41BSA A10 Golden Flash - Time Travel
Motorcycle enthusiasts are a sentimental bunch of people. We caress our rides as if they are a human being, and obviously, time and again we personify and relate them to our personality. We feel connected to various motorcycles many of which come from a different era and don’t exist anymore.
People who admire vintage or classic motorcycles have probably got their emotional meter a notch higher. It’s like they go back in time astride their decades-old motorcycle and want to remain there. It is nostalgic and in many cases, allows people to reconnect with their roots. For every one of us, though, it is just exciting to see what were some of the most popular and successful motorcycles of the past.
We came across one, it is named the Golden Flash and it is made by BSA. Look at this motorcycle and you’ll know that it was made to compete with the Triumphs and it indeed was. The BSA Golden Flash, codenamed A10, was made to take on the Triumph Tiger 100. It was designed by Bert Hopwood who had earlier worked at Ariel, Triumph and Norton. Hopwood had previously designed Triumph Speed Twin and Norton Dominator, both very popular motorcycles of their times.
The name Golden Flash is given because BSA sold it in the bright metallic golden colour in the US market. BSA is an abbreviation which stands for Birmingham Small Arms and it is reflected in a logo on the engine casing cover and on both side covers.
Golden Flash – Sounds like the Superhero Flash at his Prime
The gold colour of the Golden Flash was a huge hit in the US market and outsold Triumph’s Speed Twin and 6T Thunderbird. Not just that, the motorcycle was a pretty decent performer as well with a top speed of over 160 km/h.
Earliest Golden Flash came with either rigid frame (no suspension at the back) or with the plunger suspension (which means no swing-arm). Naturally, it was soon upgraded and replaced by conventional swing-arm and twin shockers at the back for overall much-improved ride quality and handling.
The Golden Flash we rode was the latter version with proper front and rear suspension and flawlessly finished in the metallic gold. Its owner, Mr Rahul Manthalkar, was insightful and enthusiastic to share his experience and information about this classic motorcycle. We are extremely thankful to him for being such a sport and sparing his time for us. And we would say that it would be a stroke of luck if we find something like this on OLX because owners of these machines do not really intend to sell them.
Parallel twin air-cooled engines were most famous and sought after back then and so the Golden Flash had a 650cc Overhead Valve engine of this configuration. It churned out around 35 BHP of maximum power at 4,500 RPM and the motorcycle had a dry weight of 170 kg, good enough for a quarter mile drag in less than 16 seconds. Pretty fast (Flash) for its time!
This motorcycle remained in production from 1950 to 1961 and made quite an impact in the industry. It is one of BSA’s finest productions and is also often regarded as a tourer since it had decent highway manners. We, on the other hand, had a great time learning about this motorcycle, how its mechanicals work and it was truly a unique experience looking at it up close and observing all the fine details it still has.
40DSK Benelli TNT135
This is coming across like a trend, a trend similar to the revival of the Scrambler brand. Since the day Ducati introduced the current generation Scrambler, almost every motorcycle manufacturer wants to make one.
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Clearly, it is always a renowned company that is responsible for kick-starting the revival of a motorcycle or creating a new segment altogether.
Coming to the bike in question, Benelli TNT135, it is obvious that it wants a piece of the pie that Honda has created with the Grom. Kawasaki has already joined in the fun with their Z125 Pro. Benelli has its own design statement, like all Italians, but the TNT135 has a close resemblance to the Grom and the Z125. In fact, both the Kawasaki and the Benelli resemble the Grom while the Grom itself cannot be said to do so because it came first.
A strong point, at least on paper, that the TNT135 has over the Z125 and the Grom is its more powerful 135cc engine. The Honda and the Kawasaki have 125cc engines on the other hand. Displacing at a precise 134.7cc, the TNT135 manages to produce 12.6 BHP of power at 9,000 RPM and 10.8 NM of torque at 7,000 RPM. Also, the chassis is the steel trellis frame which again makes the TNT135 looks like a more serious machine than the other two. The exhaust is a high-mounted side unit and splits into two exits towards the end. Front headlights are the most radical and aggressive looking as well with its design clearly taking cues from the bigger TNT streetfighters.
