With some things in life, all it takes is a single hit to get hooked. The Forever Riders Meet (FRM) is one such thing and luckily, the high it provides is a positive one! After riding down to Rajapur — located in the Konkan region of Maharashtra — last year for the FRM on a borrowed Jawa, I was hell bent on riding to the next one on my own bike. The feeling of riding an old two-stroke through the hills and on the highways was a different sort of kick as compared to rocketing past the scenery on a litre-class superbike. It was an extremely surreal experience and I felt like I was transported back to a much purer form of motorcycling, stripped clean of superfluous things like headlights that light up the road and brakes that work.
So this time around, I pulled out the frame and engine of an old Yezdi Model B that I had lying around and got around to putting it together with whatever parts I had at hand. The front fork was borrowed from a Bajaj Pulsar 220 and the disc (also a Pulsar unit) was bolted onto a hub that was laced on to the front rims off an Avenger. The rear tyre was mounted on to another Avenger rim, while the front mudguard was a trimmed Royal Enfield Thunderbird unit which was supposed to go on to a café racer that is yet to be built. The tail-light was borrowed from my old cast-iron Bullet and the origins of the handlebar are yet to be ascertained.
As things of this sort generally go, the headlight went on just the night before I was to ride the bike and so the only test rides of the Yezdi took place within a radius of a kilometre from my house. This was to be a trial by fire and I was thrilled to get to the event on the 17th of January after riding almost 80 km without a single incident. More than 160 bikes rode down to FRM 2020, with everything from the common Yezdi Classics and the Model Bs to the Jawa 350 twins of various shapes and ages making their presence felt.
Although the crowds were largely drawn to the exotic 350 twins, my eyes went straight to a Roadking with a full fairing. This one was a true survivor and was shod with an aftermarket sheet metal dress-up kit which was manufactured by a little-known company called Swastik back when Roadkings were still being sold brand new from Yezdi dealerships across the country. Consisting of a full fairing, tank and side panels that extend to the rear, the garb seemed to have been heavily influenced by the Japanese Bosozoku styling which definitely made it stand out. What’s more, this one still had its original paint on!
Saturday morning began with a ride out to a nearby dam, but the previous night’s gaiety ensured that I staggered out of my tent well after the last bike had left the parking lot. After a quick breakfast, I was at the track that was set up as a surprise for the participants. Conjured out of a tiny parking lot, the course had various slaloms set up between trees and had two main obstacles consisting of a slush pit and a series of cement fencing poles acting as rumblers. The event began with barely five participants racing against the clock, but when onlookers saw how much fun the riders were having, the number of people wanting to have a go soared to about 50-odd, including five members of the fairer sex who decided to get their hands – and bikes – dirty.
The track was created with the intention of creating a level playing field for old and new bikes alike. The new bikes had a lot more power and the old bikes were lighter and more flickable, so the track was drawn out to balance the two. It was brilliant seeing the old bikes and the new ones competing on an equal playing field. There were quite a few scares, but everyone came out unscathed, which said a lot about the skill of the riders as well as preparation of the organisers.
Post the track event, a treasure hunt was organised for the participants which ensured that everybody got to know each other. Lunch and a quick siesta later, the bigwigs from Classic Legends rode in from Mumbai on brand-new Peraks. Boman Irani and his brother Percy rode in with Anupam Thareja and Monty Sabbharwal who owned the campsite the event was being held at. Proving that Jawa and Yezdi still flows in their blood was Boman and Percy’s 78-year-old mother who rode pillion with one of her sons on the new Jawa. They certainly don’t make them like they used to!
A short presentation from the folks at CL followed and post that, the band took over the stage with some amazing rock and roll tunes being belted out. The crooner looked a lot like Mick Jagger and the similarity was akin to what a Yezdi was to a Jawa. Identical yet different. I couldn’t decide whether Mick Jagger was the Jawa or the Yezdi, however. The music got the crowd going and the organisers had wrangled certain beverages of the hops kind that were up for grabs on the house. The cold ones, combined with the fantastic music from the band, built up an ambience that a lot of bike fests would envy.
The aforementioned beverages would have blown away all the inhibitions of even the biggest introvert and people were having a ball discussing their bikes and the like. Many laughs were had, old friends were caught up with and many new ones were made! The singing and dancing continued long after the band had called it a night and the revelry went on to well past the crack of dawn. And the rest who had retired for the evening in their tents were part of the shindig anyway, all thanks to the sound making it through the fabric of the aforementioned tents.
Before we realised what was happening, it was already Sunday morning and time to get back to our own individual realities. After breakfast, goodbyes were said and promises made to keep meeting up through the year and making it for the next FRM. A bunch of seven of us headed back to Mumbai together, one of whom our regular readers would definitely recognise. Janak Sorap, who’s back at Motoring, had come to the event on his Yezdi CL2 and it was great fun to ride with him again after so long.
One might say that a 160-km ride isn’t worthy of even a cursory mention. While that might ring true with modern-day motorcycles, on an old bike, every kilometre stirs up emotions that one can write a poem about (Why didn’t you? – Kartik). These old motorcycles have a knack of getting beneath your skin and staying there forever. Once you bite, you are hooked for life. This is okay by me, really, since I can’t wait to ride to next year’s Forever Riders Meet already!
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
The Forever Riders Meet was started five years ago by the Yezdi Jawa Owners Club of India along with other Yezdi and Jawa groups from across the country to bring avid enthusiasts of these hallowed marques together. What started as a get-together has now grown to become a proper event. More than 300 participants cleared their calendars to make it for this year’s FRM which was the first one to have people riding in on both the new and the old bikes alike. FRM 2020 was supported by Classic Legends Private Limited who are the same guys responsible for getting the Jawa brand back from the dead. But the enthusiasm and vibe came exclusively from the members of the various Yezdi and Jawa groups from across the country. It’s those bikes, I tell you.