Royal Enfield probably is the world's oldest "surviving" motorcycle brand..
I have been hearing about this for sometime now. So I decided to find it out the truth. Is Royal Enfield really the world's oldest motorcycle brand?
Imagine if Royal Enfield models gets the tag of "Manufactured by the World's Oldest Motorcycle Brand..!!"
.. who wouldn't want to own a piece of history like that?
After some "Googling" on the net, the following facts came into light:
- Triumph started to produce motorcycles in 1902
- Harley-Davidson started making motorcycles in 1903
Now there are some guys who say that Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901..!! The photo posted below is claimed as that of the first Royal Enfield motorcycle manufactured in 1901.
If it is true then that would definitely make Royal Enfield the world's oldest surviving motorcycle brand..!!
More about that later.. but first,
A brief history of Royal Enfield:
1893: The Origins
Royal Enfield was founded in 1893 in Redditch, Worcestershire, England; as "Royal Enfield Manufacturing Co. Ltd." with the trademark "Made Like a Gun".
Prior to that it was started by a gentleman called George Townsend as "George Townsend & Co." in 1851. It manufactured objects as diverse as sewing needles and fish hooks, bicycles.
It was sold off in 1891 to Albert Eadie and R.W. Smith, and renamed as "The Eadie Manufacturing Company Limited", the firm made bicycles and also started supplying precision rifle parts to the "Royal Small Arms Factory" in Enfield, Middlesex. Soon a new company called "The Enfield Manufacturing Company Limited" was created to market these new design "Enfield" bicycles.The following year the word Royal (after the Royal Small Arms Company) was added and thus "Royal Enfield" came into being in 1893.
1899-1971: The beginning and end in the UK
Royal Enfield made motorized tricycles, quadricycles and even cars during the initial years. Later it started to make motorcyces of all types. 2 strokes, v-twins even triple cylinder models. The single cylinder, 4 stroke "Bullet" was first launched in 1933.In the mid and late 1960's, the once mighty British motorcycle industry could not withstand the invasion of the Japanese brands. Royal Enfiled also had to wrap up its business in England in 1971.
1949-2000: Royal Enfield Bullet arrives and thrives in India
Royal Enfield motorcycles had been sold in India since 1949. In 1955, the Indian government ordered a batch of 800 350cc Bullets its police and army.
In 1955, the Redditch company partnered Madras Motors in India and formed "Enfield India" to assemble, under licence, the 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in Madras (presently Chennai).
In 1994, Eicher group acquires "Enfield India Company". The company name is changed to "Royal Enfield Motors Limited".
2010: Alive and kicking in India.. exported worldwide..!!
Coming back to the earlier question:
Did Royal Enfield make a motorcycle in 1901? If the answer is "Yes" then Royal Enfield, India has a potential goldmine which it should definitely utilize.
Imagine if Royal Enfield models like the Classic 500/350 gets the tag of "Manufactured by the World's Oldest Motorcycle Brand..!!", wouldn't that make the Royal Enfield models even more desirable and possibly increase its sales 3 to 4 times (at least worldwide if not in India)? After all who wouldn't want to own a piece of history like that?
But the Royal Enfield (India) website doesn't mention anything about the 1901 motorcycle model in its History page. In fact in the official website, the first mention about a motorcycle is made in 1909. So is Royal Enfield India not sure of the existance of the 1901 model?
On the other hand, Royal Enfield UK Site mentions that Royal Enfield had produced its first motorcycle in 1901 and that it is the world's longest running motorcycle brand.
There are also some die hard Royal Enfield fans like Mr. Jorge Pullin from LA, USA (he has been keeping a blog dedicated to covering anything about Royal Enfield..!!) who also mentions that Royal Enfield had made its first motorcycle in 1901.
Just visit his blog to know things about Royal Enfiled that probably you did not know.
Royal Enfield Bullet, the world's longest running production model..??
According to what I have come across on a couple of sites (click here), the Bullet is the world's longest running production model.
Now if that is true as well, somebody should wake up the marketing dept. of Royal Enfield India! Shouldn't such powerful and potent brand associations and rich heritage be marketed as well?
- Bullet 350 UCE launched
- Bullet Electra Twin Spark launched
- Memorable (Indian Motorcycle) Advertising Tags - My top 5
- Royal Enfield enters Colombia
- Royal Enfield to put its UCE (Unit Construction Engine) across all its models in 2010 + Royal Enfield @ Auto Expo 2010
- Royal Enfield launches Thunder Bird Twin Spark in India
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