‘Made like a Gun’ – the immortal tagline of an ageless company.
In 1891, R.W Smith and Albert Eadie took over the Townsend cycle company in Redditch, England to form the Enfield Manufacturing Company Ltd. which primarily supplied weapons to the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. In 1893, the name Royal Enfield was adopted along with the slogan – ‘Made like a gun’ as a testament to its weapons manufacturing history.
The first motorcycle under the Royal Enfield name was produced in 1901 and was fitted with a 239cc Minerva engine. The company gained nationwide recognition when the 770cc V-twin JAP engine powered RE Model 180 with a sidecar was raced successfully at Brooklands and the Isle of Man TT.
With the breakout of World War I in 1911, the production of all commercial bikes was halted. However, in 1914, Enfield supplied a large number of motorcycles to the British War department and subsequently won a contract for the Imperial Russian Government. For these bikes, Enfield used their own 225cc 2-stroke and 425cc v-twin engines. They also produced a 8hp motorcycle sidecar model fitted with a Vickers Machine Gun.
The Birth of a Legend
1932 was a year which saw the creation of the iconic Bullet: a bike which has withstood the sands of time and remains to this day the longest production run bike model since its inception.
The Flying Flea
At the onset of the Second World War, the British authorities once again called upon Royal Enfield to develop and manufacture motorcycles purpose built for the military. This saw the invention of the Royal Enfield WD/RE, known as The Flying Flea, a lightweight 125cc bike designed to by parachute with airborne troops into harsh territories.
Royal Enfield in India
The first Enfield was sold in India in 1949 but it wasn’t until 1955 that India’s Royal Enfield manufacturing plant was established. It began when the Indian Army charged Madras Motors with the task of buying motorbikes in 1953. The Bullet 350 was the obvious choice for the harsh terrains encountered by the army and an order of 750 Bullets was placed. In 1955 the Redditch based Enfield Manufacturing Company entered into a partnership with Madras Motors to form Enfield India which was, and still is, located in Chennai.
Royal Enfield was the plain choice for the powerful, high capacity, strong and reliable motorbikes that were required by the Indian Army as well as the Indian Government (for its police forces) which placed an order for 800 Bullet 350s in 1965.
Thus began the story of the world’s oldest motorcycle company which is now one of the most globally recognized brands and is posting the highest sales numbers it has ever witnessed in its illustrious 114 year history.
To be continued….