’39 Royal Enfield Bullet 350
I had an opportunity, a few years back, to ride an Enfield Bullet 350 and a Ural Sidecar rig in the same day. I decided I wanted the Enfield and the Ural would probably be the last motorcycle I would buy. Since that day, both have gotten a LOT better and I would probably be happy riding either of them any time. I have a thing for both single and twin cylinder old bikes (I have a bit of a fleet of those types in my barn…now I just need more time to ride them). The build quality of the new Enfield’s is quite impressive, but this is about a really old Royal Enfield.
I like delving into the history of motorcycle brands and models and this has been a fun search. Did any of us know that Enfield also made lawnmowers!? Now, I’m a big fan of lawnmower racing so, I am now on the search for an Enfield lawnmower…there has got to be one somewhere here in the Colonies.
Enfield is a classic British name. Originally a gun manufacturer…and, that is where the ‘Bullet’ model name came from…”made like a gun, goes like a bullet” was the company slogan. The first Enfield ‘Bullet’ came to life in 1931.
A little more history here…I know you love all this crap I dig up…. don’t you??? Ok, Enfield started with bicycles, lawn mowers and then motorcycles, this is all outside of making guns. In 1911 they added ‘Royal’ to the name because the British royal family was buying their products. I wonder if that is how Crown Royal whisky got its name? Probably not.
In 1924 Enfield built a beautiful 976CC V-Twin, then in 1924 Enfield built the 350 single using a JAP engine (and that is its own interesting story). During the Second World War Enfield was building a little 125cc bike that was dropped from airplanes,along with paratroopers, so they would have a motorized way to attack the enemy. It was called the ‘Flying Flea’.
Side story here, back in the 1980’s I worked as an independent sales rep selling motorcycle stuff and one of the companies I represented was Sammy Tanner Enterprises selling Arai helmets. Sammy was a great flat track racer and his nickname was ‘The Flying Flea’ As a journalist, anytime I go to a flat track race, Sammy is there, cruising the pit’s, giving advice to young riders and I’m sure trying to get them to wear Arai helmets. Sammy is one of the greats in American Flat Track.
Ok, now back to Royal Enfield:in 1955 the Indian Government started using Enfield’s in the police force. A year later, 1956, Enfield started building bikes in India. Parts from England built in India under license. Then, in 1962, Enfield India started building complete bikes with parts made there at home. Here’s a cool little factoid for you…the Royal Enfield Bullet marque has been in continuous production for over 75 years!!! That is longer than any other model of motorcycle. Cool huh?!
Enfield motorcycles were sold off to Norton Villiers Triumph ( weird mashup of companies that was the deathnell of the British motorcycle industry at the time) in 1968 and production ended in 1970…except in India.
So, now to this really nice 1939 Bullet model I found on ebay the other day. It’s a runner!!! The owner says it starts right up, a good thing. This model has a good set of girder forks, a rigid rear end with a sprung seat. I have ridden bikes with that exact same set up and I’ll tell you what, a sprung seat really works!! This bike does show its age and that is a good thing,it’s not a trailer queen and I hope it never becomes one. Click on the pic’s below for more details and more pictures.
Oh wait, there is one more story here. A number of years ago, I got a movie in the mail from Gaurav Jani in India. The film is titled ‘Riding Solo To The Top Of The World’, it is truly a film you need to get and watch over and over. Guarav rode an Enfield Bullet up into the Himalaya’s fully loaded with all his camera gear and all by himself. It is a great film for anyone who has an adventurous spirit. Go to www.dirttrackproductions.com and order the movie. You will love it.
Ok, now click on the pics below.