The engine sounds like the insides are going to shatter anytime, No you are not taking her: The engine was submerged in the flood waters during the December 2015 rains. Despite persistent bearing noise we just had the water pumped out and engine oiled, without actually opening up the engine. After the first test ride that was done when the vehicle was delivered in February 2016, I was apprehensive about the motorcycle making it through the tour of Karnataka and Goa (2200 km) that I had been planning. Some tech experts and veteran riders recommended that I use extra 2t oil, ignore the noise and just focus on riding.
Road trips cannot be without damages and falls, No you are not taking her: Besides the bearing noise, one other thing that was bothering me was the possibility of damages, big or small, during the tour. I had gone through so much trouble restoring the motorcycle that I didn’t want to go through even 12% of it again in the event that something went wrong during the trip.
She is slow and uncomfortable, No you are not taking her: After the second test ride my butt got sore and back ached after just 60 km of riding. After the third test ride I was thinking that this Yezdi lady is slow and uncomfortable for long tours, and that I should borrow my friend’s KTM Duke.
If you want to, you can find all the reasons in the world not to take her. You cannot cage a lioness. You either ride with her and have the experience of a life time or forget about it: Some people I met and the better half of my brain convinced me to ignore the noise and discomfort and just push the motorcycle beyond barriers set by my mind and really see how it performs. So I took her for a final test ride of 200 km almost a week before the planned tour. During the test ride I pushed my mental speed barrier from 80 to 105 km/h and took care of the discomfort by altering my riding position to relieve pressure off the back and shoulders. By the end of the test ride I was 100% convinced that I should take this Yezdi for the tour and not look for an alternative. I felt that riding my own motorcycle instead of a borrowed one, no matter what the inconvenience, would make the tour more fulfilling and complete. Plus any situation RocketQueen would put me into would be an added advantage in terms of motorcycling experience and adventure.
During the tour, she performed exceptionally well on all terrains. She cruised well between 80 and 95 km/h on the express ways, and comfortably reached 110 km/h when a quick surge in power was required to pass vehicles or cut through traffic sections. On the mountain and ghat roads, I was able to drop and rise on sharp bends with ease even with 25-30 kg of luggage on the pillion. High speed twisties and chicanes down hill were handled with equal ease. The engine never felt stressed out though it growled at little while doing the steeper climbs. On the dirt trails and forest roads, the motorcycle appeared to be composed and steady despite the hard front suspension and the squeaky old rear suspension. Despite the symphony produced during offroading by various instruments in the motorcycle, everything remained intact and in order at the end of the day. The tour lasted 7 days and a little over 2200 km. Tough a breakdown or a difficult situation would have made the trip more adventurous, it was overall a very good and memorable trip. I hope to keep two things this trip has given me for as long as my heart and mind can hold on to them – the peace experienced despite the roar of the exhaust, hissing of the wind and distractions on the road; the high I got from riding through the twisties of Kudremukh mountains.
All my fears of starting troubles, engine seizure, things breaking apart inside the engine, carburetor or points going out of tune, severely damaged back/shoulder never materialised. The reason, I believe the Yezdi (or Jawa) is so reliable despite being over 30 years old and built on post WWII technology, is the simplicity in design. Like a minimalist marathoner, these old two-strokers have no high tech systems to “control” their natural movements. Though they lack the muscle and glamour, they are fully capable of doing what their modern counterparts are expected to do.
PS: more details specific to the tour coming soon.