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Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd.
Successor Royal Enfield (India)
Founded 1893, as Enfield Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Defunct 1971
Headquarters Redditch, Worcestershire, England
Key people Founders Albert Eadie and Robert Walker Smith
Industry Motorcycles, lawnmowers
Products Royal Enfield Clipper, Crusader, Bullet, Interceptor, WD/RE, Super Meteor

Royal Enfield was the name under which the Enfield Cycle Company made motorcycles, bicycles, lawnmowers and stationary engines. This legacy of weapons manufacture is reflected in the logo, a cannon, and their motto "Made like a gun, goes like a bullet". Use of the brand name Royal Enfield was licensed by the Crown in 1890. The original Redditch, Worcestershire based company was sold to Norton-Triumph-Villiers (NVT) in 1968. Production ceased in 1970 and the company was dissolved in 1971.[1]

In 1956 Enfield of India started assembling Bullet motorcycles under licence from UK components, and by 1962 were manufacturing complete bikes. Enfield of India bought the rights to use the Royal Enfield name in 1995. Royal Enfield production, based in Chennai, continues and Royal Enfield is now the oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production with the Bullet model enjoying the longest motorcycle production run of all time.[2]

HistoryEdit

In 1893, the Enfield Manufacturing Company Ltd was registered to manufacture bicycles. By 1899, Enfield were producing quadricycles[disambiguation needed InterlanguageLinks-Asset-Pencil-Hover.gif] with De Dion engines and experimenting with a heavy bicycle frame fitted with a Minerva engine clamped to the front downtube.[3] In 1912, the Royal Enfield Model 180 sidecar combination was introduced with a 770 cc V-twin JAP engine which was raced successfully in the Isle of Man TT and at Brooklands.[2]

First World War (1911–1920)Edit

Royal Enfield 3,5 pk 425 cc 1913

1913 Enfield 425cc

In 1911, prior to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Enfield added the word "Royal" to its name. They supplied large numbers of motorcycles to the British War Department and also won a motorcycle contract for the Imperial Russian Government. Enfield used its own 225 cc two-stroke single and 425 cc V-twin engines.[4] They also produced an 8 hp motorcycle sidecar model fitted with a Vickers machine gun.[2]

Inter-war years (1921–1939)Edit

Royal Enfield RE 201 225 cc 1923

1923 Royal Enfield 225cc

In 1921, Enfield developed a new 976 cc twin, and in 1924 launched the first Enfield four-stroke 350 cc single using a JAP engine. In 1928, Royal Enfield began using the bulbous 'saddle' tanks and centre-spring girder front forks, one of the first companies to do so. Even though it was trading at a loss in the depression years of the 1930s, the company was able to rely on reserves to keep going. In 1931, Albert Eddie, one of the founders of the company, died and his partner R.W. Smith died soon afterwards in 1933.[2]

Second World War (1939–1945)Edit

Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield in Madrid, Spain

During World War II, The Enfield Cycle Company was called upon by the British authorities to develop and manufacture military motorcycles. The models produced for the military were the WD/C 350 cc sidevalve, WD/CO 350 cc OHV, WD/D 250 cc SV, WD/G 350 cc OHV and WD/L 570 cc SV. One of the most well-known Enfields was the Royal Enfield WD/RE, known as the Flying Flea, a lightweight 125 cc motorcycle designed to be dropped by parachute with airborne troops.[2]

In order to establish a facility not vulnerable to the wartime bombing of the Midlands, an underground factory was set up, starting in 1942, in a disused "Bath Stone" quarry at Westwood, near Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. Many staff were transferred from Redditch and an estate of "prefabs" was built in Westwood to house them.

As well motorcycle manufacture, it built other equipment for the war effort such as mechanical "predictors" for anti-aircraft gunnery: the manufacture of such high precision equipment was helped by the constant temperature underground.

After the war the factory continued, concentrating on engine manufacture and high precision machining. After production of Royal Enfield motorcycles ceased, the precision engineering activities continued until the final demise of the company.

Postwar Model G and Model J and ex-military C and CO (1946–1954)Edit

Postwar, Royal Enfield resumed production of the single cylinder ohv 350cc model G and 500cc Model J, with rigid rear frame and telescopic front forks. These were ride-to-work basic models, in a world hungry for transport. A large number of factory reconditioned ex-military sv Model C and ohv Model CO singles were also offered for sale, as they were sold off as surplus by various military services. [5]

Springframe Bullets 350cc 1949-1970Edit

In 1948, a groundbreaking development in the form of rear suspension springing was developed, initially for competition model "trials" models (modern enduro type machines), but this was soon offered on the roadgoing Model Bullet 350cc, a single cylinder ohv. This was a very popular seller, offering a comfortable ride. A 500cc version appeared shortly after. A later 1950s version of the Bullet manufacturing rights and jigs, dies and tools was sold to India for manufacture there, and where developed with versions continuing to be manufactured to this day. [5]

