Two Stroke Tuesdays : Lost and Found - The Yezdi Roadking
Vijay Krishnan Sept 23, 2019
You never realize the value of something until you lose it. This is the case when it comes to most things, be it a lost romance, spurned opportunity or in this case a motorcycle.
We get to hear the Two Stroke equivalent of the above from Irfan who is an avid enthusiast from Kerala as he talks about the interesting tale of his Yezdi Roadking.
My name is Irfan K Mongam. I am a collector of old Two Strokes and antique items. I started collecting vintage items for modelling. I wanted to do something far from the ordinary and wanted to do shoots with an exclusive old school vibe. So I started scouring scrapyards and whatnot to collect items such as old type writers, phones and televisions and this slowly grew into an obsession.
My first motorcycle was a 1992 Yamaha RX 100. I bought it for ten thousand rupees back in the day and it is the bike that introduced me to the Two Stroke culture. It made me fall in love with these bikes and made me appreciate them for more than just their nostalgia, antiquity or aesthetic appeal.
I don’t enjoy taking my bikes out every day. The fun lies in taking them out on a weekend or during special occasions with just the intention of enjoying the ride. As for everyday use, I have my trusty RX 100. It has been my constant companion for the past 6 years now. I recently did a restoration on the bike and modified it very slightly to suit my tastes. I ended up spending a bomb on the restoration and the paperwork. But the fact that it has never let me down in the 6 years that I used it made me want to go ahead with it despite the expense I was facing.
Before I bought my first bike, I had no idea about what a Two Stroke was. It was mostly the love for the vintage and the old that drew me initially to these old bikes. For me, the aura of Two Strokes lies in the eyes of the admiring onlookers. It is the sound of these motorcycles that captures everyone’s attention and this is what gives them the distinction from four strokes in the eyes of the common man. Even an M80 grabs the attention of a common man who might mistake it for an RX 100 from the sound. Such is the importance of the Two Stroke sound on the aura of the bike.
A friend of mine who is a fellow RX owner once said to me that there was an old Yezdi up for sale nearby where I lived. At that time, I wasn’t able to make out the difference between a Jawa and Yezdi. I had absolutely no idea about the Yezdi apart from the fact that it was used by an elderly gentleman I know. I asked a friend to check out the bike on my behalf. He had no interest in it as it was a motorcycle that was relatively unknown and unheard in our part of the world.
There was a time when these bikes used to be weighed and sold as scrap for paltry sums. No one really knew about the value of these bikes or cared much about them. People were unaware of how wonderful these machines are. Nobody knew the value of these bikes apart from the prices they went for in my locality. I didn’t have a phone that would let me use OLX and thus, I too like many in my area knew nothing about how much these bikes cost.
So I asked a local mechanic who said I will be doing fine as long as it is a Roadking or a CL II. This gave me the drive to go and check the bike out. It was a Yezdi Roadking that was in a fairly decent condition with relevant paperwork good for another 3 years. So I borrowed ten thousand rupees from my father, pledged my mom’s gold ornaments and came up with the thirty thousand rupees that was being asked for the bike. I went to check out the bike during night and the next thing I know, I had this rust bucket of a bike on a goods carrier heading home without even riding it once. The previous owners put some fuel in the carb and started the bike up for me to show that it ran and that was all as far as guarantees on the bike went. The guy I bought from stayed at the end of a cul-de-sac that was very narrow and we refrained from taking the bike out as it was so loud it would surely wake up the sleeping kids staying on this street.
So I get back to a wave of opinions and people telling me I had made a terrible mistake. People were telling me things like I wouldn’t be able to run it because there are no spares available and that the bike was too overpriced. I had a friend who was a Royal Enfield specialist who suggested that I had done a blunder and paid so much over the counter for a bike he could source me for ten thousand rupees from Karnataka. This made my heart sink. I was out of a job and out of money at this time and I had bought an overpriced bike that was apparently worthless by selling my mom’s jewelry.
I remember that I had attended a marriage function later that day and I specifically remember struggling to be able to ingest the food I ate. It was a harrowing experience and I ended up going back to the middleman in the deal to plead my case. I remember crying telling my sorry state of affairs. He said that we would go back to the guy I bought the bike from and try to persuade him to take back the bike stating my helplessness.
