We speculated that Sherpa and Hunter would be great names for the 400cc Himalayan which could soon come as a 650cc variant.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
Flying Flea and Roadster
As for the Flying Flea and Roadster, they are more likely to be versions of the 650cc.
A Roadster could lie somewhere between the sit-up-and-beg Interceptor and the cafe-racer style Continental GT.
The Flying Flea is a reference to the lightweight 250cc bike Royal Enfield produced in World War II which were parachuted into battlefields and behind enemy lines from the Horsa Glider.
In 2018, Royal Enfield paid tribute to the Flying Flea with a limited-edition military-flavoured Pegasus 500cc.
Perhaps the Flying Flea will be a similar style to the Pegasus, although maybe as a 650cc twin, not a 500cc single, or perhaps a 350cc version to match the original’s “light weight”.
This video gives some background on the development of the Pegasus model.
It came in two paint options (brown and olive) with replica badging and even the unique army-style serial numbers painted on the tank.
Adding to the period look were the military-style canvas panniers, leather strap with brass buckles on the air box, and blacked-out exhaust muffler, engine, rims, handlebar and headlight bezel.
Royal Enfield says the Flying Flea was produced in collaboration with the British Ministry of Defence.
The bike was so light messengers could lift it on their shoulders when the trenches were too deep to be ridden over.
Royal Enfield’s military involvement has included making mobile machine gun platforms for World War I, targeting components for anti-aircraft guns in World War II and continual service with the Indian Army since the early 1950s.
This “once in a lifetime” ride that will take you in some of the most remote and dramatic areas of the Spiti Valley (pictured above) and Ladakh, in north India.
It starts in the foothills of the Himalayan range and goes all the way to Leh.
Riders will travel on some of thehighest roads in the worldsuch as the Chang La and the Khardung Lah at 5300m, visit ancient monasteries and immerse yourself in the Indo-Tibetan culture.
The price for thisall-inclusivemotorcycle tour through the Himalaya is $US4350 (about $A6490 on today’s exchange rate) but Motorbike Writer Followers can enjoy a10% discount saving $US435.
The offer isvalid only until 15 March 2020.
The tour includes:
Bike, fuel & oil
Accommodation (tented camps & hotels)
All meals, snacks, drinking water & soft drinks
Local & English guide
Domestic flights from Delhi to Chandigarh / Leh to Delhi
Choose between a Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc or Himalayan 410cc for this motorcycle adventure of 16 days on top of the world (12 days of riding).
Although the tour has been designed to help the acclimatisation process by starting at lower altitudes and gradually ascending to higher altitude up to 5600m, it’s a physically challenging adventure and it requires some riding experience and skills.
Definitely not for the faint hearted. Are you up for the challenge?
For more info, write to[email protected]and don’t forget to claim your Motorbike Writer special discount.
As the name suggests, it will be all-black, including the engine.
There will also be some gold touches, comfy quilted-leather touring seats and a commemorative “end of build” plate.
The company has not said how many will be built, but they will be made to order so we presume they will see how many orders they get.
Indian customers will have to register online on the dedicated Royal Enfield website which only takes Indian addresses, excluding overseas buyers unless you have a friend or relative in India who can buy for you!
Customers will receive a unique code which they can use in an online flash sale on Monday (10 February, 2020).
The booming Indian motorcycle market is the world’s largest but it started to decline last year as the wealthy middle class moved from bikes to cars.
While sales were down by nearly 3 million, they still sold 19.1 million motorcycles which is their third all-time highest level.
The decline in local sales has impacted heavily on Royal Enfield which was down 20% in the first nine months of the year. Full-year totals are not yet available.
It’s not all bad news for RE as their exports were up by about the same percentage although a lot fewer units.
When Royal Enfield unveiledto the world its pair of all-new 650 twins, the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT, at EICMA in November 2017, the anticipation was already buzzing. We’d just visited its sparkly new state-of-the-art UK Technical Center on the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, near Leicester in central England, where the new twins had been wholly conceived, engineered and tested. We had to wait nearly a year, until September 2018, before we were able to swing a leg over each bike and take them for a spin through the redwoods at the global press launch in Santa Cruz, California (Rider, January 2019 and here), and it was shortly afterward that an example of each showed up at the Rider garage for a complete test.
