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Monday, September 15, 2008

Restorers keep Royal Enfields running

Royal Enfield is the reason Harley-Davidson is unlikely to make big inroads into India, Chicago Tribune correspondent Laurie Goering reports. It's not just that Harleys, expensive in the United States, cost even more in India.

Goering notes that India has many talented shops devoted to restoring Royal Enfields and selling them in like-new, made-to-order condition at vastly less than a Harley would cost.

Goering writes:

"…The older Enfield bikes that government bureaucrats once relied on to traverse the country's tortuous roads are being brought to Delhi for restoration. At the tiny Gurdial Auto Engineers shop in New Delhi, three generations of the Singh family rebuild 1960s-vintage Royal Enfields, a few at a time.

"The trick, they say, is that parts built by India's Royal Enfield factory in 2000 fit the 1960s bikes almost perfectly, so without much effort the Singhs can turn a rusted, sputtering hulk into a classic bike that 'is only looking old, but the system is like a new model,' said Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, the grandson."

Used Royal Enfields may not appeal that much to Indian customers, who prefer new motorcycles, Goering writes. "But they've won a following among expatriates in New Delhi, who line up to order custom-rebuilt bikes, many of which end up in the United States, Canada and Britain."

It sounds wonderful. Lovers of vintage automobiles have compared this to the chance to buy a lovingly restored 1957 Chevrolet at a fraction of the cost of a new Chevrolet. But then come the unanswered questions of shipping, customs checks and difficulties registering an uncertified vehicle. Some people manage it, apparently, but horror stories abound.

There was an ad on eBay offering a 1952 Royal Enfield Model G 350cc motorcycle that "starts and runs but needs to be restored." The seller, in Delhi, quotes a Buy It Now price of $2,700, which INCLUDES a new seat, carburetor and shipping and insurance to carry it to the United States! For another $1,800, the seller offers to fully restore the motorcycle.

Sound almost too good to be true? Certainly some questions need to be asked. The motorcycle shown in the ad (and above) is not a Model G, which had a rigid frame, but likely an early model Bullet, with the rear shock absorber plainly visible. The seller says he has other motorcycles to choose from. This must be one of those.

1 comment:

  1. Has anyone purchased an RE from Nova Classics? I am waiting to hear from them about registering the bikes they import.

    http://www.novaclassics.com/ is their website.

    thanks for the site... it keeps me dreaming while I save my pennies.

    Greg in Virginia.

    ReplyDelete

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