A Few Thoughts About Royal Enfield

royalenfieldMy post about Royal Enfield motorcycles sold as Indians incited Nicker to write the following:

” There never was anything wrong with an Enfield, but the price. The rebadging/branding of a product is as old as the Industrial Revolution. The auto industry is still doing it today. Floyd Clymer could have done a lot worse than rebadging an Enfield as an Indian. This venerable Enfield firm fielded a very capable V-twin in 1911 and settled in to building big V-twins for sidecar use. Responding to a market for agile, smaller performance motorcycles Enfield produced a 350 Prestwich powered racer for competition in 1924.

By 1928 they had designed their own 500cc Single. A modern design which included such innovations as totally enclosed pushrods, it was the genesis of the Venerable Royal Enfield Bullet, that motorcycle which is now recognized as the longest continuously produced motorcycle in the world. At the end of 1948 Enfield began producing an all new OHV vertical twin. It pushed the current state of the sports bike industry with it’s hydraulically tempered telescopic forks and (i believe) the first Hydraulically dampened rear swing-arm suspension. This ground braking motorcycle was the foundation on which the “Royal Enfield Interceptor” series was founded. Years ago a young carpenter in Walnut Creek who rode a lime green 750cc interceptor that was really loud and fast. With it’s chrome tank, crinkle-back cylinder heads with polished aluminum fin ends, it was absolutely the coolest hot-rod motorcycles i’d ever seen. As a poor school kid i could only dream of owning such a bike. If an increasingly fragile memory can be relied on, at that time a Honda hawk cost $600, a Triumph cost $1200 and an Enfield Interceptor cost $2400 (a King’s ransom). But dream id did… 🙂
Years later I found a pile of “chopperised” parts for sale and immediately recognized the distinctive Interceptor cylinder heads. Now gainfully employed i snapped it up. Instead of a restoration, i brought it back to life as the type of hot-rod i would have built were i still in High School. There is nothing wrong with rebadging a product. The trick is targeting the market properly. I suspect that the bad press English motorcycles used to get was due to the fact that they were designed to be maintained by mechanically competent owners. Where Triumph, BSA, or Enfield products did not respond well to tool box containing an assortment of hammers, chisels, screwdrivers and Crescent wrenches, the less fragile HD and Indian makes could better withstand such ham-fisted attention. There’s a 42EL out on the lift with chisel marks on it’s intake manifold nuts to whiteness that assertion. The Enfield above still lives under a cover out in the shop. These days it’s job is to wow those occasional request to “…see what’s under there…” and put a big smile on my face….  :-)” Nicker.


1 Response to “A Few Thoughts About Royal Enfield”

  1. 1 Battlegraphics Jan 21st, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    A lovely story. It also brings up a good point. Price is always a major factor. Even today, folks who want a new Royal Enfield are likely to take pause at the near-giveaway prices of base Hondas and Suzukis. Thank you for sharing this story.

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