The stink of a 2-stroke is like Chanel No. 5 for the petrolhead. In these days of screeching Sunita Narains, apex courts banning everything and the headlong rush from BS IV to BS VI, this is probably the most politically incorrect statement to make but who will deny that a Yamaha RX 100, howling at the top of its revs, a faint white cloud spewing from its exhaust, that overpowering, cancerous, stench of pre-mixed petro-oil – that’s what our youth was made of. While we sneaked out with our mum’s Kinetic Honda, the big boys sneaked out on their dad’s RX 100. And then spent half the day trying to find neutral. Not only was it a performance icon of our times, for most of us it was our first proper motorcycle. And, like our Kinetics, we wrung its throttle to the stop.
Ride one today and it all comes back – everything you hate, and everything you miss about two strokes. Exasperating fuel consumption. No brakes. The stench and white cloud that never leaves you. All the power in the stratosphere. And something called a power band. Hit the sweet spot, screech towards it like a mad man, continue to keep it pinned till the engine literally feels like it’s going to explode and the rush you get, wow. It’s a high like you don’t get on modern bikes. Undiluted, unrestricted, totally non-compliant joy. Or have I got high on the exhaust fumes because the dude on the Pulsar is still ahead and isn’t even trying. Turns out, by today’s standards, there’s more noise than go.
The RX 100 went through as many name changes as the company itself that used every permutation of the three words Yamaha, Motor and India before finally settling on India Yamaha Motor. My biking life started when the RX was at its peak. Then came emission norms and something called fuel efficiency that those new fangled 4-strokes delivered ridiculously. It led to the choking of the RX via the exhaust and via shrinking ports. It got so badly strangled that even Yamaha felt pity for their baby and gave it bigger lungs in the RX 135. And then they gave it a five-speed gearbox. And then they gave it a bikini fairing and a racy (or what used to pass off as racy back in the 2000s) tail piece. By which time, nobody cared anymore and that was that for the RX. Till it reappeared last year on the Saluto. What???
So here’s a request. For the sake of our childhood. For the sake of all those foggy, stinky memories, let the RX rest in peace. It was, and remains, the most memorable 100 cee cees of our lives.