Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Royal Enfield faces tough test

Overland Journal, the outstanding magazine about vehicle expeditions, will put a new Royal Enfield motorcycle to the test, in North America for starters.

The Royal Enfield Bullet is an adventure motorcycle everywhere else in the world. Riding the Himalaya Mountains on an Enfield seems to be the dream of every motorcyclist. They routinely cross continents and conquer the highest roads in the world. Now we'll see how the G5 Bullet, with its unit-constructed engine (UCE), fares on expedition here.

Overland Journal executive editor Jonathan Hanson proposed that Royal Enfield let him make the bike a project vehicle for the magazine. The Arizona-based magazine calls itself "The publication for environmentally responsible, worldwide vehicle-dependent expedition and adventure travel."

It is an impressively thick, bound publication on quality paper with quality writing and photography. Expedition products from Land Rovers to tent pegs are thoroughly tested. A two-year subscription (10 issues) is $80.

"The first trip I have in mind is a circumnavigation of the Grand Canyon, using as many back roads as possible and staying as close to the rim as possible," Hanson writes.

"I think it's the sort of trip a Royal Enfield is perfect for. No high-speed highways, no really nasty terrain, just lovely country suitable for a leisurely motorcycle ride, with some rough dirt roads mixed in with two-lane tarmac. The photo opportunities would obviously be spectacular.

"After that, who knows? I know a really cool route in Kenya ..."

Pictures here show the test bike being unpacked and how it looked after an initial test ride. The Royal Enfield G5 has the new fuel injected UCE motor but not the retro-styling and sprung seat of the C5.

"I decided to go with the G5 rather than the C5," Hanson says. "The G5 is a little more mainstream looking, and I think it'll be more likely to intrigue potential RE buyers as a simple, inexpensive bike capable of serious touring. Also, the kick-start option is a nice backup for a weak battery in the middle of nowhere. And I think the dual seat will be easier to use with soft panniers.

"I'm hoping to do the Grand Canyon circumnavigation with it in June. I'll keep you informed."

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