Friday, June 10, 2011

Why are so many low-mileage Royal Enfields for sale?

Royal Enfield motorcycles are not right for everyone. Look around: I list Royal Enfield motorcycles for sale in the United States on this blog.

Notice how many of the motorcycles you see here have low, or very low miles?

This gave one reader pause. He wrote, recently:

"Hi everyone. I really like the nostalgic looks of the Enfield. I was thinking about getting one with sidecar. I am not so sure about getting an Enfield now with seeing the amount of used ones with very low mileage on the market all the time. This tells me that there are a lot of dissatisfied Enfield customers out there. Am I wrong? Could someone please enlighten me as to why this is? Thank you."

There are many reasons people sell motorcycles. But here is my response to the reader's basic question: why are so many Royal Enfields back on the market so few miles after they're purchased?

Until the latest models came along, Royal Enfield motorcycles not only looked nostalgic, they actually were a motorcycle design unchanged (and largely unimproved) for more than half a century.

They were nothing like the maintenance free, reliable Japanese products that have so spoiled us for the way things used to be. Some who bought the old-fashioned Royal Enfields wanted the look but not the labor.

The new unit-constructed engine (UCE) Royal Enfield models don't have this problem; they are more modern, more reliable and more maintenance free. These Royal Enfields finally have the appeal of nostalgia without the pain of obsolescence.

But they still share one vintage aspect of the 50-year-old design: they are slow. These 500cc, single-cylinder, low-rev, low-compression motors will not keep up on U.S. Interstates. If you must keep pace with your buddies on their Harleys and Yamahas, you will have to get a different bike.

It's my guess that too many people buy Royal Enfields after hearing that they will do 70 mph, and are disappointed when they discover their motorcycle won't do 70 mph all day.

That's just a guess. I'd like to hear your comment.


  1. i am seventeen and got my c5 in october. it was my first bike and i love it for its looks and its handling but i have had thoughts of selling it to help pay for a new bonneville. it does not look as sharp as the enfield but it is faster and more powerful. my dad rides a harley so i wouldnt mind being able to keep up with him

  2. Anonymous6/10/2011

    I purchased my 2002 350 from a dealer, DRS Cycles, in Indiana who made sure that I was aware of the bike's performance limitations and its need for "owner involvement" In a sense, he vetted me before I was "allowed" to make the purchase.

    I wonder how many RE dealers fail to do what DRS did as policy? Perhaps not as they're to desperate for a sale. Here is what I suspect is why we see so many low mileage RE's for sale, naive first time cycle purchasers who are not given proper "counseling" by the desperate RE dealer!

    Al in Philadelphia

  3. Chris, interstate riding is not all that. I commute 600 miles round trip every weekend on my 99 KZ1000P, but I still love to get on the hwys and twisty mnt rds on my 08 Enfield. After basic mods I can easily keep up with my buddies big HD anniv springer, accelerating 0 - 65, after that he can pull away but we are both over the speed limit. I would not take the RE on a long interstate hwy ride but I'm going on a 1k mile trip this summer on two lane twisties, seeing waterfalls, small towns & mnt views. It's all about the kind of riding you do. All that said, your 17 & you live for speed - wear saftey gear & bright colors, have fun & be safe.

  4. Oh, and my dealer practically tried to talk me out of buying the RE. I had to convince him this bike was for me ;) I love that I was able to change the carb jet in the parkinglot in 5min. They are not for everyone, but if you are one of the few, its a joy :) happy motoring

  5. Anonymous6/11/2011

    I could ramble but here is my take: i bought mine because i wanted that "old" look. I also liked the smaller look; if I could get a flea in ridable condition, i would probably have purchased one. Probably.

    You have hit on almost every one of the reasons people love my 08 Deluxe but don't buy one: availability of more socially acceptable rides, the American Highway/suburban lifestyle, comfort and effort. The other reasons I could guess is are what I call blind "investment", weather, and maintaining the status quo. Besides, there really is a "commuter bike" community in most states. Places like NYC, or San Fran, and... even Seattle... have bike to work mentalities. With out that commuter need bikes become the other other vehicle. Dee.

  6. Anonymous6/11/2011

    Whoops... I meant "there really isn't a commuter bike"...

  7. Anonymous6/12/2011

    hi,fritz here,I grew up with british bikes and studebakers.when i was 8 i learned to ride my dads 1960 700cc enfield meteor. that was a fast bike!my brothers raced,i remember in the winter they raced on the ice.they would work all week after school or their jobs to race on the weekends.this was early 70s. the jap bikes were beginning to dominate the races,they all had dealer sponsors and seemed to be fast bikes. every year we went from mid michigan to south bend ind to make our pilgrimage to the studebaker plant for parts "we would rather fix than switch" was their motto.i hung around with older guys {my brothers friends}who bought jap bikes in the mid to late 70s i never did. after 74 when the shifters all moved to the left side it wasnt the same,and like the studebaker motto i never switched,in fact i havent riden in 30 years,so will i buy an obsolete,slow,ride all week repair all weekend bike? YES!!! because after ive enjoyed it my son will,or grandson.i dont need to race anymore and the low compression enj will last forever if maintained plus there are so many parts available you can really get any look that your after. {my dad told me as a kid that it aint a mans bike if it has elc start} so the old time cool factor alone has sold it on me + the gas mileage im looking for a 2000 or older bike with right hand shift,by the way,thanks for your blog,and posting the bikes for sale,its a great help and your doing a great service to the bike couminity. TON UP!

  8. I bought mine with 2300 miles from a guy selling it because he wanted the military Enfield. I've put 12,000 miles on it and love it. I have no problems "keeping up".

  9. Anonymous6/16/2011

    I think you summed it up well for the non UCE bikes: people want the vintage bikes without the vintage tinkering involved. Their bikes go out of tune and they sell them. Look at how many of the bikes that are for sale with low miles describe them as either not running or needing a "tune up". I love my UCE and it WILL do 70mph all day long. That said the top speed is about 75 mph. The other day I was riding up the coast with a 15mph headwind. My top speed going up a slight incline was between 50 and 55 mph. Most people won't tolerate that in a motorcycle but a few like me are just fine with that. I don't think you'll find as many UCEs out there being sold and you'll notice that many of the UCE's listed are floor models at dealerships.


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