Monday, January 18, 2010

By any name, Royal Enfield C5 is a beauty

A Royal Enfield C5 with chrome fenders and tank knocked their eyes out at the New Delhi Auto Expo this month. I suggested that it will be a long time before it comes to the United States and compared such introductions to the 2007 unveiling of the Chevrolet Volt, still a year away.

That brought two excellent comments.

From Jorge Pullin, who blogs at My Royal Enfields: "I'd be more optimistic. When they announced the Volt they didn't even know what batteries they were going to use. These bikes are not a huge departure from what Royal Enfield does, so they could produce them relatively soon. And reports claim they are mostly for export. But I wouldn't blame CMW (the U.S. importer) for keeping things conservative in the middle of the iffy U.S. economy of today."

And from Oriste came a video news report out of India: David, have you seen this?

The news reporter says the new models will be launched in the export market "by the end of next summer."

If I was in the market for a new Royal Enfield I would not wait to see if that's true. Other "export markets" typically have received new models before the U.S. There have been important reasons for some of that: the Unit Construction Engine bikes were needed first in the EU because of looming emissions requirements, for instance.

Beyond that, Kevin Mahoney, of Classic Motorworks, has explained that, in the rest of the world, the Royal Enfield is a much more "mainstream" motorcycle. As such, it needs exciting new models to compete in a crowded field.

In the U.S., a 70-mile-per-hour motorcycle will always be limited to people who want a special experience. It's almost unique in a market crowded with "me too" variations on Harley-Davidson cruisers.

It's an odd sort of logic, I suppose, but, in a way, it's almost better that the Royal Enfield evolve more slowly here, giving each model time to be noticed.

Which is one more reason that the new "Chrome bike" should be tagged the "Deluxe", for the sake of tradition. I keep banging the drum about this, but will stop it now because even I am finding me annoying!

Did you notice in the video that the C5 Chrome and Battlegreen bikes on display did not have kick start levers?


  1. Don't give up on the Deluxe! Royal Enfields have received different names in different markets, so it could still be the Deluxe when launched in the US.

  2. "Beyond that, Kevin Mahoney, of Classic Motorworks, has explained that, in the rest of the world, the Royal Enfield is a much more "mainstream" motorcycle."

    I cannot speak for the rest of the world but I have some figures for the European countries. The total size of the motorbike fleet is estimated at close to 15 million. The top countries in motorbike usage are Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, France, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, in descending order. The first 6 countries represent more than 80% of the total European fleet.

    I can assure you that in the 3 European countries that I'm most familiar with (Greece, Netherlands, Belgium), Royal Enfield is all BUT a mainstream motorcycle. I wager that the same situation is prevalent in the top 5 countries, with the possible exception of the UK (though I have no figures to substantiate that) because of historic ties with the brand and a strong dealer and spare parts network.

    In Greece 246 RE's were registered in the period 2000-2009, with a total current fleet of 741,000. The Netherlands registered 57 RE's in that same period, current RE fleet at 496, against a total of 650,000 bikes. For Belgium I only have the accumulated total of RE's currently on the road, which is 163, out of a total of 362,000.

    It would be interesting to compare those figures with the US.

  3. I found some statistics for Germany, the second biggest market in Europe for motorbikes: (in German). The relevant pages are 7 and 8 (section 3). They show figures of the total fleet per brand as per January 1st, 2009. Royal Enfields number 2,667 out of a total of 3,658,590 registered motorbikes on the road.

  4. Interesting figures, Oriste, thank you. My only attempt to find registration figures for even one state in the United States(Florida) was frustrated when I found that (at the time, at least), motorcycles were being registered as Royal Enfield, RylEnfield, REnfield, Enfield, RylEnf and every other variation you could imagine.

  5. Haha, I can understand that frustration. I've been looking for statistics in Europe for months. Apart from the 3 countries that I know best, I've been unlucky so far. I found Germany by accident last night, looking for something else.

    The reason I brought these figures up though was to question the assumption that RE would be more mainstream in other parts of the world than in the US. I don't think that is the case for Europe. Apart from the US and Europe, I don't know of any other significant (relatively speaking) export markets for RE.


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