From the rifle range to the open road, bikers love the truly legendary Royal Enfield. We look back at its fabulous histor
The Royal Enfield – the bikers' bike! The one we all craved and lusted after, yet feared we would never afford. It’s a name that stirs passion among bikers everywhere, for this is the brand that has been a legendary name in motorcycles since 1901.
Formed in 1893 as the Enfield Cycle Company it originally produced the Enfield rifle of all things (have a look at their logo and motto). It wasn’t long, however, before the first motorcycle rolled out of the doors.
And what a history the name has. A key player during both world wars, the firm produced many military specification motorcycles for despatch duties among many other tasks, including the 8hp side-car model fitted with a Vickers machine gun and the Flying Flea, designed to be dropped by parachute!
Such was the importance of the brand some extraordinary measures were taken. In order to ensure wartime bombing of the Midlands did not directly affect production for the war effort, an underground manufacturing plant was set up. The company even won a contract to supply the Russian Imperial Government with bikes.
This former bastion of the British bike industry was responsible for the longest ever production run for a bike design in the world – the famed Royal Enfield Bullet. In 1955 the British company partnered with Madras Motors, forming Enfield India. It was a sad day in 1971 for many grizzled old bikers who learnt that the company had gone bankrupt, although the Indian arm still produces bikes for sale around the world.
And if you combine UK and India, Royal Enfield is the oldest motorcycle company in the world still in production. The three sought-after styles available today are; the Café Racer, the Classic and, of course, that legend, the Bullet – all unique and quite individual in their own way.
Bike expert and lifelong enthusiast Ian Murray said: “Built to be ridden, not hidden under a dust sheet, these are the bikes that you want to sit astride and head into the Highlands. Imagine the freedom of the open road, the shades, the wind on your face as you cruise up the side of Loch Lomond onto Rannoch Moor and onward through Glencoe to Fort William. OK, they may not have as much history as this part of Scotland, but they’re not far behind!”
He added: “I have to be honest and say I have a huge fondness and love for the Enfield. Its shape, design and style all scream out a motorcycle which just needs an open road.”
Ready to change your modern racer or touring bike for something with a more classic look and feel? Ian Murray Motorcycles is one of only two registered and authorised Royal Enfield dealers in Scotland, and also has a state-of-the-art workshop facility in Loanhead.
If you still fancy something a bit more modern, Ian also holds one of only two Ducati licences in Scotland – perfect for the rip-roaring roadster who wants a racing ‘superbike’.