Thursday, August 20, 2009

Royal Enfields are different, that's all

This blog was founded as a result of my enthusiasm for Royal Enfield motorcycles. Nothing more.

But in the more than a year since this Royal Enfields blog debuted, I've come to believe there really was a need for it.

My reasoning is that Royal Enfields are just special, that's all. And, because they are special, they are misunderstood.

Royal Enfield motorcycles have been made as long as Harley-Davidson motorcycles; but few people in the United States ever heard of Royal Enfield.

They are British style motorcycles. But they are built in India.

When they were built in Britain they were, for a time, sold in the United States as "Indians."

Their design had remained virtually unchanged since 1955 — until 2009, when they became almost modern.

Until recently, they shared all the finicky features of vintage motorcycles. The latest models are different, but for most of 50 years you could count on this:

They were powerful. But slow.

They were easy to kick start if you knew the procedure. If you didn't, they were impossible to kick start.

They looked old but came with dumb looking modern turn signals.

The horn brackets eventually broke. All of them.

Their transmissions had always been clunky but for or sale in the United States the shift mechanism was altered: it was made worse.

And then here was the ultimate difference: Royal Enfields were genuine, old-fashioned vintage motorcycles; but how could a vintage motorcycle have a manufacture date of 1999? You were buying a "classic" but not a rare one: they're still coming off the production line by the tens of thousands!

That means your "investment" is unlikely to ever increase in value. But it also means that you are free to modify the motorcycle, run it hard and just plain use it up (if you can — go ahead and try). It isn't an irreplaceable treasure bound for a museum.

Like I say, Royal Enfield motorcycles are just different. I love them for it.


  1. David, firstly, great job on the blog, secondly I agree. Ive had a genuine love-hate relationship with Victoria since 1 month of ownership. It's the first time a bike of any type ever got my emotions so acutely! Mad aint it!


  2. Anonymous8/23/2009

    With the new UCE getting recalled immediately for transmission problems, and likely some main bearing concerns, Royal Enfield still has far to go before becoming a household name.

    Wiring connections still show old-world quality problems and the new fuel injection system is pretty sloppy with idling inconsistencies.

    Perhaps that is the charm of RE.


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