Sunday, 30 November 2014

Why Indian Army preferred Bullet over other motorcycles

Indian Army & it's close coupling with Royal Enfield

Every citizen is forever in debt of the soldiers who protect our borders from foreign threats. Because of them we can rest our eyes while confining ourselves to our beds and enjoy a peaceful night. Being an India, I would like to shed some light especially about Indian Army. Indian Army has achieved a number of astonishing feats. For example, Indian Army controls the highest battlefield in the world, the Siachen glacier, which is at 5000 meters above sea level. But do you know, of all the different motorcycles Indian Army could have adopted, why did they chose Royal Enfield as the chariot of their choice.

A 1946 BSA

Prior to 1947, India wasn't the manufacturing hub for motorcycles. During that era of British Raj, motorcycles were imported from Britain itself. Generally they used to be Triumphs or BSAs. But gradually these motorcycles due to their old age and wear & tear, were declared redundant & obsolete. Class V, this is what the army terminology is for such substances.

Royal Enfield introduced in Indian Army

To recuperate from the lack of decent motorcycles, the Government floated tenders for motorcycles. The only condition being, at a later stage the production of the bikes will occur in India. In this way, the Government would be able to supply motorcycles to the army while promoting industrialization in India. A great way of killing two birds with one stone.
And guess which bike manufacturer came front! Yes indeed. It was Royal Enfield. The Royal Enfield Company was the sole bike manufacturer to accept the terms & conditions and presented the 350cc, 4 stroke Royal Enfield Bullet.

After getting a green signal, the army rigorously tested the Royal Enfield Bullet on different terrains, and cleared it for use. The 350cc Bullets were immediately imported and 350 of them were put to patrol the Indo-Pak border in Punjab. This region was a cultivable area, hence comprised of a lot flat lands. Such topography made riding the Bullet pleasurable. Due to its inherent good looks and unbeatable performance and handling, the Royal Enfield Bullet became a huge success in no time. But within a year, Jeeps were introduced that replaced the existing Royal Enfields.

But till this very day, the Bullet is closely associated with the Indian Army and continues to portray it's faithfulness & gratitude to the Indian Army. Not much has changed since the introduction of the Bullet in 1947. Strictly adhering to the tender, Royal Enfield started manufacturing there bikes in India and had two manufacturing facilities at Tiruvottiyur and Oragadam. But recently on 23rd November 2014, they proposed a third unit at Vallam Vadagal, which would be set up on 50 acre land.

The Royal Enfield Bullet continues to be the preferred motorcycle used for dispatching riders, for military police patrol, to name a few. Almost all riding duties for the President or other mentionable dignitaries are carried out on a Royal Enfield. Even on the auspicious occasion of Republic Day, Indian soldiers pull some amazing stunts on their Royal Enfields.
The reputed Sweta Ashwa team of the Indian Army has the Guinness Record for balancing 48 people on a 500cc Royal Enfield, by shattering the record of Brazil's Army Corp.

Republic Day Parade

Apart from serving the Indian Army, the Royal Enfield has brought smiles and a steady rush of adrenalin to numerous motorcyclist. And how they did so, is to be told in the near future.

Jai Hind!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wizards ride Royal Enfield

Hagrid's motorcycle in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows was a Royal Enfield
You might be thinking wizards have a monopoly over broomsticks and that is the only mode of transportation they prefer. Well, you need to think twice.
For me the only stint of the wizardry world was from the Harry Potter books. And boy was it a fine piece of creation. As a teenager I was completely enthralled by every adventure and occurring of the wizard world. But as I grew, I started parting my ways with the fictitious and mythical stories. Then when the Harry Potter movies came out, I realized that our beloved Royal Enfield was used by the half-giant Hagrid in the Deathly Hallows. So I did some digging in and got my hands on some pretty neat facts.
Hagrid riding Triumph Bonneville ( HP 1 )

A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky – and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air…

Yes, you guessed it right, this is an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone. It is when Rubeus Hagrid lands his motorcycle at 4 Privet Drive. This bike was an actual belonging of Sirius Black and was borrowed by Hagrid. Enough of Harry Potter trivia, lets jump to the motorcycle part. From the book itself we can't make out what was the motorcycle which J.K Rowling had in mind while penning these lines. But in the movie adaptation of the same, a white 1959 Triumph 650 T 120 Bonneville was used.

