A little bit of England from Asia to
Dufferin County, Ontario
The Royal Enfield Motorcycle

Alan Masters

Our "In Search of The Ultimate Two Wheel Classic" TV show takes the crew and myself across Ontario and some parts of Canada and it never ceases to amaze me how many hidden jewels we manage to locate and bring them, with their owners, to our viewing audience. Many times the jewel is not just the machine but the owner too! On a recent shoot we found a 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet and met the jewel of a character who owned it, in the person of Howard, "Howie", who resides in the beautiful farm land of Dufferin County.

Howie had agreed to let us do an "In Search of TWC" segment on his Royal Enfield but first we had to locate his house tucked away in the beautiful Dufferin County countryside. Howie had purchased an old run down farm house some years ago and with his lovely wife Anne and friends had restored it back to the beautiful 100 year old home it once was. After a long and sometimes dusty ride through the town of Mono and after getting lost, we final arrived at our destination, where we found Howie waiting for us. As we turned into the driveway we couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the beautiful flowers growing everywhere and the wonderful fragrance's in the air. After dismounting from our bikes we heard the whinny of horses off in a meadow to the right and spotted some lovely Arabian horses and a Donkey, I guess for the horses company. Howie was a great host, insisting on giving us the cooks tour of his place, he was very careful to let us know that it was his wife's touch we saw in the design of the flower and shrub beds surrounding the house and garden, although much of the ornate iron work structures were the result of Howie's welding skills.

The Royal Enfield was the brand name under which the Enfield Cycle Company (founded 1893) manufactured motorcyclesbicycleslawnmowers and stationary engines. The first Royal Enfield motorcycle was built in 1901; the original British concern was out of business by 1970.
The Enfield Cycle Company was responsible for the design and original production of the
Royal Enfield Bullet, the longest-lived motorcycle design in history and still going!

Like other motorcycle manufacturers such as BSA and Matchless, the Enfield Cycle Company began business as a bicycle and later weapons manufacture, most famous for the Enfield Rifle. This legacy is reflected in the company logo, a cannon, and their motto, "Made Like A Gun".

In 1955, Enfield Cycle Company partnered with Madras Motors in India in forming Enfield of India, based in Chennai, and started assembling the 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in Madras. The first machines were assembled from components imported from England. Starting in 1957, Enfield of India later acquired the machines necessary to build components in India, and by 1962 all components were made in India. So how did Howie get interested in a British motorcycle made in India, you may ask? Howie began to tell us that through his electrical motor business he had made many trips to India purchasing motors and components, it was during these trips that he become interested and infatuated in the Enfield. He discovered that the Indian motorcycle enthusiast over in India held the Royal Enfield marque in high reverence and that it was considered quite prestigious to be seen mounted upon such a Royal British steed! Indeed, after riding a Royal Enfield on one of his trips he just had to own one. However; Howie discovered this marque wasn't readily available in Canada and after much negotiation and red tape managed to bring one in from the factory in India. The model he purchased was a 2004, 500cc, single cylinder, Bullet. Much hasn't changed on this classic bike since built in England in the mid 1950's.
You need to learn the correct starting procedure, using the decompression lever to get the piston in the correct position, checking the ammeter to confirm points open/closed, then kicking the start lever, oh and there's no disconnect at the bottom of the start lever stroke, so any kick back shoots you up in the air. Actually, it's not so bad as it sounds once your use to it, a good firm kick and away she goes, as did I, after starting the bike on the third attempt, missing the correct piston position!

Once I was off riding down the twisty roads of Mono the ride was quite pleasant, the Bullet handled surprisingly well through the curves, the seating position was comfortable, central and upright. Power was somewhat lacking up hills but we need to remember this is a 50's designed motorcycle. I saw between 50 and 60 MPH on the straightaways which appeared to be the most comfortable speed for the Bullet. The bike is quite light and manoeuvrable as we lolloped along at a steady pace to the single cylinder note of the exhaust. Shifting is done from the right side unlike most modern machines today, with braking on the left. The shift pattern is also reversed, first gear is up and the rest down. It has been many years since I have rode a bike with this pattern, actually, when I was a young lad back in England in the 60's, "blimey", the Bullet would have been nearly new then!! The Bullet stopped pretty well too, nothing screaming, the front drum brake appeared to be doing most the work, the back brake was more acting like a drag. Overall, if you would just like to enjoy a classic ride with the classic sound to go with it and the slower pace of country riding then the Royal Enfield Bullet is for you. Its not hard on the pocket book either, I think a new one goes for around $5000-. As a note, later year models offer much improved performance and reliability through the use of modern materials and design, however, they still have kept the classic look. After my ride with Howie we returned to the farm to enjoy some great hospitality and a tune or two on the bagpipes by Howie who plays for a local pipe band. Sadly, we finally had to leave for our next gig but as we were leaving, we were treated to a ceremonial piping out by Howie.

Alan Masters


Royal Enfield Bullet

Enfield Shifter

Royal Enfield

Howie playing