On everything else, all three are on par – small wheels, disc brakes at front and back, mono-shock and upside-down forks.
The intention behind making this motorcycle is as clear as the intention behind making a comedy movie – FUN and laughter. It looks like fun and it is. Small footprint, ultra compact size and an extremely manageable engine makes the TNT135 into a carefree, easy and an amusing ride. Initially, it feels a bit unusual because it turns like a scooter due to the small 12-inch wheels and bigger riders will likely feel awkward sitting on it. And even though it has two seats, it is not really practical to have a pillion because everything is just too small. It is not the most practical motorcycle, however, since it is a full-fledged one otherwise, you tend to ride like one and that induces so much fun.
We sincerely thank DSK Benelli for letting us ride this Motorcycle.
If you’re someone who doesn’t believe in wheelies, this might change your opinion because you’ll want to do it regardless. This motorcycle would make you believe that you can do this kind of stuff even if you’re inexperienced and come out unhurt (that may not be the reality though!). Riders usually describe powerful and fast motorcycles as nuts, this is nuts too, but in a very safe way.
Launch Imminent in near future
Unlike Honda and Kawasaki, Benelli has all the plans to launch the TNT135 in India soon and the company should be applauded for that. In fact, it is not launched anywhere in the world yet. For this reason, one can’t even find it on OLX if they tried.
Nevertheless, it is a brave move because India is not a market where people would understand this kind of a motorcycle. With stuff like disc brakes on the small scooter like wheels and upside down front forks, the cost is bound to be on the higher side than all other motorcycles with similar engine displacement. It will likely not fill Benelli’s cash registers and we would like to believe that Benelli understands this.
We would say it can’t be your only motorcycle and you may not enjoy it riding like a normal motorcycle. But imagine this situation that you have it as one your motorcycles, you come back home in the evening tired from the day’s work and you look at the TNT135. You go out for a short spin and come back grinning like a kid. Day sorted!
39Bajaj Chetak – Before Times Changed
Isn’t this how many stories start when someone tends to remember and narrate about something from the past, something that has been replaced, dethroned and driven to extinction by the latest?
This is the story of a certain two-wheeler, a scooter, which used to be the workhorse of many many families in the 1980s and through to the 1990s before one Japanese bike maker decided to reinvent the step-through vehicle. And especially, if you were born in the 80s, it is time to revisit those days when you stood up on the floorboard of your father’s scooter and were ridden to your favourite toy shop. Those were the favourite rides of the childhood, the ones we miss today and lost in some corner of the mind.
One particular scooter was highly influential in making this possible – Chetak. Named after the warhorse of the Hindu King Maharana Pratap Singh, Chetak was the most successful two-wheeler that Bajaj made from 1972 to 2006. However, Chetak achieved the highest success for as long as it had a 2-stroke engine.
Before Bajaj made Chetak, the company was selling Vespa scooters in India from 1960 till 1971. When Chetak was launched, its design was originally based on the Vespa Sprint and it remained so around 1980. After that, Bajaj made several changes in the styling but the overall resemblance remained same.
Chetak had a 145.45cc 2-stroke engine capable of producing 7.5 BHP at 5,500 RPM and 10.8 NM of torque at 3,500 RPM. It had 10-inch wheels and the front suspension was single-sided (similar to Vespa). It had drum brakes at both ends and over the time, the front wouldn’t work! People would mostly rely on the rear for all kinds of braking duties. Sensational!
We located this scooter through OLX (where else were we going to find it) and its owner Mr. Devi Puttay was quite helpful in letting us spend some time with it. We thank him for sparing his time to meet us.
As the 20th century came to a close, 2-stroke scooters and motorcycles had already begun to see their end, the Chetak was no exception and was soon relegated to a mere memory. In 2000, Honda introduced their gearless scooter Activa and changed the whole dynamics of the scooter market. It single-handedly picked up the scooter market and turned it into a key component of the two-wheeler segment in the country. Bajaj tried to come back with the 4-stroke Chetak 4S, but it didn’t even make half of the impact that the old Chetak had.
Bajaj understood it too well and stopped the production of the Chetak completely in 2006 as their motorcycle business was flourishing with the Pulsar brand.
