Two Stroke Tuesdays EP 01 : 2001 Suzuki Max 100R - Keeping the Music Alive
Vijay Krishnan April 15, 2019
Ask me what my idea of a quintessential biker from the 80’s is and I will tell you it involves a Two Stroke soundtrack and the cloud of blue smoke that follows it. Two Strokes used to be the king of the roads owing to their simple engineering and general smiles per mile offered, until they were replaced by fuel injected 4 stroke machines.
Two Stroke Tuesdays is an ode to these wonderful machines from yesteryear that have fallen victim to human evolution. They might have gone, but they have not been forgotten!
We are kicking off Two Stroke Tuesdays with a motorcycle that holds a special place in my heart as it is the one on which I learned how to ride a motorcycle. The Suzuki Max 100 followed the legendary Samurai, Shogun and Shaolin and offered simple motorcycling for your average middle class guy. Even though it was a very basic bike by all means, it had one undeniably brilliant ace up its sleeve, the tried and tested Suzuki two stroke engine that powered the bike.
This week is all about Bharath Narayan and his 2001 TVS-Suzuki Max 100R. Let’s take a look at what the bike means to him and get to understand why these bikes still have a fanatic fan following despite its many shortcomings when compared to a regular modern bike: -
So Bharath, what do you do in life and how is the motorcycle a part of it?
I'm a full time musician, a Carnatic Singer. I stay in Teynampet, close to some of the most busiest concert halls in Chennai. As a young musician, listening and observing is a major part of the whole process and the motorcycle helps me to get to concert halls quickly and most importantly, in style! I am also a Computer Hardware Enthusiast who likes to fix, work and game on Computers. I feel the whole process of fixing up the motorcycle and riding it somehow stemmed from this interest of mine. Now I absolutely enjoy working on the bike and riding it around.
Tell us about your motorcycle. Tell us how you got it and how you restored it.
My motorcycle is a 2001 TVS-Suzuki Max 100R in Blue. I remember that it was a struggle for me to get a motorcycle. I demanded one right from the day I turned 18 but my parents were very reluctant at first. However, after one and a half years of constant nagging, I finally had my way and my dad started searching for one. He is a motorcycle enthusiast whose passion seems to have faded these days. He had an old RX100 during his college days and still tells us about the crazy fun he had with his bike.
Back in those times, I knew 2 strokes were a thing and nothing more. My dad and I were okay with a used bike so we searched for the typical 150cc motorcycles. During this time, on a random day, I took a short round on my friend's Suzuki Samurai. Mind you, I had always thought these old bikes were not practical or fun as they simply can't keep up with the current crop of motorcycles. But the moment I started riding it, I simply fell in love with the bike! This was a turning point in my case.
About 2 months before getting my bike, I started nagging my dad, telling him I want a 2 stroke. He wasn't very much happy about it as he told me the same thing: “They are not practical these days” and then literally the same thing happened to him. One of his friends had this run-down Max 100R and wanted to scrap it off. He somehow came to know about me searching for a motorcycle and made my dad go for a test drive on it. That one small ride, changed his mind and he brought her home the very next minute!
Then came the restoration part. When I had got the motorcycle, everything except the mirrors were intact, which may not sound so bad. The truth was that nothing worked except for ignition, and the engine, and so many nuts and bolts were rounded off or broken or stuck.
I was a complete newbie when it came to 2 strokes so I started thread on xBhp, Joined Suzuki clubs and started learning my way up. I wanted to fix the Instrument console first, so that I can record how long I can ride with the Odo being reset.
Since I was a musician and a student who had to frequently travel a lot in city, I couldn't go ahead and do a complete rebuild in one go. Instead, I did the work in segments. It was such a ride! I learnt so many things restoring the bike one by one. I had to remove the Tank cover, clear out Rat droppings from the air filter box and dead Cockroaches under the seat, fix the Chewed up wiring etc.
What is it that draws you to two stroke motorcycles?
They have a unique character and soul. There is just something gripping about the ring-ding-ding of the 2 stroke. One can just keep listening to the lazy and long 2 stroke of Yezdis and the old Jawas forever. Also not to forget is the trail of blue smoke. Since I have a Suzuki Shogun muffler in my exhaust, my bike sounds beautiful and I feel that exhaust notes of 2 strokes are generally far more intoxicating than 4 strokes.
They have some pretty neat features when compared to a standard four stroke such as the bike can be kick-started in any gear with the clutch pulled in, something which most 4T bikes can't do. On the old Yezdis and Jawas, the kicker turns into gear lever, there is a hidden reverse gear and the semi-auto clutch means you can still ride if your clutch cable snaps. They are beautiful examples of some wonderful and thoughtful engineering!
Having an unpredictable power band is whole another thing. But the biggest factor must be the simplicity. Two strokes are very simple to maintain and operate and that's the reason they still keep running even after two, three or even five decades. Also, two stroke motorcycles are highly customisable. There is an entire ocean of modification options available.
Another thing is the Two Stroke owners’ community and owners’ groups. You find some of the most passionate and helpful people there and you make some really good friends from your interactions there.
Do you own any other motorcycle besides your Suzuki?
Even though I do not own another motorcycle, I ride the TVS RTR 200 owned by my dad on rare occasions. It has maybe twice the power and handles much nicer than my bike. But the feel and the sensory assault I get from the Suzuki makes sure that I ride my bike more.
If you could define your motorcycle in a few lines, what would it be?
My bike, My Max - A soulful motorcycle with a hard and tough past, still being able to run and put a smile on your face!
“I have learnt that one man's junk can be another man's gold and I have also learnt that nothing can be perfect. Most importantly I understood that, one must always pursue happiness no matter what levels of stress or tough times they are going through because their efforts to find happiness will definitely be rewarded!”
If you have a Two Stroke story to tell, send it to us at :- firstname.lastname@example.org