The Enfield Cycle Company made motorcycles, bicycles, lawnmowers and stationary engines under the name Royal Enfield out of its works based at Redditch, Worcestershire. The legacy of weapons manufacture is reflected in the logo comprising the cannon, and the motto “Made like a gun”. Use of the brand name Royal Enfield was licensed by the Crown in 1890.
In 1909 Royal Enfield surprised the motorcycling world by introducing a small Motorcycle with a 2 ¼ HP V twin Motosacoche engine of Swiss origin. In 1911 the next model was powered by a 2 ¾ HP engine and boasted of the well known Enfield 2-speed gear. In 1912 came the JAP 6 HP 770 CC V twin with a sidecar combination. It was this motorcycle which made Enfield a household name. 1914 saw the 3 HP motorcycles this time with Enfield’s own engine which now had the standardised Enfield paint scheme of black enamelled parts and green tank with gold trim.
At the time of the outbreak of WW I Royal Enfield supplied consignments of their 6 HP sidecar Outfit motorcycles with Stretchers to the Crown. This same motorcycle also came with a Vickers machine Gun sidecar attachment which could also be turned skywards and used against low flying aircraft. Royal Enfield supplied large numbers of motorcycles to the British War Department and also won a motorcycle contract for the Imperial Russian Government.
As the factory developed in the 20’s the range of models also increased and in 1924 Royal Enfield was offering four versions of the 2 ¼ HP two-stroke motorcycle, two new JAP engined 350 cc motorcycles and two versions of the 8 HP Vickers engine sidecar combinations. During the great depression of the 30’s Royal Enfield was also affected and the demand for motorcycles waxed and waned but the bicycle manufacturing continued at the same pace and the company trudged on. The Cycar, a fully enclosed motorcycle model appeared in the early 30’s.
During World War II, like other manufacturers of that time Royal Enfield was also called upon by the British authorities to develop and manufacture military motorcycles. The models produced for the military were the WD/C 350 cc SV, WD/CO 350 cc OHV, WD/D 250 cc SV, WD/G 350 cc OHV and WD/L 570 cc SV. One of the most well-known Enfields was the Royal Enfield WD/RE, known as the Flying Flea, a lightweight 125 cc motorcycle designed to be dropped by parachute with airborne troops.
After the war the factory continued manufacturing the models developed during the war and the legendary J 2 model appeared which went on to be the ancestor of the legendary Bullet. The same motorcycle which perhaps had the honour of the being the one with the longest production run in the world.
Royal Enfield motorcycles were being sold in India ever since 1949. In 1955, the Indian government started looking for a suitable motorcycle for its police forces and the army for patrolling duties on the country’s border. The Bullet 350 was chosen as the most suitable bike for the job. The Indian government ordered 800 of these 350 cc motorcycles, an enormous order for that time. Thus In 1955, the Redditch Company partnered with Madras Motors in India to form what was called ‘Enfield India’ to assemble these 350 cc Bullet motorcycle under licence in erstwhile madras (Now called Chennai). As per their agreement Madras Motors owned the majority (over 50%) of shares in the company. In 1957 tooling equipment was also sold to Enfield India so that they could manufacture components and start full-fledged production. The Enfield Bullet dominated the Indian highways and with each passing year its popularity kept rising.
Royal Enfield UK continued manufacturing motorcycles and came out with some more innovative and powerful machines notably the Royal Enfield Meteor, Constellation and finally the Interceptor 700, before being sold to Norton-Triumph-Villiers (NVT) in 1968. Production ceased in 1970 and the company was dissolved in 1971. Remaining tooling and equipment of the Redditch works were auctioned off. Meanwhile the Bullet 350 continued to be manufactured in India and by the 1980’s the motorcycles were even exported to Europe out of India. Even after the motorcycle manufacturing closed down the precision engineering division ran for some more time and even bicycles were produced until quite late.