During its heydays, Chetak’s biggest challenge came from LML when the company collaborated with Vespa (after it discontinued its partnership with Bajaj) to create and sell scooters as LML Vespa. Later, LML continued to compete against Bajaj with their NV lineup.
Nevertheless, Chetak remains one of the most memorable two-wheelers that were ever produced in India by an Indian company. Much before the Splendor and the Activa became household names, the Chetak was the most preferred choice for many people for day-to-day commuting, family travel and other daily chores.
38Aprilia RSV4 – Beast in the Metal
A bike lover will always get a chance to encounter at least one motorcycle in his life that would compel him to personify it. Compel to personify – is the key expression here. Many times, that personification happens over the time, but there are bikes that just feel so alive that you can’t help think of them as something living.
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The Aprilia RSV4 is that one.
This thing is alive. With the slightest twist of the throttle, that V-4 engine produces an explosive cry which is unlike from any other motorcycle of its type. It is like the loudest and the fiercest bark you’ve ever heard. Keep it out of sight, turn it on and twist the throttle, and people might confuse it with an animal’s roar. Try this for an experiment.
And once you’ve experienced it, you’ll be convinced it is a beast held together inside a metal frame! And if it really was an animal, it would appear like it’s on a hunting spree by the way it accelerates. Of course, it is the not the fastest and the quickest Superbike available, and it doesn’t have to be, but it wouldn’t be absolutely alright to call it one of the liveliest ones.
Purpose behind this Craziness
There is always a good reason for every extremity that exists on this planet and so there is for the RSV4. Aprilia built it only because they wanted to be at the top in Superbike World Championship (WSBK) and designed it to give Max Biaggi everything he needed to destroy the competition. It was race ready right out of the showroom and its four-cylinder V engine with 998cc capacity could produce up to 180 BHP. In the racing trim, the same could produce over 200 BHP.
Today, the latest generation of the RSV4 produces 201 BHP in its production guise. The peak power comes at 13,000 RPM and 115 NM of torque at 10,500 RPM. The trend of designing compact and small bodywork is probably most apparent when looking at the Aprilia. It is so compact that it looks like it might as well belong to a lower segment, ideally the 600cc Supersport. It is also the only production motorcycle in its class which allows multiple positions in which the engine can be adjusted inside the frame. With the integrated APRC package (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) which includes Traction Control, Wheelie Control, Launch Control, Aprilia Quick Shift and Race ABS, the RSV4 is one of the most advanced and race ready Superbikes
Usually, motorcycles intimidate riders if they are big and bulky. This isn’t the case with the RSV4. It is small and extremely smart to look at. The threat lies in its execution of power and the growl it generates. It is clearly the most menacing sounding Superbike in its class in stock exhausts. Riding the RSV4 is a unique experience in itself given that it has the only V-4 engine in its class.
We sincerely thank Mr. Anurag for taking out his time and letting us ride his motorcycle.
We would recommend anyone looking to buy such an aggressive sportbike to have some decent experience with powerful motorcycles. Even with all the electronics that are there to help control the power and increase rider safety, they are still extremely sensitive to throttle input. Also, you might end up saving some money if you look for a second-hand RSV4 on OLX.
37Indian Roadmaster – A King's Ride
Take a look at the Indian Roadmaster and tell us what would be the ideal setting for it. Parked on the porch of a palace appears like a perfect backdrop. Consider the setting sun as well and the sunlight kissing gently on the immensely beautiful bodywork of this American flagship. Top it off with the idea that you are the king, the palace belongs to you and so does the motorcycle. Could your life be any better at that moment?
This is how it makes us feel, like a King. The Roadmaster is literally so royal to look at that it deserves to be a King’s ride. And that’s right out of the showroom as it is.
The first thing that anyone will notice about the Roadmaster is its size – it is a big motorcycle! The one we rode wore a dual tone livery of the traditional Indian red along with the Ivory cream with a generous amount of chrome thrown in.
The fit and finish on the Roadmaster is just perfect. Despite such a huge fairing and add-ons like panniers and tail boxes, it was impossible to find any rattling or vibrations anywhere on the bike. A special mention here must be given to the supremely comfortable genuine tan leather rider and pillion seats. There is enough real estate even for the biggest of the riders to make themselves comfortable and ride it nonstop for hours and hours without having to take a butt break. The stitching is also top notch.
