Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
8. Oil filter parts re-installed in the wrong order. Yes, it does seem odd that the spring in the cap bears on a fiber washer, but that is the way it's supposed to work. Putting the metal washer between them instead of on the other side of the fiber washer means an oil leak for certain.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Catch the happy tone (and charming accents) in this television news broadcast from Delhi. SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE VIDEO. Reporter Sumantra Barooah of CNBC-TV18 tells it all:
"The brand positioning of Royal Enfield has helped it grow during the rough patch — though it’s a pretty intangible factor. The damp mood in the economy has not impacted the Bullet’s customers yet. Sales of the biking grand-daddy grew 20% year-on-year."
Friday, December 26, 2008
Just in time for 2009, here's a video of how Royal Enfield built Bullet motorcycles way, way back in 2008! I posted an earlier, incomplete version of this earlier in 2008 but my video editing skills weren't up to much. Here's a much improved version. Thanks for the video editing tutorial from my daughter Anna.
Our videographer for this visit is Kevin Mahoney of Classic Motorworks, U.S. importer of the Royal Enfield motorcycle. If you listen closely at one point you can hear him saying "I'm going to put this on a CD and put it on my web site." Hopefully, he will, so it can reach a wider audience. There are some very decent shots here and you get a feeling for the attitude of the workers on the line.
"They never seem rushed," Anna commented as we viewed it. Seems to me, you'd want them to take time making your bike. Enjoy.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
My dealer offered to sell me replacement turn signals when I picked up my Royal Enfield Bullet in 2001. At the time I was a bit unsure of my motorcycling ability, so I said "Let me knock these off first!"
It took seven years and 40,000 miles, but I have accomplished that "goal." Three of the four turn signals stalks have broken, the latest failing as I motored toward a meeting with other bikers. Nothing looks dumber than a turn signal swinging from its wires; I aborted the trip to the meeting and went home.
All three failures have come inside the same 1,000 miles. It's obvious that there is some natural limit (vibration?) to the life of the turn signal stalk. The rubber like plastic stalks break cleanly. I replaced two of the stalks with slightly used take-offs from another Bullet owner. This third stalk I am trying to fix with JB Weld glue.
I'll let you know how long it hangs in there.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In plain English, people buy motorcycles because they are passionate about them. Certainly there is immense passion for Royal Enfield motorcycles, especially in India. Naturally, the manufacturer seeks to serve that passion, whether in India or around the world, so as to sell more motorcycles. Surprisingly, it's hard to find a simple statement of this mission on the official web sites of the factory or importers.
This only comes to mind because I recently encountered a statement of the "Vision" of Harley-Davidson on a fan website. The fan site dredged up this hideous example of corporate blithering from deep in the company's web site. Harley might have preferred it remain buried:
"Harley-Davidson, Inc. is an action-oriented, international company, a leader in its commitment to continuously improve our mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, governments and society). Harley-Davidson believes the key to success is to balance stakeholders’ interests through the empowerment of all employees to focus on value-added activities."
There you go! And you thought they just built great motorcycles that moved you physically and emotionally. Do Harley riders realize they are "stakeholders"?
Harley and Royal Enfield both rely on web site videos to capture the passion people have for their products. But you can't commit a video to memory, or paint it on a roadside sign. I recognize that there is a difference between a mission statement and a mere motto. But I still think the fewer words, the better.
As for the babble-speak Harley corporate "Vision," no one was really meant to read that, or remember it, or believe it. Corporations are in business to make money, the more money the better. The way to do that is to serve the wants and needs of customers, not to "balance stakeholder relationships."
For motorcycle companies like Royal Enfield and Harley-Davidson, the customers are thirsty for a rich brew of excitement, nostalgia, reputation and quality.
How do you put that into words? For Royal Enfield, how about something like this:
"Royal Enfield makes the motorcycles that moved you yesterday to move you even better today."
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
- How old is that thing?
- Did you restore it yourself?
