Of late, every time I find myself in front of that little red door that opens to the Bombay Custom Works garage, I feel like a kid just about to unwrap my Christmas presents. This time, all the more so, because this time I was to ride a custom RX 100 cafe racer. Owning a Yamaha RX 100 myself, especially since it was the first motorcycle that was truly mine, I have fantasised time and again about customising it in various formats. The most recurring one would be in the form of a cafe racer. And there it was standing in front of me, a prime example of what I would have described to have envisioned, in the light of a solitary incandescent bulb, as if it was a dream. I almost had to pinch myself, but it was real and as stunning as ever.
Wheeling the motorcycle out into the narrow street outside the workshop, everything else seemed to slowly fade away into a distant blur. It was just me and the machine, slowly developing a temporal connection of sorts as I swung my leg over it, turned on the fuel tap, pulled the choke lever and pumped the kickstart a few times before going for the money shot. It burst to life with a rambunctious clamour, rising to a crescendo before slowly falling to a steady racket (courtesy of the custom exhaust). I was suddenly aware of everything around me, and I realised that I was standing in the middle of a fairly busy street, staring at a motorcycle with a foolish grin plastered on my face.
I quickly kitted up and hopped onto the motorcycle, shifted to first and steadily pulled away, finding second, third and fourth in quick succession. There was a sense of familiarity with the powertrain situated between my legs, but also a strangeness stemming from the way I was crouched around it. Fascinating nonetheless. I charged forth through the sparse morning traffic, grabbing eyeballs as well as imaginations as I barrelled on by. The thought that a cafe racer had better be heading to a cafe saw to it that I was soon parked in front of Bombay Coffee House for my first beverage of the day, giving my back a bit of respite from being hunched over the bike.
As I sat there sipping my coffee, a small crowd started to gather around the motorcycle. About time. It was, after all, a rolling piece of art, especially one that would zoom by, leaving a trail of blue smoke in its wake. This particular RX 100 has had quite a bit done to it, including the removal of all unnecessary bits and bobs, a new front fork with clip-on handlebars, rear-set footpegs, rear monoshock conversion, a new longer swingarm, fabricated side shields and tank, a custom exhaust, alloy wheels shod with Apollo Alpha H1 tyres, disc brakes on both ends and a shortened seat. Seems to tick all the boxes on the cafe racer checklist then.
Moving on, we zipped around town, through quiet bylanes, past shops bustling with people in search of our next stop. The bike handled well and seemed more than enthusiastic to pick up the pace with the twist of the throttle. Good stuff. I suddenly seemed to have developed a craving for a glass of cutting chai, so that’s what was next up on the agenda. Stopping at a small tea stall under a flyover, I motioned for a glass of the tea seller’s finest, while stretching my weary back. Fellow customers at the stall initiated conversations about the bike out of curiosity, all culminating in interesting conversations about other similar motorcycles they had seen to date.
As far as riding ergonomics is concerned, comfort has taken a back seat in this build. I have a theory that cafe racers are supposed to be uncomfortable enough to make riders want to reach their destination in the shortest time frame possible, with as many coffee breaks as permissible. But the thrill of riding a machine this cool negates all the aches and pains that follow post the ride. Considering that the RX 100 is quite a bit smaller than conventional cafe racers, I thought that a more apt description for this motorcycle would be a chai sprinter, if nothing else. Be whatever it may, Shail and the team from BCW have made yet another beautiful machine, worthy of being encased in glass and put on a pedestal for display.