|Royal Enfield's new Continental GT cafe racer was present to be photographed at the National Museum of Motorcycles in Birmingham, U.K. Centerpiece was the Redditch built original, center.|
"All the time we're passing up motorcycles we would absolutely drool over to look at a bunch of (naughty word) Royal Enfields!"
|Gordon May shows the press Royal Enfields in the National Motorcycle Museum.|
We were instead closely examining a Royal Enfield 500 Twin ("boring name," Gordon acknowledged).
|Gordon May wheels out a Flying Flea: Rubber band front suspension!|
At Lewis Leathers (founded 1892) owner Derek Harris showed us original pattern leather motorcycle jackets. Did you know the Rockers liked the zipper to the side (the "Lightning" jacket) so it wouldn't scratch the tank when they laid across it?
|The "Bullet" for 1934 had an actual speeding bullet motif on the tank.|
Refreshments were at the Royal Enfield Cafe in Redditch. Once the town's movie palace, the Royal Enfield is now a spacious pub and restaurant. The new Royal Enfield Continental GT and its 1965 predecessor were drawn up outside in the sunshine.
|What do people who built the original (left) think of a Royal Enfield from India?|
"I wonder what English people think?" one Indian quietly said to me.
Martyn Clarke, "Redditch born and bred," stepped up to break the ice. He's in the oil business and has an Indian-made Bullet in Dubai.
Naturally, his association with Royal Enfield is a long one. He remembers his father had a Royal Enfield in the shed on their garden allotment. Young Martyn was told he could ride it as soon as he could pick it up. He was delighted when the day finally came, but disappointed that his father only meant he could ride back and forth from home to the shed!
"I'm sorry to see it go to India," Martyn said. "Redditch had Royal Enfield and there was BSA in Birmingham and Triumph in Meriden. We had a world motorcycle industry in the Midlands."
Modern motorcycles don't do that much for him anyway.
"I'm an engineer, being in the oil business. If it's just a matter of taking out one chip and putting in another chip..." He shook his head.
I told him that the new Continental GT cafe racer uses the traditional Royal Enfield long-stroke motor and that the company's CEO says he wants someone — perhaps in the UK — to build him one that will do the ton.
"If he wants to do that, I know some people who could help," Martyn said. "If people want to get back to basic engineering, that's awesome!"
|Journalists photograph plaque noting location of Royal Enfield factory in Redditch.|