No doubt that brand Royal Enfield enjoys an iconic status around the world – it’s been around since 1901. Motorcycle enthusiasts, however, are divided over the modernity of the Royal Enfield motorcycles. While some argue that the Royal Enfield motorcycles are classic motorcycles that have simply not evolved over the years, there are Royal Enfield lovers who say that the brand has come out of age now and is producing modern motorcycles. So, is Royal Enfield now modern? Here are some answers
What makes Royal Enfield motorcycles modern?
World class manufacturing
The Royal Enfield assembly plant has become ultra-modern in recent times. The manufacturing facility based in Chennai now gets modern machinery and equipment.
The modern Royal Enfield motorcycles are digitally designed in sophisticated Computer Aided Design (CAD) program and then manufactured through Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
Unlike the older Royal Enfield motorcycles that used to be hand built, the modern ones go through a lot of automated processes. The modernity has also helped Royal Enfield to bring down the waiting period of motorcycles to a few months now.
Royal Enfield’s newest engine, the LS410, which features on the Royal Enfield Himalayan becomes the first RE engine to get the overhead cam. Even though all the other motorcycle manufacturers have moved to the OHC systems ages ago. Royal Enfield is slow but is surely incorporating new technology in its engine.
The LS410 engine uses the single-overhead-cam. There are many advantages of the OHC over the pushrod type engine utilised by the other RE models. The OHC engine performs way better than the pushrod type engine, but engine loses on the torque.
However, the OHC engines produce less vibration and are more efficient than the pushrod type engines. The Himalayan was showcases in the US market recently, and the motorcycle received fuel injection due to the stricter norm of emissions. The same will head to the Indian market in future.
Except for the Himalayan, all other Royal Enfield motorcycles are powered by Unit Construction Engines (UCE). Now the UCE engines are way more advanced than the older Cast Iron and AVL engines that were earlier used by Royal Enfield. The UCE received a number of updates, making it much more advanced than the ageing Cast Iron and the AVL engines. The current UCE engine first came with the Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark.
To start with, the UCE comes with a rotary oil pump that ensures higher oil flow in the engine. The solid tappets were replaced with hydraulic tappets that mean less maintenance and more performance. The engine also gets unit construction, which means better connectivity with different components of the motorcycle like gearbox and engine. The engine also gets automatic decompressor, and automatic Cam Backlash prevention for easier start and consistent engine performance.
The latest product from the Royal Enfield, the Himalayan gets the modern LS410 engine. The advanced engine makes sure that the maintenance woes go down for customers. The new Himalayan comes with a service period of 5,000 km, which is on the higher side when compared to the other motorcycles from the segment. The Himalayan also gets an oil change period of 10,000 km. The oil change period is pretty high for a motorcycle and makes the Himalayan less susceptible to the expensive maintenance cost.
Much more reliable
The modern UCE powered Royal Enfield motorcycles get a warranty of 24 months or 24,000 km, whichever comes first. The increased warranty shows the confidence of Royal Enfield in their products. The modern Royal Enfields break down way less than the older ones. Interestingly, the Royal Enfield motorcycles used to get only 10,000 km / 1-year warranty earlier.
Still, there are things that make the Royal Enfield motorcycles nearly outdated
No O2 sensor
Royal Enfield offers fuel injection with their 500cc Classic and the Royal Enfield Continental GT. The engine gets open loop fuel injection system that functions without feedback. The electronic fuel injection works fine during normal conditions and makes the engine smoother and more fuel efficient.
The absence of O2 sensor can be felt when the climate or the altitude changes.Without the O2 sensor, the motorcycle does not get to know the change and keeps on delivering the pre-set amount of fuel to the engine, causing knocking and power loss. The fuel ratio can be altered in the Royal Enfields equipped with carburetors can be changed by an experienced rider.
None of the Royal Enfield motorcycles gets ABS. This is 2017 and ABS has become a necessity for safe riding. Royal Enfield motorcycles are mainly used by long-tourers who do a lot of highway riding. The RE bikes are heavy and need extra braking power for sure. The absence of ABS proves to be a safety hazard in the RE motorcycles.
Still marks territory
The modern Royal Enfield motorcycles still leak oil. Yes, even the modern Royal Enfield motorcycles like the Himalayan are not leak proof. There are many complaints about the new motorcycle that it still leaks oil. Royal Enfield still has to work on their sealants properly. Leaking engines are not signs of modernity.
The modern Royal Enfield motorcycles are built using stainless steel, yet some customers complain about the rusting on their new RE motorcycles. Royal Enfield refrains from using any plastic or fibreglass in the body of the Royal Enfields. It sure makes the bikes more solid but the rust issues keep the owners on their toes all the time.
The Royal Enfield motorcycles carry a vintage aura and that’s what many enthusiasts like about the brand. Even though the brand is trying to keep up with the time, it is slow to adapt. The motorcycles are slowly keeping up with the time but not fast enough. Royal Enfield is also not in a hurry as the customers are not looking for cutting edge technology from the Royal Enfield. Instead, they are looking for a solid vintage product, and Royal Enfield is making sure that they are delivering retro modern bikes that most customers want. The brand has come a long way from what it used to be and can be called reasonably modern, what with the new technology being used and the kind of motorcycles being built.