They are both over a century old. They were both born in Britain. They had a great rivalry for several decades. Now, they have met up again, and seem ready to resume their rivalry.
Meet Royal Enfield and Triumph, motorcycle makers. Ostensibly, there is little to fuel a rivalry. RE builds single-cylinder, stoical and inexpensive bikes that are famous for getting the work done. Triumph, the maker of the sporting Daytona and the humungous Rocket III, is famous for its three-cylinder engines, high performance and luxury branding.
Triumph launched its range in India last month, with bookings to commence this week. Coincidentally, two days before Triumph’s entry, Royal Enfield launched a retro bike called Continental GT, based on and named after a popular Royal Enfield bike of the 1960s, suitably modernised and upgraded.
Speaking on the occasion, RE’s CEO, Sidhartha Lal, said in Goa: “We want to bring the fun back into biking. I think there is space for a bike like this, something that is not excessive and will not cost the earth... rather than oversized bikes with power that you cannot really use.”
The Continental GT has RE’s biggest engine, a single-cylinder 535 cc.
Two days later, Vimal Sumbly, CEO, Triumph India, introduced the 865-cc, 3-cylinder Thruxton in his lineup: “I have been hearing a lot about cafe racers in the last few days. THIS is the real cafe racer.”
Triumph is developing a 250-cc bike for launch in 2015, which would be built in India.
Four days later, RE also announced that it is developing a 250-cc bike. The segment is dominated by Honda’s CBR 250R. Incidentally, Honda was the bane of both the British companies in the 1970s, when they folded up for a while.
Watch this space.
Disclaimer: Royal Enfield clarifies that it has made no announcement that it is developing a 250cc motorcycle