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Friday, January 3, 2014

A Royal Enfield cafe racer with an 800cc twin

An 800cc, twin-cylinder Royal Enfield in Continental GT trim.
(Alan Hitchcock photo)
"They've gone and done it!" I thought. "Royal Enfield has answered public demand for a big-twin Continental GT that will easily do the ton!"

I about fell off my bar stool in December when I opened Jorge Pullin's My Royal Enfields blog to see a picture of a Royal Enfield cafe racer with a parallel twin motor in the livery of the new, single-cylinder Continental GT cafe racer.

But — oops — Royal Enfield of India hasn't done it.

Royal Enfield of England did it — in 1969 — and now Alan Hitchcock of the UK's Hitchcocks Motorcycles has done it again.

Hitchcocks combined a prototype 800cc Royal Enfield Interceptor motor from 1969 with an Interceptor frame of the same vintage, added red bodywork, and fooled me completely.

The story appeared in the Classic Bike Guide magazine of September, 2013, but Jorge spotted a summary of it in the current edition of The Gun, official publication of the Royal Enfield Owners Club of the UK.

Scurrying to my copy of The Gun, I read that the 800cc Interceptor prototype was an update of the 736cc Series II Royal Enfield Interceptor of the day. It did 128 mph on the test track in 1969 but Royal Enfield in Britain would close in 1970, putting an end to development.

The Mark III in 1976.
The authoritative Burton Bike Bits website tells a bit more about the 800cc prototype, dubbed the Mark III. Only one complete bike was made before production ceased, and it was purchased by racer Steve Linsdell in 1975. A picture of it in 1976 shows it looking very much like today's Continental GT.

According to The Gun, Hitchcocks found the additional original 800cc motor it used in its Mark III recreation in a parts lot purchased from the closing L&D Motors of Bristol.

What a treasure

And what a potential inspiration for Royal Enfield of India?

Probably not. But how can you say for sure that it can never happen when it already did — a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

2 comments:

  1. Yes sir: You build the bike that talks the talk without the engine that walks the walk. What is the matter with you people at RE? I have the dough; build the damn engine. You've had the blueprints for more than 40 years!

    ReplyDelete

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