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Buy and Drive a Royal Enfield

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Royal Enfield has been building motorcycles continuously since 1901 – longer than Harley-Davidson, which started in 1903; longer than Indian, which started in 1901 but stopped in 1953 before picking up again recently; longer than any European or Japanese brand. Three models will make it to North America this year: The Continental GT, the Bullet and the Classic. I had the chance to ride a 2016 Royal Enfield Classic this week, and I now have a new appreciation and understanding of the brand.

A British munitions maker took the name “Royal Enfield” in 1890, and branched out into building bicycles, lawnmowers and stationary engines, eventually building motorcycles in its Worcestershire facility. In 1949, Royal Enfield began selling bikes in India. India took to the brand so well that an assembly plant opened there in 1955, and full manufacturing commenced in 1957. Things went less well in the U.K. The British company ceased production there in 1970, and went out of business in 1971, leaving the Indian company the full license and market. In 1990, Royal Enfield made a strategic alliance with the Eicher Group, a major Indian automotive manufacturer. The two companies merged in 1994, an arrangement that continues to the present day. Two years ago, Royal Enfield North America took over distribution of bikes for this continent.