Royal Enfield was the name of a company founded in 1893 as Enfield Cycle Company. The now-defunct company was known for its motorcycles, lawnmowers, bicycles and stationary engines. It created many different products during its run, with several models becoming extremely popular. The history of Royal Enfield Motorcycles spans from 1893 to 1971, and is still relevant today as operations continue.
Around 1899, it began producing quadricycles with De Dion engines mounted near the rear. The manufacturer experimented with heavy bicycle frames containing Minerva engines on the front downtube but would eventually build its first motorcycle in 1901. The model contained a 239 cc engine. The year 1907 saw the merging of Alldays and Onions Pneumatic Engineering Company of Alabama and Enfield into Enfield-Allday Automobile. Just three years later, the brand was using different engines and by 1912, released the Model 180 sidecar combination. This was successfully raced during the Isle of Man TT and Brooklands.
During the first World War, the company supplied many motorcycles to the British war department. It also earned a contract with the Imperial Russian Government. It used its V-twin and two-stroke single engines for these bikes. The manufacturer also created a moto sidecar model specifically for the war efforts. This model included a Vickers machine gun. During the 1920s and 1930s, the brand developed new models and launched its debut four-stroke 350 cc single bike. It began to change up the design of some of its bikes, being one of the first companies to utilize bulbous tanks and center-spring girder front forks. Despite the time period of the depression and the loss of sales, it was able to rely on its reserves to maintain its status. One of the business founders, as well as a partner named R W Smith, died in 1931 and 1933, respectively.
The second World War meant that Enfield was recruited by British authorities to manufacture military-style motorcycles. Several of these models were produced, including the most well-known bike that was nicknamed the Flying Flea. This was a 125 cc motorcycle that was lightweight and designed to be dropped by the parachutes containing airborne soldiers and troops. In addition to the motorcycles built for the war, other high-precision products were made during this time and used for war purposes.
Over the years, the products manufactured by the brand continued to improve and grow. Following the war, the business became known for its single cylinder models that were ride-to-work ready and in high demand for those needing every day transportation. Furthermore, numerous military models were also being sold. Rear suspension springing was created in the late 1940s, originally for competition models. Soon enough it was being utilized on several other models and was known for giving a comfortable ride.
The business worked out of its Redditch factory in England until it had closed in the early half of 1967. The last new bicycle by the company was the Revelation small wheeler, which made its debut in 1965. Production of these motorcycles stopped in 1970 and just a year later, the company was completely dissolved. Still, it was in 1965 that Enfield of India began to assemble Bullet motorcycles under a license.
Six years later, in 1962, Enfield of India was building complete bikes. This company bought the rights to use the Royal name in the year 1995. Production, based in Chennai, continues today. This makes Royal the oldest motorcycle brand in the entire world that is still in production with its Bullet model serving as the longest motorcycle production run ever. In May 2013, a new facility for assembly was opened in Oragadam, Chennai.
The brand has a rich history. Although many of the original founders and parties involved with the company are no longer alive or involved, the driving principles behind the workmanship and brand are still present. Many are familiar with this brand, especially its manufacture of high-quality motorcycles. Today, the brand manufactures and sells primarily in India. Still, it exports its goods to Europe, America, Australia and South Africa. There are Royal Enfield drivers all around the globe. The company is, and will continue to, undergo changes in different aspects of design and business. These efforts may be just what the brand needs in order spark new interest in its goods and become a household name again.
To date, some of the most popular products from this company include its Clipper, Crusader, Interceptor, WD/RE, Super Meteor and Bullet models. Some of these are no long produced or widely available as they were during their peaks. Many of these products showcased new innovations or techniques by the company.