16 years later in the Battle of the seven Potters, Hagrid is given the responsibility to drive Harry out of Privet Drive. Hagrid uses a motorcycle which was slightly modified by Arther Weasley. The bike was heavily built and had a sidecar. I am not sure whether Arther Weasley was somehow familiar to MI6's weapon development team, but he made an adjustment that made the bike capable of throwing traps and dragon fire from it's exhaust, at the push of a button. Which indeed came handy.

The Royal Enfield used in The Deathly Hallows Part -1

In the movie adaptation of The Deathly Hallows Part - I, The Triumph Bonneville wasn't used, in the motorcycle escape scene. Originally the team contracted Royal Enfield, while in the look out for a sidecar. But when they looked at the whole rig, they used the Enfield instead of the Triumph. Thus, the motorcycle that Hagrid drives in the Deathly Hallows, while Harry is sitting beside him in the sidecar, is actually a light blue Royal Enfield.

Check out this video, to find out some behind the scene footage and some neat insight regarding the bike used

I hope you rekindled with your childhood memories too while reading this post. Feel free to comment, share and suggest ideas if any (especially pertaining to Royal Enfield). Thanks!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Royal Enfield facts and stories Part 2

In one of my recent posts, I had mentioned the history and legacy behind the Royal Enfield. There we had seen how the Royal Enfield, as a company migrated from the U.K to reestablish it's roots in India. We also saw some cool facts & stories related to Royal Enfield. Now we shall go further down the line and find out even more cool facts about Royal Enfield and know why every product from their stables make us drool. So, here it goes:

  1. Exporting bullets to the U.K -  After Royal Enfield migrated to India, it as known as Enfield India, and started manufacturing bikes in India itself. But England couldn't take their hands off Enfield Bullet for long. So to cater the demand, since 1984, Enfield India began exporting Enfield Bullet Motorcycles back to the UK. Isn't that obvious, who can keep a classic down and out of the reach of the British public for long. The desire to own a personal brand new Bullet, can make you do insane things.

  2. Enfield Taurus - In 1990, Enfield India produced a diesel motorcycle, known as  the Taurus. But sadly, this motorbike didn't do well commercially and the company had to stop producing them in 2002. However, the Enfield Taurus went on to achieve cult popularity and are currently an immense hit with collectors. You can read in detail about the Royal Enfield Taurus, here.

  3. Enfield gets it's Royal status back - In 1994, the name Enfield India reclaimed its past glory, when it's name was changed back to Royal Enfield. Thus Royal Enfield motorcycles were once again reverted back to their full and glorious existence. Credit goes to the success of Enfield India. In 2012’s The Motorbike Book put out this information is a quite catchy phrase. “It is a wonderful example of the empire striking back”. Star War fans must be chuckling right now.
  4. Royal Enfield's Concept Store - Royal Enfield has recently opened a ‘concept store’ in Select City Walk, Saket, New Delhi. The store has been designed to look exactly like the living room of a biker, but completely devoid of the messy oily rags strewn across the floor. The sole luminescence of the store is from the lights, that have been made out of old motorcycle headlamps. The store depicts the story of Royal Enfield and also showcases a disassembled Continental GT on one of the walls!
    Feel free to take the 360 degree tour of the store. As an Enfield fan, you've earned it. :)

  5. Royal Enfield exported to 42 different countries - Being the motorcycle that it is, Royal Enfield is exported to 42 countries across the globe. Although RE bikes have traditionally only been associated with the UK and India, the demand for them is global. The company currently exports to 42 countries, via 40 importers and over 300 dealers. Countries importing the motorcycles include the USA, Japan, Germany, and Argentina.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

James Dean and Royal Enfield: A 550 mile ride across U.S

James Dean needs no introduction. Six decades have passed since his demise and he still persists to be a cultural icon of the United States. Personally being a kid of the 90's, I wasn't well aware of his works until my father told me about the magnum opus "Rebel Without a Cause", and boy was it a masterpiece. So you might be thinking, how does a rebellious icon get associated with Royal Enfield? For that my friend we need to take a step back.

James Dean

James Dean was born in Marion Indiana in 1931 and from his early days, he started to have a thing for the beasts with two wheels and an iron heart in between. James got his hands on the first motorcycle at the age of 15. It was a a 1947 CZ 125-cc. In his small town in Indiana, he was the only kid who owned a motorcycle, and every time he rode it he did it with full gusto. James loved speed & performed stunts.Once to quench his thrust for adrenaline, he rode his motorcycle in full throttle and lost two teeth in a fall. The locals used to call him “One Speed Dean”.

