Royal Enfield is a company founded a long time ago when George Townsend Jr. and his brother attempted to build their own motorcycle. Because it came with wooden wheels and iron-made rolling surface, most people actually made fun of the two brothers. However, Townsend continued the development process and a few years later, he managed to roll out a bicycle equipped with two equal size wheels. Moreover, he easily migrated to buying and selling bicycle parts but he always tried to continue the work and build new bicycles.
Due to financial problems, Towsend was forced to ask for help in 1890 when a couple of Birmingham investors took over his business. Along with the investors, R.W. Smith and Albert Eadle also joined the company in order to re-organize it for new projects. After Albert Eadle received a supplier contract for the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield, the company decided to create a special bicycle that would be named Enfield.
This way, both the investors and the two designers founded a new company, dubbed The Enfield Manufacturing Co. Ltd, in 1892 in order to promote the bike. Thanks to the contract with the Royal Small Arms Factory, the term Royal was attached to the new name of the company, so the company became Royal Enfield.
The first vehicle produced by Royal Enfield and equipped with an engine was released in 1898 and was a quadricycle, similar to an ATV, which produced 2.7 horsepower. However, the first motorcycle was officially released 1901 and was equipped with an engine providing a displacement of 150cc and 1.5 horsepower.
In 1910, the company rolled out one of the most famous motorcycles ever released by the company, a bike equipped with a V-twin 344cc engine which developed 2.7 horsepower. The next models where equipped with engines developed by Enfield during the First World War.
In 1924, Enfield rolled out what was the first four-stroke motorcycle which had a JAP engine providing a displacement of 350cc. The design of the bike was dramatically improved, the manufacturer installing saddle tanks on every model. A few years later, Enfield started producing 488cc motorcycles which had 4-speed gearboxes.
During the '60s, the English manufacturer started encountering problems due to the dominance of the Japanese motorcycle companies which started expanding all around the world, gaining audience with their high-performance bikes. As a reply to its rivals, Royal Enfield developed the Series I and Series II of the Interceptor, a motorcycle which could reach a maximum speed of 175 km/h. Although these models were pretty successful in the United States, the company started experiencing problems so it decided to close the Redditch factory in 1967 and the Bradford-on-Avon in 1970.
At this time, the Royal Enfield brand lives trough the Enfield Industrial Estate which currently owns a few factories in Redditch.
In 1955, in order to help the Indian Army, a small factory opened its doors in Madras. Royal Enfield India had a lot of work there, assembling hundreds of bikes and soon the company started to manufacture the 500cc Bullet, a bike which has been manufactured even after the UK factory closed in 1970.
Twenty years later, Royal signed an alliance with the Eicher Group and even merged with it in 1994. This group aimed to manufacture multiple types of vehicles including tractors, commercial vehicles and motorcycles.