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Royal Enfield Prepares High-Performance Bikes for the International Markets

It looks like Royal Enfield is finally taking firm steps towards a new era in the company's long and extraordinary history. A recent statement made by Siddhartha Lal, MD and CEO of Eicher Motors - which owns Royal Enfield, reveals plans to make RE a solid presence in international markets.
Royal Enfield Continental GT engine detail 1 photo
If anything, Royal Enfield's current line-up is the closest a bike enthusiast can get to actual retro two-wheelers. From the smallest bikes to the top-of-the-line 500cc machines, Royal Enfield has managed to retain the retro character of their machines for quite a long time, only adding upgrades with careful moderation.

We know that the Asian motorcycle market behaves in an entirely different way than what we are used to in Europe and North America. Half-liter machines are regarded as "big bikes" in Asia, while the 100-200cc segment authoritatively dominates the markets.

A brand with a cult following in India and even with fans outside the country, Royal Enfield, however, fails to impress in international markets. Their Continental GT cafe racer is probably the bike with the highest chances to sell outside India, but its performance specs are still far behind similar western builds.Mr. Lal admits that the thing plaguing Royal Enfield's sales potential in the international markets is the lack of power
"There are a lot of things we need to do, which would be on the products and some off the products. Clearly, while we have had some success in these markets as quirky, vintage, old-school motorcycles, these are not understood as highway-worthy motorcycles in those markets. This I believe is the current position. In the future, some of our motorcycles, let’s say the existing style of motorcycles, which are known for being underpowered, will be the city models. I can understand why people might not like to ride a Classic 500 as a long-distance tourer in the USA. Therefore, we look to reposition these motorcycles, which are referred to as slower bikes, as city motorcycles," Mr. Lal tells autocarindia.

With half-liter machines that tip the scales at around 200 kg (441 lb) but can only produce under 30 horsepower and 44 Nm (32.4 lb-ft) of torque, it's easy to understand why the enthusiasm is not at an all-time high, if you allow us to be a bit sarcastic.

And this is the case with the Continental GT, the brawniest machine in the fleet. The rest of the models fare even worse, and Mr. Lal says that they will be referred to as "city bikes" in the future company language.

More potent motorcycles will be engineered, Mr. Lal says, increasing the chances Royal Enfield has to penetrate international markets. Now, power is only one of the things that must be improved, with the build quality and the reliability of the new models being next on Royal Enfield's "to do" list.

"Then we will have a new range of motorcycles that we will be coming out with. These will be higher performance, not superfast, but certainly proper highway-worthy models for the established, developed markets," Siddhartha Lal added.

Sources close to the Indian motorcycle industry say that the most likely option for Royal Enfield's new platform is a 600-650cc twin engine. Exactly when these bikes will arrive is still a thing of mystery.

Also, another Indian manufacturer, Hero, has similar plans.


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