- How fast will it go?
Three seemingly simple questions, each with a complex answer that will not make much sense shouted across an intersection. The answers I would like to give (but rarely do) are:
- Younger than it looks.
- It restores me.
- Not nearly fast enough, if the answer to that question is important to you.
Usually I take the coward's way out. I just point to the helmet, smile and shake my head to indicate I can't hear the questions.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
This makes for an amusing discussion and, every once in awhile, there is even an actual rumor (but no evidence) that India might provide a twin.
Recently, I came across an Indian Enfield Bullet with a hulking vertical-twin engine for sale on CraigsList for $1,000 "or best offer." Amazingly, some impatient fan of Royal Enfield had built his own!
Even more amazing, despite the bargain price, the bike is still for sale, although the CraigsList ad has expired. The Royal Enfield with a Yamaha 650 engine and transmission is in South Bend, Ind. When I contacted the sellers again recently I got this message in return:
"Nope not (sold) yet. A lot of interest but no follow through yet. Thanks for the mention on your blog. Jessica and Jeff."
Why hasn't it sold? Surely, no purist can be offended, now that Royal Enfield India has itself dropped the time-honored iron-barrelled engine and Albion transmission. Where's the sin in fitting a modern engine into a 2001 Bullet? It sure would make for an exciting ride.
Naturally, this bike would take some fiddling, given its mixed origins, and would be powerful beyond its braking power. Nothing a Royal Enfield veteran couldn't handle. The pictures make it look sleek and attractive. Where's that fellow who is always dreaming of a twin-cylinder Bullet on the Internet?
If you're out there, buddy, Jessica and Jeff are waiting for a call at 574-217-8345.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
But the firm also contributed many other products besides motorcycles, including ammunition. Most intriguing, Royal Enfield operated an underground factory in the Wiltshire area, far from the headquarters factory at Redditch. You can see pictures of the deteriorated factory on the Underground Kent site.
Safe from Luftwaffe bombing, this subterranean plant in the galleries of the former Westwood Quarry was cutting edge technology. It was among the first fully temperature and humidity controlled space of its size. In other parts of these immense underground caves, precious paintings from Buckingham Palace and the British Museum found a haven. It was rumored that the Crown Jewels were there, too.
After the war, Royal Enfield did build motorcycles in its underground facility, which was no longer needed for defense work. But what had the company built there during the war? Surely not the side-valve motorcycles it was selling the War Department. Not in such premium space, next to paintings from the palace.
A Royal Enfield brochure from the immediate post-war period, shown for sale on eBay, may offer clues. In addition to touting motorcycles, the brochure proudly details "Our Wartime Record" and offers what it says is a "complete list" of goods the firm produced for the fighting forces.
The words "complete list" could be just casual phrasing. But I think there is a chance that the list is "complete" (after all, the war is over, the Cold War has yet to begin in earnest and secrecy may seem no longer necessary). If so, the weapons Royal Enfield was producing that were so precious they were worth protecting at high cost, are contained somewhere in this list:
- Motorcycles, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc, 570cc.
- Bicycles, military and civilian.
- Predictors for Bofars anti-aircraft guns.
- Oil motors for Bofars gun; ships stabilisers; searchlight controls; fuse setting, etc.
- Diesel generator sets for wireless stations.
- Petrol generator sets.
- Electrically-driven generator sets, for testing aeroplanes and radar equipment.
- Resetter boxes for gun sights.
- Gyroscopic sight for Oerlikon and other guns.
- Anti-vibration mounts for gun sights.
- Armor-piercing shot for 40mm anti-tank guns.
- Petrol-driven pump units for tank turrets.
- Straight-line cams for use in precision instruments.
- Self-synchronising equipment for 40mm guns.
- Lag-compensating and self-sectoring equipment for gun sights.
- Tubular crates for enclosing motorcycles to be dropped from parachutes.
