Yezdi Road King: Gone, But not Forgotten

Yezdi Road King: Gone, But not Forgotten


I have always associated a Yezdi with my class teacher from third standard. We could hear the distinctive exhaust note a mile away, for the sound of those twin exhaust pipes were impossible to mimic. The days we didn’t hear the sound signalled a free period and less punishment. Back then punishment was an accepted teaching method in schools around the country.

As far as my friends and I were concerned, his Yezdi – a classic and not the Road King you see here, was a trick bike for we could never find the kick start lever. How could we? The thing is the Yezdi’s gear shifter also doubled up as the kick start lever. And if you didn’t know how to push the lever in with your heel before turning it backwards you would never know how to start a motorcycle manufactured by the Ideal Jawa Limited. The company manufactured Czech Jawa bikes under licence before making them as Yezdi, the name a nod to the Iranian province of Yazd, where the owners of the company originally hailed from.

Opening the throttle on this 1983 Road King, memories flood back through my ears. I remember dad telling me that Yezdis were quick to accelerate. I guess his idea of acceleration was different from mine. Or maybe my sense of propulsion is different. Getting the gears to shift is anything but simple. “Use the heel to get the gears to change,” the owner had told me before I had swung a leg over the near mint condition bike. “Everyone who’s tried to shift with the toes has ended up damaging the gear linkages,” he added, casting a warning glance at me. Spares are after all anything but cheap.

Getting the Road King to stop at the end of our short ride requires a complete rearrangement of brain circuitry. The twin lead drums up front and another drum at the rear don’t have the bite they used to, 34 years ago. It’s slightly unnerving at first for someone used to modern discs because the damn thing doesn’t seem to slow down. The fact that there is no engine braking from that 250cc single cylinder air-cooled two stroker doesn’t help either. Handing the bike back to our generous friend, I can’t help but smile a little. The Yezdi doesn’t seem like a trick bike anymore. Rather, it is a reflection of the days of my old teacher. Back then, his teaching methods were acceptable and did the job. Not anymore. It’s the same with the Yezdi.

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