Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What my Royal Enfield Bullet needs is more levers

Nothing retro about my Royal Enfield's handlebar controls.
My 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle is the motorcycle I wanted in 1955, when I was a kid. That's why I like it so much.

But it's not perfect. Specifically, the handlebar controls are combined in a 1990s style plastic lump incorporating headlight, turn signals, horn and decompressor controls. There's nothing circa-1955 about this.

Vintage-style controls are available on the aftermarket but fitting them is a little bigger project than I'm anxious to tackle. In line with my usual procedure, I'll wait to fit those until the ones I've got break.

And besides, what I want, really, is something more.

I want the controls Buck Rogers would have had on his space motorcycle. Childish, I know, but it's a childhood fascination that has me on a Royal Enfield in the first place.

1953 Mercury dashboard with aircraft-style levers behind wheel.
Fortunately, we know exactly what Buck would have used, thanks to the 1953 Mercury. Although a car, the Mercury of that era used dashboard lever controls that would have looked appropriate on a heavy bomber.

Growing up, the neighbor had one of these cars. I was fascinated by the lever stalks behind the steering wheel. Even as a kid I knew they probably did nothing more than turn on the heater. But they looked as though they would control a supercharger, or, maybe, torpedoes.

Left-side controls.
Right-side controls.

The photos here are of a 1953 Mercury for sale on CraigsList in Ohio.

These are the kinds of levers I want on my motorcycle, ideally in a streamlined pod someplace visible yet unobtrusive.

What could they possibly control? That I don't know...

1953 Mercury looked best from the back.
...but the front hood scoop looked flight approved.

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