Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Royal Enfields prefer the slow way there

A road in Sicily, 2009

Is the Royal Enfield motorcycle more "mainstream" in Europe than in the United States?

I agreed with a statement by the U.S. importer, Kevin Mahoney, that it is. Reader Oriste helpfully provided registration figures to show that Royal Enfields are still very much in the minority of motorcycles in Europe. Their numbers are actually amazingly small.

But I wasn't thinking of numbers, when I made my comment that the Royal Enfield is not "mainstream" in the U.S.

I was thinking of how difficult it would be for me to ride any great distance here in Florida without being forced to get on a high-speed road. In my mind's eye, Europe is different. Perhaps because I have only been a tourist in Europe, I have only experienced its lovely little roads, avoiding the highways (I took the train when I was in a hurry).

Even on those lovely little roads, traffic, especially motorcycles, moved fast and I pulled aside often to avoid holding everyone up. But it was nothing like Interstate 75 across the Everglades, where speed limits are never observed and some drivers are on mental autopilot.

I-75 would be terrifying on a Royal Enfield, and I have never attempted it. Too many American roads are like that. To be "mainstream" here means being able to cruise for hours in a row at 75 mph. Even then, you would be the slowest vehicle on the road, continually watching your rear view mirror.

Am I wrong that Europe provides more unhurried venues, where Royal Enfield speeds are common? Where villages come up more often, providing a chance to slow down and cool off?

Maybe I just have not looked hard enough for alternatives to I-75.


  1. You can get anyplace on a RE in Florida... Just gotta use them maps and avoid road with on ramps and or tolls.. The problem is things tend to be straight and flat and all them northern blue hairs are out to get you...

  2. thinking about this all the time! trying to plan a route back home to Maine from Phoenix, AZ when i graduate motorcycle mechanics school. I know there is a perfect route out there somewhere!


  3. As an American Living in England I ride a '98 Enfield 535cc. In America the roads are long and mostly straight. The Enfield was designed for the old English roads which were narrow and twisted. On those roads it's never a good idea to go too fast. That's how T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) got himself killed. I got on the M4 motorway here once and promptly got off after almost getting run over. You won't go anywhere fast on an old Enfield. But once you cruise past an old castle on some back road on an autumn day it's worth the time spent. Well at least for me.
    Cursing past a swamp on a hot summer day doesn't bring up the same image :)


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