Powering this is the same 1811 cc V-Twin Thunder Stroke 111 engine that is used in the entire Chief lineup and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It has been tuned to provide a flatter torque curve though to help its touring nature. It makes around 139 Nm of max torque at around 3000 RPM mark. Sadly, the official bhp figures are not revealed by Indian Motorcycles. However, despite so much bulk, the Roadmaster lunges ahead with the slightest blip of the throttle. The power delivery comes rather smoothly and evenly throughout the rev range.
The Roadmaster is heavy! It weighs around 421 kg dry and a fully loaded one with a pillion could tip the scale at 630 kg plus. But all that weight seems to disappear as soon as the bike gets into motion thanks to the rigid cast aluminium chassis and a sorted suspension aided by tons of low-end torque. Also, the fueling is perfect even at the lowest of RPMs making it a doddle to ride even at low speeds.
This entire setup makes the handling of this huge machine rather effortless. It feels planted on straight line high speed runs as well as on the corners. And as we said, the suspension feels pretty sorted to support the 400+ kg mass and the bike seemed to take on the potholes and minor bumps on the road rather easily. Braking is absolutely reassuring as well due to the 300 mm dual disc up front and a single 300 mm at the rear aided by ABS.
In terms of goodies, you have electronically adjustable windscreen, which you can adjust as per your height to control the air flow around you while riding. Then you have heated grips and pillion and rider seats for that extra bit of comfort while riding in extremely cold conditions. Cruise control is there for effortless riding on open highways. Plus, you get keyless ignition and remote luggage locking facility. You also get 3 power sockets to charge all your gadgets on the go. Also, there is a 200 W output audio system installed, which has AM/FM and can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth or AUX. The storage space in the trunk, as well as the saddle bag, seems generous and there is a total of 142 L of storage space available, which is capable of carrying more than a weekend’s worth of luggage.
This thing is like a living room giving you all the comfort of your home!
And we believe this is what the Roadmaster is all about, the comfort and the feel at a grand scale. It is not about numbers, well no cruiser has ever been, but the Roadmaster oozes grandeur. It is so well finished that you’d hate the slightest amount of dirt on it. Every single thing and piece that makes this motorcycle is flawlessly finished and a piece of art.
However, such royalty is never cheap, in fact, unaffordable is a better word for the Roadmaster and that is how it should be. A major part of experiencing something royal is that it is actually out of reach of many people. Even if we suggest you to try OLX we wouldn’t be sure of how affordable it would be as a second-hand ride, but one can always try his or her luck.
For us, though, spending a day riding the Roadmaster was like spending a day in one of the finest luxury hotels in the country. The best part is, being a motorcycle, it enhances a biker’s lifestyle so much that very few motorcycles in the world can manage to do.
Thank you, Indian Motorcycles. We do wish that you were really Indian. Oh, what an irony!
36Suzuki Shogun: The Boss!
A long time ago, when loud, smoke emitting bikes were the norm, a Japanese manufacturer ruled the hearts of Indian bikers. Yamaha had the Indian 2-stroke market in their pocket with the RX-100. But Japanese rival Suzuki wasn’t quite happy with this arrangement, understandably! First they brought in the AX100 and then the Supra to challenge the RX, but the two 100cc motorcycles were unable to mount a proper challenge. That was when they declared war with ‘The Boss’, the English translation of the Japanese word ‘Shogun’. And what a war cry the Shogun had. Anybody who has heard the Shogun screaming past at full tilt will not forget the sound or the Goosebumps that it left in its wake.
Suzuki wanted to be top Boss in the Indian market and with the 1993 launch, the ‘Gun bested the RX100 in most performance parameters. With a 108.2cc engine, the bike produced a whopping 14Bhp at a relatively peaky 8500RPM. The bike was a bit slower than its arch-rival the RX100 in low and mid-range, but once things got moving, the roads would be left with a smokin‘gun!
