Talking anything against a Royal Enfield in India is akin to playing with fire after a gasoline shower. The legendary bike manufacturer has such a cult following that even citizens of perhaps this most impatient country in the world are ready to wait for as long as eight months to lay their hands on one. People even buy one for a lame statement that comes from a lame friend who advises, “You should buy a Bullet, it will suit your personality.” For some reason, this unexplained affection towards these mysterious thumpers has been passed on from fathers not just to their sons, but over to their daughters too. It doesn’t seem genetic, but if some science theory has to be believed, women find themselves attracted to men who possess the same qualities as their father.
I remember when I was 19 and bought my first motorcycle, my father secretly wished I would buy an Enfield instead of a newly launched 223cc bike so that he could steal a ride sometime. His deeply entrenched love for the Bullet and the hidden rancour against me for not buying something that he found cool emerged when I took my first fall within months of buying the motorcycle. When I got back home, clothes drenched in blood, he cared a damn about my state, but as he opened the door, the first thing he told me was that the accident could’ve been avoided if I was on a Bullet, as according to him, it is a very stable motorcycle. Continuing further, when he got to know about the twisted state of my plasticky motorcycle, the expert in metallurgy inside him emerged to say that had it been a motorcycle made out of metal, things would’ve been different. Mind, this coming from a man who would boast about his failure to understand everything scientific in school, just to make me feel better. Because as a kid, I would come back home with grades poorer than the poorest thing on earth. On the other hand, my mum had her own set of myths about the RE as she thought only milk vendors and policemen ride one.
To appreciate my father’s support towards his academically challenged son, my next motorcycle turned out to be a Royal Enfield Electra. The day I bought it home, for the first time, all the grey haired gentlemen who live in the same residential complex as I do, smiled in appreciation. For the first time in my life, my father was proud of something I did. However, for me, I still couldn’t understand the importance of riding one, until people at red lights would ask me questions, my friends admired the bike and people would stare. What also happened during these six months of ownership is that certain areas started showing signs of rust within a month of purchase, the fuel filler cap would let water seep into the tank, the mirrors would start swirling around after 80 kph, the exhaust came down dangling during a ride and the bike gave up on me on a dark scary night, when I forgot that you can’t keep the throttle pinned for extended durations. One of my colleagues who rides a 1000 miles to be precise for weekend rides, thinks that RE’s are just glorified machines for no reason and a Honda Unicorn will do everything that a 2.5 lakh rupee Enfield does for 1/3rd the amount, and i agree with him to an extent.
However, there is a part of me that happily disagrees. It is that part which isn’t governed by grey cells and logic. It connects to that soul within things that are supposed to be lifeless, and Royal Enfield machines are perfect examples of such things. Some wise crack once cracked that there is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion, and that man makes sense when you think of the RE’s of this world compared to near perfect Japanese motors. Would you bother to pay attention if things just kept functioning without the need for you to intervene, where a push of a button and a pull of the lever is all that is required to make that thing work at optimum levels. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the character in that? Bite a Bullet sometime, experience the experience of buying, riding and being an owner of one. It is like Bungee jumping, you either keep coming back for more or just one experience takes you that much closer to a bypass. So whether you have been riding one for ages or you happen to be someone who has booked one and has been waiting for ages. Leave a comment below, share your experience, spread the joy or that word of caution!