500 Twins, Meteors, Super Meteors and Constellations 1949-1963Edit

In 1949, Royal Enfields version of the now popular selling parallel twins appeared. This 500cc version was the forerunner of a range of Royal Enfield Meteors, 700cc Super Meteors and 700cc Constellations. Offering good performance at modest cost, these sold widely, if somewhat quietly in reputation. The 700cc Royal Enfield Constellation Twin has been described as the first Superbike. [6]

250 cc modelsEdit

Royal Enfield Crusader

Royal Enfield Crusader

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Royal Enfield produced a number of 250 cc machines. The biggest-selling of these was the Royal Enfield Crusader, a 248 cc pushrod OHV single producing 18 bhp (13 kW). In 1965, a 21 bhp (16 kW) variant called the GT Continental, with GRP tank, five-speed gearbox (which was also an option on the Crusader), clip-on handlebars and rearset footrests, was launched. It sold well with its "cafe racer" looks. Other variants were the 250 "Turbo Twin", fitted with the Villiers 247 cc twin two-stroke engine. An oddity was the 250 Super 5, mainly notable for its use of leading -link front suspension (all the other 250 models had conventional telescopic forks).

Royal Enfield InterceptorEdit

Jamieaaron734

Royal Enfield Interceptor motorcycle

Main article: Royal Enfield Interceptor

During the onslaught of the better engineered Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in the late sixties and early seventies, the English factories made a final attempt with the 1962–1968 [7] series I and Series II. Made largely for the US market, it sported lots of chrome and strong performance, completing the quarter mile in less than 13 seconds at speeds well above 175 km/h (105 mph).[8] It became very popular in the US, but the classic mistake of not being able to supply this demand added to the demise of this last English-made Royal Enfield.[9]

End of Production in UKEdit

The Redditch factory ceased production in 1967 and the Bradford-on-Avon factory closed in 1970, which meant the end of the British Royal Enfield. After the factory closed a little over two hundred Series II Interceptor engines were stranded at the dock in 1970. These engines had been on their way to Floyd Clymer in the US, who unfortunately had just died. His export agents, Mitchell's of Birmingham, were left to dispose of them. They approached the Rickman brothers for a frame. The main problem of the Rickman brothers had always been engine supplies, so a limited run of Rickman Interceptors were promptly built.[10]

As far as the motorcycle brand goes, though, it would appear that Royal Enfield is the only motorcycle brand to span three centuries, and still going, with continuous production. A few of the original Redditch factory buildings remain (2009) and are part of the Enfield Industrial Estate.

Enfield IndiansEdit

From 1955 to 1959, Royal Enfields were painted red, and marketed in the USA as Indian Motorcycles by the Brockhouse Corporation, who had control of the Indian Sales Corporation (and therefore Indian Motorcycles (brand)) and had stopped manufacturing all American Indians in the Springfield factory in 1953. But Americans were not impressed by the badge engineering and the marketing agreement ended in 1960, and from 1961, Royal Enfields were available in the US under their own name. The largest Enfield "Indian" was a 700 cc twin named the Chief, like its American predecessors.

Enfield India (1949–present)Edit

Main article: Royal Enfield Motors

Royal Enfield motorcycles had been sold in India from 1949. In 1955, the Indian government looked for a suitable motorcycle for its police and army, for use patrolling the country's border. The Bullet was chosen as the most suitable bike for the job. The Indian government ordered 800 350 cc model Bullets, an enormous order for the time.[11] In 1955, the Redditch company partnered Madras Motors in India in forming 'Enfield India' to assemble, under licence, the 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in Madras (now called Chennai). Under Indian law, Madras Motors owned the majority (over 50%) of shares in the company. In 1957 tooling equipment was sold to Enfield India so that they could manufacture components localy.

Royal Enfield India is still manufacturing in India and is being sold in India and is also being exported to Europe as well as America and Australia. Recently Royal Enfield Motors has undergone a major retooling particularly in the engine department with introduction of twin spark unit construction engine on all its models with EFI available on their flagship 500cc model. This retooling has sparked such an interest in these bikes that they have started double shifts at the plants.[citation (source) needed]

GalleryEdit

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See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. Millers's Classic Motorcycles Price Guide 1995 Volume II, p.78. Judith and Martin Miller, general Editor Valerie Lewis.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 De Cet, Mirco (2005). in Quentin Daniel: The Complete Encyclopedia of Classic Motorcycles. Rebo International. ISBN 978-90-366-1497-9. 
  3. "Royal Enfield". Retrieved on 2009-04-04.
  4. "The History of the Marque". Retrieved on 2009-04-04.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Royal Enfield By Miles the Best" book by Gordon May
  6. "Royal Enfield By Miles the Best", book by Gordon May
  7. [1] 736 cc Interceptor model (retrieved 22 October 2006).
  8. Robert Smith (May/June 2009). "1968 Royal Enfield Interceptor: England's Forgotten Twin". Motorcycle Classics. Retrieved on 2009-08-07.
  9. [2] Is-it-a-lemon Enfield review (retrieved 22 October 2006).
  10. Gary Ilminen (January/February 2010). "1971 Rickman-Enfield Interceptor". Motorcycle Classics. Retrieved on 2010-05-21.
  11. [3] IanChadwick Enfield India (retrieved 22 October 2006).

External links Edit

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