Flat-track racer Johnny Lewis unveiled the Royal Enfield Twins FT racer to the flat track world last weekend. After months of development and testing, Lewis made history as Royal Enfield competed in its first-ever American Flat Track (AFT) competition in the Production Twins class. For the uninitiated, flat-track racing happens over a dirt track which is flattened for the racers to slide their way around corners, lap-after-lap.
The Royal Enfield Twins FT is a joint effort between Royal Enfield and Moto Anatomy, the race team Lewis owns and operates. Over the course of the last six months, Lewis and team have worked closely with Royal Enfield, renowned road racing chassis builder Harris Performance and engine tuning specialists S&S Cycle. Interestingly, this is the first time that the factory’s new 650cc engine is being used for an off-tarmac competition.
Is it powered by the Royal Enfield 650cc Twin?
This competition bike is the same machine which Royal Enfield unveiled at the EICMA 2019. Called the Flat Track, this barebones beauty is based on the 650cc twins and has been built in collaboration with Harris performance. Designed from the ground up, it is based on a steel tube frame and the rest of the body has been knitted in carbon fibre by the Royal Enfield industrial design team in the UK. The 650cc, parallel-twin engine powering the motorcycle has been kitted with a big-bore kit and bolted with twin under-seat pipes from S&S.
In the first year, Lewis is looking to be competitive, but the overall focus remains on the development of the Twins FT platform and much of the time will be spent on making the necessary changes and adjustments throughout the remainder of the season. Joining Lewis at the Atlanta and Daytona Beach AFT rounds will be the participants of Royal Enfield’s BUILD TRAIN RACE (BTR) program, who will compete in an exhibition aboard custom INT 650 motorcycles. Lewis and team will race the remainder of the AFT calendar to gather more data and feedback on the Royal Enfield FT package as they look ahead to the 2021 AFT season.
“We had quite the journey to get to this point,” said Lewis. “We’ve been working consistently over the past six months to develop a competitive package for Royal Enfield. The latest iteration of the race bike was shipped over from India in pieces on Monday (September 07th) and we’ve been working around the clock to put it together. I’ve really enjoyed the development process of the motorcycle and Royal Enfield along with the other partners involved have worked hard to make this happen. The bike performed well and we’ve got a great foundation to build upon.”
The team faced an uncertain future when the AFT season was postponed in March due to COVID-19. Not fully knowing how the year would unfold, Lewis went to work developing a prototype motorcycle early in the year. With ongoing communication, Lewis and the team at Harris Performance, Royal Enfield and S&S Cycle continued working through chassis changes and updates as Lewis tested the prototype at his Center Hill, Fl facility. Despite the challenges of shipping parts overseas and multiple time zones Lewis and team persevered. After working tirelessly for weeks, this race setting has been an accomplishment for the entire teams at Royal Enfield in India and the U.K. and also teams at Harris Performance and S&S Cycle. This year, the focus is on development and all team members are preparing to make the motorcycle even better for the next race in two weeks on September 25-26 at the Dallas Half-Mile.
The phrase “competitive straight out of the box” has been used to describe race motorcycles before, but it has never been so literal as this Friday’s Production Twins races at Willow Grove Speedway. The motorcycle that Lewis rode at Willow Grove only arrived in the US three days before the race, in pieces, and had to be assembled in the following two days. The timing was so tight that there was no time for a track test – the official practice session on Friday was the first time Lewis had ridden this Twins FT. Lewis went on to shock the field, taking a 3rd place Semi-final finish and an incredible 6th place finish in the Main race. An amazing first outing for the team.
On Saturday, the team tested new chassis setups resulting in better handling than the previous day. Johnny was running in third place during the Semi-Final when a weakened head gasket failed and he was forced to pull off the track. The problem was identified, and with an hour and a half to go before the Main, the MotoAnatomy x Royal Enfield team, including engineers in the UK assisting virtually, tore the motor down, replaced the gasket and rolled the bike back onto the track in the 13th spot minutes before the green flag. Lewis went on to carve his way through the field, claiming an impressive seventh place to finish off the weekend.
The team will continue testing and development during the next two weeks leading up to the Texas AFT round with support from Royal Enfield staff in both the US and UK. This will provide Lewis and team with the opportunity to continue testing improvements to engine durability and chassis set up.