The news went a little unnoticed, but the recent 2012 India Auto Expo saw the unveiling of a quite interesting new motorcycle, the Continental GT, by historic brand Royal Enfield. Basically it is the first new motorcycle to come out with a Royal Enfield badge on the tank in over 40 years. The model is a concept cafe racer that recalls the lines of the original ‘British’ Continental GT - a model that was quite popular in Europe in the late 60s - and it also shares the same 500 cc engine with its illustrious ancestor, but it has never been less ‘British’ than this. With the exception of its 500 cc single-cylinder unit, this new Continental GT is their first bike ever to have been completely designed in India, with no parts lifted from the historic English models of the past.
However, Royal Enfield has become a fully-fledged Indian manufacturer by now. In case you missed the last episodes, back in 1949 the ‘old’ Royal Enfield opened a satellite operation in Madras, India, and in 1955 the Indian government chose their 350cc Bullet model as bike of choice for both police and army, making an enormous order for it. The English manufacturer shut doors in 1967, but the Indian plant just became independent and kept on producing the Bullet 350 and 500cc for years and years. And they are still doing it today: Royal Enfield of India now holds the rights on the name and sells several variants of the Bullet - some of which under a different name - in over twenty countries across the globe.
Even though the Continental GT is loyal to the classic old school ‘British’ design, the model represents a huge step forward for the company, the first real attempt at something different than the usual Bullet-based product. Unfortunately, no information has been released yet about production, performance and technical specs of the new Continental GT, but the work done so far by the Indian engineers is actually pretty interesting and worthy of attention. We will be waiting for more news on the subject.
We recently reported on how Royal Enfield wants to expand its image and business, and this video shows us some of the craftsmanship that goes into the historic brand in the handpainting of a Royal Enfield fuel tank. It’s a noisy video, but pretty cool, although not the official advertisement that was the Royal Enfield Handcrafted in Chennai. Still, we like what they’re doing and if they could up the quality of the bikes, there is some very solid branding to work with.
Source | HFL
Royal Enfield might have grown to be a big brand in India, but in terms of its international presence and brand appeal, it’s a business managed like a small family enterprise, which needs to increase its appeal and service to international markets. In the Indian motorcycle market, Royal Enfield is expanding from the traditional Bullet model - and in now offering the Classic, will open an new plant.
The plan is to increase production from 52,000 units in 2010, to 70,000 units in 2011, with a particular focus on quality improvements. Bike Advice India (via Motorbiker) reports that Royal Enfield needs to put an end to such issues as paint rust, mechanical squeaks and long waiting periods for delivery times. While most Indian customers probably deserve to demand better, ironing out problems such as these is a no-brainer if Royal Enfield is to go international.
The company apparently runs its international operations out of an office with just a few people who deal with placing and taking orders. Royal Enfield CEO Dr Venki Padmanabhan says: “The purpose of the company was to cater to the Indian market, but the bikes are international, and the faster we do that, the better it is. We have been constrained by our own initiative and need to be more engaged with international markets.”
The Royal Enfield name started out as a legendary English motorcycle manufacturer, before the enterprising Indian arm of the business carried on the brand after the English part shut up shop in 1971. That made for nearly 100 years of motorcycle history, and in 1995 the Indian branch managed to buy the rights to the Royal Enfield name.
The company is still making bikes and has released this video to celebrate the significant contribution from the Indian branch. In fact, if it weren’t for them, the Royal Enfield brand would have been consigned to history. The video uses predictably romantic imagery, but then given the Royal Enfield status of being the world’s oldest bike brand still in production, the Indians can well be proud of continuing the tradition.
Source | Faster and Faster
Squished like sardines in a can, India’s Army motorcycle stunt members set the the new World record for the number of people on a single motorcycle.
Fifty-four members of the elite group, the Tornado’s, rode a 500cc Royal Enfield, beating their previous record of 48 people set by the team earlier this month, riding a distance of 1.1 km at the Yehlanka Air Force base in Bangalore.
The Tornados already hold seven world and national records.
Could the Royal Enfield become the world’s motorcycle innovation brand? Probably not, but there’s plenty of people out there tinkering with their Royals to explore new technology on this cafe-style favourite. The latest is the Hammarhead Volta 102 electric drive Royal Enfield from James Hammarhead.
