Royal Enfield is a company that's clearly on the move. After years of slow sales and little money, the company has seen a remarkable upturn in sales and it's currently growing at about 35-40 per cent every quarter. Hence its claim of being the fastest growing motorcycle company in the world. They announced that they were starting work on their UK technical centre and now they've acquired Harris Performance, a renowned UK-based engineer firm with a long history of development, engineering and success with motorcycles.
Royal Enfield Continental GT
A short press release reveals that Royal Enfield, which falls under the Eicher Motors umbrella, has acquired "all assets, employees, trade names, technical know-now and intellectual property" of Harris Performance Products limited. Royal Enfield has stayed away from disclosing the monetary size of the deal so far.
Royal Enfield CEO Siddartha Lal said, "Royal Enfield is working on its new generation of products and platforms. To have the Harris Performance team dedicatedly working with us will clearly enhance our engineering and product design capabilities. All the current staff at Harris Performance will become employees of Royal Enfield, taking responsibility of performance and development engineering of our new range of motorcycles. They will be part of the UK Tech Centre."
The RE UK Tech Centre is still to become fully functional but we understand the plan is that once it's up and ready, all of the Harris operation will be relocated to the new facility. Harris was started over four decades ago by brothers Steve and Lester Harris along with Stephen Bayford. They're the same outfit that was responsible for developing the frame for the Continental GT.
Just days earlier, Royal Enfield revealed in their quarterly press release that they were working on two new platforms between 250cc and 750cc. This is the first official confirmation of the new platform rumours that have been around for almost a year now.
We believe the first platform to see light of day will be the new motorcycle likely to be named Himalayan. Supposed to be an adventure tourer or scrambler in design, the motorcycle is expected to debut the first of the two aforementioned platforms, a 410cc single-cylinder. Spy shots suggest that the externally the top of the engine looks similar to the 535cc unit from the Continental GT. However, the bottom of the engine looks new and if it comes with a new gearbox, it would make for a much crisper, much faster motorcycle straight away.
The spy shots also show a completely new frame with a much longer swingarm and a rear monoshock. From the spy shot, you can see a rectangular frame that runs under the tank and back out to the subframe. A curved lower chassis pipe, most likely tubular, runs down and most probably splits into a cradle - it isn't clear from the images we have. Also visible are low-set footpegs that are set slightly forward of where, for example, the Continental GT's are placed. Also, the rake (or caster) looks a degree or two sharper than the Continental GT.
Royal Enfield have made it clear that they do not intend to have motorcycles that produce frantic, extreme performance. As such, we would expect to see the 410cc single makes something like 35-38PS along with a healthy dose of torque. A lighter frame and a less lossy drivetrain should produce a motorcycle that's got a lovely torquey demeanour and startlingly greater performance than RE's more traditional engines and platforms.
The other platform We are hearing rumours of a 650cc twin cylinder but there is no official word on either and the twin cylinder engine is definitely at least eight months to a year out.
Harris Engineering, to return to where we started, is not RE's sole acquisition on the engineering prowess side. RE had earlier brought on board legendary designer Pierre Terblanche, the South African credited with many motorcycles including the Ducati 999 and the first Multistrada.
The company tells us that the supervision of Harris as well as the UK Tech Centre will be within the current structure. The sharing of responsibilities elicited a more mixed response - some of the work will be done here in Chennai and some of it will be out of the new UK facilities.
And now we wait for Royal Enfield to blow us away with stunning new motorcycles with modern performance, reliability and feel.