The Evolution of Royal Enfield

 

 

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How many groups have you gone out riding with that did not have a single Royal Enfield? The number won’t go beyond two we’re sure. Enfield’s legacy in the arms business was reflected in their previous logo, a canon, along with a tagline that said ‘Made like a Gun’. What started as the Enfield Cycle Company in 1893 has culminated in a legacy where every stage of their evolution tells the story of an era gone by. Join us as we trace the evolution of the Royal Enfield back to a century ago.

 

1: The Beginning – The 1900s 

Nearly a decade after being founded, Royal Enfield produced their first ever motorcycle. Having dabbled in the arms business before, they went on to make quadricycles before making their first ever 1.5HP motorcycle in 1901. This motorcycle had the engine mounted in front of the handlebars.

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2: Firing the First Bullet – The 1930s

Initially introduced as a standard British- single available in 250cc, 350cc, and 500cc engine variants, the first ever Royal Enfield Bullet came to life in the early 1930s. Over the decades through multiple tweaks and refurbishments, the spirit of the Royal Enfield Bullet has been preserved for well over half a century. Not only is the Bullet an indispensable part of the global motorcycling community, it has been a lifeline for Indian police and military officials who were the first to push it to the limit.

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3: Revamped, The Brit Way – The 1950s

Royal Enfield carried out some retooling and redesigning at their Redditch plant in the UK to modernize the Bullet, and in 1959 changes were made to the gear ratios. This included the 350cc Trials ‘works replica’, a 350cc ‘Clipper’ model, and the ‘Airflow’ version in 1958. The changes seen were in exhaust, seating, instrumentation, handlebars and fuel tanks; the engine however remained the same. However, these changes were not implemented by the Indian unit because of its commitment to supply the Indian army.

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4: The Eicher Acquisition – The 1990s

Due to the closed Indian economy at the time, the need for improvement in RE was relinquished. The Royal Enfield brand survived in India as a domestic Indian commuter bike. Almost touching bankruptcy, coupled with the bikes’ relatively high fuel consumption (compared to the 100cc engines in the market), Royal Enfield was very close to bankruptcy, till it was bought out by Eicher Motors.

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5: The Thunderbird – The 2000s

Owing to its steady torque curve and simple mechanical components, the standard Bullet had become India’s go-to touring/ cruising bike, even though it was not originally designed for that purpose. In 2002, Royal Enfield launched the Thunderbird 350, its first cruiser ever with higher handlebars and a more relaxed riding position. It was an instant success both in the city as well as on the highway.

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6: The New Unit Construction Engines– Since 2007

Royal Enfield decided to further contemporize their brand by introducing more modern technology to the largely unchanged architecture of their engines. The new retro-styled Classic 350 and 500 series used electronic fuel injection and twin-spark technology with lighter aluminum parts. This ensured the Classic was ready for international markets.

The 500cc UCEs were more powerful than any other Royal Enfield 500cc motor. All Royal Enfield bikes since 2007, including the Classics, are available only with the all-aluminum UCE engine.

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7: Today

Together with the colors, the original monogram, and the Tiger Lamps, every contour and feature of a Royal Enfield hold a story of an era gone by. This is why you don’t just own a Royal Enfield, you own a piece of history.

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Michelin has launched new tyres sizes for Royal Enfield under its City Pro range. The new tyres are more robust, have longer tyre life and come with an improved grip. The new tyre sizes will soon be available at Trails of India. Stay tuned!

 

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