Thursday, December 4, 2008

Royal Enfields becoming a 'relative' joy

Royal Enfield's direction is "up," said dealer Eric M. Engler of Velocity Motorcycles in Richmond, Va. "Especially with the new improvements, owning one has become relatively an absolute pleasure," he added, with a wry smile.

People who buy Royal Enfield motorcycles need to realize they are not buying Hondas. Other dealers may offer test rides, but Engler emphasizes that Velocity requires buyers to test ride their choice of motorcycle.

"We have never had a customer who felt they'd made a mistake, and that is in eight years," he said.

Stepping from the showroom into the shop shows how far Velocity is willing to go for customers. A vintage BMW 750 has been bulked up with a 900cc motor at a customer's request. It's a neat looking piece of work.

Another BMW in well used condition will be brought up to road worthiness but will be left with its vintage patina, for riding, not showing off, at the owner's request. It's hard not to envy the lucky rider, come Spring.

Far showier is a Confederate American GT with a nickle-plated frame originally made for one of the founders of the company. Velocity has turned it into a sports model, with single seat, smaller lights and foot controls moved back to be underfoot instead of stretched out front, cruiser style. Dual exhaust instead of two-into-one ("it was too loud!") and digital speedometer make it a very unusual bike.
Up on the shelf in the "attic" at Velocity is a 1947 Royal Enfield dual-port that "isn't ready for the showroom yet." Every turn at Velocity seems to bring you to something special. Creative thinking in every direction is the only way to describe it. Where do they find these machines?

Engler says "we look for motorcycles that are in good shape, complete and not running!"

The result is a fascinating collection. I recommend a visit to Velocity Motorcycles if you are in the Washington, D.C. area. The address is 1202 N. Boulevard, Richmond, Va. Yes, the name of the street is "Boulevard." I got lost. The phone is 804-353-3456 and there are directions on the web site,


  1. Anonymous12/04/2008

    I have gotten myself past the this-is-not-a-Honda stage in my thinking, and have moved on to the what-repair-manual-should-I-buy stage. So, in pursuant of this newly acquired mind set, do you have a favorite book for regular maintenance as well as repair? This would be for an '06 Deluxe, iron engine, 5-speed, etc. sold in the U.S., should I wind up with it. Soon, I hope.

  2. Roy, I apologize for not seeing your post earlier. I myself use Pete Snidal's manual. You'll find a link to it under Royal Enfield Links in the sidebar at right on this blog. It explains how to do anything I would dare attempt. WHEN to do stuff is going to vary from situation to situation, of course. As a daily commuter, I changed my oil every 1,500 miles (new filter every time, why not). If something started rattling or fell off, I tightened it. I have walked back along the road to recover my gearshift lever (twice) and my horn (once). Keep an eye on those. In 40,000 miles I've only changed the points set once! I clean it and check it only when guilt overcomes me. I change spark plugs at least once a year or when they get filthy (usually when I forget I'm running with the "choke" on). I didn't change the chain often enough and wore out a set of sprockets. That's expensive. I would put a new chain on every 5,000 miles.

  3. Anonymous12/06/2008

    Thanks. I appreciate the info. RE sells a book, but I have actually seen Pete Snidal's web site and pondered getting that one--so you reinforced that. It's good to get some firsthand advice.


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