Friday, October 14, 2011

Metal or plastic - biking? Royal Enfield and other assorted oil-leaks!

I've been an Royal Enfield fan for many years. My earliest memories of a Royal Enfield was in my hometown where we'd have many regal old men dhup dhupping around in their Enfields. In fact, many of them still own it but cannot ride it and neither are they willing to sell it to the next gen.

Well, its this love that kindled a fire that has been living within me for all these years. I really believed that a bike should be a Royal Enfield and nothing less. But as the years passed by, I did get some respect for even the smallest of bikes and understood that biking is more than just about one bike. I even owned a TVS Max 100R for around a year or so and really, really loved the bike. To look back, I really appreciate that year spent with that bike - it has taught me things about the philosophy of biking that I might never have learnt otherwise. It was a modest 98.2cc two-stroke engine that was way more fun in those days. Modest mileage too. But fun, yes!

Anyways, fast forward to the future and I start earning and all that - no savings though mind it! But loans were cheaper in those days and I was confident enough to try on an Enfield. Though my heart earned for the Standard 350, I thought that the Thunderbird would be a more suitable choice - what with it being a newer bike with the new AVL engine too. So did the test ride and was impressed - what with having ridden a Max 100 R last! So plonked down the money and have owned the bike for 6 years now. Not without its problems though.

But that is not what this story is about. The Royal Enfield has its share of problems. The damn machine would be fine for a month and suddenly, out of the blue, would not start. You take a rickshaw to office and go through hell for that. You get back from office and try to start the bike - she would start without any problems at all! WTF!!

I have had days I would wake up early in the morning just so that I can start the bike up and keep it ready to ride to office. But start it up, it would still not start up, leaving me stranded. But again, that is not what this story is about.

I have had times I've totally hated the Enfield. Hated it. I then decided that enough was enough and that I would buy another reliable bike at the first opportunity. Planning came to fruition when I could finally lay my grubby hands on some cash and I decided to buy the Honda CBR 250R. But again, that is not what this story is about.

The story is actually about the attitude. The biking attitude that I have come to respect. This respect has also been helped by my Royal Enfield club - Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club where members not just love the Enfield but all other bikes as well. When some noobs loudly proclaim that "Plastic (read Japanese) bikes suck. Metal (read Enfields) are the best", they are met with sniggers from the club members. Though we love our Enfields, we have equal or more respect for other bikes - including so-called "Jap Crap"! To tell you the truth - I hate that term. I'd equate that to some sort of racist chant!

It is this what I actually wanted to write about. Biking is about the attitude. The sense of one-ness with the open roads. Respect - for the bike, for your fellow-biker, for traffic rules and for other road users. To understand that biking requires your complete attention - you are not driving inside a cage that protects you from all the elements of the road.

To all Enfield-only fans - I have this to say. Open your mind - biking is about the attitude. Not the attitude that the Enfield is the only bike there is and there ever will be. I wouldn't totally agree to this statement from a forum - "Once you've ridden another bike, you'll never ride an Enfield after that". But I would ask you to try other bikes too - including so-called "plastic" ones. You will realise that there is another spectrum to the rainbow too. Err, not sure if that can ever be correct technically but you get my drift.

Ride safe!


  1. i completely agree with ur thought in making a appeal to like and respect other the same time if someone says that "Once you own a RE you cannot own any other bike", i think its the experience that Royal Enfield gives them..if some other bike is gonna exceed their expectations, then they might re phrase it..! till that the statement shall keep making rounds :)

    btw, i am interrogating my attitude on this...

    nice post..

  2. Interesting read !! I have been a happy Thunderbird owner for all of 25 days now and we have had some ups and downs within this period, yes. But in general, biking gives you a sense of thrill unlike "caged" driving as you put it :). This transcends bikes & brands !! But Royalenfield bikes tend to capture that thrill better than most others.

    Vishnu N S

  3. Well said! Its all about the attitude of the driver and not the drive!
    I must share this link in Facebook's Royal Enfield fan page :)

  4. yes very well said!
    I love my RE like one loves his girlfriend.. So praise, adore other girls too but not when your girl is around..

  5. @ R R R - Good you are interrogating yourself on this. I mean, its wonderful to love the Enfield - it is insane to be blinded to its faults. This is not a marriage! ;)

    @ Vishnu N S - Yeah, the Enfield does capture it better than most - on a good day!

    @ Joffin - hahaha, yeah I am following RE on Twitter and I keep bugging them on the reliability issues, the long waiting periods and what not. Would like you to post this post link up on the RE page on FaceBook. Lets see how they and other fans react!

    @ Ankit - Hahaha, really well said. Yes, me thinks the RE sometimes is a very jealous bitch!

  6. I completely agree, few months ago when i was introduced to the latest UCE engine it gave me lot relief and enough courage to buy classic 350. I always dreamed for this kinda bike, good weight, good balancing and killer retro looks but as time passed my mentally ( royal enfield is the only bike) changed; and its because of riding style i learnt because of this retro bike.

    Now i've understood that every bike ( i mean good brands) are awesome, honda shine works great in traffic, CBR rocks in competition, RE is a great elephant ride it when you want to enjoy the views. and so on......

    "Dont blame company or bike, first clear for what it is meant and what you want from it, don't go with the flow, listen to your heart and take decision mindfully not because user reviews are 4.9 out of 5"

    For milege purpose i'll purchase dream neo soon and will try to keep my classic always with me when there will be awesome mausam.



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