People who know more than I do about weapon systems may be able to identify what among the predictors, gyroscopic sights, resetter boxes, lag-compensating and self-sectoring and self-synchronizing equipment would be worth building in a secret factory.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
He posted these prices:
Lean Burn Engine models
$5,349 - Classic
$5,449 - Deluxe
$5,545 - Military
$5,745 - Electra
Unit-Constructed Engine models
$5,995 - Classic G-5
$6,095 - Deluxe G-5
$6,395 - Classic C-5
These prices do not include shipping, set-up and taxes, Mahoney said.
Royal Enfield will move to all UCE engines in the U.S. in 2010, Mahoney said. 2009 also will be the last year for bikes without front disk brakes. The G-5 will have a UCE engine with kickstart, but the C-5 UCE engine will be electric start only.
"If you want the traditional Royal Enfield this is the last year that they will be available, better get one before they are gone. As you can see there is also a substantial price difference between the Lean-Burn Bullets and the UCE Bullets," Mahoney said.
The G-5 will not be available as a Military model initially, but that will come in 2010, he predicted.
The C-5 will be available in late spring (best case), Mahoney said.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The pictures I've selected are just samples of the beauties you'll see in this gallery. Take a look for yourself.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
May is not promising delivery of the book by Christmas outside the United Kingdom.
The book should provide more details about May's multiple escapes from bandits, the rough roads, bad rooms, dust storms and encounters with Pakistani commandoes. Having followed his travelogue, we can be sure he also will recount the many human kindnesses he was shown.
May certainly proved himself the equal of every setback but so too did the 1953 Bullet, which carried on past wear and tear and a bad crash. And it did so heavily loaded. It's an inspiring story for those of us who feel guilty when we don't wash and wax our Enfields after a ride to breakfast on a sunny Sunday morning.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
I asked Mark what this bike would cost to build. His reply:
"Let me give you a little background.
- Swing arm moved back six inches.
- 32mm Mikuni carb.
- Air filter.
- Invert the handlebars.
- Rear fender made from an old BSA front fender, weld in the gussets and struts.
- Mustang gas tank.
- Fabricate fake oil tank to house the electronics.
- Chrome gas cap.
- Old style chopper mirrors.
- Mini DOT bullet lights and control module.
- Hot Rod Flats copper metal flake paint job.
- Leather Ultima seat and fabricate seat mounts.
- Bullet valve caps.
- Chrome caps on all the engine Allen heads to dress up.
- That's most of it!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
"The chain drive was moved to the right for a couple of reasons. Since it is a unit motor with a self-contained transmission there was no need to keep it on the left. Another good reason to move it is to put the rear braking mechanism in a direct line with the pedal. This provides better rear braking.
"As has been pointed out the UCE models will all have a nice O-ring chain. This is a welcome addition. Actually chain and clutch adjustment are the only adjustments to do on the new bike. It has a automatically adjusted primary chain, hydraulic valve lifters and EFI which have all eliminated maintenance."
More information comes from Dan Callum, who attended the NEC bike show in Birmingham, England. He posted the pictures shown here and many others. Callum noted the comfy looking single seat shown on the new Classic (which was displayed with a sidecar). To my delight, his pictures show that clamshell chain adjusters continue on the new bike, quite a familiar touch on a Royal Enfield.
Callum filed this report on the Bullet-Mania Yahoo message board:
"I was very impressed with the new machine. They had one chaired up with a colour coordinated sidecar and it looked a treat. I was asking about the kickstart, well the production EFI Electra will have a kickstart, and I was asking about the possibility of adding a k/start to the Classic machine, and there will be no factory conversion available to to do this, although who knows what independent engineers may come up with. I also enquired about the possibility of converting to right hand shift, this has not really been looked into yet. It seems that the Classic has all metric threads everywhere, except for the rear wheel which is the existing unit and will continue with the imperial threads until tooling needs replacing. The seat is very comfy, it has foam AND springs, the best of both worlds, and the clutch is very light."I did notice on the Classic that the lovely painted battery cover left two areas of the gaudy plastic battery exposed; if I had one of these I would definitely be painting those parts of the battery black."
