The Golden Age of Two-Wheelers in India

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I take pleasure in recalling my era when bicycle used to be a great means of conveyance. A great symbol of prestige and a great source of the pleasurable ride. So much was the importance of this great two-wheeler that the bicycle was one of the major items to be offered to the bridegroom in the dowry. Only a few would have the proud privilege of owning a bicycle.

Cycles with the brand names like Hercules, Hind, Atlas, Raleigh etc. were quite popular in the market. Raleigh was probably the best one, though slightly expensive than other brands. I am talking of the fifties.

Then came the engine-borne two-wheelers i.e. the scooter. Lambretta and Vespa made inroads and replaced bicycles. I remember advanced booking for Vespa was no less than two years. During this period other scooters like Chetak, Vijay, LML, Aravalli etc. also made their presence in the market. This is the scenario of the Sixties.

Meanwhile, motorcycles also fluttered in the market: Enfield, Yezdi-Java, Rajdoot etc. sped on the roads, more especially on rough-rural roads. Consequently, with the passage of time, bicycles were ‘bye-byed’ and people switched over to a more comfortable and excretion-free ride of scooters/motorcycles.

Owning a car was still a luxury! Government employees used to get loans at low rates for buying two-wheeler vehicles. I also bought a scooter by taking a loan and would go to the college on my brand new Bajaj-Cub now saying goodbye to my bike. My other colleagues also bought scooters and came to the college on these automated two-wheelers with their heads high on the seats. Going to college on a cycle was now considered to be below the standard of a professor.

One day a clerk of the loan-section met me in the market. He knew me. Said, "Sir, do you have any professor in the college named AAA? Is he a pauper, really? I am amused. He has applied for a cycle loan. Sir, even peons of our office apply now for scooter/moped loan and not for cycle-loan. Maybe he wants to buy it for the purpose of the exercise."

I wanted to be on the side of the Prof. Saheb, but I knew that Prof. Saheb was not a normal person. A learned man of several inhibitions, he would always love to make himself conspicuous by taking such queer, trivial and amusing decisions.

shiben rainaDr. Shiben Krishen Raina
Currently in Ajman (UAE)
Member, Hindi Salahkar Samiti,
Ministry of Law & Justice (Govt. of India)
Senior Fellow, Ministry of Culture (Govt. of India)

Dr. Raina's mini bio can be read here:


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