Friday, September 21, 2007

Royal Enfield - myth and history on two wheels

Modern bikes are perfect. Maybe too much. Every year the manufacturers reach new goals. Japanese are now building two wheeled rockets that could run over 100 km/h with the first gear! Able to go faster than 300 km/h with the sixth. Modern bikes are really powerful and light. Real masterpieces of technology. During the '70 Norton Commando and Triumph Bonneville were the names for superbikes. Very uncomplicated bikes. With their simple frames and almost ridiculous brakes. Very fast. I mean for the seventies. Like a scooter. For the modern times. But so gorgeous.

Anyway time has been on their side. After more than 30 years it seems that a new fever for those classic bikes is rising. Still today those bike are pure jewels. On the one side brands like Triumph and Kawasaki are producing again their [modern] classic bikes (no oil leaks and powerful brakes). On the other side a bunch of brave bikers (probably a little bit snob) is fighting trying to catch the last "original" bikes still available. But in between there is a third way. Just in the middle. And probably as usual "in medio stat virtus" (in the middle stays the good).

It's crazy to think about it. Anachronistic. It's a paradox. Today anyone could buy a 50 years old bike. New. Brand new. Maybe it's better to say that anyone could buy a bike that for 50 years has never changed. It's obvious: it's a Brit bike. Almost. It's a bike that was developed and built in England more than 50 years ago. But more or less at the same time of the British bike industry crash the production has been moved to that magic place called India. There the history and the production of this bike had been frozen so the modern one is just unchanged since 50 years ago.

This bike has a name: Royal Enfield Bullet. A paradox. Like many things arriving from India. But with a lot of charm. Like everything arriving from there. Bullet reminds speed. Power. But to be honest this bike cannot beat any kind of modern bike. This is the paradox. In an industry where maximum speed is a must the Bullet makes its strength in being always the same lazy slow classic bike. To ride a Royal Enfield is like start a trip with a time machine. Is possible to rediscover the pleasure of riding. Of the journey. Of the adventure. Thanks to the low speed is possible to fully enjoy the landscape. Far from the freeway. The pleasure of riding in the country roads. The trip becomes the real target instead of being the medium to reach it. Unfortunately not everyone could enjoy the pleasure of riding a Royal Enfield. Small things. Like forget the time running. Ride really slow with a cigar in the mouth. To travel without a place to reach, slow, with the wind gently blowing on the face. Only the ones with passion could fully enjoy it.

The Captain is a perfect example of insane passion. A romantic Man from older times. For the love of those angloindian bikes he has left a good safe job. He has dived in a such illogic adventure (from a financial point of view). Yes illogic but too fascinating. The Captain has opened the first Italian Royal Enfield exclusive dealer. It's in Bologna. A land of passion and engines. And the Captain probably has too much passion. About bikes. He strongly believes in his ideas and feelings.

With some sadness the Captain reminds me another incredible Man. Carlo Talamo. The crazy project of the Captain is really similar to the one that Carlo had with his Numero Uno Harley Davidson store. To sell old bikes that no ones want. Carlo Talamo had the ability to restart the passion (but also the fashion) in many bike lovers. He has created a real success. I hope the Captain could do the same. The first step is done. The first special bike is yet ready. Many other will come. Soon. Captain probably you will find storms and hurricanes during you sailing but please keep on fighting. All of us need it so much!

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