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Old 01-04-2011, 07:55 PM   #13
Joe Motocross OP
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Joined: May 2007
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I'm going to give you my opinion on the Enfields so remember it's only my opinion and everyone is entitled to their own. I apologize to all the Indians that I may offend who are loyal to the Enfields.

The Royal Enfield is a dinosaur which should be let go extinct. They are built for "hipsters" to putt down to cafes and sip Latte. They are not built to ride like an enduro on those routes that can hardly be called roads in India.

The models we got were a 500cc machine, carburated with an ignition that uses points. The bike gets awful gas milage. It has a gear box that is separate from the crankcase driven by a chain. The shift lever is on the right, rear brake is on the left. This takes some getting used to. It wouldn't be a big deal if they actually shifted smoothly, which they don't. The rear drum and single front disc are just barely adequate. The bikes frame is prone to flexing which you feel if you get the chance to actually take a corner with any speed. For me being 6'1" tall, they feel cramped.

My buddy that did a trip to India warned me about the Enfields saying they constantly were breaking down, spewing oil and were pigs to ride. I concur. I have not met many people since who have much good to say about the Enfield.

What I will give them is they do have kind of a cool classic look. I do applaud their simple engine design, it makes it easy since you have to constantly work on them.

Here's a little history on the Enfields. They were originally a British bike. They started importing them into India around 1955. A company started assembling them in India with imported parts up until around 1962. Then the company purchased the tooling and shipped it to India where they were and still are built from the ground up. The bike remains, in essence, the same bike from the 50s.

Not all Indians are fans of the Enfield but many are. While talking to a guy on the road about the Enfields, I mentioned they were dinosaurs. His reply was "Ah, but even dinosaurs are famous around the world". Touche'! Even though I state that if I never ride another Enfield, it'll be too soon, I still have some sort of odd respect for them. I do hold a place in my heart for them as they'll always remind me of the wonderful country of India.

This is one intense place. Many Indians can speak a little English so that makes things a little easier. Not much else is all that easy. You need to be prepared to get taken advantage by taxi & tuk-tuk (trike like taxi) drivers, vendors, merchants and beggars. Not to say everyone is looking to try and take you but there are a lot that will. The poverty is pretty amazing. The city is dirty and something is always half torn apart or only half finished being built.

The liquor stores are chaotic. We noticed many people concealing their booze on their way out by pouring it into other types of containers and quickly hiding them in their pants. There were odd windows on the side of some of these stores where they would sell just one type of bottle, some sort of quick exchange for a low end booze.

At the time the exchange rate was 47 Rupees to 1 US Dollar. The ATMs were how we did all the money exchanging. It seemed to be the easiest. A debit card from the US works at most ATM locations. The ATMs are usually pretty busy and there was often some sort of interaction with others, mainly in the form of Indians attempting to cut in line. You just need to hold your ground.

As for renting from Smart Motors (not recommended) it was a $500 deposit per bike and $17 (800 Rupees) per day. I asked about repairs that we may need to have done along the way and Smart Motors said save all receipts and and we'd be reimbursed. You can probably guess how that went when we finally returned to Delhi. I've heard that other rental companies aren't much better but I can definitely tell you that Smart Motors did not do as they said they would. A conversation with the owner when we got back was the telling tale of how they view foreigners (more later). I guess you can just expect that many of these Indian rental agencies will try and take advantage of you.

Anyway, we picked up the bikes which were shined up pretty nice and gave them a quick once over. It's somewhat difficult to diagnose any issues there might be with the bikes like what kind of condition the internals of the engine are in, how much brake pads have been worn, cable wear, etc, etc. When they're clean you don't see any spots where the oil is puking out of them either. Smart Motors gave us a couple of extra cables, spare tube and a minimal tool kit. I didn't bring my own totally dialed in tool kit because we didn't want to be bothered with getting checked bags that may not show up. I will ALWAYS check my tool kit from here forward. The bikes started and ran fine so we hopped on them and took off.
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