Friday, June 14, 2019

"Royal Enfields" take Harry Potter fans on wild ride

Imaginary view of roller coaster ride.
Hagrid takes look-alike Royal Enfields onto the roller coaster track at Universal Orlando Resort.
Fans of Harry Potter and roller coasters lined up for as long as 10 hours for the chance to ride Royal Enfield motorcycle sidecar outfits at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida.

Just opened Thursday, the "Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure" puts riders on the seat of a "motorcycle" or in its sidecar for a twisting ride through the Forbidden Forest.

"Due to anticipated excitement by our guests, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure may experience high demand," the theme park warns visitors on its website. Advice is to check the park's hotline at 407-817-8060 for updates.

The roller coaster hits speeds up to 50 miles per hour and it's the longest roller coaster ride in Florida, nearly a mile long. The ride moves both forward and backward, and there's a "free fall" of 17 feet.

Riders who've tried it like it, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

"Hurl past impossible obstacles and dodge fierce beasts you've never seen before on a freewheeling coaster flight that will bring you close to some of the wizarding world's rarest magical creatures," the theme park says.

Photo of actual roller coaster ride.
Universal Orlando Resort roller coaster..
Riders who grab seats on the "motorcycles" are really out in the breeze, clinging to handlebars. Sidecar riders are more tucked in.

The "motorcycles" are not real Royal Enfields, but they look similar and the sidecar outfits used in the Potter movies were in fact modified Royal Enfields. Here's my item on Royal Enfield's documented role in the movies.

Screen shot of real motorcycle from grand opening video.
Real Royal Enfield and sidecar appeared at ride's grand opening.
A real Royal Enfield and sidecar are seen in the park's video for the ride's grand opening.

You can go along for a ride in this Universal Orlando Resort video.


Friday, June 7, 2019

Gordon May's new trip: 1952 Royal Enfield, 15,000 miles

Vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle.
He'll ride this 1952 Royal Enfield twin across two continents.
Gordon May is back on the road on a vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle. This time the author, historian and adventurer is riding from the UK to far northern Europe, then on to South Africa.

His planned route takes him through at least 34 nations, some of them probably in today's news feed for all the wrong reasons.

This on a 67-year-old Enfield 500 twin, extensively modified and now displacing 600cc, but still a museum piece.

Gordon is the veteran of other long rides, including his 2008, 8,400-mile ride from England to Chennai, India, where Royal Enfields are made today. He did that trip on a 1953 Royal Enfield Bullet, a single-cylinder, 350cc plodder.

Then it was overland from England to Egypt in 2010 on an underpowered 1952 BSA Bantam.

England to Vietnam followed in 2015, on a 1941 Matchless G3L, a military motorcycle of World War II.

Each trip has resulted in a book. His "Overland to India" is in a second edition, with a How To Guide for anyone wishing to make the ride themselves.

The UK-to-Norway-to-South Africa trip will be his longest adventure so far, at more than 15,000 miles.

His 1952 Royal Enfield 500 twin was considered advanced in its day but remains "a simple 1950s British push-rod twin that's happy to cruise all day long — at 50 miles per hour."

There's an excellent website for the trip, containing information on Gordon, the Royal Enfield motorcycle he will use, its preparation and the special equipment he will carry.

According to the site, the Royal Enfield twin has been modified with a heavy duty rear subframe to tote luggage, a 21-inch front wheel to surmount obstacles, LED spot lights to light the way, and a saddle gel pad to — well, you understand.

Among the items packed on the motorcycle: tent, sleeping bag, tools, fuel and oil containers, and a Garmin satellite device that can send text messages without cellular service and, if necessary, broadcast an SOS.

One item that surprised me: a bike cover such as you might use at home.

"When covered, a motorcycle effectively disappears from sight and is no longer an attractive traveler's machine to be played with or stolen from," Gordon writes.

You'll want to read Gordon's lists of essential gear and the rationale behind them if you're planning a motorcycle adventure of your own.

Gordon is best known to readers of this blog as a historian of Royal Enfields through history. He has helped Royal Enfield introduce its newest motorcycles — and their distinct ties to the past — as the company continues to offer new products with retro appeal.

His website even includes an excellent "Royal Enfield Twin Timeline" that details Royal Enfield's postwar twin-cylinder motorcycles, from Gordon's 500 twin all the way to the brand new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 now appearing at dealerships around the world.

It's a proud history of accomplished motorcycles, and Gordon is on his way to adding yet another proud accomplishment to the history of Royal Enfield.

You're invited to follow Gordon along on Instagram at GordonGMay.

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