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Monday, March 8, 2010

Royal Enfield Experience gives bikers
a demo ride at Daytona Bike Week

A parade of half a dozen Royal Enfield motorcycles, one of them with a sidecar, is a rare sight in the United States but it was a surprisingly common thing at Daytona Bike Week. The Royal Enfield Experience was running demonstration rides out of the Scooter Superstore, the Royal Enfield Daytona Beach dealership.

Kevin Mahoney, president of Royal Enfield USA, estimated that 80 people had a chance to sample the new Royal Enfield models. They rode a lap of "The Loop," the narrow, winding path near Bulow Creek State Park in Ormand Beach, Fla.

This took them past wading birds and wetlands, down lanes shaded by overhanging oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Packs of Harley-Davidsons thundered by in the opposite direction but traffic was never a problem.

Ron Greene, Royal Enfield vice president of sales, led the demonstration ride I took, leading us briefly out onto A1A for a long, straight run along the ocean, a chance to see that the new Royal Enfields really can keep up on fast roads. Bill Stone, vice president of marketing, brought up the rear.

I chose a pretty green G5 Classic that reminded me of my own 1999 Bullet, with one key difference: As the group fired up to leave I realized that I wasn't going anywhere until I found the button for the electric starter. My Royal Enfield is kick start only and, although the G5 has a kick starter it didn't occur to me to use it as I searched for the go button.

Bill Stone reached over and pointed out the little button tucked up under the right hand grip.

It was a friendly ride, with everyone introduced and hand shakes all around. We stopped to switch motorcycles mid way and I got to ride the pretty black C5 with up-swept after-market exhaust.

Afterwards, participants didn't rush off, but hung around admiring the machines and almost talking one another into loving them. There was tremendous personal attention, with Mahoney right there to answer questions about models and features.

Greene noted the information picked up on participants, from questionnaires they filled out.

By Saturday morning, the youngest rider had been 29, the oldest in his 70s; but most had been middle aged. They were considering replacing a motorcycle they owned, or getting back into motorcycling after being away, or looking for a first motorcycle. They thought Royal Enfields were "retro" or "cool."

No doubt everyone enjoyed themselves. How could you not like getting a chance to ride a new motorcycle on a beautiful day? Wouldn't anybody be enthusiastic about anything on two wheels? Well, maybe not a Segway.

But the proof was in the results. By Saturday three Royal Enfields had been sold.

The Royal Enfield Experience tour plans stops at the Americade rally June 7-12 in Lake George, N.Y.; Laconia Bike Week, June 12-20 in Laconia, N.H.; and, yes, Sturgis, S.D. Aug. 9-15.

2 comments:

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  2. I love the loop. What a wonderful way to experience a RE. That ride may be what I miss the most about living in Daytona.

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