In our search for #100Motorcycles we found this 1994 model Shogun, which is still used to this day for daily commuting! A 22 year old bike, still going through the daily grind without a fuss. Wow! That is incredible. This is despite the Shogun, having built up a bit of a reputation of being a ‘difficult to maintain’ motorcycle vis-à-vis the RX. And if you think that commuting to work on a 22 year old bike is cool, then you will drool at the ‘how’! Even now after 2 long decades the ‘Gun pops impromptu wheelies in first and second gear. Hooliganism at its best! Move over orange auto-rickshaws, you are about to be smoked in the fun department!
And if you’re someone who would either like to relive or experience what it felt like to own one of the best 2-stroke motorcycles that was sold in India, you might find some luck on OLX.
Talking about orange and colours, the Shogun is probably one of the few bikes to be able to convincingly carry off the colour pink on its graphic stickers. We haven’t seen pink on two wheels look cool anywhere else, except maybe on a Vespa. But that’s a different story entirely! The bike we rode was modified for participating in rallies, with an extended front fork, a front disc brake and a different rear suspension. And the owner has used his ‘Gun in a few competitive events.
The first Shoguns had the same instrument cluster as the AX100, a speedo in a rather drab box. Based on customer feedback, it later got a twin pod cluster with a speedo and a tacho. Beat that for being cool in the 90s! The speedo would show a rather optimistic 120kmph, though true speed was probably 10 kays less than the readout.
This was a proper performance bike of the 90s, with the bike being fast out of the box. It was built to be a RX beater and it sure did that with élan. It was a bike which was tuned very close to its limits, so much so that aftermarket tinkerers couldn’t pull out more than a couple of ponies from its heart. The RXs on the other hand had a lot left in the bag for the modifiers to play around with. But straight out of the showroom, the Shogun was truly special. And a lot of that special feeling came from the exhaust, which didn’t just give it that fantastic booming sound, but also the massive bump in power. Remove the exhaust, and the bike will probably potter around like a lame duck.
We sincerely thank Mr. Unmesh Uday Dounde for taking out his time and letting us ride his motorcycle.
Unfortunately that is exactly what happened, due to pollution norms getting more stringent, the Shogun came fitted with a Cat Con in its exhaust from 1997, when it was re-launched after a gap. This was in complete contrast to what the enthusiasts were looking for, the promised 16Bhp ‘Shadow’, which the audience had been teased with at the Auto Expo. Unfortunately, the Shogun would never go on to get the kind of fame as the RX series in India. But the bike left an indelible mark on every single enthusiast who ever got a chance to ride one! Even today a ‘Gun ripping through the streets, will get your heart racing, making you weak in your knees and feel like a hapless teenager.
35Honda CBR 1100 XX Super Blackbird – We Want It Back
Can we start a petition for the reintroduction of the Super Blackbird? It appears like a good idea to do so because it is such an awesome sportbike. It has been almost 10 years that the Super Blackbird last rolled out of a Honda factory (its production was stopped in 2007), but this motorcycle still lives in the hearts of everyone who has ridden it.
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Named after the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” aircraft, the CBR 1100 XX Super Blackbird was the fastest motorcycle in the world when it was launched in 1997 and till 1998. Honda developed the Blackbird to dethrone Kawasaki’s ZZR 1100 which earlier held the unofficial record for the fastest motorcycle in production. And Honda named it so because the Lockheed SR-71 is the fastest manned aircraft… till date.
The Specialness and the Cult
Even today, the Blackbird is known for the excellent balance it strikes between sportiness and long distance comfort. The 1137cc engine is one of the smoothest inline 4 units ever produced and it is still hard to fault. Highly reliable and long-lasting, the CBR 1100 has acquired a cult following in various parts of the world and enjoys a legendary status that rivals and, at times, surpasses the likes of Hayabusa.
Producing around 164 BHP of maximum power and 124 NM of torque, the Blackbird could reach top speeds of up to 290 Km/h. Some unconfirmed tests have reported it to go past 300 km/h as well. Its status as the world’s fastest motorcycle was short-lived, though, as Suzuki came out with a considerably faster Hayabusa 1999 which eventually resulted in all sportbike manufacturers from Japan and Europe coming together to create the memorable Gentlemen’s Agreement.
