Thursday, February 15, 2007

Biking nostalgia

J. C. Road in Bangalore is a great place to buy second hand vehicles, mostly two-wheelers. Gujjri is the best place to buy spare parts. Last Sunday, I had to go to Gujjri to buy a hex wrench, carburetor and a clutch plate for my 1987 model 100 cc Yamaha RX bike.

I love my bike. Its sleek, its slim, its retro but a blazing gun. A hard-to-control beast when it fires up. And I love the sound.

While negotiating the price of a clutch plate with the shop owner, he offered me a clutch spring worth Rs. 100/- free. Upon asking him why, he replied, “Saab yeh original RX ka spare hai. Bina is spring ka plate lagaye to koi fayda nahi hai.” (This is an original spare of RX, Sir, without this spring your bike won’t give the desired performance) But why free I asked him again. “Saar, ye bike aaj kal milta nahin hai, aur main RX ka bara fan hoon. Mera paas saat RX hai, ekdum naya aur main ushe race karata hoon. Aap bhi RX chalate ho, to socha sahi parts dal ke aap chalayo, second hand hua to kya.” (Sir, RX is out of production and I’m a big fan of RX. I have seven of them. Since you ride one, we share a common passion, so I thought use an original spare even if it’s seconds) Am impressed. Brand loyalty at its highest order.

This got me thinking. I know the Govt. has banned manufacturing of all two-stroke bikes in India. Surprisingly they did not ban people from riding one on road. RX100 has a huge fan following in our country; ask any biker in this country and two brand names crop up – Bullet and RX. While Bullet riders love to thud, RX rider love to zip.

So why not help bring those loyal followers together? Why not help restore the bikes, help in engine modification, body beautification, and conduct street drags, anything that brings those rugged, free-spirited, street biking values back? Yes, you may not sell your Gladiator models but you can still keep a whole lot of followers closer and happy.

The RX100 club, The RX100 – 100 meters race, The RX100 – 100 Km torment test (endurance test), The RX100 – 100 days on the road celebration. You don’t need mass media help. Neither do you need to do a MTV Roadies. You’re the original ROADIE. Just bring back that BRAND NOSTALGIA. John Abraham alone cannot change your fortune, no matter how hard you try. Remember your most loyal fans have given up HOPE.

2 comments:

Raghu Ram said...

Roop,

I agree with you that RX has a huge following. Bullet too has it's share of followers. Another brand that has a following is, don't forget, RD 350. I pose to you a question- is this sudden feeling of belonging to a motorcycle brand to be linked with the increased spending power? Also, are we going the US way- that of glorifying, unwantedly of course, some mechanical product? Ki bhalo?

pooR_Planner said...

Raghu,
Bullet, RX, RD and not to forget Yezdi indeed has a huge following in India. And this has nothing got to do with spending power. These bikes created the bike market in India. And people love them. Those who own these macines don't consider other bikes worth their tarmac. To them these bikes are more than a commuters vehicle. If the manufacturers were as passionate as the owners of these machines, rules can be rewritten for the two-wheeler industry in India. So what if I have stopped manufacturing. I can still take the ownership of the vehicles that people ride. They love my brand so do I as a manufacturer. Now that bond is missing. Except Bullet.

I don't know whether you read the news last week in ET. Indian bike market is on the down-slide, sales are low. Why? Young people don't have much emotional attachment with their two wheelers. 'I need one to commute.' As simple as that. Car is filling that emotional need gap.

Now whether we're going the US way (I presume you meant Are we following the western culture?) is a seperate debate all together. Why do you wear a Nike and not a Bata? Why you wear a kurta with Levis and not a pyajama? Cultural shift is happening no doubt. It happening at a very macro level and I think its a good sign. We'll understand the impact of this cultural mixture in another 15 - 20 years. It'll be fun I tell you. Do wait and watch.

Cheers.