The Highest Pass

I’ve heard about the bike tours you can take up the Himalayas on Royal Enfields a couple of years ago and I’ve wanted to go ever since.  Now I can at least experience the adventure in more passive sense though this new documentary, “The Highest Pass”.  The metaphor of life as a journey takes a more focused view through one of the riders, Anand, who has been prophesied by his guru that he would die in an accident in his twenties.  He is 27 years old in this trek up the highest ridable road in the world

Indian Falcon

Imitation should definitely be seen as a form of flattery with this latest creation from Rajputana Customs.  Clearly a tribute to the Bullet Falcon, this bike began as a Royal Enfield Bullet 500.  They call it the Lightfoot; built for an Indian celebrity.  The tank and seat combination to me is perfect, while the subtle detailing on the handle bar grips, levers and frame makes this a work of art.  I can’t stop looking at it.

I’m finding it difficult to decide which version I like more, the Falcon (Triumph) or the Enfield.  Here’s the Falcon for you to make up your own mind.

via Pipeburn

My Enfield Ride

So I finally got around to taking a test ride on the Royal Enfield Classic C5.  I went to Eurobrit; a store that specialises in retro and classic bikes.  They are passionate about their Enfields and have a good eye for customisations.  I wont offer a lengthy write up about the Bullet as all the reviews are pretty accurate – and I am no bike expert.  However you may find my perspective helpful from someone who is not desperate to compare this bike to Hayabusas but would like to upgrade from their “learner” bike.

Currently, I ride a Honda VTR 250 and when I sat on the Enfield, there were many adjustments I needed to make.  This model had the aftermarket exhaust and rear rack.  Starting the bike was a mini ritual of centre stand down, side stand up, letting the engine warm up as it threatened to stall on idle.  As I mounted the steel steed, I nervously searched for the unfamiliar foot pegs in front of me and sat a little taller on the bike.  Accelerating the Enfield causes you to race through the gears due to the limited rev range.  Anything over 4500rpms or so was not worth reaching for.  Vibrations were aplenty with the single cylinder engine but you soon stop noticing it.  You would feel silly trying to ride fast on this bike as the clunky chassis bounces you around and the engine always feels like it is going to run out of steam.  You had to enjoy the torque as it carried you lazily around the roads, listening to the exhaust backfire as you decelerate.

All these things might sound like negatives but I had to remind myself that it was a privilege to ride such a classic machine, the same way using an old manual SLR camera might appeal to a photographer sick of high tech gadgets.  I’m not old enough to remember the classic bikes so I’m not going to pretend.  Despite this, I can appreciate why so many riders love it, as it is about moving with style not pissing everyone off with fast obnoxious riding.  Is this a bike for me?  Probably not, mostly because it would not suit the kind of riding I do.  It handled well and I believe it would be a very reliable bike for many long years, due to the simplicity of the design and lack of plastic bits.  I still love the looks and have enjoyed the helpful services and advice of the folks at Eurobrit.  Maybe in a few years time and if I stumbled on a bag of cash, I might treat myself to one.

(I snapped this photo as I pulled over somewhere nice to appreciate the bike.  Couldn’t start the bike until someone indicated to me that I still had it in gear!!!  Yes, I felt very stupid but I was too busy making sure the right stands were up or down.)