Much of India still moves on two wheels, making bikes and scooters way more popular than cars. Over the years, there have been some really special bikes that literally changed Indian roads. This is their story.
So let’s take a look….
1. Hero Honda Splendor
The Hero Honda Splendor is a motorcycle manufactured in India by Hero Honda. It has an electronic ignition and a tubular double cradle type frame with a 97.2 cc engine. The engine is based on the Honda cub C100EX with a similar bore and stroke of 50mm X 49.5mm. As of 2009, Splendor models were selling at a rate of one million per year.
Splendor is the successor of the legendary Hero Honda CD100 and the Hero Honda Sleek – both inspired by the Honda CB250RS series of the 1980s.
From 1994 to present.
2. Yamaha RX100
The Yamaha RX100 was launched in the mid 80’s in India and was produced until 1996. With the failure of Yamaha RD350 and the success of Ind-Suzuki’s AX-100 in the market and masses, Yamaha realized the potential of Smaller Displacement Bikes in India. The RX-100 was launched in India in late 1985 shortly after the Ind-Suzuki AX-100 and Hero Honda CD-100 were launched. Kawasaki launched KB-100 a little later, in early 1986. It was one of the most reliable and peppiest smaller displacement bikes of the time. It gave tough competition to almost all bikes of that time. Many could not believe that a 100 cc engine, as claimed by the manufacturers, could deliver such raw power; people actually spread the rumor that it had a much bigger engine. It was also said that many race conductors and authorities double checked by opening the engine block to make sure it was actually 100 CC. This mean machine was used in many chain snatching and robbery incidents by some antisocial elements, which led to the banning of this bike by the state governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
From 1985 to 1996
3. Bajaj Chetak
The Bajaj Chetak was a popular Indian-made motor scooter produced by the Bajaj Auto Company. The Chetak is named after Chetak, the legendary horse of Indian warrior Rana Pratap Singh.
Originally based on Italian Vespa Sprint, Chetak was an affordable means of transportation for millions of Indian families for decades and is lovingly called Hamara Bajaj (Our Bajaj). Around 1980, the Vespa-licensed design was replaced with an all-new in-house design that shared the same general appearance and style. During its heyday, its chief competitor was LMV NV made by LML India as a licensed copy of the Vespa PX 150. In the face of rising competition from bikes and cars, Chetak lost ground in India, and production was discontinued in 2005.
From 1972 to 2005
4. Royal Enfield Bullet
The Royal Enfield Bullet was originally a British overhead valve single cylinder four-stroke motorcycle made by Royal Enfield in Redditch, Worcestershire, now produced by Royal Enfield Motors the successor to the British company, at Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in India. The Royal Enfield Bullet has the longest production run of any motorcycle having remained continuously in production since 1948. The Bullet marque is even older and has passed 75 years of continuous production. The Royal Enfield and Bullet names derive from the company’s links with the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield, London.
From 1995 to present.
5. Bajaj Boxer
Bajaj Boxer is a commuter motorcycle that was sold in India a decade ago. The next generation of Boxer is currently not available in India while it sells in a selected number of markets only. It uses a 144.8 cc, 1-cylinder engine producing 12 BHP and 12.26 Nm of torque. It claims a top speed of 94 kmph while its high 190 mm of ground clearance makes it quite effective in those nations where roads are very bad. It shares a lot of components with other Bajaj bikes available in the commuter range.
From 1997 to 2004
6. Honda Activa
The Honda Activa is a motor scooter made by Honda motorcycle and scooter India. It was launched in India in 2000. Production in Mexico began in 2004. It is a 109/125 cc, 7 bhp (5.2 kW) scooter. The vehicle has the option of kick- and self-start, includes the puncture-resistant “tuff-up” tyre and tube combination. Honda launched a new version of the Activa in the Indian market launched on 2009-05-08 and is available to purchase. with a new 109 cc engine. Power output was bumped up to 8 bhp (6.0 kW) and new features like combi-brake and key shutter were introduced. Fuel economy was claimed to be improved by 15%. In June 2013, Honda introduced Activa-i, a sleek and stylish variant of Activa. The new model shared most of the features with Activa, the primary difference being only in the body style.
In April 2014, Honda launched an upgraded model of Activa with a 125cc engine and rebranded the model as Activa 125. Currently, both Activa-i and Activa 125 are sold in India.
