Just yesterday, on the blog, we noted that Johnny Lewis was on the AFT Production Twins entry list, but we weren't 100% sure he was racing because we'd see a social media post he made hinting the Harris-framed Royal Enfield twin arrived from the UK on midweek, or at least was uncrated midweek. But, as these photos show, JL10 was out yesterday and muscling the new bike around harder than just about anyone else on track.
We've been following this project since it was a concept bike, when we posted a story about the Harris Royal Enfield Twin FT Concept. We'd watched with interest Johnny's trips to India and his launch of the Royal Enfield Slide School in the USA. We recently ran a feature on his first US test of the concept in Sideburn 41, Johnny writing about the development and hopes for the project. Things have moved fast for a manufacturer who has not only never competed in pro flat track but, to my knowledge, never competed in pro level racing full-stop. That's not to say they're lacking in relevant experience, thanks in no small part to the acquisition of road racing specialists and famed chassis developers and manufacturers, Harris Performance.
The engine, as AFT Production Twins rules demand, is road bike-based - from the Interceptor/ Continental GT 650, but bored out, within the rules and, we're guessing, well tweaked in terms of clutch, intake and exhaust. We understand the majority of the engine work was carried out at Royal Enfield's UK R&D centre, with some additional input from RE's technical partner S&S. We'd heard from S&S top brass how excited they were about an Enfield project long before even the concept was released.
While the racer looks similar to the concept, the frame it completely different. Instead of the concept bike's duplex loop that circles the engine, the brazed steel frame runs from the swingarm pivot at the rear to near the exhaust headers at the front, where it meets a bolt-on engine mounting subframe that mounts below the front of the engine. This bolt-on subframe looks beautifully made, but I don't know how it was made. Machined from solid, 3D printed? The engine's r/h side casing appears to be machined from solid/printed, while the left side looks like a standard casting.
The swingarm differs too, even the angle of the shock seems different to Concept. The front forks are now Öhlins, not the Harris ones the Concept was fitted with, and the headstock is shorter too. Plus there are air scoops behind the headstock. Perhaps for cooling, the parallel twin is air-cooled after all. Perhaps it's to feed the intake, but the bike seems to have open filters, not an enclosed airbox normally associated with ramair style intakes.
Johnny, who has qualified for mains on a huge range of different manufacturers' bikes and chassis showed his experience in qualifying and the semis. Because of the recent arrival of the bike, he was in at the deep end, doing his testing in the race, but still came third in his 7-rider semi.
He started strong in the main, running at the front for the first couple of laps before fading somewhat (and understandably, it's a brand new bike with zero data to help set-up), finishing sixth from 15 starters, just 0.6 behind Danny Eslick's Kawasaki and 5s ahead of Nik Armstrong's Yamaha.
We expect Johnny to be on track for day two of the Williams Grove HM today. Can he go one better and claim fifth?
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The project in Johnny's own words in Sideburn 41
Photos: Scott Hunter, Kristen Lassen/American Flat Track