Vijay Krishnan May 21, 2019
We all long to live in paradise. Add your dream motorcycle to the mix and we are talking the stuff of dreams! This week, we meet someone truly living the dream and see what it is like to bring back the motorcycle of your dreams back from the dead.
Not everyone gets to build up their dream spec Motorcycle from dust and even fewer get to ride it around the island paradise of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Sourav Rich hails from the Andamans and is more than your average Two Stroke lover. He is a true Yamaha aficionado and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to their Motorcycles.
What do you do in life and how is the motorcycle a part of it currently?
I’m a student doing my final year of Petroleum Engineering in Chennai. I am also pursuing my Underwater diving course. Currently I’m a Dive Master Trainee and I’m hoping to be a qualified instructor soon.
Everyone has their Penchants in their life like Partying, Drinking and whatnot. My only guilty pleasure would be Motorcycles. This is something even my parents keep stressing, that I have zero passions in life other than Motorcycles
Tell us about your motorcycle.
So my Motorcycle is a 1998 Yamaha RXZ in Adrenaline Red. This is not an original factory color but something I got done as all my bikes are in the same shade of red.
When I was in the 9thand 10thstandard, this very same Motorcycle was owned by my Uncle. I would take it out for a spin myself when my dad brought it home sometimes. As I grew older, I got to know what the RX was about and what it was capable of. I got to know why it was called a legend. It could do a hundred and forty kph in 1998 if you really pushed it which was just incredible for a Motorcycle at that time. The Motorcycle was sitting without being used for about 5 years and was in dire condition. So when I asked to get me the same Motorcycle for my 20thBirthday, he was puzzled as to why I wanted it. But after updating him about what the Motorcycle is and what it is capable of, he bought the bike from my uncle and that’s how it all started.
How did you get your Motorcycle back to its former glory?
So I had gone to my Uncle’s to pick up the bike hoping it will be an easy fix. But on getting there I knew I was in for quite a ride as the bike was in shoddy condition. I had to rebuild the chassis again as it was rotting. The tank had no metal left at the bottom so I had to rebuild that as well. It had a lot of the plastic fairings on it missing, namely the headlight and underbelly fairing as well as the cowl fairing. I had to get new rims and tyres.
I fixed up my Motorcycle by taking the help from a local mechanic who is not a specialist of these bikes, but had the essential know how to work on motorcycles. He had some ideas of his own but he did not have the know how to work on these bikes. He came to work on the Motorcycle from another Island, despite his daughter just being born.
Together, we worked on the bike, taking instructions from a Yamaha specialist located in Chennai named Mujib via Video Call. There may be mechanics available here, but there is really no Specialist of these Motorcycle that was capable of building up the Yamaha from the state it was in. The bike was having some engine issues. The Crank bearing of the bike was shot. So Mujib was the one who guided me through how to fix the crank issue as well as provided 90% of the spares for the Motorcycle.
We finally started the bike at 2:30 am after working on the engine for a whole day. The bike we made in a total of 4 days. I got all the parts I needed to fix the bike beforehand and went to work fixing the bike. We started the build on a Sunday and finished up the whole bike, including paint by Friday morning, just in time for me to catch my flight to Chennai.
How often does the RXZ get used?
The bike is currently not being used daily as I am in Chennai doing my studies. My dad takes it out once in a while for a short spin to make sure it runs fine. So it pretty much sits there most of the time now but I use it as my daily driver when I’m back home.
Even the hardcore bikers who see the bike back home ask me how I manage to keep it running. Everyone is fascinated by. A rider from Himachal who owned a Rajdoot 175 and Rajdoot RD350 as well as a Two Stroke Royal Enfield Mini Bullet was very inquisitive about the motorcycle. He was astonished at the condition of the Motorcycle despite being on an island where maintaining the motorcycle is a big chore.
