Monday, March 12, 2012

Indian Two-wheelers that We Miss

Indian streets were introduced to the heroic two wheelers in 1950’s and since then, are seen as a symbol of status by the populace. From parades to blockades, action movies to romantic songs, highways to gullies, two wheelers have ruled the Indian roads. More than usual, swanky four wheels are seen jostling for space with our ever reliable sturdy steed.

It took seven decades for this two-wheeled beauty to reach India from Germany after its invention in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler and today India stands second largest two-wheeler producer -manufacturer in the world. It stands next only to Japan and China in terms of the number of two-wheelers produced and domestic sales respectively.

 350cc Royal Enfield Bullets entered India when Indian government needed powerful and reliable motorcycles for its Army and police to patrol in the craggy and rocky highways. And today there is influx of swanky, sturdy, glitzy steeds, so much that some of the time primed beauties are used no more. So here is an account of two-wheelers which ruled regal times.


The Italian born motor scooter, Lambretta was bought by Indian government immediately after independence. Incorporated with Automobile Products of India (API), they began assembling Innocenti-built Lambretta scooters. And after getting the license of the model 2, Li150 series in the early sixties, India started manufacturing its own. Li150 was renamed as Lamby 150, after Scooter India Ltd acquired the brand name. Lampy Polo was the last remodeled version by API. After Scooter India Ltd bought the entire manufacturing rights, the last Innocenti-built Lambretta, GP 150, they renamed it as ‘Vijay Super’. The manufacturing units were closed down after British Leyland overtook the company. Today, the brand name Lambratta/ Lambro is owned by SIL.

Rajdoot 350

The Yamaha had come up with Rajdoot 350 in the year 1983 to compete with Royal Enfield Bullet 350 which was the biggest capacity bike in India at that time. The bike was manufactured by Escort Groups. Due to its high fuel consumption, Rajdoot 350 also known as RD 350, could not survive in Indian market for long time and by 1990, company had ended the production.  The bike is very fondly remembered as the ‘350cc two stroke engine that roamed the Indian streets.’

Yezdi Classic

Ideal Jawa, the French company produced Yezdi classic and it was initially known as Jawa.Yezdi was the craze in India for two decades beginning from 1960s. Even Bollywood featured Yezdi in most of the films of yester years. Competing with Bullet bikes, Yezdi could win young hearts. Manufactured without plastic or fiberglass, Yezdi is called the all-metal bike.  From the year 1978, Yezdi was leadying in motorbike market. Even today, this two stroke 250 cc air cooled Yezdi bike has so many fans around.

Hero Honda CD 100

The joint venture of Hero India and Honda of Japan came up with Hero Honda CD 100 in 1985. It became popular cost-centric market for being the best mileage bike. It was a big hit in India where CD 100 suited Indian men’s pocket with less fuel consumption. It charted in the executive class. With its affordable price and durability, Hero Honda CD 100 was known as the decent bike where Yamaha stands for younger generation. This 100 cc air cooled and single cylinder bike was powered with 4 stroke engine. Today this joint venture Hero Honda has become the largest two-wheeler manufacturer.

Bajaj Chetak

Termed as ‘Humara Bajaj’ in India and affordable by millions of Indian families in 1980s, Bajaj Chetak, was a runaway hit. It was one of the popular Indian-made motor scooter by Bajaj Auto. Based on the Italian Vespa Sprint, Chetak was manufactured in India. The name Chetak was after the legendary horse of Indian warrior Rana Pratap Singh. The competition with advanced model bikes and cars, Chetak lost its ground in 2000s and it ended the production in 2009. Its chief competitor was LML NV in the earlier days.