Friday, April 16, 2021

Royal Enfield's Ice Queen 650 twin fired his imagination

Woman rider on white Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Woman on Ice Queen white Continental GT 650 leads cafe racers 
in Royal Enfield video "A Ton of Fun." Watch it on YouTube.

"I'd love to know who the 'Ice Queen' color of the new 650 GTs is named after. In my mind's eye I have some unapproachably lovely blonde gal in the Accounts Receivable Office that everyone just stares at longingly from the water cooler..."

That is the question posed on this blog by a Royal Enfield enthusiast who signs himself "Bilgemaster," and who obviously has an active imagination.

Model names help humanize motorcycles. We naturally attach mental images to the words that designate them.

Turns out, there might indeed be an Ice Queen connection to a woman. Or maybe not. The story turns out to be less random and more human than you might expect.

It all goes back to Paul Ventura, a member of the Royal Enfield strategy team on the 650 twins. He picked the names for the paint schemes, some of them referring to co-workers. He never named one of the variations for himself.

Sadly, he was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2018, at the age of 42. Royal Enfield re-named the lovely light blue GT 650s "Ventura Blue" in his memory. You can read the story of Ventura Blue here.

But what about the others?

Mark Wells is head of global product strategy and industrial design for Royal Enfield. He was there during development when names were attached to proposed paint jobs for Royal Enfield's INT 650 and Continental GT 650. He was kind enough to tell me the story in an email.

"As with any design process, we always start with a broad range of proposals and then go through a process of elimination to narrow them down to the selected colors that we will go to production with. Typically the presentation slides are labelled something like A1, A2, B1, B2 etc. But (as is often the case) this leads to discussions like:

I really like A3.

Which one was that again?

The red and black one.

Which? The one with the horizontal split?

No that's A5, the one with the diagonal split.

"...and so on. So one day Paul Ventura said I've had enough; I'm going to give all the ones we like names so we know which one is which. In the usual manner, I think initially there were some rude names suggested and vetoed. A few got named after people working on the project so:

"Ravishing Red was named after Ravi Karin who was working with Paul as a product manager.

"Baker Express was named after Mike Baker who was the lead chassis engineer on the twins project.

"Mark Three black was named after me (Mark).

"Shiny Hiney (which later got changed to Glitter and Dust) was named after Ben Hine the other lead chassis designer on the project.

"Dr. Mayhem was allegedly after our concept engineer Ed Cobb (although later Paul denied this!) 

"Others got names that Paul just made up. 

"Orange Crush (after the drink).

"Silver Spectre (was a twist on a comic character).

"Sea Nymph (which we later changed to Ventura Blue in honor of Paul).

"Black Magic (which was inspired by the old JPS F1 Lotus cars).

"Mister Clean Paul said was after a TV advert that aired when he was a kid growing up in the States. 

Woman riding motorcycle glances back.
We may never know if there was a real inspiration for "Ice Queen."
But the woman in "A Ton of Fun" clearly knew how to ride.

"This leaves Ice Queen. Paul always laughed off the question with a cheeky smile (in a way only Paul could) when it was asked who this was named after. I suspect it wasn't named after anyone and he just liked to keep people guessing, but we'll never know now.

"These really were never intended as market names for the colors but they just stuck. As you know after Paul passed away we decided to rename the Sea Nymph blue. A few different people independently came to me with the idea of renaming it Ventura Blue and when I proposed it to Sid and Rudy they both wholeheartedly supported it. I'm grateful for that, it makes me smile every time I see it. We all still miss Paul every single day."

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