Friday, April 8, 2016

Identifying a Royal Enfield of the 1930s

Girder forks, tin chaincase and forward slanted motor distinguish this Royal Enfield.
It's a Royal Enfield motorcycle and an old one. But what model and what year?

Jamie Kos of the UK wanted to know what he'd bought.

"I recently purchased what I believe is a 1930 350cc SV Sport. I have tried to look around at what model this bike could be but I’m struggling and wondered if you could help me?" he wrote.

...but identifying it precisely takes a sharper eye.
I couldn't. But Jamie had a motor number from his bike and I suspected Graham Scarth, chairman of the Royal Enfield Owners Club of the UK, might be able to use that to identify Jamie's Royal Enfield. I put them in touch.

The Royal Enfield Owners Club of the UK has the factory records from Royal Enfield when it was in Britain. Graham has made a further study of the motor and frame numbers used by Royal Enfield of India, and can often decipher those, as well.

(Need help identifying your old Royal Enfield? Here's my blog post on how Graham can help you.)

Magneto drive is on the right, not the left.
It didn't take long.

"I have spoken to Jamie on the phone a few minutes ago, advising that his bike is a 1931 Model C," Graham informed me in an email. He went on to explain how he knew:

"1930 version had magneto drive on the left and 1932 had a crankcase incorporating the oil compartment.

"1931 is the only year that the engine looks like the one in his bike — external oil pump and the oil (still) in a separate compartment in the petrol tank."

Crankcase does not incorporate an oil tank.

Jamie was appreciative.

" It was brilliant to speak to Graham and to find out much more info about the bike and about Royal Enfields in general. I'm looking forward to joining the Royal Enfield Owners Club," he wrote.

I asked what more he could tell me about his motorcycle.

Tank has separate caps for oil and gas.
(And a hole for the speedometer?)
"I found the bike in Belgium and as far as I can see it is relatively original with only a few parts missing. I am not sure what my hopes are for the bike yet but I am looking forward to restoring it over time. It doesn't run yet!"

So there are miles ahead. But isn't it nice, knowing where the journey started?


  1. I guess it was one of the "basic" models that many manufacturers put out during the great depression of the early '30s. They had to in order to survive!

  2. clarkthespark@yahoo.com4/09/2016

    I'm not sure how Graham tied the engine number into the identification of this machine. Looks like he relied on visual clues. What am I missing? As always, I enjoyed your article.

    1. Graham was kind enough to explain: "We have no records for period when Jamie’s bike was built and, as far as we know, they have not survived. Catalog photos are our only guide and the yearly differences are not always as obvious as this instance! I have added the engine number to a spreadsheet I started for “Pre-war machines not in the records”. It is only the second 350cc side valve engine number I have with an A prefix, with other one being a 1925 Model 351. Just to confuse the issue, the 2 stroke Model 200/201/202 in flat tank form becomes the Model A as a saddle tank machine. These engines then have an A prefix."


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