Friday, August 8, 2014

Royal Enfields made in Redditch now on Facebook

Two Royal Enfields unload in Belgium in 1959 for high-speed testing.
Royal Enfield Redditch,  a new Facebook page devoted to Royal Enfields made in England — especially the postwar twins — is already getting interesting.

Carl Best created it to address what he considered a lack of Facebook offerings for the original Royal Enfields, made in Redditch (and elsewhere) in England. Production ended there by 1970 but admiration for the motorcycles lives on.

The new site will make its mission "Celebrating the English made Royal Enfields, especially the twin-cylinder models."

By way of introduction, he writes that "the ads in Cycle World magazine in 1967 and '68 for the series 1A Interceptors were what inspired my interest in Royal Enfields as a 16-year-old." Apparently, the interest hasn't worn off.

Best was born in Long Beach, Calif. and now lives in Oregon, where he is an IT support specialist at a college. He began riding at 19 and his second bike was a 1966 Royal Enfield Interceptor, purchased in 1972 as a basket case. He still has it.

He also has a 1958 Indian Tomahawk (built by Royal Enfield in Redditch, of course) that he is restoring.

There are plenty of Facebook pages for the Royal Enfield Bullet, still produced today in India.

"We have nothing against the modern India-built bikes, in fact many of our members own current production models," Best explains. The fact that some parts interchange is a godsend to owners of the older bikes, he notes.

His Facebook page offers a different take on Royal Enfields, and it's interesting to me, a Bullet owner. (Best made me — unasked — an administrator on the Facebook page. We'll see how well I do.)

One recent entry in Royal Enfield Redditch by Best showed the 1959 Motorcycling magazine road test of the twin-cylinder Constellation, reporting a high-speed run between Brussels and Ostend to catch a ferry back to England.

The incident is well know. Writer Bernal Osborne and Royal Enfield's Jack Booker took a 692cc Constellation and a 500cc Meteor equipped with an Airflow fairing to Belgium, where they flogged the motorcycles back and forth on a long, straight and flat public road (not available in England at the time).

They kept it up until the Constellation managed the quarter mile in under 8 seconds.

After lingering over a meal in Brussels the two men decided to try to beat the hour it would take a train to run from Brussels to Ostend. Not only would they try to beat it, but they would, "without taking risks or dicing" try to beat it by "as handsome a margin as possible."

Booker, on the streamlined Meteor, managed the feat in 58 minutes, an average speed of 66 mph. For Osborne, on the Constellation, things were more exciting, as he really did push hard.

Too hard? Here's a quote from the end of the article:

"...A final burst and the needle swung well past '110,' as if clawing to reach the limit of travel around the dial, and it was probably at that moment that one of the rocker oil-feed pipes parted company with the union and disposed wastefully of a considerable amount of valuable lubricant."

Ah well, they were nearly there anyway by then.

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