Royal Enfield, a motorcycle brand which is more than a century old, has risen from humble beginnings and has become a huge name not just in India but also around the world. It all began in 1891 when two entrepreneurs Bob Walker Smith and Albert Eadie bought a needle manufacturing company, Townsend, which had recently started making bicycles.
Bob designed the company’s first motorised vehicle, a quadricycle, using two bicycle frames in 1898. The first motorcycle by the brand came in 1901. Designed by Bob and Jules Gotiet made a belt drive motorcycle powered by a 1 1/2 hp Minerva engine. The company actively participated in motorsport activities and won laurels at Isle of Man TT. It then had a dream run at the International Six Days Trial. The recently introduced Royal Enfield Bullet Trial Works Replica pays a fitting tribute to this legacy.
India got its first taste of Royal Enfield motorcycles in 1949 when K. R. Sundaram Iyer launched Madras Motors to import British motorcycles (including Royal Enfield) into India. The army gave an order for Royal Enfield Bullets, impressed by motorcycle’s success at International Six Days Trial. The Enfield Cycle Company of Redditch (England) joined hands with Madras Motors to form Enfield India in 1955 near present-day Chennai. The rest, as they say, is history!
Today, Royal Enfield enthusiasts do not just see it as a brand making motorcycles, but a lifestyle. The cult following has helped the brand grow from around 50,000 units annual sales in 2010 to over 8.20 lakh motorcycles last fiscal (FY 2018-19). This year, the company aims to hit the 9.5 lakh production mark. While that number may seem difficult right now because of the slowdown in the industry, the think-tank at Royal Enfield is focusing on the years ahead.
In fact, this year (FY 2019-20), the company earmarked INR 700 crores for development of new global platforms and products. Last year, this amount was INR 800 crores. But what is it that they are developing? Here’s a sneak peek of 5 upcoming Royal Enfield motorcycles set to be launched by 2022.
2020 Royal Enfield Classic 350 / Classic 500
The biggest change in the upcoming 2020 Royal Enfield Classic 350 will be on the engine front to meet the BS-VI emission norms. The carburetted fuel supply system is expected to make way for a fuel injected system. The present generation Classic 350 utilises a 346 cc single cylinder, air-cooled mill. Mated to a 5-speed gearbox, the engine produces 19.8 bhp of power and 28 Nm of torque.
While details of the new engine are scarce at the moment, I wouldn’t rule out a brand-new heart. After all, they have been working on BS-VI shift since 2016! Expect Royal Enfield to finally ditch the push-rod setup for an overhead cam (OHC) layout in the Classic and Bullet powerplant. They made their first OHC engine for the Himalayan in 2016 and later refined the technology in the 650 twins.
Spy images of a testing unit have confirmed that the engineers have moved the front and rear disc unit to the right side of the bike. The drive train is on the left and the engine can no longer be coaxed to life with a kick-starter. The tail lamp unit has been redesigned, while the footrests have been widened for more comfort. The seat appears thicker than the present-gen model and seems to miss out on the iconic visible dual spring layout.
In case of the 2020 Classic 500, the engine is expected to get a similar makeover. The present-gen fuel-injected 499 cc mill produces 27.2 BHP of maximum power and 41.3 Nm of maximum torque. Royal Enfield may see the easy way out and rework the present powerplant to be future-ready.
2020 Royal Enfield Thunderbird X
One of the rather underrated products in the Royal Enfield stable is the Thunderbird. Focused on customers seeking a leisure cruising motorcycle, the company introduced the bike in 2002. In 2009, the company had switched from the AVL engine offered initially to Unit Construction Engine (UCE) platform. In February 2018, a more street friendly Thunderbird X was launched.
A new test mule of the Royal Enfield Thunderbird X was spotted a few weeks back giving us details about the upcoming motorcycle. The 2020 Royal Enfield Thunderbird X has the new layout seen in the 2020 Classic. This confirms that the bike will be getting the BS-VI compliant powerplant. The swingarm is new and the seat too has been lowered.
The 2020 Thunderbird X will be offered in both 350 cc and 500 cc variants. The global market, though might get the bike with the TBX badging, just as the present generation model which is exported to Colombia. A similar update will also be percolated to the standard version of Thunderbird.
2020 Royal Enfield Bullet 350 / Bullet 500
The Royal Enfield Bullet needs no introduction in India. In fact, ever since its introduction in the early 30s, the Bullet has been the longest motorcycle nameplate to be in continuous production. The Bullet too will get the same BS-VI powerplants for the 350 cc and 500 cc variants as seen in the Classic and Thunderbird. What we would, however, love to see is a rear disc brake, something missing in the present version.
The new BS-VI compliant Bullet, like the rest of the line-up, will be quite pricier but will make the guys at Greenpeace and Oxfam happy. That’s not all, it will also keep the environment cleaner for your offspring.
Royal Enfield Meteor
It is not every day that Royal Enfield showcases a new concept. But when they do, they blow your mind away. The Royal Enfield KX Concept Bobber was showcased first at the 2018 EICMA and draws inspiration from the 1,140 cc V-twin Bobber by the same name. The Eicher-owned brand recently patented the name Meteor for the European market. The word on the street is that this name will be used for the production version of the KX concept.
The KX concept is powered by a brand-new 838 cc V-twin engine. The liquid-cooled, fuel-injected mill can produce 90 odd ponies of power as per company claims. That’s not all, the chassis of the bike has been developed by Harris Performance and the bike features a ride-by-wire system.
Another major highlight of the KX concept is the girder fork in place of the front suspension. However, the production variant may miss out in this and include telescopic forks. A timeline for the Royal Enfield Meteor has not been given by the company but we expect it to hit the streets sometime next year.
Royal Enfield Himalayan 650
The Himalayan is a very special motorcycle for Royal Enfield and has a series of many firsts. It is the brand’s first adventure motorcycle. It's also the company's first overhead cam motorcycle, and boy those chunky wheels feel good to ride on. The present version of the Himalayan mounts a 411 cc oil-cooled engine that produces 24.5 bhp of maximum power and 32 Nm of maximum torque.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan 650 will use the same engine as the Royal Enfield 650 twins, but in a different tuning. The 648 cc parallel-twin mill produces 47 bhp of maximum power and 52 Nm of maximum torque in the latter. This is the first Royal Enfield powerplant to be mated to a 6-speed gearbox.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan 650 will be launched only after the introduction of all BS-VI complaint variants of existing models. It will boast better power delivery lower down the engine revs, which should make it more capable in off-roading. It may feature a switchable ABS.