Friday, September 30, 2022

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 combines retro style with appeal to youth

Man and woman loading 35mm film camera.
Royal Enfield in a nutshell: Young woman with a film camera.  

 Royal Enfield introduced its new Hunter 350 last month with a launch video shot on London streets, and meant to simultaneously showcase the heritage and youthful appeal of the new model. 

How'd they do that? 

The Hunter 350 is a simplified version of Royal Enfield's Meteor 350 and Classic 350, the brand's new single-cylinder offerings that are themselves simple, approachable, retro-style motorcycles. 

The Hunter 350 could end up being Royal Enfield's least costly model in the range, so young people are obvious targets. Royal Enfield Americas confirms that the Hunter 350 IS coming to the U.S.

But that retro thing. Where's the youthful appeal in that? 

Royal Enfield Hunter 350.
Royal Enfield's new Hunter 350, a retro appeal to young riders.

In an interview with Little Black Book online, FAMILIA director Adriaan Louw describes how he tried to capture that ingredient by showing authentic moments, in a documentary style. He saw retro appeal as an advantage, not a problem. 

"I loved the challenge of getting a new generation of riders into motorcycling," he is quoted as saying in the interview.

"Using Royal Enfield's heritage in the UK struck me as a smart way to do this, and with brick lanes, deep history with Indian culture, it felt like a perfect marriage."

The result was a cast that behaves like friends getting together for a ride, rather than racers assembling for a grudge match. There is a little tire spinning, but no stunts. Theme music composed by Richard Hawley, is upbeat, not pulsating.

"A lot of marketing aimed at this generation is cool and edgy but can often come across as uninviting. So with this spot I wanted to convey that the community welcomes people with open arms," Louw said.

As for retro style, the spot opens with a young woman photographer loading a 35mm film camera. (The back-story documentary shows her seeing how to do this.)

Here's the launch video:

The commercial was shot on 16mm film and in only two days, without closing London streets. When the sun moved, the production took advantage of it. Certainly a very retro procedure.

Energy with authenticity, the article claims. Will it sell motorcycles? Ask somebody young, not me. But I enjoyed it.

And here is the backstory documentary:

Friday, September 23, 2022

Will you admit that British bikes are bad?

 I enjoy my old Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle; everyone who reads this blog knows that.

Readers also know that I consider its flaws as just evidence of its origin as a 1949 British design manufactured as best India could manage in 1999. Reliable and competent modern Royal Enfields have little except looks in common with my old Bullet.

I've criticized its brakes, laughed at its vibration, warned that it is slow and shaken my head at the times it has let me down. I begrudge it the maintenance chores it invites, giving it only a greasy towel, a nod and the thought that "it lives in the real world now."

Now along comes an article about "confirmation bias" in Adventure Rider:

"What is confirmation bias? We tend to seek out and believe information which supports what we already think. We reach a conclusion first, then apply it to evidence, rather than looking at evidence first and using it to come to a conclusion... 

"A perfect example of induced bias is the veneration of old British motorcycles. No matter where you are, any Vincent will receive obsequious respect. The fact that these bikes need constant  wrenching, do not go, do not handle — and don’t even think of trying to stop – cannot be allowed to penetrate the fog of approval because the owner has paid a lot of money for the bike and does not want it devalued by the truth."

Veneration? Is that what I've been doing for my Royal Enfield Bullet.

No! (But, maybe, if it was a Vincent.)

The Adventure Rider article appears under the byline Harvey Mushman, Steve McQueen's pseudonym when he preferred not to race under his own name.

Mr. Mushman, the writer, not the deceased actor, typically publishes edgy, incisive items alerting motorcyclists to factors they may not have considered. 

His item explaining why safety isn't always a good thing earned a big "Opinion" label and a warning from Adventure Rider: "Remember, these are his opinions, which do not necessarily reflect ADVrider staff as a whole."

He's a rider and racer, and no doubt his skills and hours in the saddle far exceed mine. Take his advice on safety, not mine, please.

I gather Mushman, the writer, is possibly British. Again, he is no doubt better informed than I about actual British motorcycles, such as Vincents.

But as regards my own, lowly, India-made version of a British motorcycle, he may be, very naturally, mistaking my feelings and attributing them to the wrong cause.

I do not venerate my Bullet. I do not fear that criticism will reduce its already modest value. I make no apology for it.

I just happen to enjoy it.

Which doesn't make him wrong about the Honda Goldwing. Those things are all confirmation bias, if you ask me.

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