Two Stroke Tuesdays : Yamaha RX 135 - The Zephyr
The thing with Two Stroke Motorcycles is that there is always a connect between the Motorcycle and the person riding it. There is an organic relationship that exists as a result of the time you spend with the Motorcycle and there is always some story related to the Motorcycle that gives you that connect.
We take the scenic route this time and discover what is it like to run a Two Stroke Motorcycle in one of the wettest places in the country. Two Stroke Tuesdays comes to you from Sikkim where we meet a man who sees his Motorcycle as a totem to channel all his positive energy and creativity and hopes to make the world a better place through Motorcycles.
Tell us about who you are
My name is Ashish Gurung and I own a 2001 Yamaha RX 135. I am a resident of Gangtok, Sikkim and I own as well as run a lifestyle store called The Zephyr Store in Gangtok.
I'm into fashion, music, travelling and photography and I would like to think my current motorcycle is a part of me and an extension of myself. I use her for my daily commute and take her wherever I go. Come rain, slush or sunshine she is my lifeline and she has become one of the reasons to wake up every morning. I absolutely love her.
As for my store, my first venture was about 5 years ago and we dealt in skate and street fashion then. I lost my store after running it for two years due to my short comings. I had become my own worst enemy and a victim of whatever little success that I had found. But I believe that time is strange and life is twice as strange. You fail and you fall but you never give up on your passion and your dreams.
We've recently re-opened after 3 years out of business and we now deal in helmets, leather goods, mens/women fashion clothing & accessories. So we basically, are a lifestyle store at the moment.
Have you always fancied the RX or is it something that happened by accident?
My friend had a RD 350 and ever since I rode that, I was hooked onto two strokes. Personally, getting a RD 350 now would be very expensive for me. So ideally, next in line was the RX series from Yamaha. I found one in mint condition but it was unfortunately sold to someone else. I kept searching for a good example and this project bike that my friend wanted to sell just fell into my lap.
Tell us about your motorcycle
She's an early 2000's RX 135 (4 speed) the bike that was commissioned to be built as a cafe racer. It has a monoshock at the back, a longer swing-arm bigger sprocket, chain, front forks and a disc break at the front. The mechanic who built the bike did a good job fitting these parts but he never took practicality into consideration as it came with an open pod filter, no rear fenders. So I used to be drenched every day and it was literally like riding a dirt bike to work every day. I felt sorry for my helmet which got the worst of it and I had to clean it every day as it was always muddy. My leather jacket used to be such a respite for me as it kept me dry and all I had to do was wipe it off. Water used to enter the filter, added to that it rains here almost everyday. The water splash from the rear tyre would get into the pod filter through the gap between the swing-arm and tyre and eventually the carburettor and the bike kept dying on me because of this. After a point of time I just started carrying a screwdiver with me all the time.
I had been into Motorcycles for a long time but never really owned one. I used to always ride around on my friends’ bike. I always used my Car, which I was very fond of for commuting. A few months back, I passed down my car to my younger brother who had been urging me for years to give him the keys to the car. I thought the time was right to hand over the keys to him, since I was setting up my store again and knew that I would hardly have time to drive her. That along with the growing traffic and the parking problem that we face here pushed me to get a commuter bike for myself. I needed a bike mainly to commute back and forth from my shop. A friend of mine had commissioned to build a scrambler out of the RX135 through a mechanic. However, the mechanic had done a shoddy job on it and he eventually ended up wanting to sell off the Motorcycle.
As I was looking for one, I caught wind that he wanted to sell his Motorcycle. Things moved pretty fast after that and I visited the mechanic and saw the bike a few days later. A couple of days after that, I went to his shop and bought it. I believe I did not even take a proper test ride before I bought the Motorcycle. The mechanic had done some good things on the bike like the monoshock and the front discs. However, the mechanical side of the bike was not dealt with properly and the tune up of the engine was not right and it was running on the pod filter. So, the bike ended up being totally unfit and practical for the conditions here. She just wasn't running to her full potential as well.
Thankfully, like with all things in life, if you truly want something with all your heart and you work hard to get it things tend to happen. And so, I happen to get in touch with a mechanic very close to my house and ever since then, he and I have been working on my bike on my off days. She still has a lot of vibrations that we are trying to fix and the clutch needs some work. Apart from that she's been totally reliable . You just gotta love that Japanese reliability these bikes come with.
Why do you like 2 stroke motorcycles?
My love for Two Stroke Motorcycle stems from an RD 350 that my friend owned and was fixing up. I got to ride it and instantly fell in love with its raw-ness and that Two Stroke feeling. I like old-school stuff and especially, old school cars and bikes. These old Motorcycles and Cars speak to you. You form a bond with your vehicle.
