Two Stroke Tuesdays E21 : Rajdoot Bobby GTS - The Trophy Bike
Vijay Krishnan Aug 30, 2019
A trip to Ladakh and specifically to the Khardung-La pass is one that is considered a religious experience by all bikers in India. Doing the journey even on an adventure bike is considered tricky, let alone on a vintage motorcycle. But doing it on a monkey bike that is the equivalent of a modern day Honda Navi takes some serious balls and some effort. It is a feat that would be considered too extreme even by the most ardent biker. But like the saying, it is only impossible until its done!
Episode 21 is about the guy who did the impossible by a bike that was considered too fragile for even normal roads to the highest motorable road on the planet. We are in conversation with Neel as he speaks about his awe inspiring feat and his love for all things vintage and two stroke.
My name is Nilay Jaywant Jagtap and I am what could be called a Two Stroke addict. The passion I have for these motorcycles are bordering insane but I am sure those who share my feeling would surely understand me. I love old cars and motorcycIes and have dedicated a large chunk of my time and resources in pursuing this passion. Although I love all old motorcycles and scooters alike, I have a special affection for the Jawa brand of motorcycles. So much so that I own 5 old Jawas and currently work as an ASM for Jawa at their Pimpri-Chinchiwad dealership.
Like my brothers who have been featured in the Two Stroke Tuesday blogs like Yash, Amol and Nikhil, I too am part of the Two Strokers club from Nashik. I am blessed to be a part of this club and to have the opportunity to get to know people who are as passionate, if not more about these old two strokes as me.
We are not collectors. We are the people who pick up these old motorcycles in whatever state we find them in, whether it be pulling them out from peoples garages, prizing them away from people who just let them sit but are too attached to them to sell or from the Kabadiwalas (scrap dealers). We take these motorcycles that are deemed expendable and of scrap value by people and salvage a classic motorcycle out of them.
It is a matter of pride for me to keep these motorcycles running. These are vehicles that get identified by people as the motorcycle his or hers granddad or dad used to ride. I feel proud to be a custodian of these old beauties and hope to pass these motorcycles on to the next generation.
I now own 30 motorcycles which is a mix of bikes and scooters. My collection is made up of mostly Jawas, Yezdis and Lambrettas. I also have a few Rajdoot Bobbys.
It all started when I saw the bike ridden by Arjun Kapoor in the movie Ishaqzaade. It was a yellow Yezdi and at that time, what struck me most about the bike was its twin silencers. I was 17 or 18 at the time and all I wanted to do then was to get my hands on this bike. I took a Friend’s splendor about 200 kms to a place called Nangaon to look at a prospective Yezdi. I did many such scouting trips before I finally got my hands on my first motorcycle which is a Yezdi B Type. It was an early Yezdi model and it kicked off what has now become a way of life for me.
People might feel we are rich folks who have all the time and money at hand to lead such a lifestyle and acquire many motorcycles, but the truth couldn't be farther away. We have taken loans and scrapped every rupee we can to get these motorcycles and even restore them back to their former glory. It is all done purely out of the love we have for these old motorcycles and a passion to keep them on the road and keep them relevant.
The important thing is that we actually ride these motorcycles rather than restoring them to pristine condition and just stowing them away. From 2014, The people from our club have regularly been attending India Bike Week in numbers that keep increasing every year.
We ride these bikes long distance regularly and try and keep the flames burning as much as possible. The only aim for us as a community of enthusiasts is to pass these motorcycles down to be enjoyed by the next generation of enthusiasts. We feel it is our duty to keep these beauties on the road and to remind people how wonderful they are to own and operate.
The original feel of these Vehicle is very important to us. It is this feel that transports us to the era in which they ruled the Indian roads. These bikes are so legendary and people used to do cross country on these bikes with family because it was so reliable and easy to work on. It is this sensation that we strive for and no corners are cut in the pursuit of getting the bike as close to the original motorcycle as possible.
I was inspired by the RD 350. That is the motorcycle that got my pulses racing for two strokes. But because a used RD went for crazy money even back then, I focused on the jawas and yezdis that were more attainable.
On the Ladakh expeditionLadakh was a dream like any biker out there. There were about 10-12 bikers ta first but as soon as I told them I would be doing the trip on a Bobby GTS, many of them backed out.
I decided to take the Rajdoot GTS to Leh and I was immediately bombarded by a barrage of negative comments. A lot of people I knew went out of their way to try and discourage me. I still remember my uncle giving me a three hour lecture to try and dissuade me from doing the trip on the Bobby. He stated that it was a motorcycle that was nowhere near fit enough to make the trip and said my back would take a serious pounding if I attempted it.
