Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Royal Enfield sidecar owner hands out
'cheat sheets' to explain what it is

If you ride a Royal Enfield motorcycle, especially one with a sidecar attached, you get noticed. People stop you to chat, and they ask questions.

Ted Wetzler, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, decided to make his own "cheat sheet" to pass out to curious people, giving them something to answer their questions and remember their encounter with his unusual vehicle.

Printed on two sides, it offers facts on one side and pictures of Royal Enfield motorcycles downloaded from the Internet on the other. He has handed out about 50, so far.

Wetzler explains why he needs it:

"I have the good fortune of living not too far from a remarkable (and l-o-n-g) parkway meandering its way through a Cleveland park system here. It loops Cleveland and is called 'the emerald necklace.' I try to use it wherever I drive, be it to Lakewood (20 miles), downtown, or hauling my high maintenance mac in for a little TLC. Yesterday I drove 55 miles, most of it on the parkway.

"I am ever so pleased to receive smiles and waves from people walking the path, on 'bike' bikes, auto drivers, kids etc. It's just like rolling the clock back to the Eisenhower years. People who you have to believe are completely locked down and have been for most of their lives. A smile. a wave. a thumbs up. To me, this bike is not just a way to get places, but a way to 'get through' (to people). In the morning, at stop signs, exchanging greetings with folks waiting for their bus. Whodathunk, in these harsh days?"

Giving the people he meets a briefing sheet on the Royal Enfield is a neat idea. Naturally, he includes a mention of the local dealer, in case someone is inspired to buy. Wetzler was kind enough to share his cheat sheet with me. Here's an abbreviated form of what he wrote:

"(This) white Royal Enfield motorcycle with sidecar is new. Although many folks think it is a restored vehicle or a replica, it was actually built in late 2007 as a 2008 model...

"This model is called a Bullet. The manufacturing plant is in Madras (now called Chennai), India.

"This bike is pretty much the original design of the '50s. Drum brakes. Traditional carburetor, points, condenser, coil. It has a displacement of 499cc, with a rated horsepower of 22. The transmission is a five-speed. The current design is compliant with all emission and safety standards both here and in Europe. In 2010 Enfield offers four variations of this basic bike now, with engines upgraded to fuel injection and electronic ignition for better performance.

"The sidecar, an option, is also manufactured in India, but by a separate company. The design of the car was originated in the '30s by a German manufacturer, Steib. It mimics the design of the German dirigibles, which were a leading technology (able to fly the Atlantic) until the crash of their Hindenburg.

"This unit with a sidecar and rider will travel at about 55 mpg tops. It is mostly for recreation and is designed for the back roads, not Interstate speeds. You can look for up to 30-35 mpg. Weight of the bike is 375 pounds, sidecar 200 pounds. Plus driver, plus passenger. It handles quite differently than a two-wheel motorcycle.

"These bikes are imported by a company in Minnesota and sold by dealers in most states. Price on the bikes are in the range of $6,000 to $7,000. Sidecars run $3,000, plus about $400 installation. FYI: These models require hands on. We may be used to our new cars coming through trouble free now. This bike is not. For instance, my bike wouldn't start for a week when I got it. After investigation, it turned out to be simply a failed spark plug. At 200 miles! But let me say this is more than offset by the fun ride."

Wetzler is spreading the word about Royal Enfields, but he's also spreading good will, on many levels.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12/16/2010

    Very nice story... I just purchased a cozy rocket sidecar for my 2009 machismo, and I can't wait to get it on the road this coming week!


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