Identical except for styling details, the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT share an all-new air/oil-cooled 648cc parallel twin, a chassis designed in conjunction with Harris Performance and standard Bosch 2-channel ABS. After a few rides we determined that both bikes not only look and feel the part, but considering their attractive price tags ($5,799 for the Interceptor and $5,999 for the GT) and three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty with free roadside assistance, they were also worth a serious look as “keepers.” The question at the forefront of everyone’s mind, however, was reliability. So we hung onto the GT for about seven months, with rides ranging from easy cruises down the coast highway, to full-on thrashing in the tortuous twisties of the Santa Monica Mountains, interspersed with stretches of just sitting in the garage as other deserving bikes got their test rides.
And it never missed a beat. The GT’s riding position is compact and sporty and the seat is about as comfortable as it looks (the Interceptor is a better choice if comfort is a priority), but leaning through the gentle curves of Highway 1, heading west out of Malibu into the setting sun, the Enfield just felt right. Goldilocks would understand. As Milwaukee-based Royal Enfield North America gradually builds a support base, the number and proximity of dealerships is the only concern for prospective new buyers, but if you’re lucky enough to have one close by, the new 650 twins are the genuine article.
Royal Enfield motorcycles are known for tackling all sorts of terrain at a slow and methodical pace, but now they have a limited-edition Bullet 500 Trial model with slightly more off-road ability.
It will be available in Australia for $9190 ride away which is substantially more than the $7690 for the standard Bullet 500.
The thumpers come with a single pipe that rises at a 45-degree angle, a headlight grille, slightly knobby rubber, solo seat, rear rack, bash plate and a side plate.
They come with chrome tanks with day-glo red and olive green frames.
Royal Enfield sent us this history of trials riding and Royal Enfield involvement in the sport.
Go back to the very dawn of motorised transport at the turn of the 20th century and you will find the origin of trials, or ‘reliability trials’, as they were known.
Manufacturers used these trials to demonstrate their machines’ dependability and endurance on the rough, un-metaled highways and byways of Britain. However, when road surfaces improved in the 1920s, trials competitions went ‘off-road’ to dedicated courses, where challenging terrain provided a gruelling test for both man and machine. A trials rider had to negotiate rocky hillside tracks, traverse slippery gullies, pick out a safe line along windswept ridges, slog through claggy mud and wade across boulder-strewn rivers. Points were lost if, in strictly observed sections, a rider so much as put his foot down, a fault referred to as a ‘dab’, if he careered off course or, as often happened, he simply fell off.
The sport became a widely recognised way of highlighting the merits of one manufacturer’s machine over that of another, with tractability, manoeuvrability and, of course, reliability, paramount. Although tuned, lightened and modified where possible to give an edge, the competing motorcycles were clearly derived from standard road bikes. In the majority of cases, competitors would ride their machines some considerable distance to an event, remove the headlight and any other extraneous parts, such as pillion seat and foot rests, give their all in the trial then hopefully still be able to ride home afterwards. Riders and bikes had to be built tough!
Spectators loved the sport. At the height of its popularity in the 1950s and ‘60s tens of thousands of them would brave the worst of the British weather to attend both the club and trade-sponsored trials which took place across the length and breadth of the British countryside every weekend. The top riders were household names pursued by fans seeking their autographs and trials wins, especially in one of the more prestigious national or international events, incontrovertibly led to sales of the road- going motorcycles from which the trials mounts originated.
When the Bullet was launched in 1932, the company quickly heralded it as “perfect for touring or trials” and it was soon available with optional wide ratio trials gearing. As the decade progressed, its successes racked up. In the 1935 International Six Days Trial (ISDT), the indisputable pinnacle of the sport which was commonly referred to as the ‘Olympics of motorcycling’, the Royal Enfield team was the only squad riding British motorcycles not to drop a single point. In 1937, Enfield riders won a record-breaking 37 trials trophies along with six gold medals in the ISDT, with legends such as Charlie Rogers, George Holdsworth and Jack Booker riding 250 and 350cc Bullets and the 500cc Special Competition Model to victory.
But it was in the post-war era that Royal Enfield truly came to the fore in trials, largely thanks to the all-new 350cc Bullet. Even though telescopic front forks had become de rigueur from 1945 onwards, motorcycle designers had firmly stuck to the pre-war format of a rigid rear. The Bullet broke with thistradition when Enfield’s head designer, Ted Pardoe, and Tony Wilson-Jones, its chief engineer, incorporated revolutionary swinging arm suspension with oil damped shock absorbers for the first time on any production motorcycle. The suspension’s travel was rather limited at just 2” but it was enough to give its rider improved comfort and, as far as off road grip was concerned, increased adhesion.
