2014-11-06 07.25.37
Happy and Bunty restoring a 1994 Royal Enfield 500cc

While traveling in India, you find tourists riding Royal Enfields, they are unmistakable with their metal luggage racks, beat up body work and loud silencers. Some of these are really good vintage that collectors look for and are the old cast iron engines with a 4 speed gear box. But they are all the victim of good old fashioned ‘Jugaad‘ a word synonymous with Indian mechanics that means your bike is living on borrowed time.

Old cast iron Royal Enfields end up in junk yards, get bought cheap by rental agencies, and bike mechanics and restored to a semi working condition. A lucky few of them make it to collectors’ garages but a large percentage just get put back to work at rental agencies. After a cheap paint job and new vinyl stickers they get handed over to tourists who ride these machines all over India, speeding (relative to a rickshaw) their way into junkyards to go through the cycle again. It is all a matter of your Karma at which point in this cycle you get the motorcycle, semi good working condition or trashed. Either way, it is a struggle to keep them on the road for extended periods of time. Low quality spare parts, poorly trained mechanics, self proclaimed ‘ustads‘, rough roads and ever changing owners ensure it is no easy task to bring these motorcycles to an optimum working condition.

I personally own a few Royal Enfields of different vintage, and have spent months trying to reverse engineer the ‘Ustad’ repairs done on any of those motorcycles. The botched attempts at fixing Power and Torque, electricals and even frame repairs leave the bike unrepairable.

So if you are renting a motorcycle be sure you check the bike defects in body, frame, electricals. Test ride it, not just around the block, go for a few Kilometers through traffic, make sure it seems right to you. And just because its India, don’t swallow all the bullshit thrown at you, if you can’t manage to remember all that, email me!!!