For us motorcyclists, motorcycles aren’t just a piece of machinery. They are so much more than that. They are the embodiment of freedom for us, an escape if you will. They take us to uncharted territories and can double up as a worthy companion on our grocery runs as well. Be it the adrenaline rush that you feel after slaying a corner or the sense of freedom that enslaves our mind after witnessing breathtaking scenery, motorcycles are a part of it all.
Over the years, the Indian motorcycling scenario has evolved and how! On this World Motorcycle Day, we take a look at the motorcycles that shaped the Indian motorcycling scene for good.
The sweet rumble of two-strokers still reverberate in our heads and our eyes still wander the streets to catch a glimpse of white smoke coming out of the exhaust. Motorcycles like the Yamaha RX-100, Suzuki-TVS Shogun and the likes paved way for the dawn of a new era.
They were fast, light, nimble and at times, dangerous as well. Basically, they were the epitome of every good thing related to motorcycles. But the arrival of new stringent emission norms resulted in the sad demise of two-strokers. They might be gone but they are surely not forgotten.
Bajaj Pulsar series
Shortly after the departure of two-strokers, the then Hero-Honda introduced the CBZ. To counter the supremacy of the CBZ, Bajaj spawned the Pulsar series. And the Pulsars have created a riot ever since. The ‘Definitely Male’ motorcycles soon became the go-to choice for the youngsters looking for something more powerful than an average commuter.
Bajaj took advantage of its popularity and kept pushing forward to make the Pulsar garner a cult-status in India. We all know how nuts our junta went when the ‘World’s fastest India’ Pulsar 220F came out. The Pulsar moniker might have lost its charm over the years but we believe that Bajaj is just one motorcycle away from restoring its reputation. Give us the Pulsar RS 400 already!
TVS Apache Series
When it comes to the rivalry between two Indian motorcycles, it doesn’t get better than Pulsar Vs Apache. The Pulsars were ruling the streets and Bajaj couldn’t have been happier about it but then TVS decided that it shouldn’t hold back. That gave birth to the Apache series of motorcycles.
When it comes to overall evolution, it should be safe to say that the Apache has evolved better than the Pulsar. For instance, take a good look at the flagship Apache – the RR 310. It is lauded around the globe for its drop-dead gorgeous looks and the tech it comes loaded with.
Back in the day, Hero was the real deal. After showcasing its prowess with the introduction of the CBZ, the company didn’t take long to come up with the Karizma. Well-thought-out AD campaigns coupled with a lovely 223cc engine made sure that it became an absolute favourite machine for those wanting to upgrade from a smaller motorcycle.
The Karizma moniker still holds cult status in India, despite getting a little maligned after the follow-up motorcycles that were introduced carrying the same brand name. We still believe that if Hero MotoCorp decides to reboot the Karizma in an exactly legendary manner that it deserves, it could still become popular.
Yamaha R15 V1
It was 2008 when Yamaha decided to bring the R15 V1 in our country. It was the first ‘real sports bike’ to land on our shores in the affordable end of the spectrum. The motorcycle featured liquid cooling, fuel injection, and an aerodynamic full-faired body to make people fall head over heels in love with it.
To top it all off, it was built around a Deltabox frame, making it the most potent beginner tool for someone who wanted to take up track riding. Almost 13 years later, the R15 still commands the same respect as before.
Honda CBR 250R
The spawning of the performance motorcycle segment in India should be attributed to the Honda CBR 250R. Sure, Kawasaki Ninja 250R arrived here first but its twin-cylinder configuration made sure that it remained a lifestyle product. The Honda CBR 250R revolutionized the Indian motorcycling scenario as a whole.
A Japanese sports-tourer with VFR-inspired looks, a butter-smooth engine and an able chassis guaranteed that it became an absolute hit amongst Indian motorcycles. We loved the idea of having a 250cc sports-tourer that can munch miles with ease without burning a hole in your pocket. It paved way for other manufacturers to try their luck in this segment and the rest is history.
KTM Duke 390
Soon after Honda CBR 250R gained traction, the Austrian giant marked its foray into our country with the Duke 200. While we were still recovering from the madness the Duke 200 introduced in the segment, the company unleashed the Duke 390.
It looked rather radical for its time but the main talking point became its explosive performance. The 373cc single-cylinder mill still remains the most powerful of the lot and this is the prime reason why many people considered it as the perfect stepping stone before going all ballistic astride a full-blown litre-class superbike.
Hero Impulse/Royal Enfield Himalayan
ADV-tourers might be all the rage nowadays but it wasn’t the same back in the day. Take the Hero Impulse for instance, which tanked rather badly when it comes to sales charts. Years down the line, it is safe to say that our market wasn’t ready for it at that time.
Royal Enfield took notes and introduced the Himalayan. It did everything the Impulse could do but faster as it packed a more powerful engine.
The Himalayan might have been riddled with build-quality issues in its nascent stage but it has managed to part ways with its issues over the years. The Impulse too has made a return. Well, sort of, in the form of Xpulse 200.
Royal Enfield 650 twins
Royal Enfield made its intent pretty clear with the Himalayan that it means business but it was the launch of the 650 twins that put the bikemaker on the global map. The Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 remain absolute favourites among custom bike-builders because of their retro looks and minimalistic bodywork.
Several accolades have been sung, praising their gem of an engine and having ridden them ourselves, we can assure that their 650cc engine is an absolute hoot. Royal Enfield is gearing up to utilize the same underpinnings to spawn other motorcycles as well and we cannot wait to experience what they have in store for us.