|The 1968 Royal Enfield Interceptor as advertised in Modern Cycle magazine.|
I would have been 18 when it was published and the magazine brought back a lot of memories. It was based in Canoga Park, Calif., near my home in the San Fernando Valley, and it reflects the Southern California ambiance of the time.
"The Mini-Bike Boom" was one article. The makers must have sold a lot of these boxy midgets with their pull-start industrial motors and fat tires (lights and fenders cost extra, of course). Kids in my high school were even making their own mini bike frames in Metal Shop. But where could you ride them?
At the time, I thought the mini bike craze was a distraction — because all I wanted was a Royal Enfield Interceptor.
What everyone else wanted, apparently, was a dirt bike, because these machines, with their ungainly fork-mounted front fenders, filled much of the rest of the magazine.
Again, I wasn't interested and I was a bit concerned that these raspy chainsaws on wheels were the future of motorcycling. How would the stylish Interceptor fare in a world of mud and mayhem? Were motorcycles to become exclusively the toys of teenagers instead of proper transport for gentlemen?
Not that I was a gentleman. I was a teenager. But I had aspirations. If I ever earned enough money to buy one would the Interceptor still be around to buy? (Answer: As it turned out, no.)
Photos of a young Lee Purcell posing with her Montesa motorcycle supplied the cover and a modeling layout inside. She would go on to act in movies and television. Modern Cycle's fuzzy black and white photos were a bit awkward, however, with a bit too much of the motorcycle and too little of Lee.
If you wanted to see a pretty girl posed on a motorcycle you needed to go to the color center spread of an unnamed blonde in red sprawled across a BSA Rocket 3. You don't even notice the motorcycle in the ad.
|Modern Cycle's center spread was provided by BSA. Find the motorcycle.|
The motor looked "antiquated." The Amal Concentric carburetors were "goofy." The Interceptor's throttle had to be blipped at stop lights "to make sure it would keep running." The frame looked "almost inadequate." The author never seemed to grasp that the oil tank is not separate, but is part of the motor.
But the brakes were good enough, the finish was better than par and there was "gobs of power." The article concluded with praise that, somehow, still sounded faint:
"In summing up all we can really say about the Royal Enfield Interceptor is that it's one of the best motorcycles we've ever ridden."
A half-page ad for the Royal Enfield Interceptor was on Page 51. It promised "Sharpest look... Most power... Best performance."
And then there was this: "With the devaluation of the English pound, the new 1968 1/2 750cc Royal Enfield Interceptor is in the same range as BSA and Triumph... positively the most motorcycle for your dollar."
That statement simultaneously makes perfect sense and is perfectly meaningless, as all three would be affected similarly.
Did anyone buy a Royal Enfield Interceptor in 1968 because it was a good value? Not likely.
As for me, I needed my money for college. I would be walking, not riding, to class.