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Bulletproof! Enfield lives again!

2011-10-03 10:13

PASSAGED FROM INDIA:Royal Enfield bikes are cool. That’s the word from Thruxton Motorcycles, the Cape Peninsula dealers.


If your heart yearns for a classic British thumper from yesteryear then take note... the Royal Enfield brand is available once again in South Africa - this time for keeps.

I caught up with Adrian Brandon-Podd, the Somerset West and sole authorised dealer for the Cape Peninsula, who told me: “Royal Enfields have a ‘cool’ image and offer instant appeal to those who want something different to a Harley-Davidson, for instance.


“Indeed, most of the sales are to riders in the under-30 age group.

“Royal Enfield has been in business continuously now for 99 years - the last 53 at the Enfield factory in India. With its classic feel and 1950’s looks it translates into a really useful mode of transport.

“Women have expressed interest in them because they are easy to ride due to the low centre of gravity that the big single-cylinder engine gives.”

I eagerly suggested leaving my Japanese rice burner to take their demo bike for a spin to experience what it would be like to ride an Enfield once again – my previous time was 45 years ago!

SOLID INFORMATION: Modern and up-to-date electrics at the turn of a key.

The starting ritual couldn’t be easier. Turn the key mounted on the nacelle, wait a couple of seconds, the hit the start button. All the switches on the handlebars will be instantly familiar to modern riders - and thus easily understood by the older generation.


Only one model is available but others are coming – each equipped with the same air-cooled, fuel-injected, 500cc engine and 12V electrics with a conventional kick-start lever as backup, or should you happen to be a masochist.

The five-speed gearbox and clutch work well but do feel a little notchy until you ‘adjust’ to the classic feel of the bike that’s in perfect harmony with its British heritage. (The gear lever, incidentally, is to be found on the left of the bike.)

The brakes are excellent despite having only a single disc up front and a drum aft.

A round trip to Muizenberg and back was most enjoyable. The Royal Enfield’s lazy engine beat belied its potential: it will easily keep up with traffic, yet costs next to nothing to run in the fuel stakes.

The original Royal Enfield slogan “Made Like a Gun” still very much applies, it seems. The mudguards, frame, petrol tank are all made with copious amounts of metal, and it’s all nicely bolted together.

POWER INJECTION: The 500cc single-cylinder engine in the Royal Enfield is a throwback brought right up-to-date with fuel-injection..

The electrics and the ignition are right up to date - no more self-destructing rectifiers, tacky wiring harnesses and dodgy alternators that most post-war British bikes seemed to be blighted with.

The single model (choice of three colours) start at R42 950. Sunday breakfast runs have never been more appealing!

More information from Brandon-Podd on +27 (0)72 761-6531.

Royal Enfield UCE 500cc

Top speed: 135km/h (est.)
Tank capacity: 13.5 litres
Seat height: 800mm
Kerb weight: 188kg
Wheelbase: 1370mm
Brakes: (F) disc (R) drum
Final drive: Chain
Price: From R42 950


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