- The oldest Motorcycle brand with the longest running production bike!
- Everyone knows the tag line ‘Made like a Gun’, but did you know that Royal Enfield actually used to make guns?
Royal Enfield is one of the most loved motorcycle brand globally. They have been here for ages and probably will be here for ages too. This part of Hype theory mostly speaks of the brand’s reputation and about the massive cult following it holds in India. So if you are an non-Indian reader, gear up for a bullet journey around the country 😉
coming back to the point, let’s do what we do best. decode hype. Are they actually worthy of such hype?
let’s find out!
Motorcycles and Indian men (addressing men because men constitute 99 percent of riders in India) goes quite well together. In fact unlike the European countries who makes use of car for day to day commute, Indians in general prefer two-wheelers or Bikes as they are called. This relation has many reasons to stay strong and the most important of them would be mileage and ease to maintain. And thus commuter bikes like the Splendor still after its 10+ years heritage manages to keep the crown up in their head. Now time flies and just like any developing country the middle class in India gradually grew and thus did their standards. Now this is where the present youth pops up, who somehow has the financial capacity to have a bike. Now youth means more options. different tastes. different choices. Thus a wide market for all varieties of motorcycles. So we thought.
All periods of time has their trends. But some trends lasts forever. One such trend in motorcycle world remains to be the very Royal Enfield. The once ‘Bullet’ of military men in 1940’s that lasted in Indian minds as a sign of royalty and power. Now after Independence as we mentioned earlier , people saved money, limiting themselves for low capacity, more practical commuter bikes. But times did change and again as mentioned earlier a potential market rises. But what isn’t as mentioned earlier is with choices and taste. With the help of some movies and the love for the rare suddenly old became gold. Enfield or the so called bullet came into the spotlight. And this time it came to act in lead. Look ,the present generation buyers have interests and what is of more interest than to earn something rare and thus unique? In a world running on Pulsars and Yamaha’speppy engines who doesn’t want be on the big daddy? The thumping ,earth shaking, ear breaking big beefy machine. Bullets were rare. They were different. Completely weird in ergonomics with clutch and break livers placed against conventions. They were/are heavy and classic. No modern electronic gimmick. If you are beef enough to kick the heart in and bulk enough to handle the bull, the machine is yours. Not a thing for everyone right? Not your ordinary commuter sport machine. Here comes a British signature, with heritage that lasts somewhere up-to 1940’s ,the machine of the officials and the powerful. And thus this becomes the macho daddy.Movies helped a lot too. Since heroes need something only heroes can handle they get an Enfield. This went into such high effects of heroism in copulus with Enfield machine, that the results always portrayed machoism in movies.
And I should say, mahn oh man the chemistry was gorgeous. Thus the effects on the public was quick. Who doesn’t wanna be a macho. Who doesn’t wanna ride an elephant in a jungle of antlers and Felidae. This obviously pushed both public to yearn for one and the till then relaxed Enfield factories to sweat for more. Things gets changed here onwards. Unlike the fathers who researched on mileage based low power commuter machines ,the sons went for the Bullet. There was not much of research , not much of prethoughts but sheer mad love that pulled these men. And with the rise of this huge capacity slow speed machine an era of metal bikes are born. Anyone can answer you the question of “Why Enfield?” these days. And this is exactly what we are talking here about. The hype. Did the Bullet deserve the hype? Yes! Its a huge elephant and elephants are symbol of pride and power. Oh any enthusiast would have loved to see a shift in the otherwise stalled segment. The legend finally rises. But the thing is, aren’t we going a bit too much. No enthusiast would have wanted to see roads filled with the same machine. The elephant, despite its size and power, if as common as a cat, ain’t a symbol of uniqueness anymore. Now slowdown RE fan-boys, don’t get me wrong, everyone has tastes and everyone gets to choose what they want. But, a love is only a love when its solely yours. Dude, loving something because everyone says they love it is just sticking with the hype. It is just like girls calling Paris to be the first choice of romance life just because every movie and books say so. And what is so bad with that? Who doesn’t want to be a part of a cult that really exists and is appreciated? The movies appreciate it, the people appreciate it, some girls appreciate it, parents appreciate it. This relation with Enfield is thus a perfect match.
