Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rare Royal Enfield twin found half buried

Update: A Royal Enfield message group member named Richard suggests that this motorcycle is a Royal Enfield 500 twin sold in the U.S. as the Indian Tomahawk. He says the distinctive casquette seen here was used by Indian on this model; he knows because he has one of his own awaiting restoration.

It is an old Royal Enfield motorcycle Jeff found on his property in Arkansas and he refers to it as a "dinosaur." Actually, it's probably more common to dig up dinosaur bones in Arkansas than to find the well preserved remains of a 1955 Royal Enfield 500 twin.

Jeff describes himself on the Yahoo Royal Enfield message board only as 43, and from the Elkins/Goshen area of Arkansas. He writes:

"I was about to scrap out a group of old Japanese bikes that had been bulldozed over at the back of my property and I happened upon this dinosaur." He provided an entire album of pictures and a full description of the motorcycle, with frame number and engine number. He guessed that it was a Royal Enfield 500 twin, of about 1955. A group member named Graham confirmed, from the frame number, that this is correct.

According to author Roy Bacon, "after the second world war there was a great rush among the British firms to get a twin cylinder model into their lists in opposition to the Triumph, which had come out first in 1937. Not for nothing was the Speed Twin advertised as the one with the 10 year start.

"In time all the major firms produced their twins as fast as the postwar problems would allow them and Royal Enfield were no exception."

The Royal Enfield 500 twin appeared in 1948 and was soon overshadowed by bigger models of 700cc and then 750cc but it stayed in the catalog and was continuously improved right up through 1964. It was also sold in the U.S. as the Indian Tomahawk. Jeff's relic appears to have the distinctive Royal Enfield headlight casquette.

"I'm still Googling numbers in my spare time but I'd appreciate any information you might have about this particular motorcycle as it was set aside from the other wreckage," Jeff writes, indicating that he might spare the Royal Enfield from the scrap yard. I hope so.


  1. Anonymous9/07/2009

    This would definitely seem to be a 1955 Indian Tomahawk, a low production model. The old style frame, which is evident on the bike, was only used on a US twin for that year and model. Also, the '55 Tomahawk was the only '55 twin to use aluminum fenders. The Lucas Magdyno is evident, as well. No matter how bad the shape is, the bike should definitely yield some salvageable parts, especially if the frame and engine case numbers match. I am currently completing the restoration of a 1955 Indian Tomahawk and managed to get some key parts from a donor bike that was little better than this example.

  2. Anonymous8/01/2011

    There was a split after November 1955 and the December 1955 Tomahawk going forward was supplied with the later (1956+) Trailblazer type frame, according to info received from the REOC (re a Tomahawk I am rebuilding). The buried bike does appear to be the earlier 1955 Tomahawk model and frame. Parts are exceedingly rare and anything salvageable should be sold online if at all possible. I am searching for a rear mudguard loop (mounting bracket) for my Tomahawk and the guy in Australia does not have one, but if anyone else has one for sale please contact me. Thanks,


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