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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Royal Enfield bicycles in many varieties, but from where?

This blue Royal Enfield bicycle is for sale in New Jersey.
A red Royal Enfield bicycle that looked too new to have been built in Redditch by the original Royal Enfield company left me wondering where they come from. That one was badged as a "Royal Enfield Quality Bicycle" and appeared to be labelled "Made in Japan."

Then I spotted another ad for a blue Royal Enfield bicycle, this one badged with a peculiar "RE" logo on the headstock. This one was for sale in South Orange, N.J., by a fellow who appears to know a lot about used bicycles.

"RE" in a triangle logo. It's just a sticker.
Why not ask him what he knows about these bicycles?

His name is Robert Stack and he runs a one-man bicycle restoration operation called Zoshe at www.zoshe.com/bikes.

"Most bikes I restore are bikes I believe are some of the best rare or vintage classic bikes ever made. The only thing more fun or equal to restoring them, is riding them," he writes on his website. Here's what he told me about the "RE" Royal Enfield:

"The Royal Enfield bicycle I'm currently selling, has components, decals, and accessories that make me believe it was made in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It has no origin of manufacturing on the bike, but I strongly suspect it was made in Taiwan by Kirk and Merifield company, which bought out Royal Enfield bicycle in some type of agreement by 1970.

Red bike had metal badge.
"It's also possible Kirk and Merifield later sold, or licensed the Royal Enfield bicycle tooling and brand to another company. The Made-in-Japan red Royal Enfield bicycle in your blog has a metal badge, so I strongly suspect it was made in the 1970s. By 1980, most bike companies switch to using front sticker badges.

"Also, it was common that bikes made in Japan in the 1970s were later made in Taiwan in the 1980s. Nonetheless, whoever kept making and updating these Royal Enfield bikes from 1970 to early 1980s did a pretty nice job. If any were made after the early 1980s, I never came across any."

Robert even went to the trouble to consult the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

"The last known holder of the Royal Enfield bicycle trademark  is G. Joannou Cycle Co., Inc... It's the same company that purchased the Jamis bike company. Claims of a Far East company making illegitimate counterfeit Royal Enfield bicycles after 1970 are not true.

"Maybe, someone at the Jamis bike company has some info on Royal Enfield bicycles made after 1970," he suggested.

I'll let you know what I find out.

4 comments:

  1. Actiually, according to the national cycle museum of Wales, Royal Enfields were produced illegitimately in Taiwan after the 70's. I sent them some pics of one a friend found and they verified this. His looks like the red one in the picture. They were also produced legally in India.

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    Replies
    1. Some of the obviously newish Royal Enfield bicycles seen in the U.S. have a "Made in Japan" sticker so likely production was not just in Taiwan. I've updated the story of Royal Enfield bicycles since this item appeared.

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    2. I have a royal enfield villiers 10 speed bicycle and would like to know more about it

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  2. I have a royal Enfield Japan made BMX frame
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