Indian Motorcycles

india_mapFollowing on from my recent article on the Indian Motorcycle brand I thought it was about time to look at actual Indian motorcycle manufacturers! That is, companies and brands that make the motorcycles in the country of India. It is a bit confusing that there is also a motorcycle brand called Indian and a country’s people called Indians, not forgetting that there are South American and North American Indians as well and others.

 There are quite a number of motorcycle manufacturers in India. The most popular Indian brands include Hero and Bajaj, TVS and recently Mahindra (see prior posts). The Japanese brands are there making them too, Honda and Kawasaki being the most popular. Combined the Indian automotive industry manufacture over 1.8 million motorcycles/scooters/car/trucks for domestic and export in September 2013. On a yearly basis Indian motorcycles contribute over 3 million units a year (Courtesy of SIAM). Virtually all the motorcycles produced are under 250cc in engine capacity

The most popular manufacturer and model in India is not certain to those outside of India.  Needless to say that non-Indian manufacturer in particular Honda due to its former joint venture with Hero are probably the most popular. Regardless of who is officially the most popular or numerous the motorcycle production numbers in India are incredible. The motorcycle is probably the most important transport vehicle in India – clearly.

A few things I’ve noticed in my own research, especially on Youtube are the required ability of a motorcycle to carry lots of things and strangely to be able to run through 30 centimeters? or so of water without stalling. I also understand that to be a successful model that bike must be able to run daily and without any servicing whatsoever for at least 12 months. Sports style motorcycles are in high demand too but sales tempered by the obvious factors of traffic and environment.

Of course most of the other manufacturer’s top range sports bikes, including the Hayabusa can be purchased as official imports and unofficially so makes the whole motorcycle scene fascinating.

 

Future classic motorcycles

These motorcycles are in my opinion future classics. There’s more to add so check back for further updates. The bikes are listed in Alphabetical Order.

Although motorcars are described in this type of fashion and pertains to them made during certain years and so forth (via legislation in some countries) to most people something that is ‘classic’ is indeed something that is pretty ‘old’.
Used generically though I feel the most common meaning attributed to ‘classic’ car or motorcycle is assessed on whether they significantly advanced their respective design base. Be it technically or marketing wise, image etc.. that have made them memorable. For example the Ford Model T, it didn’t advance automotive technology per se but it certainly advanced mass production manufacturing techniques! Note that the impact of any of these bikes may not be of any ‘historical’ significance.

Anyway, I guess the definition and usage of the term can vary and probaby again confusing the issue. I have chosen the bikes for this category via my own experiences (Based on the impact they made on myself) as a consumer to see if they will be remembered years later.

BMW K1 

Let’s face it the K1 was originally a weird looking thing. The fact that BMW made it even more interesting than just style alone. Sure BMW makes some strange looking bikes but this was supposed to be a sports bike ! – as I recall the marketing blurb 10 years ago. I liken it to the the Hayabusa of the early ’90s except that it didn’t live up to the expectations. It’s a classic though, on style alone. Lots of technical firsts for BMW eg. water cooling. Unfortunately old tech compared to the rest of the world.

Bimoto Tesi

Thanks Rob Grant for the pictures !
Not a very well known brand or model these days but the Tesi was indeed something different. Released in about 1983 this bike was indeed a futuristic looking thing. The frame was a triangular space frame lattice design, the concept now used by Ducati range. The standout feature was that it used forkless front suspension and hub steering. Much like the designs seen in the Japanese Manga – Bubblegum Crisis. It was powered initially by a Honda VF400 engine and later Ducati engines. The design was indeed very modern for its day.

Honda Fireblade CBR900RR

The Fireblade was conceived at the height of Japanese dominance of the industry. I remember how the press where ‘over enthusiastic’ about, this single bike back in 1992. It was fast, it looked in advanced of the designs of the day it also could handle ! It was THE sports bike to have. It had a bad reputation from the start due to certain journalists promoting its dangerous upper limits. Or rather I feel the inability of journalists of the day that where inexperienced in riding such a bike or maybe because it was the first of its kind. The concept was simple, produce a bike that had more power than the 1 litre class of the day and the weight of the 750cc class of the day. Yep, the Fireblade was the first, its aftermath spawned the fantastic R1 and the new GSX-R1000 to name just 2.

