A passion for long-distance group biking has encouraged Maya Ganesh to restore a Yezdi

In what is almost exclusively a male preserve, one woman has ridden her way to notice. Two biker clubs have enthusiastically welcomed her into their folds. A member of the Madras Bulls (a Bullet club) for over three years, Maya Ganesh was signed up by Roaring Riders, a group of Jawa & Yezdi enthusiasts, a few months ago.

Apart from her reputation as a serious biker, the ticket to Roaring Riders was a 1995 Yezdi Roadking. It is the machine her cousin Arun rode to Loyola college. It also serves as a happy reminder of his courtship with Madhuvanthi, now his wife. After he moved to Bombay, the bike fell into neglect. The mechanic commissioned to maintain it, turned it into a table top. “All sorts of items were piled up on the Yezdi,” says Maya. When Maya asked if she could restore it, Arun gave her the go-ahead. “He was happy that the bike would stay within the family.”

Maya had ridden her Bullet (a Thunderbird) off the showroom and had no prior experience restoring a bike. When approached for guidance, Prasanth, a Jawa nut, recommended 78-year-old Solomon. The septuagenarian had repaired a parade of Jawas and Yezdis. Even when he worked at a photo gallery, his leisure pivoted around working on these bikes.

“Solomon, Prasanth and I worked out an estimate. A thorough job would cost Rs. 25,000, an amount I could not afford then. Every month, I set aside a small sum for the Yezdi. Despite the slow money flow, Solomon did not give up on the bike. At times, he dug into his pockets and paid for the parts,” says Maya. It is common for an owner and a restorer to have disagreements over methods of restoration. Maya was spared the worry. Solomon shares her fetish for original parts. “He spared no effort to source authentic Roadking parts from Pudupet. He did not believe in a patch-up job.” It is customary for owners of Yezdi bikes with a Jikov carburettor (instead of the alternative Pacco with a choke system) to switch to a Mikuni, because the Jikov is predisposed to a flooding problem. If the bike rests on the side stand for sometime, it gets triggered. Solomon retained the old Jikov.

For these reasons, Maya's 250cc bike draws admiration from diehard Yezdi aficionados in Roaring Riders.

While the electronic ignition system (a feature of Roadkings in the last three years of the model's production) makes the bike more fuel-efficient than previous Yezdi models, Maya takes the bike to work only once a week. She sets off earlier than usual to beat the peak hour traffic. She is not accustomed to having a bike susceptible to flooding and requires using a kick-starter.

Knowing her, she will overcome these minor difficulties.