Later, when James was only 22 years old, he dropped out of college to pursue acting. At this point in December 1953, he traded his beloved 1947 CZ for a used 1950 single cylinder Royal Enfield 500cc vertical twin. It had two exhaust ports, thus twin mufflers. The story and bond between James Dean and Royal Enfield is best described by Lee Raskin, in his book James Dean: At Speed. The book states that, at this point of time, he had roles on television, walk-on movie appearances and had been also chosen for the prestigious Actors Studio in the Big Apple, New York.

James was rehearsing for the play The Immoralist, & was in Fairmount on Christmas break. If  he's successful and was able to amass positive reviews of this 1954 production, it would definitely bring important calls from Hollywood & open new avenues for him. But Dean had something else planned. He planned to ride his Royal Enfield, all the way from Indiana back to New York City. As the weather was rough & extremely cold, the trip was never meant to be a relishing one. The uber-cool actor put on an aviator's leather helmet and a hood to cover his face against the cold, with just slits for the eyes.

1947 CZ 125-cc

Dean knew that the Royal Enfield's motor had just been rebuilt and would need to be run in. In-spite of the fact, he kept riding, kicking aside all the possible troubles it might give way to. But, when trouble came, he was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It was a high-speed road, but his impatience got the best out of him.

At the vicinity of Carlisle, Penn., in subfreezing temperatures, the Royal Enfield began loosing power. Just outside of Harrisburg the engine stopped and Dean was instantly dragged to the side of the road. The state police responded to the call for help and Paul Roof of Hunzinger Motorcycles came to get Dean and the Royal Enfield. A burnt exhaust valve, turned out to be the root of the problem.

Finding parts for the Royal Enfield wasn't a piece of cake and would take a few days. So, Roof offered to feed Dean at his home, and found him a room in a boarding house. Since Dean was in a hurry and had a keen eye for motorcycles, he couldn't stop but admired a Indian Warrior TT that was on sale at Hunzinger's and decided to trade. Paul valued the broken Royal Enfield at $300 and Dean sent for $400 from his acting wages.

When the money and title to the Royal Enfield came in the mail, Dean sealed the deal for the Indian and completed his trip. In Greenwich Village, he he got the Indian serviced at a garage, where aspiring actor Steve McQueen worked as a mechanic. Unfortunately, no one knows the VIN number of Dean's Royal Enfield or anything about it's fate. Dean covered about 550 miles on the Royal Enfield from Fairmount to Harrisburg.

On his Triumph TR5

Later, James Dean, trying to imitate Marlon Brando, bought a Triumph TR5 Trophy, the last bike he rode before he died in his Porsche.

James Dean was indeed a rebel and still is a inspiration for millions. And his 550 mile ride across U.S. proves his longing for motorcycles, while he tore the asphalt on his then Royal Enfield. He definitely lived true to his words, when he said,
Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Pierre Terblanche, part of Royal Enfield family

Take a moment to welcome Pierre Terblanche, the renowned designer, who has joined the iconic Indian two-wheeler manufacturer, Royal Enfield. The design pioneer hails from South Africa and started his career with the renowned car manufacturer Volkswagen before switching over to two-wheels. His stint with two-wheeler journey  commenced with Italian bike maker Cagiva. There, he worked at its research centre at San Marino. Under the guidance of design genius Massimo Tamburini, his interest with motorcycle design propelled to a whole new level. 
Pierre Terblanche
After Cagiva was acquired by US-based group, he shifted to Ducati. It was at Ducati that he sculpted some of his renowned creations. And the most acclaimed of them all was the controversial Ducati 999/749. The Hypermotard, Multistrada, Sport Classic etc, are few other notable bikes designed by the maestro. Apart from Ducati, Pierre Treblanche also worked with Norton Motorcycle Company &  Moto Guzzi. Among his recent masterpieces is the one of a kind Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster that was showcased in August 2014. If you thought that merely cars & bikes were his forte, then you are making a big mistake. Apart from motorcycles he has also designed boats for South African shipyard Bobkat.  Since a long time, Royal Enfield has been focusing its attention on the international market and is taking a lot of efforts to expand its reach and popularity. Hence the hiring of Pierre Treblanche can be indicated as a step to make Royal Enfield's visual appeal to the international consumers, especially from Europe. Whether the South African designer will be responsible in designing the upcoming 400cc adventure offering from Royal Enfield still persists to be a question, which only time will answer. But tracing his prolific past we can surely expect some gorgeous & mean motorcycles from the stables of Royal Enfield.
Pierre Terblanche, designer  in Ducati

