Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Royal Enfield Military wins over Victory

The iconic Royal Enfield Military motorcycle is popular in the United States. Some dealers say it is their best selling model.

Could it stand a little competition? Perhaps from this Victory motorcycle, shown in uniform at the Los Angeles International Motorcycle Show last weekend?

The Victory 100-cubic-inch V-twin is a long way from a 500cc Royal Enfield in size, power and cost (Victory's prices start at about $14,000). Victory's Batman style bruisers always look a little too Hollywood to me. They weigh 645 pounds and up, and come with a "tip over protection" system "in case you forget to put the kickstand down."

What would Col. Clive Wynne-Candy have thought of that? Egad!

Still, as Royal Enfield guru Pete Snidal once said, military stuff is just so much more "butch" than anything civilian. This Victory military does almost look like it came from the local Army-Navy Surplus store.

Except, of course, it's just a paint job.

Military motorcycles are the heritage of made-in-India Royal Enfields, since it was to serve the military needs of India that the factory was built in Madras (now called Chennai) in 1955.

It's deeper than that, too, since made-in-Britain Royal Enfields had long served in England's wars. British and Commonwealth armies used motorcycles in general (Royal Enfields, Nortons, Triumphs, BSAs and everything else) the way the U.S. military used the Jeep.

The tradition continues. A Royal Enfield engineer I met told me that, even in recent years, the factory has shut down civilian production and poured its energies into filling big contracts from India's military and police forces.

The Royal Enfield sold to civilians in the United States as the Military model is not necessarily the same machine serving on the Northwest Frontier. Early on, for instance, the Military sold here had a glossy "parade finish" paint job unlikely to pass muster in the field.

But never mind that. Make mine a Royal Enfield Military. Egad!


  1. There's also competition from Indian, check out their limited edition "Bomber".


  2. Thank you, Jorge. That is (in my opinion) awful looking. Too bad, since Indian, of course, has quite the genuine war record of its own.

  3. I always had one question, I dont understand why people need very huge engine motorcycle when you cant ride it the way a motorcycle should? I mean till 1300 CC, Its good, but machines like Rocket III or even mammoth Boss Hoss? What is the point with such machine, which are not usable in reality, you do maximum to maximum a few thousand kms while With a BMW 650 or a bullet you really enjoy ur entire trip, and do thousands of KMS, my Bullet 350 did over 40K kms in last 3 years, and I Enjoyed every bit & meter of it.


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