Friday, September 2, 2016

100-year-old Royal Enfield is still worth a look

My first impression of the 1916 Royal Enfield? Sure is small!
There's a 1916 Royal Enfield sidecar combination at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York. I got to see that Royal Enfield, thanks to friends Ron and Mandy, who invited us to their mountaintop wedding in the Catskill Mountains.

Just down the road from the Catskills, Old Rhinebeck is famed as a living museum of old-time airplanes and vintage motor vehicles. They actually fly and drive this stuff. You'll see their Fokker Triplane on magazine covers from time to time.

That said, there's plenty of dust and dripping oil in the hangars that house the aerodrome's antiques. Aside from some replica aircraft, most of these machines are 100 years old, or nearly so, and it's amazing they even exist, much less fly and drive.

There is a photo of this Royal Enfield in motion on Old Rhinebeck's website. But, today, its front tire is flat and it looks a bit forlorn.

Century old elegance. Note luggage rack at rear of sidecar.
The happy penguin in the sidecar doesn't seem upset, though.

I gingerly crossed the rope barrier (no one was looking) to capture some of the details of this century-old Royal Enfield.

J.A. Prestwich built the motor but Enfield built the gearbox.
I hope you enjoy the photos.

Chrome hand crank at left got you started.
Four spark plugs? Two are just plugging holes.
I'm not sure what the domed sight glass on the tank is for.
Enfield gearshift packed authority and two speeds.
Flat tank has pins for stick type air pump.
Throttle is set-it-and-forget-it style. Speed was not the issue.
It was a wonder you were moving at all!
Electric lighting was new in 1916 and this Royal Enfield has it.
Small running light alongside latch for sidecar door.
Front suspension; there is no rear suspension.
There's a great video introduction to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome on YouTube.


  1. Anonymous9/02/2016

    One the same Aerodrome page as the 1916 Royal Enfield there is a 1914 Ural? Really? 1914?
    I guess I learn something new everyday....

    1. That's clearly wrong. But note that it is painted with an Iron Cross, and plays the role of companion to the World War I Triplane in weekend air shows. So it's not a 1914 motorcycle, but it plays one!


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