You know what, Yamaha used to be well ahead of the curve. I’m not even talking about the RD and RX, both of which are legends, but back in the day when all we had to test were 100 and 125cc piddlers, Yamaha launched the first superbike you could legally and officially buy from a showroom in India. That R1 — it was the first superbike we got to test which wasn’t begged and borrowed from a shady importer, and consequently ridden slower than a 100, lest we prang it and have our fingernails yanked out one by one. (You think I’m joking? You haven’t met a grey market importer, have you?). Anyway we got the R1, tested it, it went to another magazine, they blew the engine, and that was it. After that, Yamaha stopped giving us big bikes to test.
Anyway, before the R1, Yamaha brought the V-Max to India (the frighteningly-fast-and-thirsty 1200cc V4). Then they brought the Drag Star (a 1000cc, Harley-aping, chromeladen, V-Twin). And hoping those two beasts had done enough of a job to build a cruiser rep, they launched the world’s smallest cruiser.
It was christened Royal Star, and I think the first test bikes we rode carried this name, but then Royal Enfield made a few phone calls and Yamaha painted ‘Enticer’ on the fuel tank. It got the 125cc engine from the YD 125, a kinda laid-back frame, cruiser ’bars, platform footrests and a tailpiece that broke and hung off if you went over a speed breaker too hard. It was a hodgepodge, and that’s the best I can say for it. Where the Eliminator (that preceded it by only a year) was truly revolutionary with a powerful (for its time!) 175cc Kawasaki engine, properly sorted (for a cruiser) dynamics, and plentiful features (an electric start and front disc brake were luxury items back then, don’t forget) the Enticer looked and felt like a baby. It was too small, your feet were cramped, it had no power. You had to kick the bike and rely on drums till the disc eventually came. It was clearly a bike for those who wanted an Eliminator but could not afford one. Oh and back then, bar a few journalists, nobody wanted a Royal Enfield either.
Anyway, even in a ridiculously fuel-economy obsessed market, Yamaha could hardly entice enough people towards its pseudocruiser, and buyers saw through everything that the Enticer was not. And that was that. I cannot remember the last time I saw an Enticer on the road, and I’m sure younger readers will not even have heard the name. It also marked the end of Yamaha’s experiments with cruisers, apart from the 1400cc V-Max they brought for John Abraham to flex his muscles on.
Will I give Yamaha full marks for trying something new? Of course! They were so far ahead of the curve that buyers and competitors rarely caught up during the lifecycle of that bike. And when the two did catch up, a prime example being with sport bikes like the R15, Yamaha left the goal posts vacant for rivals to fire away.