Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Built Like a Cannon - Goes Like a Bullet

That would be the motto of the Royal Enfield motorcycle concern that, sadly, went defunct in the 1970s. Starting out as Enfield Manufacturing Company in 1893 as a manufacturer of bicycles, the firm licensed the "Royal" portion of its name from the crown in 1911. The firm built several models for the both the British and Imperial Russian armies during World War I and even sold models with machine guns mounted.

After the second World War, Royal Enfield motorcycles were imported tot he US badged as Indians from 1955 thorough 1959. Riders at the time thought them to be a pale imitation of the classic American bike. 

Royal Enfield found a large market in India in 1949 and by 1955, "Enfields" were being built in India to meet the demand. Originally sold to the police and military markets in India, the cheap-to-run motorcycles became an aspiration of many Indian workers. 

The British Royal Enfield concern was wound up in 1971 and the only place on earth that Enfield motorcycles were produced was India. They continued production under the Enfield name until 1995 when the rights to the Royal Enfield name were acquired by the Indian Firm.

Today, Royal Enfield motorcycles are available nearly world wide and all of them come the factory in Chennai, India. 

Check this video of a craftsman hand painting the gold pinstriping on a fuel tank at the Royal Enfield factory:

I have a strong desire to own one these 500CC single cylinder "thumpers". Wish me luck.

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