|Heroic looking rider on Royal Enfield in wind tunnel.|
The photo caption describes a wind tunnel test of a 500cc RoyalEnfield fitted with the company's new Airflow fairing. The test was at a Bristol Aircraft facility in England. The caption is dated Oct. 31, 1958, although it's unclear whether that was the date of the test or the date of the press release.
A similar photograph of the motorcycle being readied for testing in the tunnel appears in the Nov. 6, 1958 edition of Motor Cycling magazine. Blogger Jorge Pullin includes that clipping in his item, "Cheating the Wind."
The Motor Cycling caption reads:
"Extensive testing in laboratory, workshop and wind tunnel lies behind the Bristol-made Royal Enfield fairing. Our photograph shows an example being prepared for 90 mph tests in one of the tunnels at Filton, Bristol."
|Royal Enfield shown being readied for test in Motor Cycling article.|
The lighting is, to say the least, dramatic.
Somewhat less dramatic, Royal Enfield enthusiast Chris Overton points out, is the fact that the passenger peg is partly down and the motorcycle is fitted with very non-aerodynamic looking saddle bags.
Chris recently alerted me that another enthusiast, Robert Murdoch, has done some research into Royal Enfield's long ago visit to the BAC wind tunnel at Filton.
He contacted the Britol Aero Collection Trust, which is trying to create a major aviation heritage museum at Filton. (Centerpiece of the museum will be a British Airways Concorde, the last of the breed to fly.)
Bob's account is that a volunteer at the heritage organization tracked down a former wind-tunnel worker who remembered the motorcycle test.
This man's memory reportedly boils down to this: the test results were dreadful. Tufts of wool taped to the motorcycle fairing didn't show that the fairing worked. Wind tunnel workers vetoed a suggestion that the tufts be further taped down in a convincing way to make a better photo.
"A slightly different version than what was fed to the motorcycle press about their new Airflow fairing!" Bob wrote.
|The Daily Mail called it the "Royal Enfield Overflow."|
Gasoline consumption fell 20 percent, the article claimed.
Yet another article went so far as to claim the Airflow provided helmet-like protection to the rider's body in a crash. Highly unlikely.
|Keep your cap on: Airflow's real advantage.|
Most convincing to me is the fact that the Airflow fairing allows the rider to sit upright. It's not designed as primarily a performance accessory.
Oh, there was one more advantage claimed at the time: the Airflow fairing incorporated a glove box, like a car. Well, a place to keep the goggles, I suppose. Or even gloves!
The Airflow might have seemed an appealing offering to combat the growing popularity of scooters in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The Daily Mail quotes Royal Enfield's Major F. W. Smith this way:
"The best features of the safe, honest-to-goodness motor-cycle and the stylish-looking scooter converge in this new design of ours."
That at least seems true. Author Roy Bacon summed up the Airflow this way in his book "Royal Enfield, the Postwar Models:"
"For a while it looked as if the public would follow this trend to combine motorcycle handling with scooter protection, but in a short space of time it was to reverse. Scooters were to fade from the scene and motorcycles went down the cafe-racer route to clip-ons and rear-sets."