|Even new Royal Enfield motorcycles look old compared to modern motorcycles.|
"Maybe I've become a Vintage/Classic Motorcycle Snob (a title I am content with), but it seems to me riders of new bikes are discouraged from understanding how an engine works, and are offered only utility from their motorcycle. I struggle to believe that's all they want, given the number of new Royal Enfield Bullets and Triumph Bonnevilles on the road. Until you ride something that really speaks to you, and takes you on a different kind of journey, how can you experience what's best about motorcycling?"
The author seems to be saying that the groundswell of appreciation for the Bullet and the Bonneville reveals increasing enthusiasm for the more interesting motorcycles of the past. But are they really immune from "The Curse of the Modern Motorcycle"?
Biubuyck's complaint seems to boil down to the feeling that modern motorcycles are less engaging. The great classics of old brought the rider into the game, forcing him to be alert to every twitch and ping of the machine beneath him. Modern motorcycles excel at excellence. This delivers a greater certainty of reaching the destination on time, but subtracts much of the interest from the journey.
This strikes me as quite likely to be true, although I can't testify since the oldest motorcycle I personally recall riding was a cooking Honda and it was — by the 1970s! — already essentially flawless.
My 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet is much more "engaging," treating me occasionally to a stroll back along the road to pick up parts that fell off. I adjusted the valves in a church parking lot the other day, trying as best I could to preserve my "Sunday" clothes. I enjoyed this thoroughly.
As a V/CM Snob, Biubuyck might not look twice at my lowly Bullet. But I probably had about as much fun with the valves as Biubuyck claims to have had reattaching one of the carburetors of a 1971 Norton Commando Roadster.
Do the more recent Royal Enfield Bullets, with their unit constructed engines, provide this level of "fun"?
Well, for starters, modern Royal Enfields have self-adjusting valves, non-adjustable fuel injection and leave-me-alone electronic ignition. For a time (no more) you could even buy a new Royal Enfield C5 in the United States with no kick start lever. The Horror!
Yeah, but... "utility"?
I've never ridden a Bonneville, but I have tried out the new C5. It's a dreamboat compared to my 1999 Bullet but it's not going to bore the rider as a result.
Hell, 99 percent of the time riding any Royal Enfield in my town is spent figuring out how to keep up with traffic on a single-cylinder, push-rod, low rpm, low compression upright motorcycle.
Even if Royal Enfield builds more powerful motorcycles in the future they are likely to share specifications that keep them firmly rooted in the past.