British motorcycle manufacturers usually unveiled their forthcoming year’s models at the all-importantEarls Court Motorcycle Show, held in London each November. When he came to showcasing the new swinging-arm Bullet, Royal Enfield took the unorthodox step of revealing it at a trial, entering three prototype machines in the 1948 Colmore Cup.
This unexpected move was a shrewd one because the bike’s rear suspension caught everyone’s attention, including journalists from both of the UK’s weekly motorcycle magazines, The MotorCycle and Motorcycling. Both magazines published 2-page features on the bike. While victory may not have come on the course that day, it was certainly achieved in terms of publicity.
The positive showing that these new Bullets made in competitions during the following months meant that two were selected for the British Trophy team to take part in that year’s ISDT, held in San Remo, Italy. Success followed with both Bullet riders, Charlie Rogers and Vic Brittain, winning gold medals and contributing to the British team’s first place position.
The road-going version of the Bullet took centre stage on the Royal Enfield stand at that year’s Earls Court Show, and it became the backbone of the range for the following 14 years. The company’s annual sales brochures usually featured a trials variant, available to the club level rider by special order. However, pukka works machines were reserved for a select few professional riders. These were specially tuned and modified in the factory competition shop and lavished with, what were for the time, exotic lightweight materials, such as magnesium for crankcases and aluminium alloy for wheel hubs.
Although Royal Enfield had employed a number of highly skilled riders over the years it had never had a true star. All that changed in 1950 when a precociously talented 18-year-old joined the company. John Victor Brittain, universally known as Johnny Brittain, was the son of 1920s and ‘30s legend, Vic Brittain, a multi-skilled rider who successfully competed in everything from ISDTs to TT races, scrambles and fairground daredevil stunts and who had been persuaded to come out of retirement and join Enfield for one year in order to ride a Bullet in the famed 1948 ISDT win.
Somewhat gangly, quietly-spoken and immensely dedicated, Johnny soon showed his mettle, picking up first class awards in one day trials and a gold medal in that year’s ISDT. “In the early days,” he recalls, “my competitors openly ridiculed me, deriding the spring-frame Bullet. They were still on rigid-framed bikes andwould say things like: ‘I pity you having to ride that Enfield with that bouncy rear suspension.’ They were soon laughing on the other side of their faces when I began winning, and it took several years for all the other manufacturers to catch up and adopt the Bullet’s swinging arm suspension, which gave me a real edge.”
On his famous 350cc trials Bullet, registration number HNP 331, Johnny won the prestigious Scottish Six Days Trial twice, an arduous 900 mile contest spread over six long days, (1952 and 1957), the formidable Scott Trial twice (1955 and 1956), the tough British Experts Trial twice, where he was its youngest ever winner (1952 and 1953), and amassed over 50 major championship wins and a huge haul of open trial first places. Beginning with his first ISDT campaign on a Royal Enfield in the 1950 competition, Johnny accumulated 13 gold medals over 15 years, although some of those rides were on a 500 Twin and a 500 Bullet rather than HNP 331.
Johnny Brittain’s works trials Bullets of 1956 and 1957 were all conquering. In ’56, he triumphed in the ACU Star championship and his tally of wins included the Welsh Trophy, the Scott, Mitchell and Streatham trials, the Alan Hurst, Shropshire and Patland Cups as well as second places in the Scottish Six Days Trial and two other major events. The following year, he clocked up wins in the Scottish Six Days, Vic Brittain (named in honour of his father), Cleveland, Travers, Red Rose and Cotswold Trials amongst others.
To mark this tremendous run of results the firm released a Bullet closely based on his winning machine in 1958. Named the 350 Trials Works Replica, it aimed to give its rider a great starting point from which to compete in trials. Employing the same lighter, all-welded frame made of aircraft quality chrome-molybdenum, it sported a slimmed-down 21⁄2 gallon petrol tank, 21” front wheel, knobbly tyres, alloy mudguards, a sump guard, high-level exhaust, Lucas Wader magneto and a slimline gearbox with low gearing.