So what is so bad about this? The bad is pretty much as personal as an RE fan boy’s love to machine and thus I believe it can be shared with ease. The bad is simple, sometimes we have all wondered what if instead of all Maruti Susuki’s we could see variety of cars,each different and unique. You are making the once unique bullet the everyone’s machine now. And I , considering the general Indian attitude to scrutinize to earn the most out of deal, can say that most of the buyers bought an enfield because it appeals to everyone and not one’s self. And when everyone appeals a thing out of hype theory no one dares to speak about the flaws. You dare to be open, you are out of the system. Nobody wants to mess with the system. And thus the system grew. Grew so big that get on the road, take a deep breath and at least one Enfield would have passed by then. With this happening basically people lose the ability to criticize and starts blindly accepting what everyone is accepting. This people brings in some more bad news. The motorcycle market gets weighed down to a particular bike. Not a category of bikes, but a particular bike and brand. What happens is, if everyone likes Arabian food you get varieties of the same Arabian food and eventually the growth of local food cease to exist. I mean ,we end up not seeing the varieties of other two wheelers, and eventually they stop working hard. Now this could sound like speculation. As I said this may sound personal. But this close to truth. Adding, lets have a look at the most popular model of enfield. The classic 350. features a retro design that has ceased to evolve for ages. Has evolved to have some basic modern electronics that almost all the machines in a price tag half the money holds for years now. Ah the price. The 350 alone costs around 1.60lakhs. Does it provide for the price. Again I know the logic. The name says it.its a classic dude! You don’t see modern stuff in classic machine. So don’t complain! Yes. Maybe there’s a point. But before boasting this part around one must consider all the other classic machines that still exist around the world. They are classic but they do plainly remember they live in a modern world. So they should provide something for the money,Some gimmicks, that at least works under the seat. Lets start with the disadvantages that actually look like advantages. Numero uno,the weight. Most of the Enfield’s boast a weight above 170 kg. This makes it look like a bull yes. Maybe adds some body crash advantage. But this essentially makes it hard to handle (yes I’ve driven one) and if you are ever to fall down ,the body crash advantage becomes the body crush advantage. Yes, RE isn’t a normal commuter based machine. But does everyone consider this fact when they buy one? The average commuter Indian ,about whom we spoke from the very first would have considered this as an issue. Why? Because a big machine in city traffic, in the tight parking corners, in the small alleyways is no fun to ride. Fun to ride makes me speak of vibrations. When all the manufacturers are working on reducing vibration ,here is a brand who just cannot do that. They have tried, yes. But their legendary engine just cannot stay restless. Now this is an allegation that isn’t against all RE model since Himalayan is an exception. But all the other models, just around the 1000RPM range itself, you get to feel the massage feature turned on. Speaking of engine the sound is a disadvantage masked as an advantage. Old Bullets had the sound of a bullet fired off a heavy metallic gun. don’t ask me which gun because the enfield is already made like a Gun and thus it obviously sounds like a bullet. It is a nostalgia factor too. Since the bullets were once used by officials , normal people identified this sound to be linked with the arrival of authority and power. That feel continued. But the law permitting it didn’t. so RE officially shushed the machine to a nice rider appealing rhythm. Here is where cult, nostalgia and macho kicks in again. Some riders, especially the ones who found macho on an enfield seat couldn’t bear this. So they threw the laws into bin and drilled them exhausts. The results were bad. Look a responsible rider should consider to comfort all the other things that surrounds his ride way. And a heavy ear shattering noise is no comfort to none. You are free to feel the rhythm or to rip your ears out if you want. But you aren’t allowed to break others ear drums.And being behind one of ‘em modified exhausts in another motorcycle feels like having typhoon hit u in face in minimal intervals. Not the best place to be when stuck in a slow moving traffic.
I also believe this stupid act of show off essentially created a lot of complaints that served in the decision to kill all sort of modifications in all sort of machines. So great!
Also speaking of engines these machines despite their high capacity fails to deliver decent power. And accompanied by vibration and weight comes inability to produce speed. Yes, the Enfield is a a machine with a great low end torque. But its a cruiser. And power accompanied with speed suits the good high ways. A machine despite such power having an inability to give comfort full ride over 80kph is a shame. Go beyond a particular speed and massage function gets from mid to high. Mileage is decent I’d say, for a machine of power and weight ,but the inability to help the rider with mileage statics- none. The machine lacks all sort of digital info for such a huge price, which I’d forgive them for the classic title. But why not a fuel gauge? This thing is meant to run kilometers and kilometers but doesn’t show how much filled it is. Adding to this comes the poor headlights, poor tyres(90/90)themselves, lack of tubeless and history for breakdowns doesn’t give much pride either. Most of the above doesn’t suit for some models of RE but those models have other issues of their own, quality issues being first, which I don’t want to address. Safety factors has shown some progress in recent times in form of disc breaks and ABS. So with theory of ‘Its better late than never’ I shall leave that too. After all a machine that fails to accelerate to high ends isn’t the most prone to accidents after all. And thus being a reason for many parents to consider choosing one for their children.
So with all this info I’d simply be considered an RE hater. No I am not. I am writing this just to consider the fact that we are forgetting to consider alternatives at all. A market ceases to have decent development if there is no competition in sales. And if one machine, despite all its lack and flaw ends up to remain in the top, the demand to develop better machines will halt. Consider this like an open letter to all RE fans. You people have all rights to choose a machine on love and ignore its flaws. But try keeping inside the cult. Because different people have different tastes and it is rude to tease the ones who prefers to choose a change. If someone criticizes you with technical facts like I did ,well you know why you bought the machine. Love it for that and don’t lash back. Because the stuff they usually say are true either way. Plus, sometimes its better to open up the issues that your love machine has. Sharing them promotes the manufacturer to make better products. And accept the fact that machine doesn’t make none macho. Macho rides the machine. Concluding, no machine is perfect. I can keep on bluffing about any of the machine in market and share stuff that everyone knows either way. That doesn’t make me above or beyond any casual rider. But my point is or was, if I haven’t gone astray of it, on the effects of hype theory and how it can create a mass idea that constitutes one single opinion among people. sometimes its better to stand in the mass and think about the rights and wrongs. Because need of criticism is a good thing to have in life.Your love maybe blind but don’t shut the lights on others visuals. Lets discuss on both goods and bad and hope to see better machines in future.Hoping that royal Enfield will continue creating awesome machines and wishing all the fan boy riders out there a happy and safe journey.