We bought an Enfield!! That’s great I hear the crowds saying, with a background murmur of “and just what is an Enfield? Some new camera for Augustine? What. Is. An. Enfield?”
Actually it is a Royal Enfield and a Royal Enfield is a type of motorbike. Not just any bike though, basically it is the “Indian Harley”. Royal Enfield was an English company that produced a variety of motor driven engines in the first part of the 1900’s. The last English Enfield motorcycle was made in 1970 but an Indian company had been using Royal Enfield parts to manufacturing their own bikes since 1961 and in 1995 they gained the rights to the name and so became the last remaining Royal Enfield production company in the world.
The Enfield Bullet is the oldest continuously manufactured motorcycle in the world (1949-current) and the nostalgia factor amongst Enfield lovers borders on fanatical. That said I can understand why. They have quite a distinctive sound – a low bubbling murmur and when an Enfield goes by locals and tourists alike turn their heads to check it out.
For us it was kind of just the thing that we wanted to do. It seemed like a bit of a lark really. “We’ll go to India, buy an Enfield and ride around the country”. Sounded sort of adventurous and a bit exotic. Of course I know nothing about motorbikes so for me it was very much a case of “a what? Show me some pictures. Hmmm – yeah rightyo, why not!”
Once we got here we discovered that some ideas can be harder to bring into reality than others. You see it turns out that foreigners cannot buy a motorcycle unless they are planning on taking it home (many people buy Enfields and export them to their own countries). Thankfully with India being India there was a way around this.
We found an amazing man who has made a name and a market as a salesman to international travelers of that magical thing – an Enfield Bullet.
Basically we went and saw Lalli and within 2 days had secured a 500CC 2001 Royal Enfield Bullet on a kind of buy back purchase/lease agreement. His name is still on all the paperwork but we have a signed sale agreement stating that we have bought the bike and that we are just riding it around until we ship it to Australia. In reality we have ‘bought’ the bike, we are responsible for it (except costs like compulsory insurance and registration which Lalli handles) and in six months we can take the bike back and Lalli will buy it back from us for an agreed price. The great thing is that Lalli guarantees all the mechanical side of things as well so if for some reason the bike were to die he would get us a replacement and all we pay if transportation costs. Total cost for bike for 6 months will be $800! Gotta be happy with that deal!
The day we picked it up was very cool. Dave had taken it for a test ride and apart from nudging a cyclist and tuk tuk (well the panniers do make it very wide you know) he declared it fit. An hour of motorcycle maintenance classes complete with kit, a ‘how to drive in Indian traffic’ lesson, a ‘here’s a list of local mechanics all over northern India’, a brief low down on the places to go and things to see and we were all set. But not before the final blessing ceremony that Lalli gives all of his bikes and riders before they leave. Floral garlands, prayers and some kind of Indian sweet and we were blessed and ready to go. It was very cool!!
Hard to believe that something that seemed so complicated and insurmountable at first glance would turn out to be simple, elegant and fun.
So now we have an Enfield. I am pretty sure that things are about to get waaay more interesting with this little baby.
Dave taking the first “test” drive. His first taste of the Enfield in India for this trip.
Lalli gives us his blessings before we head out into the wilds of India 🙂
Packed and ready. Just needed to swap hat for helmet and get me tucked in behind.