Monday, October 12, 2009

Left-shift Royal Enfield 4-speed in Iraq

A very nice customized Royal Enfield is pictured in the Reader's Rumblings section of The Motorcycle Cruiser web site. I've reproduced a very small part of the photo here, but you can see the whole thing on Motorcycle Cruiser.

The contributor describes the photo as being of his son, a first lieutenant in the Army, standing with a Royal Enfield in Iraq. It's a nice looking bike, and I thank the lieutenant for his service.

But what caught my eye is the chrome brake lever, emerging from under the silencer on this four-speed Royal Enfield. Clearly, this motorcycle has the left-side shift mechanism I always thought was reserved for Royal Enfields in the United States.

How did a U.S.-spec Royal Enfield get to Iraq?

Perhaps I am incorrect that only the United States required that Royal Enfields be converted from right-hand shift, resulting in a balky and unreliable gear change until the modern left-shift five-speed transmission came along.

Can anyone explain?


  1. The whole of Europe except UK has left-side shift mechanism I believe. It is certainly the case in Greece, Belgium, Netherlands, where I've seen them myself, even though I've spotted an occasional right-side shifter in Greece (but we have very lax regulations and even laxer enforcement of them).

  2. Thank you Oriste for the explanation. I truly had no idea. All best.

  3. Anonymous10/13/2009

    I am almost positive that countries like Denmark and Sweden have similar laws with the controls of the bike and Bullet Continental was sold in those countries until the 5 speed came along. I am sure that both UK and Switzerland did not have such laws and all the 4 speed Bullets to present day are still right shift. Maybe it's one of those Scandinavian-spec bikes!!

  4. Or could it be a Sixty-5 Street?



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