For the Indians, Yamaha stands for 2-stroke bikes with their ecstatic exhaust note and customary round-square shaped headlamps. After the introduction of Yamaha FZ and R-15 on the Indian soil, this idol has changed to some extent. Not only in India, all the Yamaha fans and followers across the globe have a crush on their 2-stroke products like RD-350, RX-135, 100 and of which RD-350 is considered to be a real beast. RD 350 is said to be the first sports bike in India with a high torque of 32.3 Nm @ 6500 rpm, considered to be the torquiest bike of that time. And that is why it is considered to be one of the iconic bikes of all time.
As it is a two-stroke bike and Yamaha has already stopped the production of it by 1990, the repairing and maintenance of these bikes are tedious tasks. Finding those expertise workshops dealing with restoration and maintenance are quite difficult in the modern days. In such a scenario a workshop named “Wild Wheels” and a guy called Harshan comes in very handy. Located on the outskirts of Kochi, exactly in Aluva (the satellite town for Kochi) this small workshop deals with all major maintenance works of Yamaha RD-350. This guy and his son Kiran (an Electrical ITI Engineer), both are well expert in fixing all kinds 2-stroke oldies. Some of the antique motorcycles like Yezdi Roadking, Yezdi 350 Twin, Jawa Classic and very rarely found Enfield Fury 175 and 1936 Triumph TWN 250CC are restored and maintained here.
Mr. Harshan started his career in Ernakulam based workshop dealing with all kinds of two-wheeler maintenance, especially with the Yamaha bikes. When Yamaha started manufacturing RD 350 by joining hands with the Escorts group, they used to give an in-plant training to selected number of people. Mr. Harshan and his fellow friend Patrick were the only two selected persons by Yamaha from Kerala. After their one long year of training, Harshan started working as a lead technician at “Purackkal Motors” Kottayam. After that, he started his own version of dealing with this two-wheeler world by “Wild Wheels”.
In those early days, RD 350 was not available in Kerala. So, in order to deliver the first RD 350 in the state, one has to ride it all the way from Bangalore showroom to Kochi and that task was single-handedly done by Harshan. Later, this very same RD 350 was featured in the blockbuster movie “Johnny Walker”, as a regular companion for the superstar Mammootty.
For the past two years, Wild Wheels has been running at his own premises from the busy National Highway lane of Aluva. According to him, more than 70 RD 350 alone has been restored here to its prime. Along with that RX 135, RX-100, RXZ, RXG and Yezdi range of 2-stroke bikes are regular visitors here. The scarcity of spare parts for these motorcycles is one major issue which he solves by collecting those parts from Bangalore and Coimbatore by himself. A good volume of all necessary spare parts is always maintained here. It may take 2 to 3 months for a complete restoring of RD or Yezdi to its pristine state. This all depends on the workload of a bike and the number of pending works he has. The maintenance cost varies depending upon the work each particular bike bears.
He is very well satisfied with his small workshop within the premises of his house. His only son Kiran, give away his job from one of the reputed electrical firms, here in Kochi and he is doing a full-time assistance to his father. Their neighbour and a petrol head Anand are also here at the Wild Wheels in his free time to assist both of them. He is a BBA aspirant with an affection towards motorcycles. According to Harshan, even though how busy he is, every RD 350 comes here need a special touch of care from his side. His dedication and passion for maintaining or fixing a bike had made him a popular person in this sector. Working hours at Wild Wheels are not scheduled or fixed. One can see this father and son working on various bikes, under the light also.
Not only from the Kochi, customers from various districts too visits here. Even 2-strokes bikes from Bangalore and Coimbatore comes here for restoration and major treatments. They all are well assured of “Wild Wheels” and Harshan Bhai (people often calls him). Pollution from 2-stroke motorcycles has been a serious issue ever since they are introduced here. In the long run, the government may even ban this legendary bikes from our roads. But Wild Wheels, along with Mr. Harshan will be here to undertake all kinds of treatment for the visitors.
Photos By: Jithin Johnson
A motorcycle workshop in Kochi specialized for Yamaha RD 350, Yezdi, Jawa and other two stroke bikes.
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