The previous owner told me that he knew I had no idea about the bike and took it as a spur of the moment thing without even thinking about it. He gave me twenty thousand rupees back and told me he had put the rest of the money into the ongoing construction of his house. He told me to bring back the bike and park it in a garage nearby his place. He said that I could keep the RC of the bike in lieu of the remainder of the money I paid him.
I was now on a mission to salvage the money I had spent on purchasing the bike in the first place. I took it upon me to get the bike sold somehow and get back the remainder of the money. So a prospective buyer came and offered me a sum of twenty-seven thousand rupees. I made sure I was the one who did the negotiating as I wanted to make sure I could recoup as much of the thirty thousand as possible. We ended up agreeing on a sum of twenty-nine thousand rupees and sold off the bike finally after releasing it from the owner by paying him what he gave me back. Note that I had barely kept the bike at home for two days before I wheeled it back.
After selling the bike, it felt like the world’s weight was lifted off my shoulder. I still remember going back home after selling the bike. I was riding the RX and I still vividly recollect kissing the tank and proclaiming that it would be my one true love. I was living under so much stress during those days. It was not me but the people around me that was putting me under such pressure.
Going into remission
I bought a proper smart phone a couple of months later. And just like any person who checks out something after losing it, I checked out some Yezdis on OLX to see what they went for. I was shocked to see that they were going for as high as seventy thousand rupees on the second hand market those days. I was haunted by the feeling that I had let go of something truly special owing to my foolishness. I live near to the highway between Calicut and Palghat and every time I hear a Yezdi or a Jawa zip by, my heart pained. I felt like someone who had caught a big fish only for it to slip away from my grip due to my ignorance.
Getting back what I had lost
A year had past since I sold my Yezdi and I was again in the look out for a Yezdi. I had talked to a guy from Karnataka who was selling his Yezdi. Despite the language barrier as neither of us could speak a common language, we agreed on a price and I was set to go there and check the bike out the nexr week. I found an IND-Suzuki on OLX around the same time. It was up for sale for twelve thousand rupees and was had the Japanese made engine on it. This caught my eye and I ended up calling the seller to no avail as no one answered. However, I got a callback from the seller shortly and he startled me by addressing me by name as soon as I picked up. It was the same guy who I sold the Roadking to. After talking to him for a while, he asked me if I wanted to buy back the Yezdi I sold to him. He told me that he had sold it to someone who has now put it up for sale again.
I was now a man possessed. I was fully in the mood to regain something I had lost. Added to that I saw some pictures of the bike in its present condition and I was blown away. The owner had fully redone the bike and it looked as good as new. I quickly got the details of the seller and went about trying to buy it back.
So after trying to reach the seller for a long time, I finally managed to get through to him. He quoted me a price of sixty five thousand. Without even dealing with the seller any further, I set off with sixty thousand rupees in hand. I went to the seller and told him it was all the money I had and persuaded him to sell the bike to me for sixty thousand rupees. I had to even ask for a further reduction of five hundred rupees to get back home as the sixty thousand was literally all the money I had. That is how much I was committed to getting back the bike I had lost.
The growing collection
Years have passed since the whole Yezdi ordeal and this has seen me leave the country to work for a couple of years. I bought a Jawa during the time I was in Saudi Arabia and left it with a friend who used it during the time.
I am now back home and is trying to find my feet here doing something I enjoy doing. I still pursue my passion of acting and have scored some nice character roles in three upcoming movies. I have since then further enhanced my collection with 5 more motorcycles that I bought from the same guy. These include a WFM-Rajdoot 175, a Bobby GTS and a lambretta among others.
I am someone who is obsessed with the romance of the years gone by and I value each of the motorcycles I have with me. The Yezdi however, demands a special place in my heart because of the ordeal I went through getting it for the first time and selling it only to hunt it down and buy it back.
I plan to hopefully open up a Coffee Shop sometime soon. I plan to do it in a European Café manner, with antique motorcycle and antique items making up the décor. Motorcycles in this case will serve more than just the aesthetic purpose and thus functions more than an exhibit. But I feel these machines will be exhibits in a short while and I wanted to make sure I can do my part in keeping these old machines for the future generations to see. So this added some real application to my obsession of collecting ‘old stuff’.
The dream bike
The RX 100 and Yezdi Roadking will always have a special place in my heart. However the RD 350 has to be my dream bike. I rode one a while back and I absolutely adore it. It is that one motorcycle that would be the cherry on top of my collection.