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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Imagine a Royal Enfield that doesn't leak

Scooter Bob, left, and factory reps "Viki" Vikram, next to Bob, and "Sarv" Sarveswaran, at right, take on the new UCE.

His name isn't Bob and he never sold scooters, but everyone calls Greg Stewart "Scooter Bob." It's a happy sounding nickname for a "just folks" kinda guy who loves Royal Enfield motorcycles.

Stewart is also obviously tremendously competent when it comes to things motorcycle. Again and again, the former dealer for and now employee of Classic Motorworks shares what he knows.

The occasion was a training session Feb. 12 and 13 for Royal Enfield dealers at the U.S. importer of Royal Enfield motorcycles. In front of a dozen men, all experts themselves, Scooter Bob disassembled and then put back together Royal Enfield's new unit constructed engine (UCE).

He had a lot of help from three men from the factory in India: Royal Enfield's V. Vikram, senior manager of service; K.S. Sarveswaran, of engine design and development; and Hari Kumar Kanakala of engine management systems.

The new engine, in Royal Enfield terms, is nearly a miracle. The classic Bullet motorcycle, made in India almost unchanged since 1955, carries oil in the engine, different oil in the transmission and yet another batch of oil around the clutch. Typically, it leaks from all three places!

The UCE combines all of the bits into one lump served by a single supply of oil. Elaborate precautions have been taken to make sure none of it leaks.

That is only the most obvious improvement to a motorcycle that still looks like a classic, but analyzes its own faults with an on-board computer. More about that tomorrow.



Sarveswaran, left, and "Harry" Kumar help as Scooter Bob disassembles the new motor.

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