Royal Enfield Bullet. Built like a gun, goes like a bullet. And, yes, a factory in Chennai, in India, has kept this British motorcycle brand going for more than six decades...
From Redditch, Worcestershire, in the UK, to Chennai, in India, has been a long journey for Royal Enfield. And a very remarkable one. The company started making motorcycles in the UK at sometime in the late-1890s, did well for a few decades and then went into decline by the late-1960s. By 1971, it was all over for Royal Enfield in the UK.
However, Royal Enfield motorcycles have also been sold in India since 1949. ‘Enfield of India’ had started assembling Bullet motorcycles in India in 1956 (with most components being imported from the UK) and was manufacturing complete bikes by 1962. In the year 1995, Enfield of India also bought the right to the ‘Royal Enfield’ name, and the company is still building various versions of the Bullet 350 and the Bullet 500. In fact, Royal Enfield is now officially the oldest motorcycle brand in the world that’s still in production, and the Royal Enfield Bullet has the distinction of having the longest motorcycle production run of all time!
The Bullet has become something of a cult classic with fans of classic British motorcycles and the machine, which has been built in Chennai, in India, for more than the last six decades, is now exported to more than twenty countries worldwide. If Britain has adopted the chicken tikka masala as its national bird, India has returned the favour by adopting the Royal Enfield Bullet as its national motorcycle. That a part of the former British motorcycle industry lives on in a city in Southern India is a bit surprising, but for Royal Enfield, it’s a happy ending after all.