With none other than Siddhartha Lal, the ever enthusiastic CEO and driving force behind Royal Enfield as Adil Jal Darukhanawala gets him all animated about motorcycles, Royal Enfield, Continental GT, future prospects and what have you in no particular order
Adil Jal Darukhanawala: Three years to the time when you first displayed a cobbled-up concept of a cafe racer at Auto Expo 2010 and even then you got zapped by the response. What took you so long in coming that too with a fast bike; I don’t mean three years but the first all new Royal Enfield in over 60 years?
Siddhartha Lal: Yes it is relatively a fast bike and is based on our existing engine platform but other than that everything is new from the ground up. We wanted to make it a really well handling as well as a solid bike to that extent so we did a lot of work on the engineering. We got Harris Performance who has been doing chassis for Grand Prix bikes for 50 years now but he is the ultimate authority for Café Racers as well. So we went to him and worked with him very closely to get this really good handling bike out.
AJD: You don’t seem to have done anything by half here and I think that shows very crystal clear because motorcycling is all about tactile surfaces, different materials and by and large I have always maintained one thing that if a bike looks good or a product looks good it also invariably is good. I think it stands true for this bike of yours, I think you got it bang on first time out.
SL: Well thanks Adil, I think it is a huge compliment and of course it’s been people like you who have been supporting us and believed in us even sometimes when it was difficult. We have absolutely spared no expense when we have conceived this product. Royal Enfield doesn’t come out with a new product every now and then as you know already.
So when we do that we make sure that we do it properly and every single point of development of this motorcycle we made sure that we put in whatever it takes to come out with a perfect motorcycle whether it was working closely with Harris but it wasn’t just about Harris. It was the fact that we took years of engineering in the ride and handling, we went to tracks and roads around the world to make sure that it really works very well.
ROYAL ENFIELD CONTINENTAL GT FIRST RIDE
AJD: That’s in your DNA now, as I see it just the very fact that you did a consumer centric idea like doing the rides in India, then trying to get to doing rides to validate dynamic ability and I think that’s paid off on this bike.
SL: Yes, absolutely and then we made sure that every single part on this motorcycle has been thought through in great detail, very meticulously. We have got all the bits and pieces because it is a higher performance bike from our stable so we have gone across the world to source the correct bits. We have got a lot of stuff from Japan for example, our fuel injection system, our electrical start system, a lot of the engine work has come in from Japan, we have gone to Italy for a lot of nice bits, we have got really good Brembo brakes which you know are on top of their game. We have got the Paioli gas charged suspension for the rear; we have got Pirelli Sports Demon tyres which are so very vital to the performance and safety aspect, I could go on.
AJD: I like this good measure you have got about componentry, really making its mark to contribute to the whole. It’s not a sum of its parts alone you know it’s more than that.
SL: And therefore even though we have used the best components it’s not about the components its about how they all perform in working as a whole and that’s why we have taken this time and made sure that we have put in the effort. We also wanted this motorcycle to come out of our new plant, so there was no question that it was going to come out anytime before that. We wanted to ensure that it has got the best paint finish in the world.
We wanted to make sure that the type of input we have put into the frame had to be micron perfect. It is the skeleton, the basis of this product and if you are wrong on that you are going to get everything wrong, all your fitments wrong and you going to get your ride and handling wrong and then there is no bike left. We do things in our own way but then eventually we believe that we have come out with something that’s fun.