Monday, January 18, 2010

By any name, Royal Enfield C5 is a beauty

A Royal Enfield C5 with chrome fenders and tank knocked their eyes out at the New Delhi Auto Expo this month. I suggested that it will be a long time before it comes to the United States and compared such introductions to the 2007 unveiling of the Chevrolet Volt, still a year away.

That brought two excellent comments.

From Jorge Pullin, who blogs at My Royal Enfields: "I'd be more optimistic. When they announced the Volt they didn't even know what batteries they were going to use. These bikes are not a huge departure from what Royal Enfield does, so they could produce them relatively soon. And reports claim they are mostly for export. But I wouldn't blame CMW (the U.S. importer) for keeping things conservative in the middle of the iffy U.S. economy of today."

And from Oriste came a video news report out of India: David, have you seen this?

The news reporter says the new models will be launched in the export market "by the end of next summer."

If I was in the market for a new Royal Enfield I would not wait to see if that's true. Other "export markets" typically have received new models before the U.S. There have been important reasons for some of that: the Unit Construction Engine bikes were needed first in the EU because of looming emissions requirements, for instance.

Beyond that, Kevin Mahoney, of Classic Motorworks, has explained that, in the rest of the world, the Royal Enfield is a much more "mainstream" motorcycle. As such, it needs exciting new models to compete in a crowded field.

In the U.S., a 70-mile-per-hour motorcycle will always be limited to people who want a special experience. It's almost unique in a market crowded with "me too" variations on Harley-Davidson cruisers.

It's an odd sort of logic, I suppose, but, in a way, it's almost better that the Royal Enfield evolve more slowly here, giving each model time to be noticed.

Which is one more reason that the new "Chrome bike" should be tagged the "Deluxe", for the sake of tradition. I keep banging the drum about this, but will stop it now because even I am finding me annoying!

Did you notice in the video that the C5 Chrome and Battlegreen bikes on display did not have kick start levers?

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