Thursday, October 15, 2009

How many miles on your Enfield? Depends

Never trust a journalism major to create a mathematically valid poll. I foolishly left out a category for Royal Enfield motorcycles with between 1,000 and 2,000 miles. My apologies. Please take a moment to vote again on the corrected poll at right.

Royal Enfield motorcycles of the past (the new ones may be better) were fitted with magnificently optimistic speedometers. Roaring along at 42 miles per hour, I might be doing an honest 38. No wonder everyone was passing me.

These speedometers were good for morale ("I saw 70 when I was flat out on the tank!) but not so good for computing speed. Presumably, the odometers suffer from the same inflationary spirit. How many miles has my "40,000-mile" Royal Enfield actually travelled? Less than 40,000.

Never mind. Even if it wasn't 40,000 whole miles, it felt like a hell of a lot! I'm giving myself credit for the whole distance.

I came by the miles commuting to work. It was 25 miles one way, all on city streets (60 stop lights!). One advantage of covering the same route most days was that I could watch for parts that had dropped off the day before. That's how I recovered my horn — unfortunately it had been run over.

But the real joy in commuting by Royal Enfield was the chance to begin and end my day in the fresh air, doing something I enjoyed, and worrying about strictly mechanical issues instead of sticky work problems.

Commuting to and from work really was the best part of my day, every day.

What's your story? How do you put miles on your Royal Enfield? Let me know. You can email your story and pictures to

And please answer the poll!


  1. Anonymous10/15/2009

    I wish I enjoyed my commute that much!


  2. Is there evidence of odometer inflation? The speedo and odometer mechanisms are separate. I understand the motivation for the optimism in the speedo. But if someone were to intentionally distort the odometer, it would probably want it clocking less miles rather than more, to improve resale value? Wouldn't they?

  3. Thank you, Jorge. I assumed the speed and mileage mechanisms would suffer equally. But I never actually caught my odometer in an error on any measured distance, so perhaps it is accurate after all. I don't think Enfield instruments are intentionally inaccurate. Again, I just assume that they are basic devices accurate enough for most purposes but not precise. After all, you already know you are going too slow to get a traffic ticket.


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