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Friday, February 25, 2011

Royal Enfield Early Years Virtual Museum documents
history of Royal Enfield motorcycles from 1898 to 1929

Here's something to celebrate: the Royal Enfield Early Years Virtual Museum, created by Jorge Pullin, is complete. Show your support for this significant accomplishment by visiting the museum on his My Royal Enfields blog.

Royal Enfield Early Years Virtual Museum.
The museum's logo is a cleverly altered image of the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee, Wis. But there is no physical museum. The  precious and rare antique Royal Enfield motorcycles displayed in the Royal Enfield Early Years Virtual Museum are images gathered by Jorge.

Each year's entry, from 1898 to 1929, is as complete a history of the brand as he can make it.

That was the challenge. There is much that is unknown about those early years. This knowledge gap is the reason that the Virtual Museum covers only the years 1898 to 1929, Jorge explains. The years from 1930 on are well documented elsewhere, he writes.

The Virtual Museum makes up for what isn't known with clever asides about what is. Jorge's writing style is conversational and he provides many links that enhance the fun. At times, he is forced to speculate: was the never-photographed 1898 Royal Enfield tricycle just a quadricycle with a different front end?

A typically amusing artifact, in the entry for 1928,  is an article about how to avoid catching your right toe in the open flywheel of a Royal Enfield while operating the brake!

It isn't all just motorcycles, either. There are lavish entries on company history and on the personalities who built Royal Enfield. You'll be surprised how many seeming business executives mounted racing machines in those early days. Another surprising thing is how often the riders racing Royal Enfields to victory were women.

Especially worth a visit is the "U.S. Wing" of the museum, an exhaustive history of what is known about Royal Enfield's efforts to penetrate the U.S. market, from the very beginning to recent times. This is a must-read for U.S. owners of Royal Enfields. You'll be astonished how much history the brand has in this country.

Each year's entry typically lists the sources used to compile it. Jorge is a professor of physics in Baton Rouge, La. His other blog is International Loop Quantum Gravity Seminar.  The item I sampled there used the word "diffeomorphism," which I plan to work into all my upcoming conversations.

Another posting there contained this example, to illustrate a finding:

"In other words: if you throw an encyclopedia in a black hole, a sufficiently clever physicist can indeed reconstruct the article on Aardvarks by carefully examining the radiation from the black hole."

Until that sufficiently clever person arrives, I will be content with contemplating Zeppelin raids on Redditch, factory tennis courts, mysterious two-stroke triple-cylinder engines and the unlikely racing victories detailed in the Royal Enfield Early Years Virtual Museum.

Give it a look.


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