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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why buy a Royal Enfield? It just moves you

Freelance motorcycle writer Jerry Smith has written an eloquent description of why he has wanted to buy a Royal Enfield Bullet. The item appears on his blog, Tread Life. But here's an excerpt:

"When I started riding motorcycles they all had point/coil ignition that could barely keep a spark plug hot enough to prevent fouling, skinny rock-hard tires with nail-attracting tubes in them, and wet-cell batteries you had to refill as often as the gas tank or they’d boil dry and die.

"This combination of sub-par systems meant you never really knew if you were going to get where you were going on time—or at all. You don’t get that with modern bikes, and that takes something away from the adventure that is riding motorcycles.

"But every time I look at a Royal Enfield, the possibility of getting stranded and having to push it home is the first thing that enters my mind. And for some perverse reason that makes me want to swing a leg over it and tempt fate."

Well said. Smith's comments certainly apply to the classic Royal Enfield. They do not apply so well to the new unit construction engine (UCE) models on the way, with their modern fuel injection and brakes.

But the point is not that risking a breakdown is high adventure. The point, I think, is that wrestling the bike into shape for the journey (even if it is just going out to breakfast) puts the emphasis on the joy of getting there. If it's just twist the key and go, why not take a car?

The added connection between rider and motorcyle is something that comes with every Royal Enfield so far, and I expect it will extend to the new ones as well. There will always be easier and faster ways to get where you're going, if all you want to do is get there.

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