Saturday, May 19, 2012

Royal Enfields still racking up the miles at age 50

This 1959 Royal Enfield Crusader Sports is a daily commuter.
You might expect to find classic and rare (these days) Royal Enfield motorcycles in a museum, but Bob Murdoch owns a fleet of them and none are on display behind glass.

"I like old bikes to be used as often as possible. I own three English Royal Enfields, and ride them all the year round," he wrote. Bob works at Airbus near Toulouse, France, in engineering support.

"I’ve been using my 1959 Redditch-built Crusader Sports 250 for daily transport since I rebuilt the engine after purchasing the non-runner in 1994. Since then it has clocked up 47,000 miles, with only one serious breakdown, due to a poorly made new part — and I don’t know how many miles were covered by the three previous owners.

"The last 30,000 miles have been accumulated on the roads of Southwest France. Heavy commuting traffic has taken its toll on the transmission over the years, but chains, sprockets and clutch parts are the only parts I’ve had to replace. While the bike is 97 per cent Crusader Sports, it borrows some parts from other Royal Enfield models because reliability and not originality is more important for a working bike.

"My commuting distance isn’t too far these days, only 10 kilometers (seven miles) to work, and I like to ride a bicycle two of the five days, weather permitting.

1959 Super Meteor encounters a Tiger tank in Normandy.
"If I have to collect shopping or my son from school, I take the 1959 700cc Super Meteor that is fitted with panniers. That’s my usual long-distance tourer. I have a 1963 Continental 250. It has also been on some long trips, but you have to keep the speed up to lift the weight off your wrists due to the Thruxton handlebars.

1963 Continental 250cc at home.
"I (also) have a 1962 Super-5 and a 1966 GT, both undergoing slow restorations."

Continental on 500 kilometer trip in Picos Mountains of Spain.
I asked Bob what it's like to ride a 250cc Royal Enfield — half the displacement of my poky 500cc Bullet.

"The 250s are happy at about 55 mph if the road is clear; they have a short stroke, so like to rev a bit, but will trundle along at any speed below this in heavy traffic, having a very low first gear that gives the clutch an easy life. The 250s are great, very strong and totally without vibration, giving a fatigue-less ride and they don’t shed nuts and bolts!"

Well, that is different!
Crusader Sports returns to the Royal Enfield  plating works in Redditch.

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