1,05,000 km and still going strong!
The KB100 RTZ review


Further reading http://jaganpvs.tripod.com/Devil.htm

This review was originally written for Mouthshut.com. and it can be read at Mouth Shut.com Review   I have been searching for years on the net and never came to see anything similar. So I finally wrote one review on that website.

I had briefly used one of the KB100s in 94 before i bought my first bike. The bike that i used temporarily was a ’’KB100 RTZ Delta’’. When my turn came to buy a bike, for various reasons i decided to go for a KB100. But when i bought the bike i found out there has been a name change. It was no longer Kawasaki Bajaj KB100 RTZ. Instead it was merely ’’Bajaj RTZ’’. There was no mention of the word Kawasaki written or embossed anywhere on the bike at all. Aparently Kawasaki’s license ran out and Bajaj bought out the aircraft under its own name.

After i bought the bike and started comparing it with others (As part of my cognitive dissonance reducing behavior) I could not help notice that the RTZ’s design was actually quite ahead of the others by years. Considering it was a 80s design, there were several features that beat its nearest rivals like the Ind Suzuki, RX100 or the CD100. First and foremost was the looks. Anyday it was more better looking than the others with its longer wheelbase , Squarish looks, three piece chasis. The Central Handle Lock cum ignition was something unheard off for a decade till Hero Honda bought out the splendor. Now the Instrument Console - that was a beauty to speak. Besides the speedo, it had a Tacho meter, fuel meter and four different indicator lights. Not until the Shogun came was a tachometer standard fitment. Fuel meters too were unheard of in the INdian motorbikes. the 12V electrical system was a winner too, beating the 6V electrics of the RX100.

The Rider’s geometry was the best. the triangular position of holding the handlebar, seat, and the footrest was the best that they could have come up with and is best even now. it meant you can lean the bikes on the curves as you were part of it.

The switches were great. It was the first bike to have an Engine Kill switch, which meant you need not move your hand from the holding position to the ignition key to kill the engine. There was a cute parking light feature, and the Choke lever was at your left thumb position. Again very ergonomic. Older KBs came with an inbuilt helmet lock that was fixed to the rear shock absorber.

The seat however sucked. It was a royal P-I-A. I guess they made it for the japanese sizes rather than indian sizes!

How did the bike perform? The Quality control of Bajaj was bad. Every third bike had a distinctive shrill coming from the engine that could never be traced out. Fuel consumption was okay in the begining 42kmpl, but by 10000 km, it was returning excellent figures of 51kmpl in city traffic and 55kmpl on higheways. Speedwise it could never beat the RX. The top speed i ever got was around 95-97km, the bike was vibrating so badly that it got me scared. maybe the engine on my bike was a dud one.

I loved the bike because it was my first one. Now after Seven years (Feb 95- Feb 2002), The bike covered 100800 kms. Out of this period, it was offroad for nearly an year as I was out of the country. It had had three major engine overhauls. The first overhaul was at around 65000km, which the regular bajaj showroom chaps botched up. It never was good. then i found a good mechanic who did a second overhaul at aorund 73000km. There was no looking back till 92000km, when i screwed up by forgetting to fill in 2T oil.

Till date the bike has done 105000km. I plan to use it till 161000km (100000miles) and see how it lasts. thats another four years of riding!. The verdict? If you find a good mechanic, then go for the bike. Spares are cheap (Jai Bajaj) and the pleasure is immense!

The KB100 vs the KB 4S Champion

If i had to write a review on the 4S Champion, which was the Bajaj Auto’s Answer to the Hero Honda four strokers, I can go on and on. I never owned the bike, but know most of the flaws and nits in it. I apologise for comparing the bike with the RTZ, but as you would know by reading the review, There is a personal connection with it.

It so happened, when i went to buy my RTZ bike from the Show room, my best buddy also showed up, he was buying a bike of his own. My delight turned to disapproval when i saw he was going for the 4S - and i suspect he felt the same thing about my RTZ.

So right from the start (we were in college) we started telling each other about the poor decision that the other had taken in going for the bike. So over the next one year, He was nitpicking my RTZ and I was nitpicking his 4S.

