About 5 years ago I came across a video on Youtube of an Indian guy hand-painting the gold pinstripes onto the petrol tank of a Royal Enfield motorcycle. In a country where traditional skills often haven’t been mechanised: the skill, craftsmanship and mastery of the brush was something sincerely Indian and completely fascinating to watch.
India’s relationship with the British built Royal Enfield Bullet began in 1949 when the Indian Army ordered Royal Enfield Bullets for border patrol use. The bikes were imported in kit form from the UK and assembled in Chennai.
Before long Enfield India Ltd soon developed and opened a production factory completely independently under licence in Madras. The 1955, Indian built Royal Enfield Bullet model remained almost unchanged for years and the Madras plant produced over 20,000 Bullets annually.
The Bullet is now produced in Chennai and has the longest production run of any motorcycle having remained continuously in production since 1948. The Bullet marque is even older, and has passed 75 years of continuous production.
The company has now reached cult status within India and has begun to cash in on its celebrity as the Indian economy grows. Trendy outlets selling the Retro Street range of Bullets can also sell you colour coordinated helmets, leather jackets and knitwear to complete the look.