Though not indicated in the RC book, RocketQueen is actually a Yezdi Classic II and not a D250 Classic as revealed by the side monograms. This is a picture of RocketQueen sometime in 2006, about the same time I was mulling over giving her a makeover.
Being a student, my shallow pocket only permitted me to plan for a basic paint and chrome job. But I didn’t even see this basic plan materialise. One, because there was never enough reserve in the shallow pocket and two, I had to leave Chennai to pursue my masters degree. It was impractical to move the bike to where I was and I only got to see and ride her once a year when I came home for summer vacation.
Between 2007 and 2011, during my short summer breaks, I used to get something or the other fixed just to get the makeover started. But we couldn’t move beyond minor fixes like chroming rusted parts, replacing a punctured float, or replacing worn out moving parts. In September 2011, when I moved back home for good, the plan still remained a dream because I was unemployed and up to my neck in debt. In January 2012, I had to move to Hyderabad to start off my career. The bike had to stay back again, for practical reasons. But this time, with funds flowing in, I was more hopeful of getting the makeover started in a few months. And planned on doing more than just a basic paint job. The few months became 3 years and 5 months. How? I don’t know. Every time I took a break to come home, it was painful to see rocketqueen gathering rust and dust. The pain was just fleeting and not strong enough for me to take things more seriously.
After having enough fun at my first job I moved back home in June 2015. This time I had sufficient reserves and time to get things moving. By early September, my mechanic and I drew out an elaborate plan to restore the motorcycle to the original Classic II form. Besides a more detailed paint and chrome job, we also planned to replace and upgrade most of the worn out moving/functional parts including the front suspension, kicker quadrant, gear springs, exhaust pipes, seat, head and tail lights, to bring the motorcycle back to what is called a “Pukka Showroom Condition”
During the first phase of the restoration project, when we started purchasing parts, I was starting to feel that it wouldn’t be fitting to restore RocketQueen to the Classic II form. I somehow felt that the D250 look, with the vintage headlight dome, rubber pads on the tank, and the more rounded classic front mudguard, would better suit RocketQueen’s personality.
So I started to pursue this slightly modified plan towards the end of the first phase, though it meant not using some of the parts already purchased and spending more on additional body parts. I had to let go of the Roadking type headlight assembly, indicator lights, handle bar, and front mudguard. The new parts on the list were D250 or B Type headlight dome; headlight assembly with glass, ring, reflector and bulb holder; shorter handle bar that fits inside the dome; key switch; and classic metal front mudguard.
It took a lot of time and effort to locate and buy reasonably good salvaged and OE parts. I decided not the go with the rubber padded tank because the thought of replacing a major part of the motorcycle with a salvaged part from some unknown motorcycle didn’t feel right. I managed to find a headlight dome after half a day’s hunting and asking around in Pudupet’s motorcycle scrap market. Purchased an OE stock headlight assembly from a former Yezdi Jawa dealer in Pune, and mudguard from a Yezdi enthusiast in Bangalore. After a long wait I got the final pieces – short handle bar with yokes welded at a perfect angle and a bulb holder, delivered by a vintage parts dealer in Hyderabad.
The motorcycle is dismantled fully and we now have all that is needed to being the actual restoration phase. But looks like the Force doesn’t want the project to start just yet. And this Force has brought us a spell of rains the city has never seen before. We should get back on track again in a couple of weeks, the Force willing.