Saturday, 14 February 2015

Royal Enfield USA: The journey from the museum to the road

Americans love automobiles. Let it be top end cars, hot rods, monster trucks, you can find it all in the States. But they are equally passionate about motorcycles too. They like their heavy duty Harley Davidson, their radical and rebellious choppers and even sports bikes from all over the globe. But for me, the best vibe was set by Mickey Rourke in the Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.
Royal Enfield USA

After watching the tough biker with his cowboy hat wearing friend on their bikes, all I could think of was what would it be like if they rode a Royal Enfield for a change. Then I came to know that in 1991, when the movie was released, the only way an American could see a Royal Enfield on the highway was when it was participating in a vintage bike run or while heading to a local museum. But now after more than 2 decades, things are a bit different.

After taking full control over 114 year old motorcycle company in 1994, CEO Siddhartha Lal of Eicher Motors Ltd. he made sure that the company ran within the family and tried not to sell it out. He was only 26 then. Now after 10 years, the success of the company tells its own tale.

Over the years, RE has expanded globally, and has created a robust dealer network in America. Few newer RE stores are showing up in The Rock Store on Mulholland or Newcomb’s Ranch on the Angeles Crest Highway.

During his visit to California last year, Mr. Lal rectified everyone and commented that Royal Enfield is committed only to "pure motorcycling" and nothing else. He said, “Our bikes are not conceived with a retro bend in mind. We are an old-school company.” According to him for the American market, the real game changers would be The Continental GT & The Bullet Classic.
royal enfield Continental GT 535 cc & 250 cc face off
The Continental GT 535 cc & 250 cc face off

The GT is an improved reincarnation of the 1965 model of the Cafe racer. The GT is stylish, retro & slim, & weighs mere 410 pound. And the gas tank is bound to remind you of a 1960s Norton. Savvy!

The bikes from the stables of RE would not be able to compete with other heavily built bikes on terms of braking, horsepower or acceleration, but it will surely give you the certain pleasure of a robust motorcycle that's for sure. Lal said that, the motive of the Royal Enfield USA was to make motorcycling accessible among the masses and to make it a fun affair. These bikes aren't that fast, or heavy and neither is it expensive. Hence it is easy to own, maintain, modify and is as sturdy as a rock. Given the vision, growth and response, we are bound to see a lot of Enfields thumping over the tarmac of America soon.

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