The bike scene in India is now one of the largest in the world but it wasn’t always so. Bikes were originally just the cheapest and most convenient mode of transportation. A couple of decades ago, there was no real bike culture in India in the sense that no one saw any other use for bikes other than to get from point A to point B. But all that has changed nowadays with a growing number of rider clubs, biking events and rallies taking place throughout the country. This change in the way bikes are seen by Indians can be attributed to a handful of bikes that showed us that they are much more than just an engine fitted to two wheels. These are the 5 most iconic bikes that changed the way we Indians saw two-wheelers:
1) Yamaha Rajdoot
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) Royal Enfield Bullet
Once a company on the brink of bankruptcy, Royal Enfield is now one of the most recognisable brands in ever corner of India. This all started with its flagship Bullet. The Bullet was originally commissioned for use by the Indian army and soon it was also the bike of choice for policemen as well as government officials. After that the masses got a hold of it and they never let go. The Bullet, which happens to be the longest production run bike model since its inception, now has a massive cult following in India and is almost reverential to a lot of bikers across the world.
3) Yezdi Roadking
The Yezdi Roadking, manufactured by Ideal Jawa Ltd., was sold in India from 1978 to 1996. The Roadking was inspired from a CZ 250 – A Czech bike that secured its rider the runner-up spot in the 1974 Motocross World Championship. The Roadking first confused and then enthralled the Indian bikers with its powerful 2-stroke 250cc engine, twin exhausts and a semi-automatic clutch. It won several rallies and road races in India and became a favourite among the bikers who cared about one thing above all – speed.
4) Bajaj Pulsar 220
You might be wondering what a bike made on this side of the millennium is doing on this list, especially a bike made by Bajaj. But you simply cannot ignore the impact that the Pulsar models have made on the Indian market and it all began with the Pulsar 220. Earlier, the Pulsar was just a commuter that looked better than its competitors. With the launch of the 220 though, Bajaj showed that they are capable of much more. They branded it ‘The Fastest Indian’ and that name stuck in people’s minds. It was the success of this bike that paved the way for Bajaj to enter the higher segments with their newer NS and RS models.
5) Suzuki Hayabusa
The Hayabusa: the one superbike that has withstood the sands of time and continuous assaults by its competitors to still remain as one the most iconic superbikes since its inception in 1999. For Indians, it was the first proper modern superbike that made it to our country. It was later popularised by the movie ‘Dhoom’ and frankly, it completely stole the show. Show a kid a picture of a Ducati or Aprilia and he won’t be able to tell you anything about it, but a Hayabusa, there aren’t too many people who won’t rattle off a couple of sentences about it at least.
Was there any other bike that excited you more when you were a kid? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is brought to you by Wheelstreet – India’s first bike rental platform.