A rapid fire history of Royal Enfield | Jobi Cool


Over the next 20 years Royal Enfield expanded its range significantly, with larger capacity V-twin models, two strokes and a step-through model designed specifically for women. 297cc lightweight V-twin model completes John O’Groats Two Lands and Trials (circling the entire length of the island of Great Britain between the two extremes, in the south-west and north-east) in the UK in 1910, adding to the company’s growing reputation. By the early 1920s, the fuel tanks were slung under the upper spars of the chassis and increased in width, gear shifting with your feet was also adopted instead of the previously complicated manual shift system, and the Royal Enfield market were seen as innovators in

Royal Enfield also produced motorcycles and service sidecars for use during the First World War. The 6hp model came in several guises, including an ambulance and a model capable of mounting both Vickers and Maxim machine guns. Apart from supplying bikes to the War Office, Royal Enfield also supplied motorcycles under contract to the Imperial Russian Government. By this stage the Redditch factory had expanded and now occupied 18 acres. It was so large that it had its own fire service, including production staff who were also trained as firemen. These staff were put to the test in 1925 when the main building caught fire. Thankfully the fire was contained and the factory was rebuilt.

The most famous appears to be the Royal Enfield. The Royal Enfield Bullet, possibly the most recognizable model in RE’s history, was introduced in 1932 and was made available with three engine capacities; 250, 350 and 500cc. The Bullet has continued in production ever since and is considered the longest-lived motorcycle design in history. Royal Enfield was called upon during WW2 and produced motorcycles under license for the War Office. A brief was to supply British parachute regiments with motorcycles capable of carrying messages and signals before radio communications were established. The motorcycle had to be able to withstand parachute landings, so they could be dropped with airborne troops. Initial testing proved this to be a difficult task and beefed-up cages had to be made to prevent wheel buckling and frame cracking. Eventually the ‘Flying Flea’ was produced, a small capacity (126cc) two-stroke machine capable of running on multiple fuels. Extra work was done to quiet the engine noise as much as possible and around 8000 were produced.

The added strain on manufacturing caused by the war effort meant that Royal Enfield had to build additional factories around the UK to keep up with demand. There was once a factory 90 feet underground at Upper Westwood in Wiltshire, as well as the Calton Hill factory in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Flying Flea was used in a number of beach landings during the war but was delivered four at a time from the back of a glider rather than under a parachute as per the original War Office brief. With the war over, Royal Enfield turned its attention to meeting the growing demand for personal transport at home. The unused stock of Flying Fleas was repainted and remanufactured for civilian use, while thousands were manufactured at Redditch. Known as the Model RE, it later received telescopic forks (RE2) and a larger engine as it evolved into the Ensign and Prince. Meanwhile, the Bullet gained swinging rear arm suspension and was produced in large numbers in both 350 and 500cc. It was the first production motorcycle by any manufacturer to carry the trademark suspension, and within a few years all other manufacturers around the world followed suit.



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