Royal Enfield- a Thumping Phoenix of Indian automobile Industry

Prior to Independence in 1947 all automobile were imported in India, the sale of the motorcycle was not much. After Independence the Government of India focused on manufacturing and slowly private sector set up the manufacturing enterprises. The Madras motor collaborated with Enfield cycle company, in 1955 the single cylinder four stroke British thumpers came to India it was christened Bullet. The earlier machines were manufactured in England and only reassembled in India. Slowly Enfield India came up to the task of manufacturing these bikes in India. By 1962 the Enfield Bullet was all manufactured in India.

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           The Enfield Bullet had its own mass appeal it was a rugged motorcycle very well liked by the masses, it till date is the motorcycle used by the Indian army. It is also very much used by the Indian Police.

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           Simple single cylinder low revving engine with ample torque and rugged chassis which took all the beating of the rough Indian roads with ease. The gear and the engine were separate units mated together. The bike gave a decent fuel average so the sale numbers kept on growing as the bullet brand developed a brand appeal of its own. If you want to seek the adventure of driving Royal Enfield and doing Delhi Agra Jaipur Tour, it can be a great experience travelling North India.

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       By 1970 the British parent company closed down and now the Indian manufactured Enfield Bullet was exported to England. In 1970’s the Indian Economy kept growing and with it the numbers of bullet bike kept Increasing.

       1980’s was a decade of new changes in Indian economy when the closed doors of the economy were opened and many international players started their Indian operations.  By 1984 Honda had unveiled their frugal 100cc motorcycle Hero Honda CD100 in the Indian market following it Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki made their foray into the Indian market.

         These were a modern and very efficient motorcycles with very low price tags. They were instantly hit in the India Market. Hero Honda CD 100 claimed a mileage of 80kms to a litre of fuel which was way ahead of the mileage offered by the Enfield Bullet. The Bullet used old technology and was a bulky machine in comparison to these slick Japanese bikes but it was used by the adventure lovers and those travellers who had a love for vintage bikes on their Delhi Agra Tours. By 1990 Enfield had almost lost its supremacy of the Indian automobile market and the company was sold to Eicher motors in 1994.

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       The Eicher motors started experimenting with the design of the Enfield Bullet which was not an easy task they collaborated with Austrian national Mr Fritz Egli and in 1997 a completely revamped Bullet, was seen, this bike used an aluminum head on the Bullet engine and it was christened A350 a new manufacturing plant came up near Jaipur.

           New models were launched but the sales figures didn’t rose dramatically. The reason was the new generation of automobile users who grew up on small Japanese bikes with normal set up of gear mechanism on the left side and brakes on the right side Bullet still was using the original set up of gear on the right side and brake on left. The new generation was not very comfortable with Bullet bikes though now the company was offering models with the gear configuration of the Japanese bikes.

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            Company in 2008 introduced a new unit construction engine known as UCE which did away with separate gear, the modern engine set up retained the originality of British Thumper as it still employes the age old over head rockers and push rods technology. The new engine employs an electric start and the fuel mileage was also much better.

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          The company introduced retro styled motorcycles with classic badging this immediately saw the soaring sales and the brand again become hit.

           Today in 2019 the saga still goes on and bullet brand is a very strong and powerful full brand of India automobile Industry, like a phoenix it has reemerged and claimed its place long lost.

             If you are coming to India on your favorite Golden triangle tours don’t forget to ride this classic motorcycle which certainly will evoke nostalgia. 

Dr Atul Kumar Singh Parmar

Dr Atul is a graduate of R.B.S College Agra after the graduation did his Masters in Arts (English) Later pursued Bachelor of Education and Doctorate in English fro Agra University Agra. He has been been engaged in the tourism trade since 1995 , Worked as Govt Of India approved tour escort till 2011, He is promoter of 10thGate Tours dba S.A.M Tours and Travels. He is an avid traveler and travel writer with expertise in tours and travels, history, literature, architecture, social and political.

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