LABOUR Day is usually a day to chill out with the family and perhaps catch a movie or eat out.
But this Labour Day saw a group of media members chilling out on a slew of new Royal Enfields to catch the sea breeze in Port Dickson, courtesy of RE Motorcycles Sdn. Bhd.
As the new distributor of the brand, RE Motorcycles is keen for the average Malaysian motorcycle enthusiast to know the charms and advantages of owning this old English marque.
Originally English it may be, but Royal Enfield is now fully owned and manufactured in India.
The current surge in interest regarding retro and classic bikes saw a resurgence of the marque throughout the world. In response, Royal Enfield updated its warhorses in many ways and also developed new models and engines as well.
The new 400cc Himalayan will come to our shores soon, says RE Motorcycles director Datuk Chear Kin Keong, who joined us on the ride on his own personal Royal Enfield 500 Classic.
The ride itself was a short 300km loop, from the RE Motorcycles showroom in Section 15, Shah Alam, through Jugra to Morib and finally Port Dickson.
The bikes we sampled were five 500s and one 350 Classic. Of the five 500s, there was one Classic Chrome, one matt black Classic, one “Desert Storm”, one “Army Green” and one Rumbler.
The Rumbler is interesting in that it is the most modern incarnation of the Royal Enfield 500 and fashioned in the cruiser mould with high pullback handlebars and lots of chrome.
The one that brings home the chrome trophy, however, is the aptly named Classic Chrome.
Having tested the Royal Enfield before, I was more interested in the Rumbler (called the Thunderbird in other markets) and the 350 Classic. But I found myself on the Chromemeister on the road to Jugra.
The SKVE highway is definitely not the Royal Enfield’s forte as it requires the bikes to be pushed close to their limits to keep up with traffic. Being new, all the bikes were not run-in. This meant the vibrations were quite harsh at highway speeds.
But Royal Enfields still do need proper running-in (in the old-school style) and will smooth out as the miles roll under their wheels. Remember the adage: Run it in slow and it will be slow, run it in fast and it will be fast. Heaven knows if it works.
Needless to say, the Chromemeister topped out at 135kph on the highway, smoothing out the vibes once at its peak. There appears to be two distinct bands of vibrations but as I was about to find out, each bike is its own individual with different vibration characteristics even though they may share the same engine.
The one item which definitely reduces the vibration is the accessory exhaust system that was installed on Chear’s bike.
Apparently, the lack of backpressure (and subsequent booming noises) helps smoothen out the Royal Enfield appreciably.
Istana Jugra was closed on Labour Day but the newly refurbished mosque nearby, Masjid DiRaja Sultan Alaeddin, proved to be a nice backdrop for pictures.
The trip to Pantai Morib saw me on the matt black 500 Classic. More of the same, only less chrome. A switch to the 350 Classic revealed a different character. Softer and with less power and subsequently less vibration. However, it only tops out at 115kph maximum.
The Rumbler proved to be the elusive one for me. But from my colleagues’ opinions, it appears the Rumbler vibrates less through its handlebars and is capable of around 125kph at the top end. Perhaps this is due to the “sit up and beg” riding position more than anything else.
After lunch and a photo-op at the Si-Rusa beach, we were all on the highway again back to Shah Alam.
The Royal Enfields never missed a beat throughout, even through heavy rain and ham-fisted journos. Personally, if you are looking for a bike to do it all and in comfort, there are many other bikes out there which equal or beat the Royal Enfields. But it would be difficult to find a bike to equal the Royal Enfield’s combination of looks and charm.
That is where the Royal Enfields live: in your heart as you cruise at a decent pace taking in the sights. Stay tuned for more details as we get to test the bikes more thoroughly soon.