If you’ve got this far, you probably don’t need me
to tell you about the Enfield Bullet but basically the Classic
is little changed from its original design of the 1950s. So adaptable
is it for rugged terrain, heat, cold and bodged repairs that the
entire factory was bought from Redditch, England and shipped to
Chennai in India in the 1960s. They could see it would be the
best machine for the country’s police and army at a time
when the British motorcycle industry was being soundly beaten
by Japanese imports. Enfields have been made in India ever since
with new models popping up from time to time. New ones have disc
brakes and electric starter and meet worldwide noise and emission
requirements. In March 2007 when it was seven years old, mine
just scraped into the UK in time, before new controls would have
meant it not being allowed to come home with me. It would have
been like abandoning my best friend and such a thing is unimaginable.
didn’t choose the Enfield. The Dutchman I’d met was
travelling on one. It was his idea. He gets the credit. Owning
any other motorcycle would be unthinkable!
Chennai to Bristol this wondrous motorbike took me about 40,000
miles (67.500kms). That has to be an estimate as I wiped off the
speedometer hub drive when I did a sideways pirouette on a muddy
road in Nepal and was without one for a while.
do not refer to it as a Royal Enfield. That would be too pretentious
for a machine that looks like it does now. Anyway it doesn’t
matter to us. It has dents and scratches and quirky alterations
and parts that shouldn’t be there and would never win a
‘Best Bike’ prize at any show. But each knock and
idiosyncrasy recalls an event.
not a brilliant mechanic but I can do some basic maintenance after
all these years and miles. All I know is that when I’m riding
it, I get that stupid grin that lasts the whole journey. People
get ‘high’ from drugs or aerobic exercise. I just
have to ride my Enfield. I don’t like being cold though.
Then the grin becomes a frozen grimace.
lives with me on a Dutch barge in Bristol harbour and is still
my only means of transport. I know it’s just bits of metal,
but the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts
and is my only concession to materialism.