I have always liked old bikes mostly for the soul that they have, the retro looks and the simplicity of being able to work on it yourself. Now since I own one, I just love the sound it make and the smell of the petrol mixed with 2T oil. You just want to rip her out every chance you get and that instant torque is just addictive. These bikes certainly have their own character, makes you nostalgic everyday when you ride it. They make you want to learn to fix her up yourself. You are also saving an old soul and it fills my heart a immense joy when I ride one. It's also teaching me a lot about patience when you don't find the right parts plus the long shipping wait.
Do you own any other motorcycle besides it?
She's my only love for now. But I certainly won't mind having a second in the new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
If you have to define your motorcycle in a few lines...what would it be?
After everything that has happened in my life and with buying her at the same time when I was re-opening my store, she's named 'zephyr - a soft gentle breeze'. Though it was a love/hate realtionship sometimes, I think that sums her up pretty well.
What are your future plans with the bike?
I recently added a custom rear fender, upholstered the seats with new leather, fixed a cafe racer front fairing, and slapped on some smaller indicators. As for the future I'm planning to find a another old engine and and port it. Also an expansion chamber would be a sweet addition. Basically, I plan to do mods on her now to make her run faster. I was planning on getting the whole bike painted again but due to time constraints I have decided against it and plan to just redo the tank and leave everything else raw. She's a daily commuter for me and on off days we go around nearby town for ride and photoshoots. I'm also planning to do a road trip with her soon.
It is a labor of love making her, ordering parts online, sourcing parts from all over the place including from places like Goa. I love the excitement of waiting for parts to arrive from all over. I go to the Post Office myself to pick up the parts I order which I enjoy very much. It's like Christmas morning all over!
Tell us your fondest memories with the bike
I still remember the day that I bought it, it was raining heavily, I sat on it and just rode it in excitement till the time I reached my store I was completely drenched in rain and slush as it had no fenders at the front and the back. Just after 2 days after I bought her, the CDI kit went kaput. The bike sat for a at least a whole month before I rode her again, which was the most painful part as the Motorcycle was right in front of my eyes but I just couldn’t ride her.
I remember taking her out for a spin in a convoy with my friends who were on a Harley and a Ninja. This was the first time I had taken her out on the Highway and the first time I actually got to really open her up. I got to really learn about the bike on that day, like how she vibrated like crazy after 70kph on the highway. While coming back from what was a beautiful ride, my headlight went bust and I had to be guided home by the Harley and the Ninja who were in front and behind me.
The person who commissioned the bike had built a bike that was a very polished toy but the internals were not bolted on right. She died down on me completely multiple times while returning home. The road to my home is pretty much downhill and I just remember sliding her into neutral and just rolling down the road. I feel that is how I bonded with my bike. I have so much memories already with the Motorcycle despite the relatively short period of owning her.
How has the bike been an influence on your life?
My life now revolves around my family, friends, store and my Motorcycle. These things are what makes life meaningful and worthwhile. I have named my Motorcycle Zephyr after my store.
These Motorcycles revs your heart and I truly believe that they totally have a soul to them. It is a very expensive and complicated relationship that you have with the Motorcycle but one that ultimately gives you so much happiness. Since I recently got featured on the 2 stroke owners club page, my inbox has blown up with dm’s of people who appreciate the bike. I have started getting so much appreciation for the bike with Villagers blowing their horns and telling me to stop so they can admire the bike. It’s not that I long for this recognition but it is heartwarming to see that people appreciate your Motorcycle which ultimately is a reflection of your taste and an extension of yourself. It makes you feel good and is a very humbling experience. In a society with so much penned up anger and negativity, I feel things like these are what the society need to take their mind of all the bullshit that we see around us.
Now I have started to love everything, the sensation of riding bikes, the smell of the oil, the engine noise and all of its small niggles. I spend almost half of what I earn on my Motorcycle now. It is very nostalgic and a fun thing to do.
I am a person who believes in the endless pursuits for knowledge. I try to use technology the best way possible and learn as much as I can on the Internet. I love listening to podcasts and reading up on articles that help me run my business better and build my brand. I like to keep myself inspired and I constantly try to pick up new skills on the way. I make it a point to constantly update myself about Motorcycles. For example, I can now open and clean the carburetor myself.
Finally, how is it like to ride a Motorcycle in Sikkim?
I love riding the Motorcycle in Sikkim. Its so beautiful with the views and the smell. I love zipping through traffic in everyday commute to the store. I would say it's a Paradise and that it is pure bliss to be riding in and around town. The smell after the rains especially, is so refreshing. The smell of fresh grass just after the rain, all the beautiful scenery just takes your breath away when you're riding around. Be it beautiful sunny days, sunsets, rainy days, foggy days, straight roads or amazing twisties, we have it all. One can really admire how clean our state is as well. Riding in Sikkim is a total bliss. It is such a blessing to be born here.
Check out Ashish on Instagram @thinkeinside
Check out the Zephyr store @thezephyrstore