Speaking about Pierre Treblanche, Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director & CEO, Eicher Motors Limited said, “I am very excited that Pierre Terblanche has recently joined our team; he is one of the most prolific industrial designers for motorcycles, and is best known for having created some extra-ordinary motorcycles as the head of design for Ducati for over a decade.” I personally feel, introduction of Pierre would propel the design and sheer essence of Royal Enfield. But I am still caught in a dilemma. I hope bringing forth the new radical element into RE shouldn't rob it off its iconic status. Food for thoughts. But whatever may be the outcome, I wish Treblanche comes up with a uber cool and chromed cafe racer, the likes of Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster. Fingers crossed ;)

So if you personally were to request for a brand new Royal Enfield envisioned by Pierre Treblanche, what should be the prominent elements in it? Feel free to share your views and thoughts in the comments below. Thanks

Monday, 17 November 2014

Royal Enfield Rider Mania 2014

Rider Mania, is considered to be the biggest gathering of Royal Enfield riders. And just like every year, they are all set to make Goa buzz with the familiar sound of a few thousand Royal Enfield motorcycles. The 3 day motorcycling extravagance at Vagator is scheduled to commence from 21st November and conclude on 23rd November. With over 5000 riders expected to join three days of music, euphoria and odd riding skills, Rider Mania will host thousands of fans and enthusiasts making this edition, its biggest ever.

Organized by Royal Enfield, Rider Mania is supposed to be the only motorcycling festival in India where a motorcycle enthusiast can see the various ways in which people celebrate motorcycling through music, art, photography and lifestyle apart from the various competitive and fun events organized for the riders and their family. Royal Enfield owners from around the country ride in to Goa to participate in this motorcycle fest that features activities and entertainment that promote biker camaraderie and provide the perfect platform to showcase one's passion for motorcycling and the Royal Enfield brand.

The festival has an exhaustive line up of motorcycling events that include Trials, Dirt Track Racing, Slow Race and Assembly Wars that will be held under floodlights. Royal Enfield has also organized special sessions on photography and motorcycling trails. A special enclosure displaying Royal Enfield's range of apparel will showcase the latest in motorcycle fashion along with accessories to customize your Enfield.

This year too, custom made motorcycles, designed exclusively for Rider Mania will be on display at a special enclosure inside the venue. These motorcycles are an expression of the designers' motorcycling spirit and craftsmanship. There will also be a competition to judge the best custom bike of Rider Mania 2014. Like every year, the Celebration Ride will take place with all the participants riding through the streets of Goa to celebrate the motorcycling spirit of the riders and Royal Enfield. Music being the intrinsic part of every festival and also of Rider Mania, the 2014 edition will see performances from Papon and the East India Company, Nucleya and Vir Das' Alien Chutney and Skrat.

2015: The advent of an adventure touring bike from the stables of Royal Enfield

It is rumored that Royal Enfield is in the process of developing a brand new 385cc four stroke engine that will be mounted on its motorbikes from next year. The engine might replace the 350cc unit construction engine which were earlier saddled on bikes, the likes of the Standard 350, Electra, Classic 350 and Thunderbird 350. 

It is claimed that the company will expand its reach and also ustilize this engine on a new adventure tourer bike that is being developed. The much anticipated and one of the early participants in the similar category, Hero Impulse is dead. This has robbed the Indian bikers of adventure touring and venturing off roads. And to top it off, there aren't other adventure tourer bike that is priced less than Rs. 10 lakhs. So Royal Enfield might exploit this market situation to their benefit and trying to capitalize this oportunity to sculpt an adventure bike at a price that is less than Rs. 2.5 lakhs.

The adventure touring bike from Royal Enfield is most likely to be launched in India during 2015. The company has not made any announcement regarding the same and has treated this news as a folklore or rumor. But this being said, the company has been taking bold steps lately. It introduced numerous touring friendly features, like projector headlamp, double trip meters, bungee cord holders and large fuel tank on the Thunderbird series. It also launched the Continental GT 535 cafe racer in India and abroad. The adventure tourer will be another nice addition and probably an icing on the cake for Royal Enfield.

