Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Royal Enfield bicycles looked as good as the motorcycles

Royal Enfield bicycles were just as stylish as their motorcycles.
Royal Enfield motorcycles, not bicycles, are the subject of this blog, but it was hard to ignore the lovely catalog of 1958 Royal Enfield bicycles I noticed recently on the Veteran-Cycle Club Online Library.

In 1958, when I was eight years old, bicycles were more interesting than motorcycles and I would have been thrilled to have any of the sporty looking English-style bicycles in this catalog.

I was condemned, at the time, to a single-speed Schwinn made, seemingly, of cast iron. I had to push it up "The Big Hill" near my home because I didn't have the strength to pedal to the top.

(Years later, my brother and I would drive past our old home and notice that "The Big Hill" of our memories was little more than a hump in the road. It's just a matter of perspective.)

You only have to look at these Royal Enfield bicycles to see that they would have fairly flown up that hill. The thin tires, delicate fenders and multiple speeds promised ease of riding.

Every bike in the catalog is shown with a tire pump (dubbed an "inflator" here). Glory be, what luxury! Our tires were always nearly flat.

The other accessories are first rate, too. I love the triangular leather bag hanging from the seat, just the right size to carry a lunch bag. Our flimsy paper lunch bags swung from our sweaty grip on the handlebars until, inevitably, they tore.

Sprocket design featured the Royal Enfield gun.
(Note the roller lever rod-operated rear brake!)
Some of these Royal Enfield bicycles are shown with the "gun" motif in the front sprocket. As a boy, I would have treasured that.

But there are oddities here too, never seen in our town.

The full oil bath chaincase models look quaint. But I vividly remember that the only "improvement" I ever made to my Schwinn that worked was the time I removed the chain and submerged it in motor oil. It went back on after hanging to dry overnight and it made a big difference.

Full oil bath chain case might have been a worthwhile idea.
Perhaps a full-time oil bath really was a good idea, even if it looked old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy.

"Roller-lever brakes," operated by rods, also would have seemed old-fashioned to us, even in 1958. Notice in the catalog that cable operated brakes are offered as options.

It takes me back.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12/13/2014

    Oil bath chain case agrees with law of physics lubrication prevents friction & premature wear & tear. Clean, lubricated chain runs nearly 98% efficiency. How many people know this?


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