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Royal Enfield At Cooperb – In The Beginning

In February 2015 we took a used 500cc Bullet in part exchange. It was a cold but bright sunny day & I decided to use the bike to visit the sandwich shop in the next village some 3 miles away. Before I was even half way there I decided I loved this bike & ended up taking a massive detour that had me out on the bike for a couple of hours! As a lover of big, fast modern sports bikes I simply didn’t understand why this bike felt so special. I just could not explain to myself why this bike made me smile & made me feel so good. It was unlike anything I’d ever ridden before and on paper it’s vital statistic’s just didn’t compete with any of my usual favourite bikes. However, I loved it!

It was only after I’d advertised the bike & spoken to some Enfield enthusiast’s the answer came to me. The Royal Enfield makes you smile because it is so basic, so innocent that it takes me back to my youth when all of my riding was a mix full of learning & fun. The handling is compliant & sweet enough to be hustled along enthusiastically – but it doesn’t make you want to get your knee down. The engine responds directly to the rider & it takes throttle control & a learned skill to get the best from it – but it isn’t too slow nor will it ever intimidate you. The bike has a wonderful sound that frankly anyone with ears will enjoy – it is simply impossible to be offended by these bikes.

Having become a firm Royal Enfield fan, by April we became official dealers.

If you buy one, I guarantee you will become more closely connected to it than any other bike you may have had before. The charm will get you & then you will find yourself truly loving it!

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In November I was delighted to join selected European dealers on a tour of Royal Enfield facilities In India.

Our visit was hosted by senior RE management & we where treated to full access tours all round. We got an in depth, un hurried tour of the highly impressive HQ as well as the stunning new Tech Centre. The new facilities where super impressive and more modern than anything else any of us had seen. The ability at design level to swiftly manufacture prototype parts in small quantities in house, looks set to help new models make production faster & cheaper.

And the passion for the brand at the HQ was uplifting – as are the exciting future plans & models!

But my personal favourite was the assembly plant at Oragadam.

This shiny new facility is where I first witnessed the new assembly procedure and its mesmerizing! Looking at the 650cc twin line I was beyond impressed & noticed how most of the production line is German made the word SLICK just does not do it justice.

It was nice to see every increment of each individual bike is recorded by the persons name & stored on file so that each bike has a build history that can be used to check build quality per person. Important on a bike that’s at least half hand built!

But the thing that impressed me the most was every single person I saw was really happy to be working there. Everyone seemed happy to genuinely apply themselves & it really is apparent to everyone how important it is to build the bike correctly. Its only been building bikes a year, but with due process in place like this it made me feel very confident for the future!

To close the trip, we flew to Goa & the experience that is RIDER MANIA

Imagine a fabulous music festival with Royal Enfield’s & you wont be far off!

Set in stunning countryside, with two main stages a few acres apart the atmosphere is amazing! There was lots of bike racing and for the first time a flat track race (Himalayans)

The custom bike show was mind blowing with entrants from all over the world, here we took inspiration & I decided to get involved making as many contacts as I could!

There was also loads of trade stands & a mass of food available as well as huge bars – all doing a roaring trade! Add brilliant live music and banging DJ sets & you get the idea.

What was obvious was that everyone there really loved these bikes & treat them as a real thing of pride. We where made to feel really welcome and it was a couple of days of pure fun!

I met some amazing riders who had come from literally all over the country just for that weekend.

Rider Mania UK..? I hope so one day!


Intrepid Trip – Cooperb to Ardnamurchan September 2016

Touring bikes these days are a lot like modern trucks. No seriously they are! Think about old trucks for a second, old fashioned gearbox’s & slower, louder engines on chassis that offered all the comfort of a wooden cart. By contrast modern trucks are mobile palace’s that waft the driver along in slickly suspended air conditioned comfort, shifting gear is done automatically for you & the steering is more like a modern car than a cart. Question is though, is driving one a long way as much of an adventure as back in the day?

Bikes are the same too.

Riding a modern tourer a long way is easy & of course great fun. The technology is good but if it makes it easy to ride fast (& so you often do) – is that always a good thing?

Won’t it eventually mean automatically travelling long distances at high speed? How will you see anything? How will you experience real adventure if your just moving at speed from A to B & everything between is a blur? Isn’t that dangerous? Won’t that become a little boring?

Small single cylinder bikes are known for delivering big fun in small doses – but can they cope with big distances?

This month an intrepid group of 11 rode 1288 miles in four days & 9 of us where on single cylinder bikes all around 500cc. And what a great trip it was! It was great because riding those little bikes all that way made us all feel like kids again! Our average age worked out to be very late forties & between us there isn’t a continent we haven’t ridden on & barely a brand of big bike that hasn’t been owned by at least one of us yet it was this trip on these bikes that we all agreed we enjoyed the most. “The most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels” is just one quote.

Our trip started at Cooperb M’cycles Ltd in Easton Maudit Northants & took us all the way to Ardnamurchan which is the most western point in main land Britain & back. None of the route was direct & most of it was by the best & most twisty A & B roads on the map.

Meticulously planned, the route delivered riding heaven & Scotland is perfect for bikes.

Some of the roads were so tight that it doesn’t take much to close them. However, in rural Scotland – even the detours are great fun!

We used two ferries & passed through tiny hamlets & along the edge of the West coast so close to the sea that we could smell the beach for hours on end. We used B roads so remote we were chased by dogs, scowled at by huge cows, leapt at by sheep & ignored by goats. We rode through torrential rain on day one & through gale force winds on the last day (Otherwise the weather was great!) We dodged gravel and diesel on the road took in some of the finest views on the planet & loved every minute.

The mix of bikes was pretty good too. There was 4 Royal Enfield Continental GT’s, 2 Bullets & a Woodsman. There was a new SWM 445 Cafe Racer & a Mash Roadstar. Our 9 single cylinders where joined on the way up by a BMW R1200R & a Triumph Tiger.

What was interesting was the inevitable comparing of the Continental GT & the SWM as they are both Cafe Racers. For pottering around there was not much between them, similar riding position & so on. However, when ridden more enthusiastically we found that performance wise, the SWM was faster than the standard GT’s and a match for the two GT’s that had the full hot up kits fitted (- but not really any quicker.) Any slight advantage in outright top speed was irrelevant due the GT’s better use of its gearbox, it seems to be able to hold on to its gears for longer before needing to change up. Ride wise the handling is evenly matched & both bikes love to ridden hard but comfort wise the SWM definitely has a better standard seat. One of the GT’s had a deluxe gel seat which was superb! When the rain fell, the block tread pattern of the SWM’s tyres which look like actual full wets where a joy. Stable & full of confidence this bike danced from puddle to puddle & laughed in the face of standing water & wet white lines. Interestingly, one of the GT’s also faired well in the wet on Michelin’s – but the bikes shod with the standard Pirellis where not quite as happy. An easy way to improve the GT for year round riding is swapping the tyres we decided.

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