Memories of our youth might be filled with (smoky) pictures of the RX 100 and RD 350 but I’ll let you in on a secret – when I got to the age where boys harass their parents for a motorcycle, I lusted after The Boss. The Shogun was the reason I buried my head in my books, assuming good grades would get me the coolest motorcycle of the early nineties. Not that it was very different from the Shaolin but the liberal application of black paint (to the engine, the cycle parts, the handle bars, everything), a bikini fairing (one of the first motorcycles with one) and snazzy graphics (it was the first and also last time pink looked cool on a bike) made the 15-year-old me fall in love.
And it had the proverbial go to match the show. In an era where the RX 100 made 11bhp, the Shogun made a whopping 14bhp. It maxed out at 105kmph, 5 more than the RX. It had ten extra cee-cees. All of this was a Very Big Deal back then and soon enough it began to dominate bike racing, which the three magazines of that era devoted half their pages to. Come to think of it, TVS Racing were cleaning up championships way back then!
That extra power is evident even today, despite this example not being in the best shape. This is probably a testament to the Shogun’s reputation of being difficult to maintain, also the reason why you see many RXs and no Shoguns on the road today. But get into the power band which seems higher than the ozone layer, and acceleration is startling for something made back when I was still in school. Initial gearing is very short and the front wheel immediately goes light when you open it up, explaining all those wheelie shots in period magazines. However the gearing in third and fourth seems all over the place, dropping the two-stroke motor out of its power band (I don’t remember it being this bad) and you have to remind yourself that this is an all-down ’box. Out of the power band there is absolutely nothing but when it comes on, boy does it sing. That exhaust note is a beauty: sharper, more high-pitched, more purposeful than an RX of that time. The Shogun would have made for an epic my-first-motorcycle story, except that after topping my class in the board exams I was reminded that at 16 you do not get a licence to ride a motorcycle.