Friday, September 15, 2017

Why Royal Enfields have kickstarters and center stands

Iconic Royal Enfield photo shows rider kick starting a Continental GT.
In his 2015 evaluation of the Royal Enfield Continental GT, Sam Bendall of RideApart.com wrote:

"I went ahead and used the kickstart and it worked the one and only time I tried it."

Bendall sampled the Continental GT for two months, but his lack of interest in the kickstart lever is typical of many reviews written after a much shorter experience with the motorcycle.

Presented with electric start, few choose to bother kicking. It doesn't make sense to them.

But it makes sense to Royal Enfield. Blogger George Pullin's research shows that Royal Enfields have sported kickstart levers since at least 1913.

Some may remember that the Royal Enfield Classic C5 was introduced in Europe and the United States in 2009 without a kickstart lever. It was electric start only — and the design didn't encourage trying to add a kicker, although one enthusiast in Poland did manage to add a kickstarter.

But Royal Enfield's biggest market isn't Europe or the United States. It's India; and buyers in India were already concerned that the C5, with its Unit Constructed Engine, fuel injection and electronic ignition, might lack the beloved "thump" of the old iron barrel Bullet. They would accept only so much change.

When the new Bullet went on sale in India it came with a kickstart lever in place, a triumph of history over necessity. C5s sold everywhere have come with kickstarters since at least 2011.

And, as Bendall discovered, all Royal Enfield Continental GTs (so far) have sported a kick start lever.

Bendall also used the Royal Enfield's center stand only once in his two months with the bike. Yet he complained that the motor won't run with the kickstand down (a safety measure designed to keep you from riding off with it down).

"How else am I going to look cool at the cafe while waiting for my ride to warm up?" Bendall asked.

Answer: let the motorcycle warm up on its center stand.

But practicalities aren't the issue.

Like the kickstart, the center stand is a feature that ties Royal Enfield to its heritage. The Bullet is a motorcycle from the days before electric start, and in those days any truly proper motorcycle came with a center stand.

Will Royal Enfields of the future always have kickstarters and center stands? Perhaps not. The newest model, the Himalayan, has electric start only — but does have a center stand.


  1. Pretty cool if the new retro-twin (Interceptor) has a kick-starter and center stand. That center stand would make servicing far easier than buying a paddock stand.

  2. Nice article ...I have 2015 Continental GT and 99% I use the kick start , I have also disconnected that safety feature on the kick stand (super easy)
    And love ever minute of the ownership


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