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Friday, October 31, 2014

Musket V-twin Royal Enfield order form posted

The Musket V-twin Royal Enfield. Now you can order one.
"Awesome." That's what I called a Jan. 1, 2009 YouTube video of a home-made Royal Enfield V-twin starting and running as the excited young man who built it rejoiced.

"What do you think of THAT!" he yells, as the motor runs. Royal Enfield enthusiasts around the world loved it, and have viewed it 186,000 times so far.

Now Aniket Vardhan has posted the order form for the complete Musket V-twin Royal Enfield.

There are six motors available, for now, to customers in the U.S. You can buy it as a kit for $5,990 or have Aniket put it together for you for $12,750 plus your good donor iron barrel Royal Enfield Bullet 500.

Extras — such as Carillo rods and roller big ends to withstand the Ace performance modifications — will cost extra. Many things will cost extra as your Bullet clutch, just for instance, will have to be in good condition to suddenly confront 998cc.

The Musket is, obviously, a custom product. Any illusions you might have about how cheap and easy it would be to double the size of the old Royal Enfield motor and put it into a Bullet frame will disappear when you view the step-by-step photo gallery.

Many enthusiasts have day-dreamed about making a V-twin out of the Bullet and returning it to the glory days before World War II when you could have purchased a Royal Enfield V-twin from Redditch, England.

Aniket Vardhan, a young Ohio man originally from New Delhi, did it. That was impressive. The fact that he has made it possible for you to come along on the ride is, well: Awesome!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is Royal Enfield bringing back the old Bullet? Not yet

My 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet, how I love it.
An Internet story recently reported that Royal Enfield has gone back to producing motorcycles that shift on the right side, as Brit-style motorcycles did in times past.

It's not true. New Royal Enfields shift on the left, the international standard. But there are some who wouldn't have minded if the story had been true. These same fans of the brand would like the iron barrel back, too, and the separate gearbox with neutral finder.

No Unit Constructed Engine (UCE) and front disk brake for them.

The topic of the good old days vs. compromise with modern times was intelligently explored in 2012 on the Ace Performance Bullets Yahoo Group.

"Kris" opened the conversation with this:

"It surprises me that there seems to be an interest for the new UCE Enfield in the West. I can understand in India, where the choice of bikes is sparse. But why would one buy a UCE Enfield in the West? It is no longer an Enfield, but a totally new design. It does not have at all the feel that one gets when driving a real classic engine. On the other hand, it is much poorer quality than modern bikes. Why not buy just a good Japanese bike instead?"

My own answer:

"Kris, I am far less qualified than others on this forum to respond, except to point out that any motor vehicle purchase past an economy car is an emotional purchase. I have a 1999 Bullet and love it, but my test runs on a new C5 UCE definitely made me feel that the company hasn't 'lost' it.

"It's still a single-cylineder, pushrod, slow turning, low compression motorcycle that (except for a few built without a kicker) I can kick start. Still slow enough to encourage me to stay off the Interstate. Upright seating... well, it goes on an on. My point is, the Bullet is still the fastest way back to 1955 you can buy in America with a warranty. If that is the trip you have planned, it's the best choice."

Kris asked why Royal Enfield didn't just modify the Bullet "with soul" to meet emission requirements, without making it modern. His guess:

"There are no enthusiasts there, just a bunch of old guys trying to make money."

And make money they do, as the new UCE Royal Enfields have proven immensely popular in India.

"Vivek" wrote a long post explaining how, with modern touches and vastly reduced maintenance, the UCE hit a sweet spot in the market. "That means they are doing something right, in terms of getting customers."

"Rattan" rejected the argument that "if it sells it must be good."

"I love the Enfield Bullet for what it  stands for," he wrote. "An Iron Dinosaur that made it through the Ice Age. And going by the current prices for the 'standard' Bullet in the used bike market in India, I believe a significant number of enthusiasts agree."

Vivek, in fact, is one of those.

"Someday when Royal Enfield is rich enough, I hope they bring back the old school Enfield, but that's a long shot. My strategy is to get rich and acquire as many of those as it would take to ride out my life. As long as I have a frame and a crankcase, I'm all set!"

Friday, October 24, 2014

Royal Enfield Continental GT takes on the competiton

MotorcycleUSA.com compared the Royal Enfield Continental GT to Japanese competitors.
Hold your fire; the Royal Enfield Continental GT "lost" the comparison test with the Yamaha SR400 and Suzuki TU250X conducted by Adam Waheed on MotorcycleUSA.com

It's a thorough test, complete with individual videos of the three motorcycles and charts showing torque and horsepower curves. The Continental GT was rated high on looks, character and handling and nicked for fit-and-finish issues, an imperfect transmission and an occasional stall. It also carried the highest price of the three.

Thorough as it is, the article won't change anyone's mind. You won't be surprised to learn that Yamaha and Suzuki offered Japanese quality, better fuel economy and lower prices. In fact, the two Japanese motorcycles were so consistent they tied for first place.

"Affordable urban transportation" is the phrase used for the Suzuki. Be still, my heart.

For me — and likely for you if you are reading my blog — the Royal Enfield emerged the clear winner.

Do just one thing: start the video  that covers the Royal Enfield Continental GT. Watch and listen just until the Continental GT runs.

Hear THAT? The sound tells you everything you need to know. Go on to watch the videos for the Yamaha and Suzuki if you want. They sound exactly as you know they will, because if you've lived in the United States you've listened to thousands of Japanese motorcycles going by.

They sound OK. Their motors are running, always a good thing.

The Royal Enfield Continental GT sounds tremendous.

Try it:

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