IT’S called ‘pure motorcycling’ and Royal Enfield, and by association Redditch, are at the heart of it.
That’s the verdict of Mark Spiller, European marketing manager for the historic marque who is in town to show that Royal Enfield is very alive and well today and thriving in an age when bikers today a looking for a cleaner, simple and yes spiritual form of motorcycling.
“Royal Enfield sits in a part of the market which is very rapidly growing,” said Mark.
“We call it pure motorcycling; motorcycling as it was first intended to be, with as little of all the hi-tech stuff as possible that’s accessible for today’s buying public.”
And Royal Enfield has definitely got under his skin, having been lured away from Japanese giant Kawasaki to a brand which has its heritage firmly rooted in Redditch.
“What got me hooked was the sheer passion around the brand,” he said.
“The enthusiasm of all the people who work for Royal Enfield, the people who ride the bikes themselves, it’s a fabulous experience.”
To mark the return of Royal Enfield to Redditch the firm has taken over a unit in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre (opposite Clintons Cards) for six week to showcase the firm’s past, present and future with a stunning concept bike.
“It’s the original Royal Enfield Bullet’s 70th birthday this year and fundamentally it hasn’t changed in 50 years and of course we have a whole range on offer including a 410cc adventure bike and two new twin cylinder models introduced last year the 650 Continental GT and the 650 Interceptor,” said Mark.
This Saturday, June 1, see the first European public unveiling of the firm’s latest model, the Bullet 500cc Trials bike, a direct descendant of the original Bullet built in Redditch.
Meanwhile outside the Kingfisher, on Market Place, the original Royal Enfield shop, latterly the Turkish restaurant, has had its facade turned back to how it would have looked in the 1920s.
“We’re here because Redditch is the birthplace of the brand, and Redditch is crucial to anyone who thinks of Royal Enfield, even today in India where the company went after it left the UK, people still think of Redditch as the heart if the brand,” said Mark.
ROYAL Enfield shut its factory in Redditch in 1967, the company leaving the UK’s shores in 1970, however its subsidiary in India continued production.
That was the Madras Motor Company, based in what is now Chennai.
Around the year 2000 the motorcycle arm of MMC came under the wing of Eicher, a German company which at the time was importing tractors into India.
They started to grow Royal Enfield in India and then started to export overseas – Royal Enfields are now sold in 42 countries around the world.
“The focus now is very much on brand development, and the most important market anywhere is the European market,” said Mark.
“Key to that market is the UK which is still very regarded worldwide as the heart of the industry and the trends here are very much the focus of the industry, and today that’s pure motorcycling.”
KENNETH Allies from Bromsgrove owned a 500cc Royal Enfield ‘XWD’ – ex War Department motorcycle.
“I bought it in the 50s, and it was a lovely bike,” said Kenneth, who’d made a trip especially to see the bikes with his wife,
“I didn’t use it for work or anything, just pleasure. We heard about the exhibition and had to come over to take a look – and we’ll be back.”
RAY Sloan owned a number of motorbikes but his 350cc Bullet bought new in 1960 was his favourite.
“I had a Velocette Venom at the time (made in Hall Green) but wanted another bike as the Venom kept pinking,” said the former bricklayer, now aged 86 who lives in – Enfield Road.
“The Bullet was beautiful. It started every time, no problem at all getting it going, and it was definitely my favourite out of all the bikes I had.”
Redditch MP Rachel Maclean said: “It’s absolutely brilliant for Redditch because not only are we bringing back heritage to the town, but also an iconic British brand. Redditch people have a lot of pride in that.
“It also helps put the town on the map and offers the us all opportunities to collaborate with the Royal Enfield in the future, both long-term and short-term.”
Borough Mayor Councillor Roger Bennett said: “This is a great historical day for Redditch as we welcome Royal Enfield back to the town after 52 years.”