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    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ?

    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ? Find out !!

    Two icons of the open road are to go head-to-head in India as Harley-Davidson starts selling its heavyweight motorcycles in the country for the first time.

    Standing in the way is the Royal Enfield Bullet, commonly known as “The Thumper”; a bike first built in Britain nearly 80 years ago, and one that is enjoying something of a revival in India.

    Harley will begin taking orders next week but the price tag means that ownership will be limited to India’s elite. In the United States the bikes, beloved of Hell’s Angels and crisis-hit middle-aged males, start at $7,000 (£4,500). In India import duties will double the cost. For the same money you can buy at least seven Bullet 350s — a comparison that helps to explain the sniffiness of India’s “real” bikers.

    “A Harley is for the rich guy who will take it out on a Sunday for a ride to his club,” said Anand Bhalerao, 31, the technical head of the Inddie Thumpers, India’s largest biker club. “It’s too heavy for the Indian physique and in this climate it’s going to overheat.” 

    With an annual jamboree that features beer-drinking competitions, arm-wrestling bouts and bike-stripping tournaments, the Inddie Thumpers are the closest thing that India has to a chapter of Hell’s Angels. The admission rules are stringent and there is a waiting list of 800. The first condition? You must own a Royal Enfield. “If you want a bike that can deal with India, get a Bullet,” Mr Bhalerao said. “The Harley’s all for show.”  

    The distinctive “pud-pud” of the Bullet’s four-stroke engine — the signature sound that gave rise to “The Thumper” moniker — has echoed across the sub-continent’s roads for half a century. The first models were imported from England in kit form in 1953. Three years later a factory was built in Madras, and it continues to run today. The English parent company, formed in 1891, folded in the 1970s. 

    Now, rather than merely enduring, there are signs that Royal Enfield is thriving. The Indian company’s sales surged by 20 per cent last year to about 52,000 bikes. It recently introduced two new models with a view to increasing exports to Britain, the US and Europe. 

    Siddhartha Lal, the chief executive of the Eicher Group, which owns Royal Enfield, said that he saw no threat from imported bikes — nor from a new generation of cheap cars that cost roughly the same as his company’s newest models. 

    “If you drive a cheap car you drive a cheap car. If you ride a Royal Enfield you get the chicks,” he said. 

    By contrast Harley lost $219 million in the fourth quarter of 2009 and says that this year will be “challenging”. The sub-continent offers some of the best road trips in the world but the terrain is unforgiving. There are suspicions that Harleys, built for America’s pristine highways, will prove ill suited to India’s potholed roads. 

    Nashwin D’Mello, 28, was one of a handful of bikers invited by Harley to test-drive its machines on a grand tour of India. The trip, from the southern jungles of Goa to the northern deserts of Rajasthan, took its toll. “After 500km nuts and bolts started to fall off,” he said. 

    The Bullet, recognised by its cannon crest and the motto “Made Like a Gun”, has also been known to disintegrate. Almost any serious rider will have had a part fall off his machine, Mr Bhalerao admitted. “But in India you’ll find a mechanic who can fix it any-damn-where.” 

    Get your motor running
    She rides a Harley-Davidson
    Her long blonde hair flyin’ in the wind
    She’s been runnin’ half her life
    The chrome and steel she rides
    Collidin’ with the very air she breathes 

    Neil Young Unknown Legend
    She was not easy, she was not nice
    She was so hot and she had dull yellow eyes
    Anwin Joselyn Ode to My Enfield Bullet


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    1. terry Said,

      The main problem with Harleys - and a thing Americans just don't seem to get - is that they look so gay.

      Posted on 10:12:00 PM

    2. Behzad Said,

      well!! all i can say is, both the machines have life in it. Riding an Enfield is like a dream come true. living through the tradition,culture,thump and the feel is something i really cant express. i have explored the maddest landscapes on earth on an ENFIELD. when it comes to HD, i feel it will also see the same kind of rough and tough path that RE took to get on the Indian roads. now RE is a religion in India, thats going to be a tough one for HD. the cheapest harley is for 8L INR, i could buy 7 enfields in that amount. superiority over the technology? well Enfield has the newer UCE engines which are damn good. U want fuel injection? its there. what else does one need? I think Harley would not stand any competition to the Enfield atleast in INDIA.

      Posted on 7:04:00 AM

    3. Ronny Dee Said,

      Are you guys serious? I mean, yes the Enfield is a great bike and I own a 500mach myself but that's nowhere even close to a Harley. I've ridden softails, v-rods the Rocker and each of them is power packed unlike our 350 or even the 500cc Enfields that we rave about.
      You gotta be kidding me if you say its not a good bike. It may not be practical for India but thats a different story altogether. Whoever said a Rolls-Royce was practical? yet ppl in India drive it rt?

      Two wheels move the soul, whether its a harley on an enfield or even a jap sports bike for that matter!! Enjoy whatever you can AFFORD and whatever you LIKE.

      Posted on 7:36:00 AM

    4. rick stanley Said,

      Go Go You Thumpers!

      I have ridden both - a Harley in the USA and UK, and Enfields in the UK and India.

      Give me a good old bit of Brit engineering anyday.

      A bike nut rides a Thumper - a sad sack rides a yank tank.

      Posted on 7:34:00 AM


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