INDIA ON A MOTORCYCLE
Royal Enfield was born in Middlessex (United Kingdom) way back in 1890 as a manufacturer of cannons and weapons.The Royal Small Arms Factory, this the name of the factory at that time, builds its first motorcycle 170cc. A few years later, in 1906, was founded the Enfield Autocar Company Limited, where technicians are full-time dedicated in building cars and the design of two-wheeled vehicles with great success, both commercial and sports. During the first world war is the Royal Enfield to supply weapons and various types of motorcycles to the British armed forces. In 1948 it comes the Bullet 350 cc, derived from the model G346 of the army, which in the same year won the “international six days Enduro”. In 1953 the Bullet implements its engine displacement up to 500 cc.
The birth of a legend that remains unchanged to this day. Unfortunately, soon will come the 60s, that will mark the decline of almost the entire British motorcycle industry. That’s how, in 1965, even the Royal Enfield stops the production of the legendary motorcycles at home. The fate of Royal Enfield, however, survive thanks to the Indian Government, who decides to adopt for its own border police forces the Bullet 350, whose characteristics of sturdiness and reliability are deemed adequate to the difficult service. The decision to transfer the line production in Chennai, in southern India.It remains, therefore, in India the production line of Bullet and continues to operate under license from the headquarters; the sale of Bullet remains, therefore, designed almost exclusively to the local market.
I was in Goa when, one morning, toasting with a “chai” along with an Iranian man named Lior I’ve closed the deal, I came into possession of an old Bullet. The rust was giving to this ‘75 tool (exactly my age) a charm, a unique beauty and charisma. The smile, though, immediately disappears from my face I start struggling once with her. The whole morning is lost kicking on that lever to get it started. Around me it formed the usual group of onlookers and pundits who begins to scream: “No, you have to press the lever switch, noo, lower the pedal, turn the faucet, close he screw..!!”. I become very nervous. In the end though, there she goes! The infernal rumble of 500cc cylinder air-cooled, coming out of the chrome exhaust pipe, fills my heart. The audience now is applauding. The smile is back. I get on. For a while I taste the soul of this that is a bike that belong to another era. The word “technological innovation” does not exist. The seat is very uncomfortable. I will never forget the feeling of the contact of those springs, which they will leave some sort of permanent tattoo in my area. The gear pedal is on the right (gears that are inserted on the other way around).
The brake pedal is on the left. The speedometer and the indicator of the level of gasoline are broken. no mirrors, no direction indicators. The plate is a piece of sheet metal with hand-painted symbols (that someone invented). The audience is back to rule: “don’t worry, the Bullet is made like a gun and runs like a bullet. And remember that you’re not just riding a bike, but also the story. Only two things are important: gasoline and a powerful horn “. Well, let’s check the documents then. I took the papers. A kind of holy Shroud that crumbles in your hands as I try to open it. When I ask if road tax and insurance are in place, people look at me not knowing what I’m talking about.
I will realize by the time you do not need any paperwork by going down the street. Simply stretch a few more rupees to the police that will stop you at roadblocks.. And the helmet? It is not mandatory. The law only says that you have to “circulate with the head protected”. A scarf, a hat or a pan can be good… Everything is ready, let’s go, then! At 5 the next morning the roar of my tractor awaken any living being on the entire planet. It starts… Two months and over two thousand kilometres. An unforgettable memory. I cannot forget the reflections of the pink sun that radiate on the chrome of my travel companion. Her, which I learned to hear, to listen. She was the one who, almost every day, decided when it was the time to stop.
Hours banging on the pedal without signs of response, brush plugs burned by fourth choice gasoline fourth choice .To wait for a good soul that I could load me on a cart, and then come back with half a bottle of gasoline.The gaze constantly alert while disentangled between buses, tuk-tuk, scooters, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks, dogs, goats, cows, oxen and monkeys. Watchful eyes to absorb, look and learn. The thin layer of oil and dust that covers my arms protecting me from sun burns. How many times those big trucks overtaking me, on the side of which you feel a gnat, they led me astray.
But it is not with an arrogant behavior that this lover will answer me. Enfields can seem indestructible at a first glance, but they are notoriously unreliable. Just run 100 meters on board of one of them and you’ll understand why: there is not a single screw which does not vibrate; smoke and oil then emerge everywhere. And there is not a single mechanic who doesn’t tell you that everything is perfectly normal, indeed: “If it don’t lose oil means that something is wrong!”. Travel on the hot tarmac in India with my Royal Enfield, is without doubt the most amazing experience of my life!