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Monday, December 3, 2012

1947 Royal Enfield emerges from years in a basement

Royal Enfield RE 125 was an improved version of the Flying Flea.
An apparently very original 1947 Royal Enfield RE 125 is for sale on CraigsList in Frederick County, Md.

It has the three-speed hand shift transmission and is advertised as all original down to the dealers decal near  the tail light. An original owner's manual goes with it.

Front suspension was girder forks sprung with rubber bands!
There was no rear suspension at all.
Owner Richard Schaffer was kind enough to share its story with me:

"My brother David got it somehow in the early 1970s in eastern Pennsylvania and did nothing with it. I was living in the UK from 1974 to 1980 and got parts for it, such as the rubber bands that are used on the front suspension and extra cables, etc.

Tubular container below the sprung seat is a toolbox.
"When I got back into the U.S., David gave me the RE. We ran it a few times — I always had other cycles to keep me busy; and then it sort of fell into the back of the pack.

"I do have the title for it. It has a dealer's transfer/decal on the rear mudguard from a dealer in N.Y., where I assume it was purchased new.

Rear rack was standard equipment.
"From time to time, I will pour a small bit of oil down the spark plug hole and kick the engine over, but other than that, I haven't done a thing to it in years. It has sat covered up in our climate controlled basement and I think it is now time for someone else to enjoy it."

Richard added a "bonus" Royal Enfield story, one that has nothing to do with his little two-cycle RE 125.

"Back in 1960s my brother and I bought a 750cc Royal Enfield — advertised as the fastest stock motorcycle one could buy. And I guess that was true, once you got it started! It was an absolute pig to start: high compression, long stroke, big carbs, etc.

"I remember the dealer stating he would not sell that model Royal Enfield to anyone who weighed under 160 pounds. We sure had a love/ hate relationship with that Royal Enfield. We both had a few lumps on our shins to show the hate part. It liked to cough back on you to show it was a mean machine, I guess.

"We sold it some years later with not many miles on it."

What do you think? Did Richard and his brother keep the wrong Royal Enfield in the basement all those years?

The pictures capture the charm of this little machine but there are some details that could reflect the vagaries of import, titling, record keeping and replacement parts. Roy Bacon's book "Royal Enfield The Postwar Models" says the chrome plated rims, saddle springs and points cover, a longer toolbox and the angled speedometer and expansion exhaust pipe are 1948 features.

Asking price for the RE 125 is $4,850.

Standard color was black.

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