The RX heartbeat refuses to stop

The RX heartbeat refuses to stop

The Yamaha RX100. Picture credit: Kalyan Dova

There was a time when the Yamaha RX series two-stroke motorcycles ruled Indian roads.

Yezdi and Royal Enfield Bullet were the established motorcycles, but did not have a cult following like now. The Rajdoot RD350 was well received, but disappeared quickly.

When the RX100 hit Indian roads late in 1985, it was a breath of fresh air. With ‘Made in Japan’ embossed on the gearbox cover, this motorbike became a hit in no time. It was a revolution of sorts due to the state-of-the-art technology and, more importantly, speed. It was manufactured by Escorts.

The most striking aspect of the RX bike was its idling sound. It was so conspicuous that it is called ‘heartbeat of the Yamaha’ to this day.

At that time, the Suzuki AX100 was doing well and the RX100 turned out to be a fierce competitor. The RX100’s 98cc, two-stroke, air-cooled, single cylinder engine produced 11 hp and just over 10 Nm of torque. It was the cool thing to own.

Successive models were the RXG, with a 132cc engine, RX135 four and five-gear models. There was also the RXZ, which looked sportier due to external plastic panels.

The year 2010 sounded the death knell for two-stroke motorcycles as registration was banned. The two-strokes caused a lot of pollution. Several four-stroke motorcycles were introduced and the two-strokes began to disappear from the roads.

However, motorcycling enthusiasts were never able to get over the fact that the superb RX motorcycles would disappear. To this day, there is huge demand for these bikes. If you ride one of the older ones today, there is an extremely good chance that someone will stop and ask if you would sell it.

Such was the quality of the RX bikes that they would never break down unless maintained badly. Even the clutch and brake cables would easily last a decade. The bike was extensively used in racing, thanks to the solid construction.

A 1985-86 RX100 with original parts and in good condition will cost about a lakh of Rupees. That is if anyone is willing to sell. In 1986, a brand new bike cost Rs 14,000.

Janardhan Babu, who runs Checkpoint garage, owns five Yamaha RX bikes. Two of them are from the first batches of RX100, the RXG, a five-gear and a four-gear RX135.

“RX100 has a small engine, but a very good one. Its speed could not be matched, it was comfortable, engine braking and fuel efficiency were good and it had good control. The drum brakes were excellent,” Babu said.

“The geometry of the bike was so good that it was great to ride and the engine capacity could be increased to about 180cc after boring,” he added.

Satish Bhojanna, the proprietor of Downtown Works, feels the same. “It is a unique design and such a pleasure to ride. Anyone who has ridden this bike will not enjoy a four-stroke bike, event today,” he said.

“Sourcing the parts is slightly difficult, but not impossible to get. Most importantly, the unique sound attracted everyone to it.

“When it came to India, any small mechanic loved to work on it. When the bike faded away after the two-stroke ban, a lot of mechanics closed their shops.

“The craze for an RX is still there. This is perhaps the only bike whose price has never depreciated,” he added.

Techie Himanshu Singh owns two RX100 bikes, one from 1986 and the other from 1994. “I had seen a lot of them while growing up and had a neighbour who owned it. When I finished studying, I was looking for a bike and wanted to buy the RX,” he stated.

“I ride them on weekends. I love the heartbeat and adrenaline rush. Even if it is not used for a month, it will start with just four kicks,” he added.

The number of these two-stroke Yamaha bikes is decreasing by the day. There may be a lot of them lying unused in garages, or many might have been cannibalised for parts. But, one thing seems clear and it is that the heart of the Yamaha will never die.


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