Friday, February 5, 2010

Royal Enfield café racer looks beautiful

Reader David Blankenhorn pointed out this gorgeous Royal Enfield café racer offered for sale out of India. A "must-see," he called it, and I agree. The "before" picture is worth seeing, too:

"Done mostly with off-the-shelf parts," David enthused. "Impossible to do such a makeover and off-the-shelf with any other bike at a real-world price. I'd imagine you could with, say, a Hinckley Triumph but just imagine what the price would be!"

The story is actually a bit more complex. The motorcycle is the dream work of a fellow who signs himself Chanderjeet, an IT trainer in New Delhi with no time, no shop and no tools to do his own restoration work.

When he acquired this 1972 Royal Enfield Bullet he had so little mechanical knowledge that he didn't realize it came with a non-folding kick start lever — and so he spent five minutes trying to fold it.

But he is a young man with an eye for beauty and a love for Royal Enfield motorcycles.

His ad offering the motorcycle for sale is unusual because it includes a link to the entire discussion thread on the ADVrider forum, in which he detailed the work as it went along, and asked other members for suggestions.

Reading it, we learn that the "off the shelf parts" from England and the U.S. were too expensive; Chanderjeet had what he needed hand made in India, including the beautiful steel tank and other café parts.

His many pictures included in the thread show the mechanics working crouched on bare floors amid clutter, a few steps from the traffic in the street. That's India for you. In more ways than one: in gratitude for fine work, Chanderjeet built the mechanic's web site for him.

The photographs themselves deserve comment. "What is going on with your camera?" one observer asked on the ADVrider forum. "These pictures you keep posting look like oil paintings."

Chanderjeet explained that he was using PhotoShop to make his pictures look like Lomo pictures. Lomos are cheap cameras made in Russia, and users deliberately process their slide film in the more common color negative film. The bad cameras and wrong chemicals produce interesting effects that PhotoShop can mimic.

When someone asked "How about a shot of the bike without the PhotoShop affects?" Chanderjeet complied with the request, and later photos looked less doctored.

The motorcycle is no less impressive.

Chanderjeet named the motorcycle Richënfield, after his wife Richa. They have a baby coming in June, so the motorcycle is for sale. Chanderjeet comments that "deep inside I know, this is NOT my last Enfield."

Asking price is $3,800, which includes shipping to any seaport in the U.S. Buyer is responsible for any customs or any other tax.

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