Royal Enfield motorcycles were a favorite choice of café racers in the 1950s and ’60s. But like many other brands, the British company struggled to compete with the cheaper and more reliable Japanese bikes that arrived in the late 1960s, and it eventually shut its doors in 1971.
Sort of. In 1954, the Indian government had placed a huge order for Royal Enfield’s Bullet model to supply its border troops. To eliminate shipping costs, the company licensed the name and brand to a factory in India. Production there never stopped, and the Bullet is now the oldest continuously produced motorcycle model ever.
Now brand-new Bullets — with modern touches like fuel injection and electric starters — are being sold in all 50 states. Our 500-cc, single-cylinder Bullet Classic shone on the beach roads of Malibu, California, where the slow speeds and twisty streets suit its upright posture and light build. We wouldn’t take it on a highway, though; it’s not heavy or stable enough to do battle with semis at 75 mph.
WIRED Steel components stamped by machines that have been making them for 55 years. Timeless single-cylinder rumble. Vespa price.
TIRED Some of the hand welds look quick and messy. Charcoal filter appears slapped on.
Photo: Greg Broom/Wired