Friday, December 5, 2008

Details out on Classic new Royal Enfield

The new Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 500 unveiled in Europe has yet to reach the United States but we know a lot about what it will be like, thanks to Kevin Mahoney of Classic Motorworks, the U.S. distributor. He provides constant updates in postings in the forum sections of Classic's web site.

We know that the new motorcycle, called the C-5 inside Royal Enfield, will have a unit-constructed engine (or UCE, meaning motor and transmission are inside the same case), fuel injection, electric start and electronic ignition. But read these recent posts by Mahoney for more specifics:

"The three colors shown at Intermot are in fact the colors the bike will be available with. However the turquoise will be first as they have it all sorted out. The black will be easy, but they are still working on the red. The painted frame has brought out some interesting issues with the welds. Because of the color the welds are much more noticeable. This now makes them an aesthetic item instead of a just a practical item. Even with this new bike quite a bit of it is still handmade, including the frame.

"I believe that a dual seat will be available. It takes a special subframe. A rear pillion with a matching subframe will also be available.

"The kickstart option is not an easy retrofit as I had hoped. It would require replacing quite a bit of the transmission. It does have a decompressor, but it is an automatic one controlled by flyweights for starting. Although this design has a (starter motor) sprag it has been trouble free on all of the test bikes around the world. It is designed differently than the current sprag set up. It is connected directly to the engine with no intermediate idler gears, which is where the real problem lies in the current design.

"While I was (in India) we took four bikes right off the assembly line and took them to the track. Right from the get-go they were thrashed, and I do mean thrashed. They were pushed as hard on the track as an Enfield can be pushed all day long. The next day we took them on a 200km ride again being less than kind to them. The performance of all four was absolutely flawless. It sort of amazed all of us. No break-in, no special preparation, etc. This new engine is awesome. Good sound and very linear torque, which is unusual.

"We do not think the new bike will turn us into a big motorcycle company. Royal Enfield and Classic Motorworks would be happy with a modest 10 per cent growth -- which is not much given the numbers we sell. What we do want to become is a small company that is known for selling very cool unique bikes that are reliable and very economical. We have the cool bike and economic thing down and have made big headway on reliability. We are hoping the new power train will put us over the top in that category. RE has enough confidence that they are going to double the warranty to two years on all UCE bikes. This alone is worth something.

"Some people will want a Sportster, some will want a Bonnie, some will want a Honda Rebel, we just hope some also want a Royal Enfield."

Next: More about the new Royal Enfield

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