Friday, October 30, 2009

Royal Enfield story is 'all it should be'

Is a Royal Enfield all that a man's first motorcycle should be?

While writing the story of Martin Scott and the early days of Royal Enfield motorcycles in the United States for this blog I came across a photo sent to me by Kevin Mahoney, of Classic Motorworks. It shows Scott and Mahoney at the offices of Royal Enfield in Chennai, India, in 1999

"What is interesting about the picture is behind us there is a sign that hung over their doors for years," Mahoney wrote me.

"It said 'Royal Enfield, all that a man's first bike should be.'

"I thought it said it all. I used to have a similar sign in our office, but the girls made me take it down. The sign disappeared from the factory in a paint job around 2001. I think it had been there for up to 40 years," he wrote.

I suppose you could interpret the sign in many ways. To me, it hearkens back to every boy's dream that someone will give him a simple old motorcycle that he can fix up and make run. This actually happened to Martin Scott, when he was a boy.

It never happened to me; but when I read about Royal Enfield for the first time I somehow knew it was the motorcycle that I had been hoping for. Simple, venerable in conception, yet actually brand new and running — my mechanical abilities did not compare to Martin Scott's!

What's more, it was no fragile, precious museum piece. Running it would not rob the world of the last of its breed; they were coming off the assembly line by the thousands. This was important to me: I had failed at attempts to restore several classic cars, and at least two of them had gone to the junk yard thanks to my efforts. I didn't want any more regrets.

What does the sign's message suggest to you?

I want to thank Kevin Mahoney, Martin Scott, Debbie Scott and everyone else who generously shared their stories with me. Someday someone (Gordon May, are you listening?) will put the story of Royal Enfield in the United States together in a nice bound volume. Hopefully the information gathered here will be of some help.

It is a story worth reading.


  1. Anonymous10/30/2009

    sounds like you should be writing that book, David.

  2. My Enfield is my first motorcycle and it is certainly all that a man's first bike should be. It teaches discipline, focus, coordination, and diligent work. The world could use more teachers like the Royal Enfield. Is life perfect? No, but whenever you run into a rough spot, the solution is usually within your reach if you make the effort. Just like the Enfield.

  3. My first motorcycle was a 1974 Honda CB360T. I had to fix it up (new cables, clutch plates, etc.), but was able to sell it for more than I paid for it after moving up to a 1985 CB700 SC. I got rid of the Nighthawk in 2006, and was hoping to re-find that CB360T magic earlier this year. Instead, I discovered the Enfield Bullet magic. I think the UCE Bullets can be used as everyday bikes like a UJM, but with the character of the classic British thumper.

    I enjoy reading your posts - keep up the good work!


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