A sequence in the 2016 action drama Laal Rang, starring Randeep Hooda, is perhaps the best example of where to witness the magic of the Yamaha RX 100 in less than a minute. In one scene, Randeep Hooda’s Shankar, who runs an illegal blood bank, takes the young, impressionable Rajesh (Akshay Oberoi) out on a spin on his bike. On the road, they’re met with the longing gazes of women and envious glares of men who pass by.
Shankar gives the handlebars to Rajesh while he lights a cigarette, concluding the scene with “Uss din se pehle, RX 100 pe bas sapnon mein baitha. Sunte the agar chhora chhori se bas bol de na, ke uske paas RX 100 hai, toh samajh lo ki chhori chori” (Before that day, I had only ever dreamed of sitting on an RX100. We used to hear that a boy just had to tell a girl that he owned an RX100 – that was enough to win her over.)
That sexist line would not fly for a lot of people, but it perfectly encapsulates the macho appeal of the RX100, once seen as the ultimate symbol of masculinity, popular among the youth, bike enthusiasts, Bollywood and criminals alike.
The racing favourite
Ajay Verma, managing partner at advertising agency Enormous Brands, has had an RX 100 for over 25 years.“Even today, whenever I take it out for a spin or ride it to my office, I feel I’m the same college-going boy once again,” the avid bike collector tells ThePrint.
According to Verma, the reason behind bike’s reliability was its 100cc clean engine that didn’t require a lot of maintenance. “I haven’t had to worry about the bike’s engine or open it to get it repaired all this time,” he enthuses.
It is because of this dependability, coupled with its fast pick-up and light weight (98 kgs) that the bike became instantly popular among street criminals, gangsters, drag racers and stunt artists, earning it the nickname Pocket Rocket.
“Just like kidnappers actually started using Maruti vans after movies made it the perfect kidnapping vehicle trope, other criminals started doing the same with the Yamaha RX100,” notes Sarabjit Singh, creative head at MullenLowe, an advertising and marketing agency. Singh recalls how the youth back then, again taking their cue from movies, would organise informal races on empty streets and corners with the bike, often fixing bigger carburetor on it. The bike then became the ‘macho’ bike for college kids. “What Royal Enfield was for adults, RX100 became for the youth.”
The bike’s clean and simple two-stroke engine is what gave it its power and speed, according to Samrat Motilal an MBA student in Noida. “Two-stroke engines provide higher torque, a much faster pick-up, making the bike the perfect fit to perform in races,” he explains. Bhrigu Dwivedi, a visual communication artist, adds the bike’s “low maintenance, light chassis and rugged build, plus the fact that its exhaust note was similar to that of a dirt bike, all made RX100 an ideal bike to race on.”
Ahead of the 100s
The RX100 was launched in 1985, when 100cc engines were becoming increasingly popular, with the Suzuki AX100 and Honda CD100. So Yamaha launched its bike with tagline “Ahead of the 100s”, a not-so-subtle dig at the competition.
“The power, just the feeling you get while you’re riding it is a rush for any biker,” Verma says. “Another thing the bike is known for is the unique sound it makes, unmatched even by a Harley Davidson or Royal Enfield.”
The sound the bike made had such an impression that when Telugu filmmaker Ajay Bhupathi was looking to name his 2018 film based on an arrogant young man, he decided to name it RX100 – he felt the sound of the bike embodied arrogance, attitude and exclusivity.
The RX100 continues to remain popular in the second-hand market, and its name is enough to excite next-gen bike lovers – some of whom were perhaps learning how to walk when the bike was discontinued in 1996.