Next: When will the new Royal Enfield get to the U.S.?
Friday, December 5, 2008
The new Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 500 unveiled in Europe has yet to reach the United States but we know a lot about what it will be like, thanks to Kevin Mahoney of Classic Motorworks, the U.S. distributor. He provides constant updates in postings in the forum sections of Classic's web site.
We know that the new motorcycle, called the C-5 inside Royal Enfield, will have a unit-constructed engine (or UCE, meaning motor and transmission are inside the same case), fuel injection, electric start and electronic ignition. But read these recent posts by Mahoney for more specifics:
"The three colors shown at Intermot are in fact the colors the bike will be available with. However the turquoise will be first as they have it all sorted out. The black will be easy, but they are still working on the red. The painted frame has brought out some interesting issues with the welds. Because of the color the welds are much more noticeable. This now makes them an aesthetic item instead of a just a practical item. Even with this new bike quite a bit of it is still handmade, including the frame.
"I believe that a dual seat will be available. It takes a special subframe. A rear pillion with a matching subframe will also be available.
"The kickstart option is not an easy retrofit as I had hoped. It would require replacing quite a bit of the transmission. It does have a decompressor, but it is an automatic one controlled by flyweights for starting. Although this design has a (starter motor) sprag it has been trouble free on all of the test bikes around the world. It is designed differently than the current sprag set up. It is connected directly to the engine with no intermediate idler gears, which is where the real problem lies in the current design.
"While I was (in India) we took four bikes right off the assembly line and took them to the track. Right from the get-go they were thrashed, and I do mean thrashed. They were pushed as hard on the track as an Enfield can be pushed all day long. The next day we took them on a 200km ride again being less than kind to them. The performance of all four was absolutely flawless. It sort of amazed all of us. No break-in, no special preparation, etc. This new engine is awesome. Good sound and very linear torque, which is unusual.
"We do not think the new bike will turn us into a big motorcycle company. Royal Enfield and Classic Motorworks would be happy with a modest 10 per cent growth -- which is not much given the numbers we sell. What we do want to become is a small company that is known for selling very cool unique bikes that are reliable and very economical. We have the cool bike and economic thing down and have made big headway on reliability. We are hoping the new power train will put us over the top in that category. RE has enough confidence that they are going to double the warranty to two years on all UCE bikes. This alone is worth something.
"Some people will want a Sportster, some will want a Bonnie, some will want a Honda Rebel, we just hope some also want a Royal Enfield."
Next: More about the new Royal Enfield
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Another BMW in well used condition will be brought up to road worthiness but will be left with its vintage patina, for riding, not showing off, at the owner's request. It's hard not to envy the lucky rider, come Spring.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Owner Eric M. Engler is friendlier. In fact, if it was not for the Velocity logo on his shirt I would have taken this soft-spoken man for a fellow visitor, there to gawk at the magnificent vintage motorcycles lined up on the floor. He describes them almost as if they are human friends:
"This is a Thruxton, number 1,200 of 1,208 they made, so it may be the 'youngest' Thruxton living.
"This is a BMW with a Volkswagen engine. It's like riding a BMW that is heavier but with enormous torque. You have to be careful with the throttle. There were three or four firms in Germany that made kits for these. This one is very well done. Look at the welds here on the frame, to lengthen it. Those are beautifully done."
All the bikes are for sale. A 1969 Norton Commander 750S has a price tag of $9,500. I did not see price tags on two real veterans: a 1912 FN with shaft drive (FN was building shaft drive bicycles so all it had to do was add the motor, Engler explained) and a 1922 New Map 350. The New Map defined old-time motorcycle looks, right down to a small tin box on the tank that might have held the rider's pipe and tobacco.
Next: What Velocity thinks is in store for Royal Enfield.