Journalists brought from Japan, Australia, the U.S. and Europe no doubt departed with the impression that they had experienced a significant new British motorcycle (that just happens to be made in India). One writer was so convinced he told me he intended to personally purchase a Continental GT when it reaches his country; this from someone who can ride any motorcycle he likes, any time, for free.
This sales job was the accomplishment of a small but dedicated band of people gathered in London by Royal Enfield and parent company Eicher Motors. Most were no more at home in the UK than the foreign journalists, but their command of events was all polished precision.
It was easy to assume that the motorcycle must be superior, if so much care went into its launch.
Left to itself, the Continental GT is a world beater — or it is not — depending on how its spec sheet aligns with your needs. It comes in one color. I hope you like red.
But the motorcycle was not left to itself. The launch team shepherded the press through venues and lectures that bathed the new cafe racer in the warm glow of nostalgia. On a walking tour of London our guide pointed out the rooftop where the Beatles gave their final live performance (neighbors complained about the noise).
Looking at Brighton beach I realized it's not made of sand; it's all smooth, fist-sized rocks. If they'd been serious, the rioting Mods and Rockers could have massacred one another with those.
On Brighton Pier I watched an elderly gentleman roll his wife's wheelchair up to a row of Continental GTs. They gazed at the bikes warmly; approvingly. It was such a solemn moment I hesitated to photograph it. Memories of 50 years ago?
|Approving glances on Brighton Pier.|
"Two steps above," was the judgment of one experienced motorcycle writer, comparing the launch of the Continental GT to the many other events he has attended.
The Continental GT launch was many steps above what I would have thought of: just have two girls in swimsuits pose with the bike (as in the old Norton magazine ads) at a press conference during a motorcycle show where the press has gathered anyway.
As a motorcycle, the Continental GT surprised and thrilled me. Its launch impressed me.
"This is not a hobby," Eicher CEO Siddhartha Lal told journalists at Brooklands. Royal Enfield is serious. The launch of the Continental GT proves it.