Sorry for not posting updates often! I realize I've missed updating my side of the blog for ages. But fear not, I have a new post and its a fun one. It's all about my new (antique) motorcycle. My Royal Enfield so very perfectly named "Kali".
But first, perhaps you may be interested in familiarizing yourself with Royal Enfield. It's a fascinating, very long story of a company that has been producing motorcycles since 1901 in the UK, and now produces a well loved and well followed "thumper" here in India. You can read more here. By "thumper" I mean the characteristic sound the bike makes while riding because despite all the complex, multi-cylinder, fuel injected, multi-valved, highly tuned bikes of today the Enfield is a single cylinder bike. Each set of two rotations (or four "strokes") of the engine results in the whole combustion and exhaust process but seeing as there is only one cylinder, its a rough "puff puff" kind of sound that the bike makes. Your car usually has a minimum of 4 cylinders, and each one is on a different step of the stroke so you have a nice smooth running engine. With one cylinder things aren't as smooth, and kick-starting the engine can be fun. That's right, no electric start for older bikes! You need to decompress the engine and give the starter a thorough kick to move the big single cylinder to get it to start. It can get you sweating quick, especially when it's October Pune hot out!
My bike acquiring adventure started out much earlier in the year when I met a local contact who rebuilds antique bikes, cars and scooters. Though there are many bikes in his garage, from BMWs with shaft drives to Nortons with unique front suspensions; his passion is Enfields. Yup, just the right guy to get in touch with.
I decided on building one up from scratch. By doing that, it would take longer but I would be able to do more customizing but more importantly, I would be involved in the building process.Some of the items I got to help work on and now understand:
Take a look at some photos of the bike in process below.
All in all the experience of having worked on the bike is great. Once this bike is out of the country, its doubtful that anyone will have experience repairing or working on them so I wanted to know the ins and the outs so I could at least approach fixing it on my own. The nicest thing about these single cylinder Enfields is that they're an extremely simple motor vehicle. They are really not complicated and they're a great way to learn the fundamentals of motored vehicles hands on.
I came up with my own design for the labeling on the bike, a big "RE". Super simple. The color I decided on is matte black. It gets dirty easy but it looks simple, clean and mean. I originally thought to add an accent of color on the front fender by having the white stripes. 2 months after the start date, the first iteration of the bike was complete!
I took the bike for a spin on the building grounds. Luckily, its the perfect spot to practice riding. Plenty of open space, ramps, things to maneover around. It's worth mentioning, I had never ridden a motorcycle before (more than 5 minutes), my only experience was scooters. This is a relatively heavy bike at 418 pounds.
Man was I happy but disappointed with the gear shifting. It just wouldn't shift past first! And there were some other issues like idling, carburetor adjustment, etc. But no problem, the guy sent someone to pick it up and work on it. Also, I disliked the leg guard (the big chrome piece that sticks out on the front of the bike). So I handed the bike back over.
In the meantime, I got my license, and eagerly awaited it's return.
With some gear adjustments, a new front fender with the classic "pedestrian slicer" , a new front leg guard, and finally deciding on the name badge; the bike is back and better than ever. Theres still "some" minor things I would like to change, but a story for another day I guess. Take a look at the beauty known as KALI below.
I named the bike KALI. I had to pick an Indian name, something very deep. I won't get into the specifics but you can read up here. I've gotten countless compliments on the name. It's so multi-faceted for the bike. I love it.
I've ridden the bike a couples of times outside the apartment complex and gaining confidence on it. I hope to have some new photos and maybe some videos in the future. She's a blast to ride, loud and comfortable. She's not particularly fast, I've been able to get her to 85 kilometers per hour (52 mph). She should manage 100 kph without problem based on the feeling I got that she could still accelerate easily, so I should be able to hold the right lane in the US somewhere in the 55-70 mph range.
I never thought I'd like motorcycles so much, but the simplicity and fun of this easy going classic bike has turned me. I think I'm in love!