Friday, May 3, 2019

Keeping up with the Royal Enfield Owners Club UK

I routinely scan the "Welcome to New Members" list inside The Gun, official magazine of the Royal Enfield Owners Club UK, looking for others who may have joined from the United States.

I'm not anxious to be sociable. Just curious how many there might be. Lately — NONE!

My fellow Americans, you are missing out.

True, it's a long flight to take part in any of the actual club events. But The Gun itself is entertainment enough.

Due to an email confusion, now ironed out, I received my last three electronic issues of The Gun all at once. It was like Christmas all over again and, indeed, one issue was older than Christmas.

In The Gun 268 for December/January 2019 I learned that editor Robin Gillingham was setting down his pen, having led the magazine since 2010. (Doug Young would serve as temporary editor.)

New member Paul Boobri wrote in to describe in detail how he changed his Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 to shift on the right, brake on the left. To some Americans, this might seem to be turning the world upside down or, really, left to right.

From the club archives came photos of the prototype Royal Enfield 500 twin of 1948. A clean looking motorcycle, the prototype carried its amp meter in the square box I recognize as the air cleaner box, while the actual air filter rode in the right-hand toolbox, which was fitted with a shiny circular vent to admit air.

The Gun notes that this would have required a very long run to the carburetor and it seems to have been changed before the prototype made its shake-down run to Switzerland and back.

Another flash-back, this one from the Summer of 1980 edition, was a reprint of an article by Don McKeand pointing out other uses of the Royal Enfield Flying Flea 125cc two-stroke motor.

Photo of front-drive motorcycle.
The Turner By-Van was a streamlined box with a Royal Enfield motor atop the front wheel.
In particular he mentioned the Turner By-Van, a utility motorcycle proposed in 1946. It featured a streamlined metal body, which, being empty, could carry whatever tools or materials the rider needed for work or delivery. The gas tank, gearbox and the Flying Flea motor were all clustered on top of the front wheel with the handlebars.

No photo appeared with the flashback, so I hunted these up on the Internet, something author McKeand didn't have handy for research in 1980. They are from The MotorCycle of April 11, 1946. The lawn-mower-style pull-cord starter is attached to the motor's kick start spindle. There is no kicking this motor where it's mounted.

Photo of motor atop front wheel.
Note the starter pull-cord wheel at right.
Highlight of this issue was Royal Enfield historian Gordon May's account of his ride on the new Royal Enfield 650 twins during the press launch in California.

He recalled how, in 2009, then Royal Enfield dealer Watsonian Squire created a dummy twin from a Bullet single by adding an extra exhaust pipe. Partly covered with cloth, this did fool visitors at the dealer's open house weekend.

Now the real twins are finally here and Gordon reports they were "well worth the wait."

In Branch Reports, Cornwall recounted a ride to a classic bike meet — "a good ride in good company" — and then another ride on a somewhat chilly day that included a "leg stretch, and relief behind a tree for Biker Paul."

The Mid-Shires report included the first use I've seen of the nickname "Himmy" to designate the Royal Enfield Himalayan. I like it.

Member Colin reported on his long ride on his Meteor Minor Airflow, knowing it would be a hot run behind that fairing if traffic backed up — and it did. With luggage and camping equipment aboard he couldn't control the bike below 10 mph so lane splitting through the traffic tie-up was impossible. He recommended that the UK adopt the common European rule limiting big trucks to weekday use of the roads.

In The Gun 269 for February/March 2019, Bruce Walker, former president of the Royal Enfield Club of Australia, noted that Royal Enfield owners don't typically invite others to sample their motorcycles.

"By way of contrast most blokes will offer their new modern motorcycle to their friends for a test ride almost immediately," he wrote. He implies that Royal Enfield owners are too proud to share.

I think his observation is accurate but, in my case, it has to do with not trusting acquaintances to safely take into account the various quirks of riding my Bullet.

John Mountford wrote in about a photo that appeared in the previous edition: Did anyone know the name of the man shown next to his father, Royal Enfield's one-time sales manager and later the managing director Vic Mountford? Was it the New York agent for the brand, Ed Stokvis?

(I don't know the answer, but I have written about Stokvis and his importance in bringing Royal Enfield to the United States after World War II.)

Terry Cumley wrote in about his new custom maroon C5, Peggy Sue, a tribute to singer Buddy Holly.

Meanwhile, at the Himatangi Midterm Rally of the New Zealand Royal Enfield Owners Register, "Terry O’Hanlon was awarded the rider’s choice prize for his unpolished 1954 Bullet, (never mind the rear view mirror fell off and a rear wheel bearing was failing, it’s called rear self steering)."

Actually more concerning to the branch was Steve Owen's flat rear tire, caused by rust on the inside of the rim, and this on a 2015 Bullet.

In The Gun 270 for April/May 2019 it is announced that Alan Barringer volunteered for the job of editor. Volunteered, mind you.

Member Julian Green writes in that the Royal Enfield ridden by Mr. Steed and Mrs. Gale in "The Avengers" television show wasn't a Constellation, as reported in The Gun 269, but was instead a Meteor Minor Sports.

This is important to me because I loved that show, and wrote in a blog post about The Avengers photo involving the Royal Enfield. This new information meant I would have to issue a correction.

Gear-shift mechanism on motorcycle.
Rear-set gear shift may have been a factory option.
Yet another write-in from member Alex Taylor notes that his 1960 Constellation had exactly the same rear-set shift linkage shown in the photo with The Avengers. The neutral finder is removed and the gear lever is reversed. It also looks like the exhaust pipe has a plate welded to it for the gear selector linkage.

And, in branch reports, the West Riding club ride-out in February brought out two Royal Enfields and a Triumph. Both Royal Enfields went home on tow trucks..

And we are now up to date.

1 comment:

  1. It's a great club. Before I was a family man I attended a few club events every year. More recently I have contented myself with just reading the club mag which is always a delight and worth the membership fee in itself. Hoping to start attending events again very soon now that the children are getting a bit older!

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