The answer, my friend, lies in the wind. I don’t know if I am saying too much at this early stage, but motorcycling in India has come a lot far since the anthropocene of such tiny footprints in this country ever started. It’s a completely different kettle of tea now. Riding in India is a joyous celebration for every rider. It’s a mesmerizing pleasure while you sink into your seat and let the wind wash over you, down a highway, and you know well what freedom means. See your bike, smile like an idiot, put your gears on, and smile like an idiot all the way through. Though money may not buy happiness but I’ve never seen a rider unhappy!
Motorcycles in India date back to early 1949, when Royal Enfield, formerly known as Enfield of India Company, a brand of the British Engineering Firm, set its foot. The 350cc G model was the first of its kind to capture the attention of the Indian mass. In 1955, the Indian Government ordered 800 350cc models for its army and the 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle was assembled in Madras (now Chennai) when the Redditch company joined Madras Motors forming “Enfield India” which was later changed to ‘Royal Enfield’ in 1999. Nevertheless, the then rich dads also owned BSA, Norton, Triumph, Indian, Matchless and more such raging bulls packed with enough muscle.
Later in 1960, Jawa motorcycles were introduced in India by an Indian motorcycle company Ideal Jawa (India) Ltd. based in Mysore. Production of 250cc and 350cc motorcycles was carried out under the brand name Jawa and later Yezdi. The slogan of the firm was “Forever bike forever value”. Later, 1973 saw Yamaha RD350, 83 saw the 350cc Rajdoot , 84 saw the Yamaha Rx100 and the following, 85 saw Suzuki Ax100 by TVS, 90 saw Hero Honda (now Hero MotoCorp) and later the Bajaj and other companies. The bullets, jawas, yezdis, rajdoots and yamahas were single cradled sturdy bikes that seemed to own the supremacy because even today, these two stroke underdogs have a cult following. To the present day, you can swing a leg over the seat, kick start, assail it over bad roads and potholes and they are tough enough to take the hammering. While Royal Enfield is still producing the tarmac churners, the Ideal Jawa was shut down as their two stroke bikes were regarded obsolete under the pollution control norms. That was a time, a time unspoiled by the contemporary demons like pollution and litter, a time that had lesser traffic and less cumbersome commuting, a time when fuel prices were damn low and fuel efficiency wasn’t a big concern.
With the fuel prices rising up, emission norms getting stricter and fuel efficiency becoming a demand, advented the four stroke segment in India. Much acceptable was the 100cc commuter segment. Irrespective of all its drawbacks, 2 stroke was fun but 4 stroke segment in a limited span of years invaginated vast changes and gave a more diverse aspect to motorcycling in India. From single cradle chassis to double cradle, spokes to alloy, kick shaft to starter motor, analog to digital, drum to disk, chambered silencers to performance exhausts, aircooled to liquid cooled to supercharged! Exhilarating responsiveness of the engine, pulse racing, heart wrenching acceleration, weightless clamber up the rpm counter, smooth transmission, hot off the press, facelifted! Be it Hero MotoCorp, Kawasaki, Bajaj, Honda, TVS, Austrian ‘Orange’ bike specialist KTM or all those supercharged state of the art exotic machinery like Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Ducati, Hyosung, BMW and many more are ruling the roost, just twist the throttle of your prized possession and find your adrenaline rushing. You stop, you stare, you stare hard and you stare some more for there is so much being offered. Irony? Well, the time has changed for the contradictory side as well; seemingly endless, nonsensical, misbehaving, rule breaking traffic(!), the urban hustle-bustle, pollution, pathetic road infrastructure make commute more stressful while you overwork your left lever and right pedal combination with dust everywhere, and a few of us don’t even bother wearing a helmet! Although we don’t have to worry about the clearance much, unlike the car owners who are always concerned about the underbody of their cars. Road or no road, dust, mud, grease, slush or the most rugged condition, we are just on our back breaking journeys towards what we call home.
MOTORCYCLISM – FOR PASSION, NOT FOR FASHION.
Motorcycling is a discipline, where you master the arts of balance and handling, your score is in kilometers and roads decide your experience. Motorcycling is not divided by religion, not by gender discrimination, is aloof of all caste, creed, category, ‘class’, stereotypes and community. It never promotes who owns the most expensive or who owns the least, is not seperated by generation but is united by the spirit, the extreme passion of riding. Biking gears and accessories are for protection and safety and not for any status symbol or show off. All riders love being a petrolhead, be it a thump-a-thumping bulleteer or a 100cc owner or a supercharged one, they all enjoy being on bitumen. Adventure touring, adventure sports, cruising, racing, drift racing, stunting and offroading are the major choices of biking enthusiasts across the country, and all these are diversities of one unity – us. Whatever you wear, wherever you go, what your heart feels is felt by us all. Together, we are one. 2 stroke or 4 stroke, you can just lose yourself to magnanimous love they provide, who cares about what differences they have?