Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Royal Enfield Continental GT needs a flyscreen; maybe

Yes, something is missing from the new Royal Enfield Continental GT.
The stunning similarity in design inspiration of the new Royal Enfield Continental GT and the original, 1965 Continental GT is instantly apparent.

Seeing the Royal Enfield cafe racers, new and old, displayed together during the press launch in the UK, my reaction was that only one thing was missing from the new one.

The flyscreen.

It had been that flyscreen, along with clip-ons, rear sets and cranked exhaust pipe, that had made the original the idol of teenagers in 1965 — when I, too was a teenager.

Now Dart Flyscreens Ltd. of London has gone to the trouble to create a flyscreen for the new Continental GT.

The Dart flyscreen on the new Continental GT.
"The original 1960s Continental came with a flyscreen as standard," Dart's website reasons. "What better partner for your modern Continental GT than a Dart flyscreen? In the same way that the modern bike uses up to date technology whilst retaining its period charm, the Dart’s top quality injection-moulded polycarbonate screen and laser-cut fittings serve to enhance an already handsome bike."

The website quotes a price of $124.95, including delivery, in standard or dark tint.

Just right? Or maybe a bit too small?
How easy is it to fit? According to the FAQ "you'll need a couple of spanners or Allen keys, 20 minutes and that's it. The screen uses the standard headlamp brackets and if it's carefully fitted, you won't even need to readjust the headlamp."

Maybe for you. It might take me longer. But is it worth it? Again, from the FAQ:

The rider's view.
"When you're riding a naked bike, your body provides a big target for wind blast. Flyscreens work by taking most of the wind from this area, giving your body an easier time. You still get wind around the helmet area (but that's why you bought the bike, yes?), but you don't get the fatigue in the same way."

OK. Sounds good. But, oddly, although I think it's a clever idea, I'm not personally crazy about the way the flyscreen looks on the new bike in Dart's photos.

Best looking angle is head-on.
With its hunched, shoulders forward stance, the new Continental GT seems to overpower the little plastic plate.

A seemingly larger, more curvaceous Italian flyscreen is listed for the Continental GT by NfieldGear at $139.95. Some might prefer it.

NfieldGear flyscreen differs in shape.
But you know what I would really like? Here's a photo of an original 1960s Continental GT fitted with the then optional Speedflow fairing, with transparent nose.

The original Continental GT with Avon Speedflow fairing.
Gimmie one of those and I will feel like a teenager again.

Friday, July 18, 2014

British motorcycles went on as British Empire went out

No prettier ode to British motorcycles and the Royal Enfield in particular has been written than K.C. Hong's column, "My Bike And I," in the The New Sunday Times of peninsular Malaysia on Feb. 17, 1991.

It's entitled "Memories Are Made of These" and you can read it at this link.

The piece is the kind of gentle reminiscence once favored in Sunday newspapers the world over, recalling some imagined better time — this one in the late 1940s, when British motorcycles, the envy of the world, danced before a young man's eyes.

Far from their native land, the motorcycles nevertheless spoke a universal language, and were appreciated in independent countries that might have otherwise despised the Empire that had brought them to their shores. Royal Enfield is just one brand of many the author remembers fondly.

Here's just a bit of it:

"Nam Teik Company owned by the late Mr. Lau Hun Chiong sold the Royal Enfields. The single 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet sold fairly well (these machines are still made in India today).

"A ponderous machine the Bullet could amble like a circus-horse at five mph on its fourth gear without jerking. Like the Matchless motorcycle it had a mellifluous exhaust note.

"In 1979 I took a taxi from Madras Harbour to the Ashoka Hotel. I thought I heard something very familiar. Sat up to see. Oh, man alive! The sound and sight of a gleaming Royal Enfield Bullet made the same way it was made in the late '40s.

"I told the cab man, Mahboob, to follow the bike. Looking at the bike made me young again. A darn good feeling. As we turned to get to the hotel I watched the bike move away.

"Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye..."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thoughts on riding and Royal Enfields on Fuzzygalore.com

A Royal Enfield Desert Storm makes you think.
Travels by Royal Enfield figure occasionally on the amusing Fuzzygalore.com, a self-described "Girlie Motorcycle Blog."

It's author is "a girl from New York who loves riding motorcycles." She gives her name as Rachael, but says most people address her as "Fuzzy."

There's no fuzzy thinking here. One fantastic feature is her link to "free paper maps" for many of the 50 U.S. states. Here I discovered a fascinating brochure listing the locations where movies were filmed in my own state of Florida.

The blog does include gentle contemplation, as when she muses about "The Beauty of Simple Machines," meaning a Royal Enfield Desert Storm.

Anyone who has ridden a Royal Enfield any distance will appreciate Fuzzy's take on the dingbat questions people ask about the motorcycle, entitled "Making Friends, Meeting People: Royal Enfield Edition."

But whether the subject is Royal Enfield or road trips, Fuzzygalore.com is just a fun place to poke around on a rainy afternoon.