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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ace performance boost for Royal Enfield twins

You're looking into left cylinder of a Royal Enfield twin maximized for performance.
Ace Performance Bullets sells the bits it takes to make the single-cylinder Royal Enfield Bullet go fast. Now Tom Lyons of Ace has built parts that could pull super performance from vintage Royal Enfield twins such as the Interceptor.

"I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but we have finished a very nice pair of modded cylinder heads for the vintage Royal Enfield twins," he wrote me.

"This particular pair was for an Indian Trailblazer, which is actually a RE Super Meteor sold in the U.S. under the 'Indian' label, but these mods will be suitable for any of the RE twins in the 700/750 range, including the Interceptor.

Custom roller rockers.
"This mod includes a very nice set of custom steel roller rockers which fit into the small rocker area in these heads, and a set of added custom adjustment ports in the heads for adjusting the lash at the top.

"As far as I am aware, this is the first time that a Royal Enfield twin has ever had high ratio roller rockers put into the heads, and I believe that these are the highest performance Enfield twin heads ever produced. They are absolute gems."

Lyons wrote me that an Interceptor in full-race tune with these heads would have a potential of 90 horsepower.

"Just like we did with the Enfield singles, this unlocks the key to power that Enfields have been lacking all these years," he wrote.

First Ace turned the dray horse Bullet into a Fireball.  It adapted those improvements to the Big Head, AVL and UCE motors. It offers to fit Fireball improvements to the Musket V-twin Bullet kit. It is developing a bolt-on head to power up the new Royal Enfield Continental GT.

Now Lyons offers a way to turn the 60-year-old Royal Enfield twin into a threat at Bonneville.

Yes, I do feel self-conscious about featuring Ace so often on this blog. But it seems to me Lyons is the fellow answering all the "what if" questions people ask about Royal Enfields.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Accessories improve look of Royal Enfield Bullet

Standard Royal Enfield Bullet is improved by subtle upgrades.
A 2001 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 for sale on eBay in Washington state is just about perfect.

Literally. It has only 50 miles on the odometer. The seller says he bought it only for display, kept it in his climate controlled home museum, and rode it only three times.

But that's not why I consider it "perfect." To my eye, this Bullet has been tastefully modified in ways I might have done myself, if I'd wanted to spend the money. The seller listed the changes made:

  • K&N air filter
  • Duck bill breather
  • Relocated horn
  • Chrome brake rod w/nut.
  • Chrome chain adjusters
  • Chrome rear wheel spacers
  • Chrome rear wheel hub cover
  • Bar-end mirrors
  • 350 front fender and fender stays
  • Re-jetted carb
  • Big tri-bar headlight and mounting ring
  • Removed turn indicators
  • Solo riding seat
  • Re-mounted electronics out of sight
  • More open muffler
  • Removed rear pegs

He doesn't even mention the tomb stone tail light fitted. While my own Bullet has the solo seat, I never got around to removing the passenger pegs. This man did, and it's a nice touch.

Clean look, but visible air filter looks too modern to my eyes.
I would have left the turn signals and the air filter box; the visible K&N filter looks too "modern" to me.

Note that although the electrics were relocated, the battery box remains, so there is no "see-through frame" effect anyway — so nothing would be lost by putting that K&N in the original air filter box.

Fuller 350 model front fender looks better than version on 500.
On the other hand, the switch to the better looking 350 front fender is subtle but effective. However, I wouldn't pay to replace a fender until I'm done denting the old one. That's the difference between cheap me and particular him.

Big headlight looks great.
Relocated horn is neat but why does it face down?
I think he got this one right.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Royal Enfield hires designer Pierre Terblanche

Royal Enfield brings on Pierre Terblanche.
(Photo from Twisting Asphalt.)
Royal Enfield has engaged the services of Pierre Terblanche, a South African widely considered "one of the most influential motorcycle designers in the world today."

Rather a surprising move from a company that hasn't found the need to change the basic look of its most iconic products since — actually? — at least 1955.

Most famous for his designs at Ducati, Terblanche is responsible for motorcycles that look to me to be nothing at all like any Royal Enfield marketed so far.

Here's a short YouTube video of Terblanche discussing one of his Ducati designs. Never mind the motorcycle. Watch the way he strokes the motorcycle with his hand as he speaks.

This is a person who cares about design. He obviously hasn't joined Royal Enfield to reinterpret the glories of its 1949 model.

And Royal Enfield hasn't hired him to turn back the clock. Here's the quote from Siddhartha Lal, managing director and CEO of parent company Eicher Motors Ltd.:

"I am very excited that Pierre Terblanche has recently joined our team; he is one of the most prolific industrial designers for motorcycles, and is best known for having created some extra-ordinary motorcycles as the head of design for Ducati for over a decade."

The key words there are probably "extra-ordinary." On Twitter Lal referred to Terblanche as "the motorcycle design genius of our generation."

The BikeEXIF interview with Pierre Terblanche is three years old, but it is revealing and it is the link Lal provided on his Twitter feed.  It may provide a further clue to what Lal is thinking Terblanche can bring to Royal Enfield.

My favorite part is Terblanche's reply to a critic under "Comments."

"You have to remember that I am a designer and that we are notoriously romantic."

I like that.

I also liked his passing reference to the classic (and often beautiful) fighter planes of World War II.

"I like Spitfires. Not as much as the Mustang P-51 or the P-38. But it's nice."

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