Okay, let’s admit it, Royal Enfield is a must-have brand in India for many. However, when you say ‘Royal Enfield’, many connect to these — Desert Storm, Himalayan, the Twins, and the numerous limited-edition models that I can’t get my head around or justify the cost and limited edition-ness.
This is already causing arguments, I know, but there are more important models out there, or there were. Before the Classics came out, Royal Enfield had already built a strong base in India, more of a cult following. There were limited edition motorcycles that offered performance with a catch — you had to connect with the motorcycle than just ride it.
Let’s take a look at some of the Royal Enfield models that set a benchmark, rather some of the must-have models from the Royal Enfield lineup that are now discontinued.
No, not the one that strikes your mind first. We are referring to the good old ‘Bullet’ that came with a cast-iron engine and the shifter on the right. These models were the longest produced Royal Enfields and were the chosen ones when it came to the police, military, motorcycle enthusiasts, tourers, adventurers, and more.
The motorcycle was slow, but in the right hands, was a formidable motorcycle. They were reliable and when maintained right, they run forever. These motorcycles were known for their unique hand-painted pinstripes and were the most customised motorcycle in India for a long time.
The Standard 500 was a more powerful option of the 350, which still retained the cast-iron engine and the right-side shift 4-speed gearbox. The 500s were chosen by a handful of hard-core enthusiasts who wanted something more than what the 350 offered, and it did. The Standard 500 made immense torque from its single-cylinder engine and quickly became popular with those who loved riding long distance.
Some even went as far as swapping the original 4-speed gearbox with a new 5-speed unit form the AVL models that made the Standard 500 even more capable. Even till date, a used Standard 500 costs more than a lakh, while some never want to part ways.
Also called the A350, this was Royal Enfiled first transition from cast-iron engines to Aluminium engines that came to be known as AVL engines or ‘Lean Burn’ engines. The first of these models, the A350s came with an Aluminium engine, while retaining the same design of the engine.
Slight tweaks were made to the cylinder head and other parts, while most of the layout stayed the same, including the 4-speed gearbox from the Standard 350. The motorcycle came with a unique carburettor that helped improve the performance of the motorcycle and quickly became popular with the younger generation.
The launch of the Machismo 350 changed the way the Royal Enfield motorcycles were perceived and attracted the younger generation. In essence, the Machismo 350 or the lean-burn 350 (LB350) was the A350 wearing shiny new clothes that sported a 5-speed gearbox and for the first time, the shift was on the left side.
The motorcycle became an immediate hit as Royal Enfield offered optional disc brakes up front, electric start, and a host of accessories to customise the motorcycle. This engine also powered the Thunderbird, which was focused on touring.
Machismo 500 (LB500)
As Royal Enfield did with the Standards, the company came up with a 500cc version, popularly called the LB500. The motorcycle quickly became a hit as those looking for a powerful motorcycle to ride long distances opted for this as it had a disc brake up front, an electric start, and loads of torque (40Nm).
The LB500 was quick, and soon became the chosen model for custom bike builders and enthusiasts. Even to date, a used LB500 fetches a lot of money and in a similar scenario to the Standard 500, enthusiasts refuse to part ways.
So which of the 5 motorcycles listed above is your favourite? Or can you think of a Royal Enfield model that you feel would fit this list? Let us know in the comments section.
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