Riding around Rajasthan on a motorcycle is like being dropped into a period drama, where the architecture, the people, the customs and the landscape look very much like they did a hundred years ago. Royal Enfield’s Classic 500 is a rather convincing retro motorcycle too, in the way it looks at least. But it’s also a modern electronic fuel-injected machine launched in late 2009 that carries on the spirit of the original. Two new variants of the Classic 500 were revealed recently at The Serai, an elegant and luxurious tented camp, cleverly tucked away in the scrublands, thirty kilometres outside Jaisalmer.

The Classic 500s were introduced at a massive Ayer’s Rock-type sand dune thirty kilometres from the camp, complete with the popping of bubbly at sunset. The styling is spot-on for a modern-retro motorcycle. Both variants look smashing. The Classic Chrome (Rs 1,65,400, on road, Mumbai) has acres of, well, chrome, that is tastefully offset by a minimal paint scheme of your choice, as long as it is a deep maroon or black, edged with the trademark gold pin-striping on the tank and fenders.

The brawny Desert Storm (Rs 1,58,200, on road, Mumbai) has a monochromatic matt sand paint that will appeal to the no-bling crowd. True to the Royal Enfield character, the motorcycle is no ferocious rubber-laying road-burner, but this is a bike aimed at those more interested in style and an easy ride. The rumble, shake and twist of the two-valve motor are visceral and don’t put out an old-school vibe. Once underway, the engine smoothens out to the trademark thump. The acceleration is nothing to get excited about, but the torque is flat and usable at just about any rpm. The Royal Enfield really is a time machine, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than building your own.

Leave a Reply