You have authorized dealers for every brand here but there is really no availability of spare parts for these old Motorcycles. When I got the bike, it had so many parts missing on it that I knew I was in for quite a ride when it came to sourcing these parts to put the bike back together. I had to search everywhere in Bangalore and Chennai for the parts I needed. I got it shipped to me by my friends who got them for me on the mainland.
Even a broken accelerator cable can leave your bike obsolete for weeks if you don’t have extras in hand. After going through the same ordeal myself, I make sure to keep spares for the Accelerator and Clutch wire as well as clutch plates. The main issue with owning a Motorcycle in the Andamans is the lack of availability of servicing points and a sheer dearth of spare parts.
Another stumbling block is not having Specialists in Yamaha, especially the older bikes on the Island.
Describe the feeling of riding around in the Andamans on your RXZ
It is a very different feeling. You can’t go too fast as the roads here are pretty narrow compared to that on the mainland. As for the views it offers you, it makes sure that you have a sensory overload when you ride a Motorcycle here. It is a very raw and pure experience and something any rider would thoroughly enjoy. I also ride motorcycles in Chennai and that doesn’t give anywhere close to the pleasure you get when you ride a Motorcycle here.
You just hear the Motorcycle when it starts up. There is not much commotion and you can listen to the waves in the sea and the birds when you ride along the coast. It’s just you, nature and that glorious Two Stroke ring-ding. Ask me why I often travel to the Andamans in between college and I will tell you that it is to listen to my RXZ sing!
As for Traffic rules in the Andamans, they are pretty well re-enforced. The cops are really strict here. They are really pretty well informed on the stock spec of vehicles. They will catch you even if you make the smallest alteration to your vehicle.
Why is the bike so special to you?
Like I told you, it was a big part of my Childhood and I used to ride the same motorcycle whenever I got my hands on it back when I was still in school. Call it coincidence, but one interesting detail about the bike that really makes it more special to me is the fact that it was delivered to the original owner on the exact same day that I was born. It is also a bike that I built up using my own hands with the help of two of my friends. It has a lot of stories made around it and that also makes it very special to me.
It is also the only RXZ on the whole of Havelock island and that makes it literally special as well.
“This is one Motorcycle which I will never sell. I want to grow old seeing this bike and would want to die seeing the bike for the last time. So it’s safe to say that this is one Motorcycle that I would take to my grave”
Do you consider your Motorcycle to be your brother or your girlfriend?
It is more of a girlfriend to me. I believe that you have to take care of your Motorcycle just like you would your girlfriend. Take proper care of her and keep her happy, she will not give you any problems and will make you happier in turn.
Do you have a name for your bike?
Yes. I call her Legend.
These bikes were from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and were Motorcycles that most adults now would remember vividly from their childhood. They were such a big part of the pop culture in those times.
So many of us would have stories that involved these motorcycles and thus they have remained in our memories without being forgotten. I think that sentiment added to the fact that they are such fun and reliable Motorcycles to ride makes them such a big part of so many people’s lives.
I was around these motorcycles since childhood. My dad had a Suzuki Samurai and that bike was a big part of my childhood. So my early opinions of Motorcycles as someone growing up were exclusively of these Two Stroke Motorcycles.
Do you own any other motorcycle besides it?
Apart from the RXZ, own a Yamaha R15 S as well as an Aprilia SR125 and a Honda Dio.
If you have to define your motorcycle in a few lines...what would it be?
Motorcycles for me are like human beings. My motorcycle is like a baby for me as I built it up myself. I understand every nuance and niggle when it comes to my motorcycle. It is a really wonderful example of a man machine relationship.
Finally, why do you think these motorcycles are worth keeping around?
A bike gives you memories that nothing else can give you. It is something I can give you a guarantee on. Let it be your Mom, Dad, Brother or Girlfriend, each person we know will have their own link to the Motorcycle. They are like a memory maker. I have so many memories on and around these motorcycles. They are also in many ways, a link to the old days and a means to remind you of times gone by.
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