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Friday, January 23, 2015

Royal Enfield Interceptor Register tracks famed motorcycles

Gary Elder's 1970 Royal Enfield Interceptor
 in a photo taken circa 1973.
The powerful and rare Royal Enfield Interceptor motorcycle only grows in fame and value as its days of glory in the Swinging '60s become ever fonder memories.

To keep track of these special motorcycles, vendor Burton Bike Bits began a Royal Enfield Interceptor Register years ago.

In 1981 Burton Bike Bits had purchased the remaining factory stock of parts originally saved from the Bradford-on-Avon factory when Royal Enfield went out of business in England in 1971. Burton's public Interceptor Register was handy for research, and has recently been improved and updated.

Now the Royal Enfield Interceptor Owners Group has added its own Interceptor Register where members can share information, stories and photos of their Interceptors.

It's not as public as the Burton Bikes Bits register; you'll need to join the Royal Enfield Interceptor Owners Group on Yahoo  (easily done) to keep updated. But there's more there and the goal is to follow each machine into the future as owners and future owners restore and update components.

This Interceptor Register is the handiwork of member Gary Elder, of Ontario, Canada, who titles himself PMR ("Person Maintaining the Register"). He first posted the REIOG Interceptor Register in March, 2014. His introduction to the register gives plenty of credit to other Interceptor enthusiasts who contributed inspiration, information, help, suggestions and concerns.

The resulting register is very detailed, including a "Condition Code" describing a motorcycle's present state, how close to "stock" it is, how close to operational it us and what sort of use it sees. There is a separate photo gallery keyed to each machine's register number.

Information on the register is "for the pursuit of the Interceptor hobby," and commercial use of the data is prohibited. Concern for owners' privacy has been key, with data made public or not depending on the preference of each owner.

Here's a "sample" view of the register (stripped down by Gary to include only his own Interceptor).

I counted 23 motorcycles on the actual register, all with additional Detail Pages and many with photos. Among them is Gary's own 1970 S2 Interceptor, Condition Code W2P5 — meaning "Under restoration, mostly stock, partly assembled, not used."

Are there other Interceptor owners out there who want to be listed in the registry?

"Anyone else that wants to put their machine data into the register, please just send me an email (at) g_elder@rogers.com and we'll get the ball rolling," Gary writes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Custom Royal Enfield twin combines 50 years of parts

Nice looking Royal Enfield Bullet. Hey, that's a twin!
Royal Enfield enthusiast Tim Busby of New Zealand has the mechanical skills to make unusual things happen.

Lately his flair for the exceptional has led him to build two powerful and fast Royal Enfield twins virtually from piles of odd parts. The results look great but — madness! — his most recent "hybrid" looks from a distance more like a mild Royal Enfield Bullet than the mighty-mighty Interceptor it resembles mechanically.

It doesn't even use shiny dual mufflers to give away its 736cc vertical twin motor.

Tim let the members of the Royal Enfield Interceptor Owners Group on Yahoo in on it all recently, posting photos of the latest machine. Which he calls his '53/'63/'93/'03 Meteor/Interceptor/Bullet Hybrid.

Catchy.

"This hybrid has: '53 Meteor frame, '63 Interceptor Mk-1 engine and 'box, '70 Interceptor SII primary side, '93 Indian Bullet tank and tool boxes, 2003 Bullet disc front end and guards. Pretty much the only 100 percent original unmolested part on the bike is the swingarm, (and that is) New Old Stock," he wrote.

Amazing.

And isn't it amazing that all these Royal Enfield bits from across half a century bolt right together?

NO. They don't.

It looks like a Bullet but it's better. Note Interceptor oil cooler.
The actual tale of how Tim assembled his hybrids is fraught with suspense, as parts that look like mates decline to fit, mysterious motors purchased sight unseen present challenges and even a brand new carburetor right out of the box fails to — ahem — pass gas.

On the other hand — naturally — the 1958 spark plugs in the first hybrid still work fine.

Along the way, Tim got new pistons for his latest hybrid and lightened them himself, had the cams rebuilt to Constellation R specifications, used later model Bullet clutch and alternator parts he likes, fit a close ratio gear set and had the magneto rebuilt.

He failed to notice the swingarm was twisted until it came time for assembly. Good luck, Hitchcock's had a heavier, New Old Stock swingarm designed for sidecar use.

There were many, many other details to work out. Something as seemingly simple as having the braided front brake hose shortened 6 inches meant repeated trips to the shop and, ultimately, the purchase of an entirely new line.

Tim had 1993 Bullet tool boxes and tank on hand that just needed repainting.

Twin cylinder, twin carb Interceptor motor.
In the end, the 1953 Meteor frame (no one knows what happened to the rest of the motorcycle) and 1963 Interceptor motor (originally dispatched to California, no other history known) and 2003 Bullet forks and disc brake made a fine motorcycle.

"All-in-all, very happy with the 53/63/93/03! Now, if anyone has some spare bits from off a '73 and an '83, I could be interested," he writes.

But why do it at all?

"Inspiration for the bikes? Not much at all, really," Tim wrote me.

"Simply based upon what spare parts were available or I had to hand, and what could be assembled using the readily available Indian bits and pieces to expedite the process...

"It was far cheaper for me to make the Meteor Interceptor Bullet than to buy a new 535 GT."

Tim's first hybrid. 1951 Bullet frame, 1957 Indian Trailblazer (Super Meteor) motor
with wheels, forks, tank and guards from India.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Royal Enfield starting problem cured by new battery

Problems starting my Royal Enfield Bullet were fixed by a new battery.
Few things (except maybe a fresh spark plug) are as likely to pep up a classic Royal Enfield motorcycle as a new battery.

I'd been nursing along a duff battery in my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet since it almost stranded me Sept. 27, 2014.

I quickly found that while a few minutes on a battery charger would get us going, the battery would fail to hold a charge and, once stopped, the motor wouldn't restart. Aggravating.

So I made an appointment at my local Brit bike shop, Wes Scott Cycles in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Wes advised that he had what I needed on the shelf. But no trip to his shop deserves a simple run past. Half the reason I like to go there is to see what other motorcycles are on hand.

Triumph cafe racer. Lime green.
This time it was a trio of interesting Triumphs, including a custom cafe racer and a pristine looking Daytona. It's the details I like to look for — things such as what the reflectors look like and how rear axle alignment is adjusted.

Triumph Daytona was a more classic shade of green.
Seriously: has any other maker ever copied Royal Enfield's clam shell adjusters? I doubt it. At least they are unique.

A battered Yamaha 100 dirt bike last registered in 1977 provided the most drama that morning. Kick after kick failed to bring it to life until the fellow doing the kicking basically gave up. He managed one, last, half-hearted little shove with his foot.

Of course, this started the Yamaha immediately. The smoke drove almost everyone out of the shop.

Two-cycle Yamaha dirt bike clears the air of mosquitoes.
Wes installed my battery and I experienced the joy of starting my Bullet instantly, and twice in a row.

We're good to go now.

Precious details on the Triumph Daytona.

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