Meet Mumbai's owners of the Bobby
The Rishi Kapoor-starrer is credited with boosting the popularity of both the actor and the Rajdoot GTS 175. In memory of the late star, owners of the bike tell us why it still remains a treasure.
Starring Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, the 1973 flick Bobby drew attention to its energetic actors but a little motorcycle inserted as a carriage for young love in the film witnessed a spike in sales. The Rajdoot GTS was launched by Escorts Limited with a 175 cc two-stroke engine. Its cult following is perhaps not as evident as it was in the '70s. But its legacy is being sustained by bikers in the city who continue to treasure it with all their heart. We speak to three such owners to find
As soon as he graduated college in the late '90s, at a party with friends in Alibaug, Bhavin Solanki, 39, spotted the Rajdoot GTS at a home in the area. After approaching the owner, he bought the bike with his pocket money savings of Rs 3,000. "There was a guy in college who had a Bobby and whenever he rode in, girls would notice him," he recalls. But the bike was non-functional and he ended up shelling out Rs 35,000 in repairs. But Solanki, an automobile engineer, maintains that its value is increasing as current prices range from Rs 75,000 to one lakh. "Because of its height, controlling it is easy and it's also suitable for a short person," he says.
When Rohit Yadav, 35, purchased the Bobby over a decade ago, it came in the grey colour, which wasn't one of its original shades. "The bike usually comes in red, black, blue and golden. Five years back, I got the chance to restore it and got it painted golden," he shares. The owner, a senior citizen based in Vile Parle had passed away and so Yadav visited his family with the redone bike, which brought happy tears to their faces. Talking about what riders ought to keep in mind while taking the bike for a spin, Yadav says, "You need a proper rhythm to start it or it can give you a serious backache. You need to know when to kick it, too."
Vasai resident Chris Dias, 46, had his eye on the Rajdoot GTS when Bobby released. Then, six years back, he finally got his hands on it. But four years later, a friend convinced him to sell it to him and he gave in. "I felt like something was missing from my life. I tried to buy it back from him but he refused. So a couple of years back, I managed to buy a new one. Then, I bought another one. So, now I have two Bobbys," he tells us. Dias, who owns over 10 bikes, has now passed the mantle of riding the Bobby to his son Kevin. "It's just so cute that even if you don't want to ride it you can just look at it for mental peace; just like a fish tank which is pleasant to look at," he says.
Kyle Pereira, a city-based writer, and restorer of vintage bikes, who also owned the Rajdoot model, says that it was a clone of the Polish SHL M11. "R&D was very limited in India [in the early '60s] so technology was brought in from overseas, and the manufacturing took place in India," he states. Pereira also adds that the model was more of an eccentric object; it didn't help mankind in any significant way. "It wasn't known for its speed as much as its torque. In fact, it's quite dangerous to ride it at a high speed," he informs. Although the model is one of the most collectible Rajdoots around, the challenge to its long-term utility is the paucity of mechanics who can fix it.
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