Short History of Royal Enfield

By: Michael O'Brien

The pride of British manufacturing companies, Royal Enfield has established a reputation that dates back to the mid 1800's. Like many early manufacturers of personal transportation, founder George Townsend focus on producing parts for existing bicycle designs, and by 1893 was producing and selling complete bicycles under the Enfield name. It wasn't long before Townsend turned the name Enfield and its slogan "built like a gun" into household words across Great Britain.

The most endearing product introduction by Royal Enfield has to be the Bullet. With a single-cylinder, 4 stroke engine, the 1933 Bullet sported a dramatic front to rear rake making for truly classic line. World War II brought a one-of-a-kind bike from Enfield, the Flying Flea. Complete with its own parachute and packing cage, the Flying Flea could be dropped from an aircraft along with the troops provided a means of motorized battlefield transport not previously available.

The Royal Enfield line even included a version of the famous red-painted Indian motorcycles, after the company acquired the brand name rights. The RE Indians were discontinued in the 1960's. Intense competition from Japanese motorcycle producers during the 1960's and 1970's meant the Royal Enfield needed bikes that could match the speed and performance of the Asian bikes. The answer was the Interceptor line of extremely fast motorcycles, with a top speed of over 105 miles per hour and able to cover the quarter mile in les than 14 seconds. Sadly, production could not keep up with demand, and the Interceptor became the last of the Enfield line to be produced in England.

Royal Enfield motorcycles are still produced in India and exported worldwide, including to the United Kingdom and to the United States. The famous Bullet bikes still anchor this legendary line of motorcycles with versions which includes the 500 cubic centimeter Elektra-X.

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