In 1990, Enfield India entered into a strategic alliance with the Eicher Group, and later merged with it in 1994. It was during this merger that the name Enfield India changed to Royal Enfield. The Eicher Group is one of India’s leading automotive groups with diversified interests in the manufacture of Tractors, Commercial Vehicles, Automotive Gears, Exports, Garments, Management Consultancy and Motorcycles. Since then, the Company has made considerable investments in modernizing its manufacturing technology and systems. In 1996, when the Government decided to impose stringent norms for emission Royal Enfield was the first motorcycle manufacturer to comply, a tradition which has stuck on thus making emission norms being one of the most important factors the company focuses on.
To manufacture quality bikes that are well known worldwide for their reliability and toughness state-of-the-art infrastructure is required, and that is just what Royal Enfield has done at their Chennai manufacturing facility. An active in-house Research & Development wing is constantly at work to meet changing customer preferences and the challenges of Indian and International environment standards. When introducing a new product, this team undertakes all related planning which includes a rigorous customer contact program, design, concurrent engineering and testing processes. The Motorcycle Design team at Royal Enfield is well equipped with high-end CAD/CAM workstations and the latest modelling software. Top-notch designers work continuously to come up with innovative bikes designs to meet the market’s expectations. Continuous rigorous testing of motorcycles and components is carried out in the Product Development testing lab to come up with more improvements in enhancing the customer experience.
Royal Enfield’s manufacturing operations go through a series of modernization and improvement efforts, with a number of automated processes. The Company has put in place modern manufacturing practices like Cellular layouts, Statistical process controls and Flexible manufacturing systems. The Chennai manufacturing facility has received the ISO 9001 certification and for managing its operations in a clean and safe environment, it has obtained the ISO 14001-quality certification and kaizens are implemented to ensure the quality levels are kept at an ever rising pace.
Royal Enfield ensures that all the components used in the bikes are sourced from the best vendors in the Indian automotive industry, who are geared to supply according to the Company’s stringent quality standards. The company works closely with all of its suppliers, giving them technical and managerial support while maintaining practices like Direct-On-Line and Vendor Self-Certification.
You can feel the pulse of your customers, only if you get close to them. This thought process has driven Royal Enfield to set up has a wide network of 11 Brand Stores, 250 dealers in all major cities and towns, and over 200 Authorised Service Centres. The Company also exports motorcycles to 42 countries like the USA, Japan, UAE, Korea, Bahrain, UK, France, Germany, Argentina and many other countries through 40 importers and over 300 dealers across the globe.
With the finest and brightest of teams in the country, comprising of management professionals and a skilful, committed workforce, the Company has a unique and open culture, making Royal Enfield a vibrant and responsive company. To its customers in India and elsewhere in the world, Royal Enfield means more than just motorcycles; it’s a sense of belonging to an exclusive community with unfading passion, emotion and interest. The Company is all set to augment its leadership position, be it in the power and leisure bike segment in India or the classic bike segment elsewhere in the world, by introducing distinctively styled and higher-powered motorcycles, strengthening existing communities around its products, expanding its network, and delivering a unique motorcycling experience.
As the only motorcycle manufactured in India synonymous with adventure and leisure riding, Royal Enfield has more recently stayed away from regular mass media advertising and has concentrated more on building its brand around the values that the brand stands for. Having a Cult status the Royal Enfield motorcycle is known for its Versatility, Uniqueness and is built to last. Perceived as a machine in a class of its own and synonymous with Leisure and Adventure; riding and charting up the miles.
Royal Enfield strongly promotes leisure motorcycling as a lifestyle and encourages the Royal Enfield riders/owners to keep riding. In this regard, the company organizes annual events and rides such as the Himalayan Odyssey, The Tour of Rann of Kutch, The Tour of NH 17 (Mumbai to Goa), the Tour of Rajasthan and the Southern Odyssey. It also organizes the Annual festival of biking, Rider Mania in Goa which attracts Royal Enfield riders from all over.