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Friday, August 11, 2017

A visit to the Royal Enfield USA store in Milwaukee

How much is that Royal Enfield in the window?
It wasn't part of the plan to visit the flagship store of Royal Enfield North America in Milwaukee.

But when a trip to see my wife's mother put us in the city's Historic Third Ward it was easy for Bonnie to suggest I stop in, "just to look around."

So, with wife and mother-in-law waiting in the car outside, I dashed in to see what new Royal Enfield colors might be on view.

Sign on building emphasizes Royal Enfield's long history.
Like many buildings in the old-timey Milwaukee neighborhood it's in, the Royal Enfield dealership is a historic 1914 building. I wrote about the history of the building in this blog post.

It's worth strolling the up-and-coming neighborhood to see how the great old buildings are being restored and utilized.

Royal Enfield Milwaukee is in a historic 1914 Old Third Ward building.
But I didn't have time to do much more than wave at the dealership employees on duty and promise to spend more time "next time" I get to town.

The newest model on site was the Himalayan, which likely won't go on sale until "this autumn," one of the representatives told me. I assume that is the optimistic view.

The Himalayan on view in the store isn't for sale — yet.
I was glad to see the new Squadron Blue color for the first time, in person. I was surprised it is not glossy. It's a military-style paint job, in line with the Desert Storm and Battle Green tributes to Royal Enfield's long history of serving the armed forces.

I shared a joke about Milwaukee winters with the sales representatives. And then it was time to go.

Royal Enfield of Milwaukee is at 226 N Water St., Milwaukee, Wis. They're open 10-6 Tuesday through Friday, 10-4 Saturday, and Sunday 11 to 3. Closed Mondays.

Squadron Blue joins the other military colors,
Desert Storm and Battle Green.
A party at the Milwaukee showroom is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9, with food, drink, music, test rides and, of course, the full line of Royal Enfields to see for yourself.

Sure way to draw customers: Put a Royal Enfield outside the store!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Motorcycles of the '70s: A lost era for me

I got a lift on a Honda step-through in the 1960s and rode my brother's little Hondas in the 1970s, but family responsibilities then intervened to keep me off two-wheelers until July 4, 2001.

That's when I bought my Royal Enfield Bullet, and declared my personal independence from four wheels.

Street Bikes of the 70s.
In a way, I was picking up where I had left off.

Brit-style motorcycles (even if built in Japan) had seemed best when I'd quit riding. I was delighted that I could still buy a Royal Enfield (even if built in India) in 2001 and carry on, regardless.

I didn't think I'd missed anything.

But now along comes Motorcycle Classics magazine with "Street Bikes of the 70s," a compilation of articles from that era. Editor-in-Chief Richard Backus introduces it this way:

"When the overhead cam, four-cylinder Honda CB750 was introduced for 1969, the winds of change were already blowing hard. A milestone motorcycle, the CB750 represented the beginning of the end for the old order and the old way of doing things.

"The sporting British twin, for more than a generation the image of performance and style, found itself pushed to the back of the stage as sophisticated Japanese multis and more than a few groundbreaking Italian thoroughbreds reshaped the new motorcycle market."

Backus got his first motorcycle, a Kawaski, in 1976. He was 17, a full decade younger than I was at the time. He was left with "a particular love for bikes from the 1970s."

This was precisely the moment at which I had lost interest in the then new motorcycles.

Now, for the first time, I have I feeling that I did, indeed, miss out on something.

Motorcycle Classics is running a special. "Street Bikes of the 70s" is only $4.99 if ordered by Friday, Aug. 11.

This is not an endorsement: I haven't read it yet. If you have, let me know what you think.

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