Smokey days

Bike India - - FEATURE -

INCE GET­TING OUT AND rid­ing new mo­tor­cy­cles isn’t an op­tion with the on­go­ing na­tion­wide lock­down, we take a trip down mem­ory lane to my very first mo­tor­cy­cle, a 1991 Yamaha RX-100

I have been fas­ci­nated by two-wheeled de­vices for as long as I can re­mem­ber. My ear­li­est mem­o­ries in­clude be­ing held up at the win­dow of our first-floor flat in Dadar Parsi Colony, peer­ing at the out­side world and watch­ing these things whizz by, won­der­ing how they stay up­right. I also re­mem­ber ly­ing awake in bed at night lis­ten­ing to the area’s teens rip­ping around on their RXs, RDs, and Shoguns. To me, they were he­roes and, while my par­ents com­plained about the ruckus cre­ated by the scream­ing two-strokes, I swore to my­self that I, too, would one day keep the neigh­bour­hood awake on my own two-wheeled rocket.

My dream was fi­nally re­alised around the turn of the cen­tury, when, at the ten­der age of 16, I be­came the proud owner of a spar­ingly used, 10-year-old Yamaha RX-100 with the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber MH-04 AB 9940, in­tro­duced to me by a lo­cal me­chanic and bought for the princely sum of Rs 16,500. While I of­ten bor­rowed bikes from friends and reg­u­larly sneaked out my mum’s 50-cc Bajaj Sunny, this was my very first own bike and I couldn’t have been hap­pier.

Many peo­ple wish to get into mo­tor­cy­cling for the per­ceived in­de­pen­dence and free­dom as­so­ci­ated with life on two wheels, but for me, I just wanted to go fast; and my first mo­tor­cy­cle ful­filled this need for speed.

The RX-100 is a sim­ple ma­chine, with a 11-hp, 98-cc air-cooled two-stroke sin­gle nes­tled within a steel dou­ble-cra­dle frame, drum brakes at both ends, and in­stru­men­ta­tion that was lim­ited to a speedome­ter. But for a teenage me, I couldn’t have asked for more. In ret­ro­spect, hav­ing a young, brash, and care­less teen on what was a fast mo­tor­cy­cle for the time seemed like a recipe for dis­as­ter, but I guess luck was on my side. I sur­vived count­less late-night rides to Lon­avala, sim­ply for a cup of with friends, street racing along Marine Drive till the wee hours, and abus­ing the clutch mer­ci­lessly learn­ing to wheelie.

This was the ma­chine on which I saw my first 100 km/h, had my first crash when a care­less driver pushed me off the road, and had in­nu­mer­able close calls that could have ended ex­tremely badly; but my love for mo­tor­cy­cles only grew and con­tin­ues to grow to this day.

To­day I am priv­i­leged that I get to travel the world test-rid­ing so many of the lat­est and great­est mo­tor­cy­cles as soon as they are launched. How­ever, my first bike will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart. It gave me my first taste of free­dom, sat­is­fied my need for speed, and put me face-to-face with my mor­tal­ity at an early age. Even now, so many years later, the sound of a scream­ing two-stroke and the sight of its white smoke leave me smil­ing nos­tal­gi­cally, yearn­ing for those sim­pler days.

— Anosh Khum­batta

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