Sunday, December 7, 2008

Royal Enfield gets its future into gear

Probably the best place to learn what the future holds for Royal Enfield in the United States is by reading postings on the Classic Motorworks web site. U.S. importer Kevin Mahoney, who posts under the name "Royal Enfield 1," provides almost continual updates in the forums section. Here are recent postings from him about the new unit constructed engine (UCE) and the new Bullet Classic 500 unveiled at Intermot in Cologne (above):

"I can tell you that I was on the phone with the factory this very morning about production of these bikes. I can tell you for an absolute fact that not one bike has been made for the US market, much less 'on the way to us.' I can also tell you that pricing for the U.S. is not set. I know this because I am the one that sets price -- period. You can draw no assumptions from European pricing, it is an apples and oranges deal. What I can say is that the UCE bikes will be more expensive than the current bikes.

"REM prices its bikes based on cost of production. It is the only way a small brand can really do it. We do not have the luxury of selling something for a loss in one part of the world and making money in another country. (Why can you buy a Triumph much cheaper in the U.S. than in the UK?) Whatever price increases we will see are the result of increased costs and improved, more expensive parts and manufacturing processes.

"It looks like we will be selling three lines of bikes this year. We will have 2009 Lean-Burn bikes just as we do now. They will be the most modestly priced bike. Those prices are now on our web site. We will have bikes with the UCE engine that resemble the current bikes except with different side covers a new frame and a front disk brake. This bike will be more expensive. None of these have yet been made for us. Europe has priority because they cannot sell Lean-Burns.

"Later in the season we will have the new Classic, or C-5, which was introduced in Cologne. This bike will be more expensive yet. Worst case they all will be less expensive than the Bonneville. The one thing I can guarantee you is that the new bikes will be less expensive than a Bonnie -- period. When prices are solidified you will know. Those of you who follow this forum frequently know things before anyone else. Stay tuned.

"Lastly no UCE bikes will be sold to anyone until dealers have been trained. That will not occur until the first couple of weeks of February. So don't look for anything with the UCE engine to be available in the near future.

"The UCE is a great bike, especially for those of you who would rather ride than fiddle,. Other than changing oil ( which is a one-shot thing since the primary, transmission and engine all use the same oil) the only other adjustment is to tighten the chain once in a while. Unlike the previous models the chain on the UCE is an O-ring so they do not require as much adjustment as the current models."

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