There’s just something special about classic motorcycles. Their look, their sound, their presence, is something that appeals at a very basic level.
Yes, I know technology changes constantly and motorcycles and motorcycling have benefitted enormously from the changes that have been introduced.
But to get on an old machine and ride it just for pleasure and not be dependent on it being reliable for work or commuting or basic transport is a completely different kind of thing.
Maybe that’s part of the appeal – motorcycles today are toys, they’re not vital forms of transport as they once were. Perhaps this is what allows us to overlook the foibles and inconsistencies of some of the early models of bikes.
Some manufacturers however survive the transition from commuter to toy.
Royal Enfield is one such marque, having started life as the Enfield Cycle Company in 1893 to make lawnmowers, bicycles, stationary engines and motorcycles.
Their history goes back further than that to the manufacture of weapons, their logo back then being a canon and the motto “Made like a gun”.
In 1893 the company produced a quadricycle which was a bicycle modified by adding a wrap-around four-wheeled frame, retaining a rear rider-saddle with handlebars and a front mounted passenger seat (not unusual at the time, some early Henderson motorcycles also had a front pillion seat) and the whole contraption was powered by a rear mounted De Dion engine.
After experimenting with a heavy bicycle frame fitted with a Minerva engine clamped to the fronbt downtube, Enfield built their first motorcycle in 1901 with a 239cc engine.
In 1955 Enfield Cycle Company partnered with Madras Motors in India to form Enfield of India producing 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles.
The first machines were assembled from components imported from England. From 1957, Enfield of India acquired the machines to build components in India, and by 1962 all components were made there.
The original Redditch, Worcestershire based company dissolved in 1971, but Enfield of India continued, and bought the rights to use the Royal Enfield name.
Which brings us to the present. The Goodwood Revival in the UK is a festival of motorcycles, cars and airplanes of a classic bent.
Next week Royal Enfield will be part of the atmosphere and Cycle Torque will be along for the ride.
At 7am on Friday, September 11 it kicks off with a briefing and breakfast at Royal Enfield’s Hartgate store in London.
Then at 7.10am there will be a procession of Royal Enfields riding from London to the Goodwood Revival Festival in Chichester, a ride of about 60 miles, in company with Royal Enfield’s CEO Siddhartha Lal.
We arrive at Goodwood at around 11.30 where we will have coffee and snacks at the Royal Enfield marquee (The Cafe) and a quick briefing by Royal Enfield’s CEO.
After lunch there will be the restoration of a 1949 motorcycle taking place at Royal Enfield’s second marquee (a 60’s style Royal Enfield dealership).
Then the next two days offer the chance to wander around the Festival and take in the sights, sounds, fashions and atmosphere of the 60’s come to life.
Exhibitors and visitors to the Goodwood Revival Festival are encouraged to wear costumes from the 60’s which adds to the classic atmosphere of this iconic event.
Thanks to Royal Enfield and their Australian distributor Urban Moto Imports for giving Cycle Torque the opportunity to be there.