From 2000 to present
7. Hero Honda CD100
The Hero Honda CD100 SS was a variant with a distinct stance. The higher ground clearance with fatter rear tyre stands the bike out from std. CD100. The CD100 from Hero Honda was another India-Jap bike that failed to take off initially, for India was dominated by two strokes. But once the price of fuel got more expensive, the CD100’s “fill it-shut it-forget it” appeal came to the fore, and the bike’s sales gathered big momentum. The CD100 was very frugal, and well built. Well maintained examples lasted for years and years as they featured good quality parts. The CD100’s basic engine design, put together by the legendary Soichiro Honda, continues to live on in the form of the Hero HF Dawn.
From 1998 to present
8. Bajaj Pulsar
The Bajaj Pulsar is a motorcycle brand owned by Bajaj Auto in India. The two-wheeler was developed by the product engineering division of Bajaj Auto in association with Tokyo R&D, and later with motorcycle designer Glynn Kerr. Currently, there are five variants available, with engine capacities of 135 cc, 150 cc, 180 cc, 200 cc, 220 cc and 400 cc (Renamed Dominar before release) Previously it was also offered with a 200 cc DTS-i oil cooled engine, which now has been discontinued. Instead, a new version Pulsar 200NS was launched in 2012. But then Pulsar 200NS production was discontinued in August 2015 (to be reintroduced in early 2017 with BS IV Emission compliance). With average monthly sales of around 86,000 units in 2011, Pulsar claimed a 2011 market share of 47% in its
segment. By April 2012, more than five million units of Pulsar were sold.
From 2001 to present
9. Yamaha RD350
The RD350 is a two-stroke motorcycle produced by Yamaha from 1973 to 1975. It evolved directly from the piston port (pre-reed valve intake tract), front drum braked, five-speed Yamaha 350 cc “R5″ The engine is an air-cooled, parallel twined six-speed (in some markets, such as the UK, the first model was sold in five-speed form), reed valve-equipped intake tract two-stroke enegine. The bike is usually referred to as a sport bike. Rim sizes are 18″ WM2 (1.85″) front and 18″ WM3 (2.15”) rear, both being of chromed, wire spoked steel construction. In the UK, rim sizes were 1.60 front and 1.85 rear.
From 1973 to 1975
10. Rajdoot 350
The Rajdoot, also known as the RD 350, is a two-stroke Yamaha motorcycle made in India by Escorts Group from 1983 to 1989. RD stands for ‘Race Developed’ series, in India promoted by Rajdoot in collaboration with Yamaha Japan. It is a licensed copy of the Yamaha RD350 , modified to suit Indian conditions. Even though the production of the air-cooled Yamaha RD350 had ended in Japan in the mid-1970s due to stringent emissions norms, it was a technically advanced motorcycle in the Indian market in 1983. It was primarily targeted at the Royal Enfield Bullet 350, which was the biggest-capacity motorbike in India at the time.
From 1983 to 1989
11. LML Vespa XE
The first Vespa (from Italian word for Wasp) was designed by Signor Corradino D’Ascanio for manufacture by Signor Enrico Piaggio in 1945. The design was simple and had its origins from two stroke motorbikes which beacme scooters thereafter! The post WWII hangover and the necessity to have something like a scooter were conducive factors to make scooters take shape and go out to the markets only to sell well and become popular as a low cost reliable, commuting vehicle for personal transport of the Italians firstly to become popular all over the world.It had a monococque chassis structure much like the Citreon Traction Avant which was one of the first cars that too had this kind of body structural design.
Vespas added many features to the original design by the 1960’s making them popular as the Vespa Nuovo Linea Series. In 1960 Bajaj Auto colloborated with Piaggio and the Vespa GL 150 was ushered in into our market.LML came into the Indian market with a bang in 1983, with the Vespa XE a 100 cc scooter.And not to be left out Andhra Pradesh Scooters Ltd (makers of the Allwyn Pushpak) launched the 100 cc Vespa PL 170. The rest is history.
So Vespas have been another name for scooters in India too.
many of us have learnt driving the two wheeler with some variant of the Vespa.
From 1986 to 1994
12. Hero Honda CBZ
The Hero Honda CBZ was a motorcycle launched in early 1999 by Hero Honda , with an original Honda 156.8 cc engine. The styling of the bike was a scaled version of the famous Honda CB series. The over-square engine, that met Euro1, was fed by a Keihin slide type carburetor with accelerator pump for better pick-up. It makes use of a larger spring operated nozzle to provide a richer fuel-air mixture into the engine for better acceleration. An air injection system injects fresh air into the exhaust port, to meet the emission norms. The bike was launched as Hero Honda CBZ in India. The model went unchanged more or less for five years. In 2004, a new variant called CBZ* (star) featuring new graphics was introduced to boost sales. The bike did not feature any engine or performance upgrades.
From 2002 to present