First of all, It was all about power. I took vicarious pleasure in pointing out to my friend that my bike had 11.5BHP power while the 4S had only 7BHP. and it showed, in intial pickup the 4S would drag on and on, while the RTZ has left it far behind. Doing a wheelie in an RTZ was cinch, you cant do it in the 4S unless you have a pillion rider to tilt the bike back!

Not relevant, you might say , but it was relevant for us in our studentlives where our ego was as big as our heads and directly proportional to how fast your bike can go in races, or in its capacity to do stunts.

The 4S took ages to pick up momentum, and once you picked up speed, and somethign comes in your way (like a bus, or a speedbreaker), you have to start the process again. in an RTZ i would shift from 4 down to 3rd and pull away. In the 4s I would have to shift from 4th down to the 3rd and 2nd to pull the bike back into its previous momentum. It was very annoying in city traffic where you will have to come to a standstill every once in a while.

And there is something called Overtaker’s confidence, While overtaking another vehicle, you find another dude coming in from the opposite direction, I had utmost confidence in the two stroker - all i had to do was shift into 2nd gear and i was damn sure i can overtake safely. The same confidence was missing in the 4S.

I did not like the look of the bike. The RTZ had this classic 80s stylish look. The 4s seem to come from the 70s. The 4s was much smaller, in height, in length , in wheel base , and in everything. The Tyres for example were a quarter inch thinner than the RTZ and banking during turns would give you some scary moments as the rear wheel keeps giving way.

After the huge petrol tank of the RTZ and others, the tiny puny petrol tank sticking out from between your legs would give any college guy a freudian complex on inadequacy (pardon the pun). The bike WAS Small in all aspects. The bike felt SISSY after the tough macho feel of the RTZ.

The Instrument console though good , was a dissapointment compared to others, the only plus point of it is the back lighting. There was no fuel gauge. and it lacked the Central Handle Lock cum Ignition that came in the RTZ. it had a seperate handle lock that is hidden away near the chassis - suspension joint.

I never figured out why after giving an ergonomics winner like the RTZ, the company went backwards to give the 4S. Maybe it felt the common public doesn’t care about ergonomics, but only about fuel consumption - I have to agree with them there. The company service, as with all its models was lousy. The indian mantra holds good, find yourself a good mechanic and have peace of mind.

While i had enough nits to keep myself happy, my friend was also bringing out some valid points. He had a business mind and he would always point out his fuel expenditure to me - and i envied that. the fuel economy makes quite a difference when you are living on a student allowance of Rs 250 per week (in 1995). he refuels once every four days, while i do that every second day.

The Seat was adequately cushioned against the painful thin seat of the RTZ. No need for 2T Oil, for Engine and Silencer decarbonisation, no scope for fuel pump failures or engine seizing.

Moreover the bike was cheap. It was only a 1000 Rs costlier than the RTZ and almost 4000 Rs cheaper than the Hero Honda. yessir, he did have some good points.

And on long hauls, the four stroke engine runs ’cooler’ than the RTZ’s two stroke engines. Infact At top speeds, the RTZ engine vibrates like it is falling apart, the 4S engine is smooth and stable. I remembered one particular race, where i was holding the RTZ at 93kmph (against the certified speed of 95 in my users manual) and he was holding his 4S at about the same speed (against the certified top speed of 85kmph in his users manual!). All the time I was getting jittery, at the vibrations in my bike and the rising tachometer needle which was going in the red zone. He did not have any idea on his bikes engine. (He did have a chain timing rod failure after threemonths - cost him a packet!)

I never could understand it, four of my friends went for this bike, everyone’s prime consideration was fuel consumption. But with time, all four disposed off the bikes , they were in jobs, earning fat salaries, and saving a few rupees in petrol savings did not have as much appeal as it did during our student days. For the same reason, today, i dont have any regrets about the RTZs fuel consumption. When you are earning adequately, you stop bothering about fuel consumption.

In the final reckoning, if you look at it, The 4S seemed an interim arrangement for all those who bought it. It maybe a sensible bike for the family types - the over 35 with wife and kids. But its a Sissy bike for students and young executives. So you have to decide what type of a person you are , the Sissy young or the sensible elderly.