This is Royal Enfield’s all-new 750cc parallel twin, which was spied for the first time many months ahead of an official launch.
The engine has been seen in earlier guises when it was slotted into a modified 500 chassis but this is the first time the modern retro rival for the Triumph Bonneville has been seen in something approaching production form.
This bike is also sporting what looks like a modified Continental GT frame with the rear section crudely hacked about in order for it to be lengthened to adjust the wheelbase to suit the bigger engine. This kind of make-do engineering is typical of many manufacturers as they swap things about during testing. It’s an easy, and cheaper, way of adjusting engineering parameters without having to start afresh each time.
Royal Enfield have so far refused to comment officially about this bike, which is seen testing here in Spain last week with a predominantly British development team in attendance.
We know little in terms of exact detail about the engine, but we do know that it is likely to be around 750cc, and we can see from the images that it is currently running carburettors rather than fuel injection. The fact that the bike isn’t fuel injected suggests that it will be made ready for the Indian market first, where emissions regulations are quite a few steps behind European rules, the most recent of which – Euro4 – would be impossible to meet with carburettors. But this development order is completely logical for Royal Enfield as their domestic market is hundreds of times greater than the European and rest-of-world markets combined.
The bike is the first all-new engine to come from Royal Enfield in decades and signals the next stage in the development of the company, which is on target with their projection to build 500,000 bikes per year. The current single-cylinder motor has been continually tweaked, but can trace its architecture back decades. Now with electric start, unit construction and fuel injection, it’s the cleanest and most modern engine Enfield have ever built, but the parallel twin should move the game on tangibly.
This is also the first bike to come from the British-based Royal Enfield Technology Centre, which was established last year and has been working to develop new bikes that can be sold globally rather than just serving the massive Indian market. As part of that development, Royal Enfield bought out specialist frame builder Harris Performance which is now a wholly-owned part of the company.
Royal Enfield is huge, with total 2015 sales of more than 450,000 motorcycles from the factory in Chennai, India, but CEO Siddharta Lal wants to take bold steps to ensure the future development of the brand.
Lal told MCN: “Royal Enfield is the most profitable motorcycle company in the world in terms of percentages and we are thinking broader and thinking globally as we want to be the world leader in the middleweight sector.”
This future plan has included recruiting some big names from the world of motorcycling including former Ducati and Confederate designer Pierre Terblanche, former Triumph product chief Simon Warburton, and former Xenophya Design heads Mark Wells and Ian Wride – along with the whole of the Harris Performance team too. Xenophya Design were responsible for the Royal Enfield Continental GT design but also the Triumph Daytona 675 as well as many other recent Triumph models, while Harris developed the Continental’s chassis.
Lal is perfectly clear where Royal Enfield is going to position itself and that’s right in the middle of the bike market by producing bikes only in the 250 to 750cc category for “at least the next five years.” Lal also wants Enfield to stand for, “beautiful, stylish but affordable motorcycles” that have usable torque and keep true to the long history of the brand.
We expect to see a production version of the 750 by the end of 2017, to arrive on our shores in 2018.
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