India is the second largest motorcycle producer in the world. It is comparable to large markets like japan and China. In the year 2005-2006, the annual production of two-wheelers in India stood at around 7600000 units. The Indian consumer moves to larger capacity, higher performance models. That is evident from the sales figures of higher capacity motorcycles and number of performance motorcycle brands entered India the recent years. India also has many talented designers, engineers and research facilities. India has already become a location for outsourcing of high level engineering and design by international brands. the KTM-Bajaj, TVS-BMW join ventures are proof for this. Along with European brands, Japanese and Korean motorcycle brands invest in research and develop in India.
The main motorcycle brands of Indian market are Hero, Bajaj, TVS, Honda, Suzuki, Royal Enfield etc. The following part will be discussing about some of the important motorcycle/ scooter models.
The production of Royal Enfields stopped in 1971 in England, India started producing Enfield 200 from 1973. they are basically a reskinned version of the 173cc Villiers Crusader. Their name were changed to Mini Bullet for marketing strategies. This model represents the survival of Enfield brand in India. It had classic styling with flat seat with thick cushion to make it an everyday motorcycle.
Yezdi was an iconic motorcycle produced by Ideal Jawa motorcycles of Mysore, India. It was in production from 1978 to 1996. It was based on Jawa CZ 250. The powerful engine, low slung stance and compact dimensions made it an instant success. This 250c motorcycle has become a cult classic over time.
This is a motorcycle which needs no introduction in India. When launched in 1983, it was the most powerful motorcycle available in the country. The Escorts Rajdoot is basically a Yamaha RD 350. It had to be detuned to be useful in Indian riding conditions. Even after detuning, it remained the most powerful bike in India until recent years. Design wise, only some cosmetic changes were made to the motorcycle.
Yamaha RX100 was in production in India from 1971 to 2006. The motorcycle was nothing short of exceptional. It was aimed at youngsters who need a sporty motorcycle. With its powerful 100cc 2 stroke engine, compact dimensions and light weight meant a true pocket rocket. Even if it was not designed in India, the customization and restoration carried out in this model shows the importance of it in Indian market.
In 1980, Bajaj launched Chetak, a in-house redesigned Piaggio Vespa Sprint. The compact, practical design made this scooter a huge success as it provided transportation for millions of families across India. It has become an icon and cult classic. It is one of the first monocoque chassis vehicles around. Chetak also enabled female riders to come up in the scene.
In 1994, Hero Honda ( now Hero) launched this motorcycle in India. It combined the lightweight, easy to ride nature of RX100, but with a more fuel efficient, less polluting 4 stroke engine. With reasonable pricing, Splendor went on to become the most important motorcycle in India’s history. In 2000, Splendor became the largest selling motorcycle in the planet. The formula is so successful that Splendor has been in the top 5 most selling motorcycle from the day it was introduced to this date.
Bajaj Pulsar is widely acknowledged as India’s first sport bike. In 2001, Bajaj launched this motorcycle in Indian market in 150 and 180cc engine capacities. Pulsar was developed by Bajaj’s product development section and Tokyo R&D. Styling was done by legendary designer Glynn Kerr. Such a sporty motorcycle was quiet new to Indian audience and it went on to become a success. Today, Pulsar has 5 varients.
The Himalayan is Royal Enfield’s first all new motorcycle in 50 years. It is also India’s first purpose built adventure motorcycle. With its long travel suspension, natural riding position, low seat height, reliable and torquey engine, Himalayan is perfect for true offroading as well as city riding. It has been designed to be one’s only motorcycle. It has been designed totally in India.