Now the Bobby is not a Motorcycle you ride when you want to do a couple hundred kilometres but I did on average, at least 500 kms a day on my Bobby. People take their bikes from Delhi or Srinagar depending on how much they travel. With each day you are on the road, the higher your expense is. My problem was compounded by the fact that I had to go along in a bobby. Then I had to keep up with the other motorcycles I was riding along with.
So I had gone to Ladakh along with Babuji, who is a mentor and friend with an infectious passion for old two strokes. He is a sexagenarian who rode Jawas on a yearly basis. There was also Mr. Uday Bodhale, who is another person I respect a lot from my Jawa community.
Infact, I believe these people need to be given the spotlight before me as they are the true heroes when it comes to keeping these bikes singing as sweet as the day they left the factory and keeping them on the road. They are the real custodians of the company's legacy and have preserved the passion and have also made sure it will continue through people like me.
The worst part was that I had to ride with just a tank capacity of 4 litres. Even though the Bobby had a capacity of 5-6 litres, I kept it to 4 litres everytime I fill up. This was because these old motorcycles are not the best when it comes to overall fit and finish and riding on a rough patch of road with a full tank can cause the fuel to splash out. If this happens and some fuel happens to find its way to the surface of the hot engine, the whole bike can go up in flames. I had to basically carry a couple of Jerrycans of fuel and in the barren and uninhabited stretches leading unto my final destination, it was a real headache.
My bike was smal and in a place where you can have water level as high up as one's waist, it was totally out of its element. It was just as tall as an average person's waist itself. Added to that the bikes riding with me were a couple of Yezdis , the Jawa ridden by Babuji and a Royal Enfield were all much powerful and had larger tyres compared to the Bobby. Just speaking from logic, my motorcycle had to cover more ground as each revolution of the pint sized tyre was nowhere near that which was covered by the other bikes. Added to that, in a motorcycle with a very modest power output, I had to keep up with them. To counter this, we used to leave early in the morning and made full use of the fact that Sunsets happened in the mountains very late at around 8:30 – 9:00 pm as to cover as much distance as possible.
I had no issues on the way. At no point did I doubt the Bobby or my chance of getting to the top. The only niggle it had was a broken engine clamp and that too was fixed up without much of a struggle. Infact, the only welding technician for miles came back to work on the bike seeing it was a monkey bike that someone had ridden all the way to Ladakh. Such was the respect the bike garnered during the journey.
I had put a clutch wire from an activa that was retrofitted onto the bike by Babuji. This very same clutch stayed intact throughout the whole journey and it kept going for a total of 5years before it needed replacement. Such is the expertise of people like Uday ji and Babuji over these old motorycles. The silencer, even though it was scrambler style drooped down at the end. This meant that wading in water in an already small bike was made even more challenging as I knew any water that goes into the engine would probably mean the end of my journey. Going upstream was a breeze as I could easily stand up and use my legs to maneuver the bikes over rocks because it was small and weighing in at about 98kgs, it was a featherweight.
When we reached Khardung-la, we were greeted by bikers who were already there. They were waving and acknowledging the fact that I had taken a bike which no one would have used to make this journey. I had proved the world wrong and changed its perception on these bikes. I am infact the first person to take a monkey bike to Khardung – La.
Two Stroke for me means love. Riding these bikes are a trip on its own. I can't add anything more to what other enthusiasts have to say about what they like with these bikes. I just know that getting hooked to these is like gambling. One is never enough!
I was a finalist for True Wanderer by Wrangler. Because of my little adventure on the Rajdoot, I was facilitated by Mumbiker Nikhil who I looked up to so much. This motorcycle and this adventure is what gave me recognition. People know me mostly as the guy who took a Bobby all the way to Leh. It is my pride and it is my trophy for the trip I made out there. I love
Although the Bobby means the world to me, I would have to say the most dearest motorcycle in my collection would have to be the Jawa. It is my second motorcycle and I bought the bike in pieces. I bought it for 750 rupees from a scrap dealer and was brought home as just bags of parts. It took 2 years to painstakingly restore and bring back the bike to its former glory. I spent a lot of money and time, both of which are valuable on bringing the bike back to its former glory. However I feel the release you get when you ride the bike after It has been fully done up is worth any effort. The fact that I have saved one more of these amazing bikes for the future fills me with a sense of pride which dwarfs all the pain and suffering of getting the bike back running.
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"Move over Enfields and Jawas of the world...your H'ness has arrived!"
Is it too early to gloat and make fun of those who just took deliveries of their Royal Enfield 350's and Jawas? We will try to delve into the 300-500cc pot that has been given an almighty stir with the introduction of the all new Honda CB 350 dubbed the Highness, or H'ness for short.