Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Enfield's new motor running in Europe

Royal Enfield motorcycles made in India have come with the same basic motor for 55 years, so it seems strange to refer to the new unit construction engine (UCE) as their "latest" motor. But new it is, and dramatically advanced beyond the time-honored iron barrelled engine.

New as it is, the UCE is not unknown. It has been on sale in Royal Enfield motorcycles in Europe since mid-2008. By the time it reaches customers in the United States this year it should be well tested.

The UCE motor combines engine and transmission into one neat package served by one supply of oil. That's not all. It adds hydraulic valve lifters, fuel injection, black box ignition and sensors that monitor themselves while they monitor the motor. It is said to be faster, more reliable, and dramatically easier to maintain.

Says who? Well, hopefully these selling points will be confirmed by buyers in Europe. At a training session for U.S. dealers Feb. 12, Royal Enfield's senior manager of international service "Viki" Vikram noted that the UCE bikes already are giving good service in Europe. He cited figures about how many were there, but I didn't write down what he said at the time.

Recently I asked him to confirm the figures. His reply:

"The first 100 bikes were delivered to customers in Europe between April and June, 2008. Out of these more than 20 bikes have covered over 8,000 miles and more than 50 bikes have crossed 5,000 miles."

He went on to note that deliveries have continued but I think these bikes, which got wrung out in summer time, are the most significant.

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