I loved cars. I am not sure when the romance started but the earliest memories I have in this regard are of the inspirational Mclaren F1 and some documentaries I watched in Discovery channel about supercars. Soon, some supercar posters adorned my room as is usually the case with a car loving teenage boy.
It is normally the case that car and bike lovers never really roamed into each other’s fiercely and passionately guarded territories. I was not an exception to this rule. Two wheelers never really moved me. The most fun I had was with my father’s LML Vespa which would amuse me with the amazing torque and the easiness with which you can do a wheelie, mostly accidentally, in it.
So, I read about the Mclarens and Ferraris and the Lambos and Astons. Happily letting my ignorance do its job and not knowing that there were Ceebers and Gixxers and Ducatis and Yamahas worth reading about, on the other side.
After having learnt driving on the Premier Padmini owned by my family, I began to have this wanting to drive different types of cars. Friends, neighbours, if there was anybody who was willing to let me have a drive in their car, I utilised it. At the same time, I also increased my viewership time of Discovery channel and began to understand and research various car marquees around the world.
My friends were amused by this ability of mine to talk in detail about cars and specific models. I silently took pride in it. This was also the time when friends began buying bikes to upgrade from the bicycles that they had been using for the past decade.
I heard stories of father son arguments where the son was adamant on his new bike whereas his father wasn’t too pleased. Mothers usually pitched in as the saviour in her son’s life by playing the mediator and convincing the father.
But strangely I didn’t feel the need for a bike. I used my father’s scooter for the occasional trip and that was it. I didn’t feel compelled to have a bike. Rather I was interested in knowing when my father would upgrade the Premier Padmini and get something more contemporary, maybe a Maruti.
Then there was this day when one of my friends turned up at my house for a usual meeting and chat. It was not daytime actually as the time was well past 10 in the night. We were standing near my apartment’s gate when I noticed that he had come by a different bike and not his usual Suzuki Fiero.
I asked him about it and he said it was his uncle’s as his was at the service centre. I walked towards the bike and saw that the light from the lamps on the gates of the opposite house were reflecting off various parts of the bike. There was chrome in a lot of places and it all looked spanking new. My friend said the bike and its engine were recently worked upon. In the dull light, some letters glistened just above the chain guard. I bent down to read the letters ‘RX100’.
I had heard about the RX and its legendary status. Now, seeing the bike in front of me, I felt this urge to check it out to know what it was all about. I asked my friend for the keys. A slight drizzle had started. I told my friend that I will be back soon.
One kick, two kicks, three kicks, nothing happens. My friend has a grin and asks me to keep trying.
I give a fourth kick and open the throttle to hear a sound so raw and blatant when compared to the 4 stroke bikes I had ridden earlier. This bike made a war cry when the earlier bikes I had ridden had made a muted drumming. This opening of the throttle also released a plume of white smoke which when combined with the screaming engine made passersby give me uncomfortable looks.
I hastily got on the bike, engaged the first gear and released the clutch. I had got used to the throttle response necessary for other 100cc bikes. And I used that same amount on this bike. This meant that I was pulled with the ferocity and vigour which I had never experienced before. This was similar to the experience of flying. Except that here, I had to hang on to the handle bars for dear life. I, literally, in every sense of the word, took flight.
The experience was so exhilarating that I couldn’t wait to shift up. I immediately wanted to join the main road which would be empty at this time of the night. The empty main road also meant that I could further open up the throttle and I wanted to know how that felt.
All I remember after that is me turning from the side road to the main road and opening of the throttle, the bike in second gear. As expected the road was empty enough to echo the ear shattering scream of a two stroke engine redlining. The world became a total blur as I could feel the wind trying to tear off my round neck t-shirt and my loose pyjamas were fluttering about wildly in the air. The air felt refreshing with the added presence of unburnt petrol in it. I was leaving behind a trail of white smoke which made my flying look that much more credible.
All these factors ensured that I was having an inexplicable experience. I was dumbfounded by the adrenalin rush that I was having. Never before had a car or bike given me such pleasure. Yes, the wind was trying to tear my face off and yes, the skinny bike with speeds hovering near the three digit mark felt unstable and was a recipe for disaster. But I couldn’t have cared less. All I wanted was to hear the engine hit the high pitched shriek every time I shifted gears and mercilessly dumped the clutch. I felt like a nine year old kid, all over again.
And that was when my romance began to encompass the two wheeled kinds too. I have not looked back after that. Of course, I am still deeply in love with cars and know about Lambos more than about the history of Ceebers and Gixxers. But I love bikes equally. There is nothing that can equal the sense of freedom that two wheels give you.
And I owe it all to this puny, simple looking bike with a heart of gold. Even today when I see one, my pulse races, in spite of knowing that there are more accomplished bikes in the market today. This is because I know very well that there are not many bikes which can do what this bike can do and make you feel; the feeling that you are a part of it, the feeling that you can be torn down any moment, and the feeling that you are, indeed, flying.
The production might have stopped years ago. The green community might want to murder it for its emission and lack of respect for the environment. But who cares? This bike can amuse the oncoming traffic with the dumb smile pasted on your face even as you tear down the road not knowing what will happen next. This bike can kindle the kid in you and refresh you even after the worst day at office. This bike makes you feel and makes you understand what biking is all about. The legend of the RX would live on. For eons to come.