Honda only upgraded the Blackbird marginally during its lifetime. Most notable of the updates is the fuel injection system that was incorporated in 1999. This resulted in smoother throttle response throughout the rev-range enhancing the riding experience even further.
We Sincerely thank Col. Satya Nidhi Tandon for taking out his time and letting us ride his motorcycle.
Discontinuation and disappointment
There has been a visible disappointment among Blackbird fans on the discontinuation of the Super Blackbird. Most or many of its owners have chosen not to part ways with it. Even though the current Hyper-tourers like the Hayabusa and the ZX-14R, which is possibly the best of the bunch right now, offer more performance and features, the Blackbird continues to enjoy the undying fan following. Among high-speed sport-tourers, it has one of the strongest sentimental values.
Honda could have done so much with the Blackbird and, we believe, it could have clearly been the most iconic in its class. Right now, it is arguable.
We would like to believe that Honda realizes what it had and could have been, only that it isn’t. Though they have the VFR1200, which is the closest to what comes to a hyperbike from the Honda stable, we really don’t think that is meant to be a replacement for this icon.
We only hope that the company has a plan in place to bring it back because that would be one of the most awesome events of the 21st century. Just thinking about it being announced gives us goose bumps! Honda, it is time to relive the classic design.
Last but not the least this bike was my first big bike: Perhaps, I might still find one on OLX and that would literally be like going back in time. What a trip that would be!
34Ducati Scrambler – Pure and Unadulterated
Scrambler, the hottest name in town right now and the one that everybody wants to have. All this is thanks to Ducati for reviving a certain motorcycle out of its own past.
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Back in 1962, the Italian manufacturer made a motorcycle by the name of Scrambler, especially for the American market. The motorcycle had standard styling with decent off-road capabilities although far from a typical dirt bike. Sporting single cylinder engines of 250cc – 450cc capacities, it became popular and enjoyed good success, but then times changed, focus areas shifted and the Scrambler was eventually stopped in 1974. Until 2014.
It might, of course, be backed up by lots of planning and strategic decisions, but to us, it feels almost like an instinctive move and impeccable timing, perhaps, a little bit of luck as well. At the Intermot Motorcycle Show in 2014, Ducati introduced a modern interpretation of the Scrambler with an 803cc air-cooled L-twin engine and not just brought back their own motorcycle to life, it almost instantly revived the whole breed.
But the Scrambler brand isn’t something which is associated with Ducati alone, Triumph has had a Scrambler in their lineup for a long time, but it hadn’t nearly achieved as much popularity. So what makes the Ducati tick so much? Everything, just look at it!
The engine is picked up from the previous generation Monster 795 but detuned for slightly gentler power delivery. Yet, it is still as lively as it can be. The 803cc engine produces 75 BHP at 8,250 RPM and 68 NM of torque at 5,750 RPM, numbers that ensure fantastic performance on the road.
The Scrambler is one of the most basic modern motorcycles today. As far as electronics are concerned, it gets switchable ABS and that is it. There is nothing else to it apart from the fact that it is fuel injected. There is nothing to set, you just get on it and ride. And one ride is enough to convince anyone that the Scrambler doesn’t need any of it. The natural traction is so good that the motorcycle offers a confidence-inspiring ride on all road conditions. It makes things like riding modes and traction control appear like unnecessary features.
By far, the best part of the riding experience is the handling. We would call it effortless if we had to describe it in a single word. It goes through the traffic with virtually zero effort. It just feels natural.
The Scrambler is probably the most successful revival of a motorcycle by a manufacturer. There is no doubt it became an instant hit. It has a proven engine, outstanding chassis, suspension and a fantastic design which pays tribute to the original Scrambler. The build quality is typical Ducati – up-market – and everything is where it should be. While it might be the most affordable Ducati, it is one of the best we have ridden from the Italian bike maker.
The arrival of international biker makers with their lineup in India means that we now have much more to choose from then ever before. From the commuter segment to the ultra expensive high-end, there’s something for everyone in the market today. This also means that the second hand bike market has plethora of options as well, and if you’re someone who may not have the financial means to get your desired big bike right from the showroom, you can always try and explore OLX. It is likely that you’ll get lucky.