Friday, 19 September 2008

Royal Aspirations

Royal Enfield Bullet Electra (001)
Royal Enfield Bullet Electra

Well, I must confess that I have always had royal aspirations, do not get me wrong I have no problem with what everyone else is into but for me there are times when I just want that little bit more and in this case I find myself very excited by the upcoming Royal Enfield C500.

OK, I hear the cries roar out, but for some reason I have always loved the look and sound of those thumping singles. Admittedly the bhp on them will never be arm wrenching but that it not what draws you in. These motorcycles are all character with a great sounding thumper of an engine, true modern classics. So over the last few years the single longest motorcycle that has been in production has undergone a number of changes to bring it in line with current emission regulations. The standard bullet had its relatively untouched engine brought into the 21st Century with the aluminum Electra engine and subsequent range of models.

Royal Enfield Bullet Electra Woodsman (009)
Bullet Electra 'Woodsman', the last Electra model

Now the Electra finally gives way to the latest incarnation of the Bullet, the Royal Enfield C500. Essentially a brand new engine complete with an EFI as the Electra can not meet the latest round of euro emissions regs. This new model is due out in January 2009 with the bike being officially unveiled at the NEC Motorcycle & Scooter Show 2008. Last year we got a good look at the new engine which is called the UCE (Unit Construction Engine). EFI Royal Enfield's are already available in some parts of Europe, via India, but the UK importers Watsonian-Squire insist on high quality standards and thus are holding off.

Royal Enfield UCE (002)
The Unit Construction Engine

Indeed the Electra was such a success that they are now all sold out! You can no longer buy a new one. While there are ever dwindling stocks of the original classic engined bullets still available but you better be quick.

So believe it or not while last year the motorcycle that had be most excited was the latest Suzuki Hayabusa, this year my first stop will probably be Royal Enfield...though it is a close call between that and Buell.

As always, keep the rubber side down.