The recent Bike Shed show saw Royal Enfield presented a couple of custom bikes built in-house at their Leicestershire tech centre. Like many of the world's major motorcycle manufacturers, Royal Enfield now has design centres in more than one continent, obviously in India, but also the UK. The two bases have different perspectives, different draws for staff and often work together on the same projects, with the UK base being more plugged into the desires and markets Royal Enfield wish to expand into - Europe and the USA.
We spoke to Adrian Sellers, team leader of Industrial Design at RE, about the customs, particularly the MJR Roach that really caught my eye. It's based on RE's 400cc Himalayan adventure bike. First I asked Adrian to explain the purpose of Royal Enfield making custom bikes.
'There are a couple of benefits. It allows us to test out ideas without the seriousness of a full concept bike. Custom projects are more casual. We don't have to invest £100,000s in the production. The KX concept [a V-twin bobber presented at EICMA 2018] was a full, ground-up concept, with a whole new chassis and engine look, nothing taken from an existing model. It's a very expensive commitment to get feedback from the big industry shows like EICMA. A custom is based on an existing model and it's a lot faster to make. The customs allow us to play with ideas and get a very early read [on opinions]. With social media we get an instant, large and useful feedback.
'We came out with two bikes to allow us to see which way people were leaning and we got very different responses.'
The other custom is the 650 Twin based 'Nought Tea GT' at the bottom of this post.
'The projects were made for fun. Royal Enfield's belief is that their motorcycles should be fun and their employees have fun. The Roach shows what owners could do and it was build out of spare parts and in stock.'
The Roach has a single-sided swingarm and wheel (that looks like a Honda VFR800, but extended. The wheel is definitely Honda). Front end looks generic Japanese 450 MX bike.
'The details and colour are influenced by video game culture from a concept art website,' Adrian explains, 'A vaguely military feel of a future mech warrior, just trying something different.'
Being based on a existing model, even with the rather radical forced induction set up, Adrian confirms, 'It is a full runner and she rips.'
The Roach's turbo hardware
The front subframe/crash bar is largely standard but the four 'spider eye' headlights are all new. The geometric fly screen, shown in the top photo, is actually a Continental GT front mudguard bracket
Radical tank strap.
Additional boost and air/fuel ratio gauges
I want one!
Both these Royal Enfield customs will be at Wheels and Waves and the Cafe Racer Festival.