Many Royal Enfield buyers in India use their bike for long distance touring. In India, Royal Enfield bikes are the most popular cruising and touring bikes which are used in all kinds of terrain. So having a adventure version with high ground clearance, big torque, nice luggage carrying features and a rugged body will make motorcycle buyers looking for touring opt for Royal Enfields in a big way. A bike like the Triumph Tiger or the BMW GS series from the stables of Royal Enfield may soon become a reality. Bikers in India will be very happy if this rumor shapes into reality.

The Royal Enfield family is overjoyed of the idea, and would definitely help the brand to prosper and blossom further.

Royal Enfield facts and stories Part 1

Some cool facts about Royal Enfield and it's legacy
Let me tell you a story to chill your bones....
The line seems appropriate, but enough of Iron Maiden. Let's get back to some gritty and loud bikes with muscles shall we. Before we dive in and find out some cool Royal Enfield facts, lets start with a brief history.
In the year 1890 the name Royal Enfield was first licensed by the crown. The company started building their first motorcycle in 1901, and until 1967, they produced their motorcycles at their factory in Redditch, Worcestershire. Unfortunately, it was closed in 1967. In 1970, the company produced their last motorcycles before completely dissolving in 1971. That was the end of one story and the inception of another.

Enfield of India was set up in 1956, and had begun assembling the motorcycles. To fuel their production line in India, they used parts which were shipped from Royal Enfield in the UK. This game plan proved to be immensely successful took off in a huge way. By 1962 Enfield India had blossomed and were producing motorcycles from parts made in India rather than the UK. Enfield's situation in India and UK were contrasting. While the company in UK was beginning to struggle, Enfield India was achieving greater heights and amassing huge fan following. The iconic ‘Bullet’ model was an instant hit and was taking the sub-continent by storm. 

Enfield India continued striking the right chords with the audience and was trading even after Royal Enfield had been dissolved in the UK. Finally in 1995, Enfield India bought the rights to the name Royal Enfield to make sure that the bikes returned to it's spiritual & historic identity. 
Now, that you are well aware of Royal Enfield's history & legacy, let's dive in and find some cool facts about Royal Enfield shall we. 

  1. Royal Enfield, Made like a gun, goes like a bullet - The logo & motto of the original Royal Enfield company reflects their background of weapons manufacturing. The logo of the original Royal Enfield featured a cannon, with the slogan “Made like a gun, goes like a bullet”. This slogan stands to its words when it comes to Royal Enfield motorcycles, but seems uncanny for the lawnmovers which also had the same slogan on their sides.
  2. Royal Enfield, the choice of the brother in arms - In 1912, Royal Enfield first launched a model with a sidecar. The addition of a sidecar to Model 180 of Royal Enfield, helped them gain a lot of popularity in the early days. With the onset of World War I in 1914, they were able to amalgamate their new motorcycle manufacturing strand with their well known traditional military roots. The company even won a contract to supply the Imperial Russian government & the British government’s war department with motorcycles. They even modified the sidecar so that they could accommodate a fitted Vickers machine gun. It surely made RE, one bad ass bike in the World War era.
  3. Royal Enfield Bullet, the longest continuous production motorcycle - Since 1948,  the iconic Bullet model has been in continuous production since in the UK or India. This led to make the Bullet, the longest continuous production motorcycle in the world. The Bullet was produced in 1931 with a four-stroke single cylinder engine. It's frame had a significantly different appearance compared to the look the model is known for today. Since it's inception, it was available as either a 350cc or 500cc version, and the 350cc version was bought by the British government for use, both by army dispatch riders and the RAF during World War II.
  4. Bullet top speed - The current version of Bullet 500 has a top speed of 140 kilometers per hour which equates to around 85 mph.
  5. Royal Enfield's legacy continues in India - The Royal Enfield company was dissolved in the UK in 1971. The original company came to an end in 1971, but the spirit lived on in India which has now been completely brought back to life.

 That's not all, more cool facts and stories about Royal Enfield awaiting you. Also as an added bonus, you can take a 360° virtual tour of the Royal Enfield concept store in New Delhi. Enjoy!