and had better availability of spare parts. The engine capacity of 100cc belied the raw power that it could deliver and a little tuning was enough to make the RX 100 absolutely fly across the roads. It was launched in India in 1985 and was pulled from the market in 1996 due to stricter emission norms. The RX 100 remains to this day one of the best 100cc bikes to ever be sold in India and is one that every biker wants to ride at least once.
4) Bajaj Chetak
The Bajaj Chetak (named after the legendary horse of Indian warrior Rana Pratap Singh) was the most affordable means of transportation for millions of Indian families for decades and was lovingly called Hamara Baja. The Chetak’s production was started in 1972 and the initial design was based on the Vespa Sprint. The 2-stroke scooter was then updated to a new design around the 1980s and it kept growing in popularity. In the face of rising competition from bikes and cars, Chetak lost ground in India, and production was discontinued in 2006. We would love to ride one of these today just for the feeling of nostalgia that it carries with it.
5) LML Vespa
After Piaggio’s tie-up with Bajaj ended in 1971, the Italian company entered into a collaboration with LML (Lohia Machinery Limited) in 1983 to manufacture and sell their iconic Vespa scooter in India. The scooter was a success and provided stiff competition to the Bajaj Chetak. 1999 saw the partnership between LML and Piaggio come to an end, but LML continued to make and sell scooters such as the NV and Select 2. One of the iconic scooters during India’s times as a growing two-wheeler market, the LML Vespa certainly makes us reminisce the good old days of 2-stroke scooters which have invariably come to an end.
Which one of these vintage bikes in India do you want to see on the roads again? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is brought to you by Wheelstreet – India’s first bike rental platform.