Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Royal Enfield diesel looks handsome

A diesel powered Royal Enfield Bullet might be the answer to the question no one asked:

"Hey! Isn't there any way to make this thing any slower, heavier, noiser and smellier?"

But there is no denying the beauty of the Sommer 462 Diesel with Pav 41 trailer shown here. Dirk, from Germany, shared these pictures of his motorcycle. What is it?

The Sommer turns out to be the typically German effort to thoroughly engineer perfection into machinery.

Imports of Royal Enfield's own 325cc diesel into Germany in the 1990s served as the starting point. "Too dirty" and "too slow," it nonetheless inspired Jochen Sommer to look for a better alternative. He found it in the single-cylinder four-stroke Hatz 1B40 diesel engine with fuel injection and an electric starter.

Cost is 7,500 Euro ($11,000, but that includes the ghastly 19 percent tax). You can get Sommer diesel Royal Enfields in black or eye catching ruby red or signal yellow. Other colors are 300 more Euros (and presumably more tax, so don't ask).
The Hatz firm is happy to provide information on operating on biodiesel fuel or vegetable oil, if you're interested.

Fuel consumption? I'm not that adept at converting liters consumed per kilometer to miles-per-French fry. More important to me was converting the figure for "maximum speed." Prepare yourself: 62 miles per hour.

If you wanted to go faster you wouldn't be reading a Royal Enfield blog anyway.

The Sommer web site would rather share Jochen's "philosophy." Most Royal Enfield owners and riders will find themselves agreeing with much of it:

"A motorcycle embodies for me the best way to travel in 'freedom'... Suspension, wheels and engine combine to form an aesthetic whole, a motorcycle. My personal preference is the simple motorcycle. Lightweight and compact, these should have all parts easily accessible... with a high-torque motor, free of electronics and made entirely from metal.

"A Hatz diesel engine is a universal motor, which mainly serves the industrial and marine markets. This sector requires absolute robustness and simplicity... Stringent emission levels can be met, the diesel injector is long lasting and high compression and low speed combine for great economy."

And, then, there is the sound, always critical on a Royal Enfield:

"Your ears and your senses will be satisfied. Low speed with low-frequency level is perceived as pleasant and always subjectively quieter than a high-frequency noise. The driver of a diesel is pleased to take note that the trip was pleasant and relaxing.

"Come and join us for a test drive. I'm sure it will be for you a special experience."

But not in the United States. I wrote to Jochen Sommer to ask if his machines are available in the U.S. and got this response:

"Dear David,

"No they are not. We did not homologate it for the US.

"Best Regards


A shame.


  1. Anonymous7/06/2010

    Dear David. Is there anything from stopping you from buying a suitable bike and shoehorning a Hatz engine into it? I don't know how things are US-side, but seeing all the swapping and chopping that occurs in hot-rods it seems officialdom-free enough.

    I met a German who ran an older model Sommer and he would ride nothing else. "It's not fast, but fast enough to get there and back. It holds it's speed with a load, and uphill, so you lose little time, plus you can ride big distances without stopping as the fuel (consumption) lasts a long time. It's cheap, too, fuel, insurance. And nobody wants to steal it."

    As somebody who toured Europe for six years on a Vespa, running-up 10,000kms during my month's holidays at 100kmh on the autobahns, I find that I must agree. I've never had so much fun!

    I itch to bolt-on a windscreen, chuck some saddlebags over the saddle, and roam Europe again ...on a Sommer-Hatz. But I'm a pensioner now and a trifle too old for all that, what with bad back and one lung. But if I ever win the lottery....

    I would prefer Jochen to use the later bikes, with better suspension, 5-speeds, disc-brakes and bigger tank, maybe there will be one soon as they have stopped making the old models.

  2. How about Canada? Could we get one imported from our Norther firends?

  3. Anonymous3/05/2011

    looking for a diesel enfield in CANADA... anyone know a good place to start ???

  4. Anonymous5/20/2012

    What about India.....??

  5. Anonymous1/16/2016

    Yes what about India?


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