Friday, August 21, 2015

Confessions of a lonely Royal Enfield commuter

It was the first time I took a trip so long I felt I needed a map.
Plenty of the Royal Enfield motorcycles listed for sale on this blog are 10 years old or more — yet have barely 1,000 miles on the odometer, if that.

I'm proud that my 16-year-old Royal Enfield Bullet is showing 43,000 miles on its odometer.

But I have a confession.

Yes, I rode all those miles myself. But I did almost all of it in 50-mile increments, as a commuter.

What kind of motorcyclist are you, if you've never ridden all day, explored new regions over vast distances, or climbed high mountain passes?

I mean, seriously: all I ever did was run city streets 25 miles to work and then home again. I could have done it on a scooter, much less the Himalayan-conquering Royal Enfield Bullet.

Commuting had its challenges. I rode in all weather, often before dawn or after sunset. I needed to get to work, so the Bullet had to carry on, regardless. I adjusted valves and brakes, and replaced clutch cables by the side of the road.

The job I commuted to is now gone. The Bullet still gets exercise, but I haven't racked up any miles touring. I don't carry passengers (personal preference — I don't even have a pillion seat). My wife and I take the car when we go out of town.

But, last week, she was out of town visiting. I was free to accept an invitation from a friend to have lunch with him in the next county. It would mean a round trip of 80 miles — incredibly, the farthest my Bullet has ever travelled in a single day.

"Are you going to get a blog item out of this?" asked my friend, author Douglas Kalajian. It's an ongoing joke that he only writes an item for his blog, Born in Midair, when he has something worthwhile to say.

Yes, I am going to get a blog item out of it. And here is what I have to say: my Bullet didn't seem to mind as we crossed the 50-mile threshold.

I looked down at its nacelle, as if to ask "what are you thinking? Are you getting too hot? Is this too fast for you? Too far?"

The answer was the happy purr (well, clashing) of the motor and a willingness to go 5 mph faster when asked.

I could get to like this. "We" could get to like this. Let's just keep going.


  1. "Rode in all weather.....!" David, please- next time you use that phrase, write about it in the context of beating the snow storm that dumped six inches on your driveway 10 minutes after you parked the bike. (when you should have been watching the barometer drop like a rock and sky turn pitch black)

    1. You got me there. "All weather" for me includes no snow, no ice, no sleet and virtually no cold. Well, I live in Florida. I'm deprived.

  2. Anonymous8/22/2015

    Pity I can't post pictures of my winter commutes but the Bullet does indeed handle year round weather with no complaints...and it does a wonderful job as a a groceries getter, a mild trail bike, and B road touring machine.

    If you listen close enough to your Bullet sooner or later it will tell you to press a little father, to look around the bend, to go see what's over the next hill ; )

    Best REgards,


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