Hammarhead has kept the look of the RE Clubman but has replaced the single-cylinder 500cc engine with a 6kW lithium iron-phosphate battery pack and an EnerTrac motor. Part of the package in the gas tank are two 110-volt chargers which provide a recharge time of about four hours.
The electric power train of the Hammarhead Volta 102 also acts as a performance upgrade, providing 13.4 hp continous and 40 hp at peak, compared to the 18 hp of the original Royal Enfield Bullet. According to Hammarhead Industries, the bike is now faster and could potentially have a top speed of 118 mph (about 190 km/hr).
James Hammarhead actually builds these bikes in small quantities with three available this year and another five planned for next year. Each costs about 18,500 USD and are part of a small portfolio which includes a ‘Woodsman’ model from the Royal Enfield Electra X, and the Jack Pine, built off the back of a Triumph Scrambler. For more details, see the Hammarhead Industries website.
Source | The Kneeslider
Imagination has no limits, and neither do the photoshopping efforts of Oberdan Bezzi, it seems. The interesting digital creation Bezzi has come up with this time is a Wakan with a Royal Enfield 500 cc engine. The Wakan would normally be equipped with an S&S 1640cc V-Twin, but the new version has been dubbed the Wakan 500 Superlight.
Source | The Kneeslider
“I think I’ve lost my way” are very frightening words for anyone at the top of the world, on a 70-day bike ride with a Royal Enfield Bullet as a companion. Guarav Jani’s “Riding Solo to the Top of the World” is available on DVD, and here is the trailer to his film, or more appropriately, his story of riding 5,000 km from Mumbai to the Changthang Plateau at over 4,780 metres above sea level. See dirtrackproductions.com for more information.
Source | YouTube
Two motorcycle events in Italy are currently, being held, wtih the Motor Bike Expo in Verona, and the Bike Expo Show “next door” in Padua. In Verona you’ll find plenty of famous brands and bikes, including the Aprilia RSV4 R and other new models from Suzuki, Triumph, Ducati etc. Aprilia will also show off its new SXV and RXV off-road models, and for Ducati there’s the chance to check out the new Multistrada 1200, if you haven’t seen it already.
Honda will be present with the CRE and CRM 50 enduro and supermotard models, while the CRE F 125 Racing version will also be on show. Kawasaki will display the Z1000 and the KLX 125 and D-Tracker 125. For the joy of fans of classic bikes, Royal Enfield is putting in an appearance, including the showing of its Bullet Classic EFI.
Suzuki will be celebrating 100 years and will turn up with plenty of new models for 2010, including the GSX-R1000, 25th anniversary edition, the Marauder GZ 125 and the two large cylinder bikes, Intruder M 1500 and GSX 1250F. Triumph will be present with its new Rocket III Roadster.
Interesting to see that Yamaha, despite not putting in an appearance for EICMA 2009, will be in Verona with its X-Max 250 and TMax 500 White Max, along with Rossi’s champion bike, the M1, and Ben Spies’ R1. Check out last year’s show in our gallery, and if you happen to be travelling through Italy, check out the Motor Bike Expo in Verona this weekend, because it should be worth the detour.
The Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc in the US is getting a much bigger brother on the market, with a 1000cc Royal Enfield Musket in the making. The V-Twin engine will become more powerful with the crankcase design modified and a production kit planned for later this year. This means anyone will be able to use any performance parts available.
As reported on Kneeslider, Aniket Vardhan, who has designed his own Royal Enfield Musket, says:
The plan is to offer the Crankcases as a “complete it as you like” kit, with ONLY the custom castings, machined and ready to accept stock parts. Experienced folk can do it themselves with full step by step instructions or have it done at a shop/by a friend. This will keep it as affordable as possible. They can add stock or performance parts for the kind of output/costs they are comfortable with.
Aniket originally built the “Musket” (his take on the “Bullet” name) off the base of a 700cc V-Twin Bullet, using two 350cc top ends. His work looks sensational, in short. To see the original Royal Enfield 700cc effort, check out the videos after the jump, and see the first post on Kneeslider for Aniket’s remarkable story.