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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Built like gun, hardly used, Royal Enfield muffler will last

Someday, I imagine, on the hooks above the mantle once reserved for a musket, hearths across America will instead display a shiny chrome tube.

"What is that?" little children will ask, in awe.

"Oh, that. That's Grandpa David's original muffler for his Royal Enfield Bullet," parents will explain, with reverence. "No one wanted it, and it was too nice to throw away, so there it is above the fireplace."

Removing the stock "bazooka" muffler and replacing it with something less restrictive and sportier in appearance is probably the single most common modification owners make to Royal Enfields or any other motorcycles in the U.S.

Royal Enfield guru Pete Snidal once went so far as to write me to suggest that replacing the stock muffler and rejetting the motor appropriately to compensate for its loss were the most important things owners could do to increase their satisfaction with Royal Enfields.

As evidence, he pointed out that most older, low-mileage, "hardly used" Royal Enfields offered for sale on this blog can be seen to still have the unsatisfactory, over restrictive factory mufflers. Owners don't like the performance loss they inflict, so they sell the motorcycles.

Modern Royal Enfield mufflers contain expensive catalytic converters. They are designed to work with the sophisticated fuel injection system and are perfectly satisfactory.

But that won't stop owners from pulling them off and replacing them, in the theory that any change is a gain. You can buy after-market exhaust systems at Nfield Gear.

When you do, you'll have to breeze past the warning in the catalog: "The part may alter emission systems to be out of compliance with state and/or federal laws. The part should only be installed on machines intended for closed-course racing."

I recently viewed the outstanding Civil War weapons collection at the Atlanta History Center. I was interested to see the museum's explanation for why so many fine Civil War-era swords are on display in museums.

The reason is that soldiers didn't use them in battle. Civil War rifles had such long range that even the muzzle loaders could be fired repeatedly before anyone armed with a sword got close enough to be a threat.

Swords were just for parades. Union cavalry left them in camp when they went into battle. Southern cavalry never wore them at all.

Someday my Royal Enfield Bullet may be long gone thanks to hard use and rust. But the shiny original muffler will still be around, above the mantle.

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