Honda Goldwing – 2000 model shown

The ‘outrageous’ Goldwing or Leadwing as the more cynical call it ! It still dominates the particular niche it sells in – Its the product of consumer power working for sure. Arguably the best long distant tourer in the world it’s also arguably the biggest bike ever and it comes with the lot.  The latest version even has remote central locking for the panniers and electronically controlled suspension. Strange that the range started life off as a 70’s Sports bike ! It seems to have gained an image as an older persons bike along the way. Nevertheless, I want one !

Honda NR 750

*Thanks to Brad H for the new picture !
Who can forget the NR. It had so many firsts for a production motorcycle : Where do I start? 747cc Oval Pistons in a V4, turn indicators in the rear view mirrors, real carbon fibre bits, twin fuel injectors, twin spark plugs, titanium con-rods, titanium coated alloy frame to prevent scratches, single sided, 260kph, 15,000rpm. It is reputed that at least 200 patents where registered to create the NR. Strangely it weighed in at 220kgs ! Quite a hefter for a 750 even back then and especially so today and guess what … yours for only AUD $83,000 and this was in 1992. Is this the worlds most expensive prod bike? The NR750 was strictly limited edition, only a 1 month production run and that was it. The design themes where followed by all manufacturers to some extent over the next decade. Ducati even copied the elements for the famous 916 released in 1994. This was Honda demonstration of technical superiority – which it certainly was. I remember the intricate tail treatment very well. The picture is an NR which is the track configuration.

Harley Davidson Fatboy FLSTF

The most well known of the Harley range. Everyone seems to know what a Fatboy is, unfortunately on-one seems to be able to tell the Harley range apart. Unless you are a Harley fan. Harley’s have a well known image and following I need not repeat here. I chose the Fatboy as I believe it represents the pinnacle of H-Ds revival !

Kawasaki ZZR1100 Ninja (ZX-11) 2000 model shown

One of the formative bikes in my mind is this bike. It was THE fastest series bikes in the world for close to a decade. Top speed of around 280kph.  Besides that the old ZZ-R 1100 or ZX-11 still looks like a proper motorcycle. Kawasaki has had a history of producing high powered and very fast bikes e.g. the classic Z series.
The old ZZR was a big heavy bike even then that set many benchmarks in its heyday. Fantastic speedy long distance tourer, sounds great, huge power, street cred, what more can I say. The ZX-11 is possibly the bike of the decade!  The new ZX-12R replacement is great bike but in my opinion not in the same league. When will a real replacement arrive ?

Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R

The Hayabusa is indeed a classic. On the Net it is one of the best represented bikes. Not only did it look outrageous it came with the usual Suzuki outlandish colour combinations (remember the GSX-R750). The now infamous Copper Bronze scheme and the very futuristic fairing, still looks great. The 1999 and early 2000 models are still the fastest prod bikes in the world. 
When released, everyone was surprised that it met all the hype that surrounded it. Namely : it could actually break 300kph and reach 200mph and it could actual handle.  Even more so the bike was given a weird name to go with the weird look ! Yes sure we’ve had other funny Japanese names such as the Tengai, Ninja, Tenere etc… but I think Hayabusa takes the cake to date.
Clearly the Hayabusa will have an impact on the younger generation purely on style alone. I wouldn’t be surprised that in 20 years time a young person will write about their own formative bike experiences and recall seeing the Busa for the first time made them want to ride motorcycles.

 Yamaha GTS1000

Thks to Hugh Hamilton for the pictures !
Not a very well remembered bike. Nevertheless it was much like the Tesi having a single sided forkless hub steering. Not like the more ‘conventional’ setup used by BMW. It was also designed as a touring bike as opposed to the Tesi sports bike. It also had fuel injection which was very novel in the early nineties. However this bike never really sold for various reasons. Why I picked it was, if you ever saw one you’d certainly remember it too !