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Monday, February 2, 2015

My Next Thumper?

From Bengaluru, India:
2014 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
My loyal readers will not be surprised to learn that I love motorcycles. Motorcycling has been my preferred form of fair-weather transport since I first owned a scooter in Phoenix, Arizona, in the summer of 1963.  It was a Harley Topper, very much like this one:

1960 Harley Topper
Over the ensuing fifty-two years I have since owned five BMWs, eight Hondas, a Bultaco, a Ducati, a Kawasaki, a Suzuki, two Yamahas, and a Matchless.  That Topper is the only Harley Davidson product I have ever owned.  But the Matchless G80CS that I owned for a few months while at Amherst College, was a 500cc single-cylinder four-stroke, and it had a certain charm.  
Matchless G80CS, circa 1963
Firing only on alternate up-strokes of its single piston, its sound was mellow, a pleasing, relaxed gait, if you will, while it offered gobs of torque.  Such bikes are known to us bikers as "thumpers."  I later owned a Honda FT500 Ascot, also a 500 single, but it had a short-stroke engine that had to be revved much higher to make useful torque than did my old "Matchbox."

So, I have for several years been looking at the Indian-built Royal Enfield Bullets that are still being made in Chennai, and which have a good reputation for quality both here in India, and abroad.  They are sold in New Hampshire by National Powersports, a dealer in Pembroke, near Concord, our state capital.

So, why this subject, today?  See the date on this newspaper article found in our dean's office at XIME, while waiting for lunch to be served:

A lakh is 100,000 of something, be it bikes, or Rupees.  I am tempted to acquire a new thumper, in spite of the fact that a 500cc Bullet costs in the U.S. twice what it does in India.  They are, like Harleys, living dinosaurs in terms of design, but they are, also like Harleys, now benefiting greatly from modern manufacturing technology.

And, they thump.

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