Even the engine was given the works treatment as its bottom end was formed around heavier 500cc Bullet flywheels, resulting in a motor which plonked like a gas engine, and its barrel was cast in aluminium alloy. Finished in polychromatic silver grey, the Trials Works Replica was a beauty to look at as well as to ride.
Johnny wasn’t Royal Enfield’s sole trials rider though. There was always a works team at major events which, over the years, included Johnny’s younger brother, Pat, as well as other leading lights of the trials circuit such as Tom Ellis, ‘Jolly’ Jack Stocker, Don Evans, Peter Fletcher, Peter Gaunt and Peter Stirland. Even Bill Lomas, long before he became a two- time motorcycle grand prix world champion, won a first class award on a Royal Enfield trials Bullet.
By the end of the 1950s, however, the days of the heavyweight trials motorcycle were numbered. Responding to the trend for ever lighter bikes, with revvier engines that could snap the front wheel up and over obstacles and make best use of the constantly improving tyre compounds and tread patterns, Royal Enfield refocused its trials ambitions around the new, unit-construction 250cc Crusader.
The story of Royal Enfield’s trials motorcycles doesn’t end with the 1967 Redditch factory closure. Over subsequent decades, many owners have undertaken trials conversions, using both British and Indian road Bullets as their starting point. Although the majority have standard gearing and see only occasional light greenlaning use, a significant number have been built to fully competitive specification and are regular entrants in classic trials events, including the celebrated Scottish Pre-65 Trial, a revered annual competition held in the highlands of Scotland ahead of the Scottish Six Days Trial.
Extreme Bike Tours is offering a 10% discount on its first tours of Tibet and Nepal, the Mt Everest base camp and the Forbidden City of Lhasa in 2020.
Riders will be aboard Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure motorcycles which were tested in the Himalayas.
We toured Sri Lanka last year with Extreme Bike Tours and found them to be top value, professional and honest.
Company part-owner Ben Lloyd says there is already so much interest in their 15-day, 2277km tour that they have scheduled two tours next year from 5-20 September and 22 September to 6 October.
Their tours have a cap of 10 riders to keep them intimateand safe.
Prices are $US5895 (about $A8800) for riders, $US4950 ($A7350) for a pillion and $US695 ($A1000) for a single room.
If you book before the end of October 2019, they will take 10% off.
That’s good value as they stay in good quality hotels and all meals are included. In fact, everything but your flights, health insurance, alcohol and tips is included.
The tour starts in Kathmandu, Nepal, and climbs to 5220m to Mt Everest base camp and on to the spectacular Tibetan Plateau.
They even include free oxygen cylinders for those find the altitude hard going.
Despite the adventure, it’s still only rated at “intermediate” skill level, so there will be some rough riding involved.
Highlights of the tour include stunning mountain scenery, challenging roads, spectacular waterfalls, sacred caves, ancient monasteries and temples, and jaw-dropping views of Mt Everest from old Tingri if the weather is kind.
If you are looking for some affordable, restored classics you can ride away, there are seven on the block at the upcoming Shannons Sydney Winter Auction on August 26 – most with ‘no reserve’.
The highlight for British motorcycle enthusiasts is a 1970 650cc Triumph Bonneville T120R (photo above), presented in restored condition and expected to sell in the $12,000-$16,000 range.
There are also two classic ‘intra-War’ BSA twin cylinder 500cc solos: a restored 1941 BSA WM20 and an unrestored, but complete 1946 M20. Each is expected to sell with ‘no reserve’ in the $7000-$10,000 range.
As an alternative for British classic motorcycle enthusiasts, there is a single-cylinder, 125cc 1948 Royal Enfield ‘Flying Flea’ motorcycle. Presented in useable condition and offered with ‘no reserve’, it is expected to sell in the $4000-$6000 range.
There are two great Japanese 1980s dirt bikes: a 1980 80cc Suzuki RM80T and a mighty 600cc 1983 Honda XL600R –both fresh from similar ground-up restorations and neither being used since completion.
Each is offered with ‘no reserve’, with the Suzuki expected to sell for $2000-$3000 and the Honda for $3000-$6000.
Japanese collectors may be interested in an unrestored example of Yamahas first road model – the 650cc XS-1.
This original classic is in good rideable condition and expected to sell with ‘no reserve’ in the $9000-$13,000 range.