Royal Enfield motorcycles are world famous for their heritage and retro classic look. In fact, the brand is the oldest motorcycle brand in the world that is still in production with the Bullet series being the oldest running bike series in the world. Royal Enfield has had an involvement with the army since a very long time and still is the bike of choice for the Indian army. In fact, it initially was a firearms manufacturing company and therefore the slogan ‘Made like a Gun’. Let’s now get to know about RE bikes and their Military connect in more detail.
The Flying Flea
The Flying Flea was a lightweight motorcycle developed by Royal Enfield for the British War Office during the time of the Second World War. Its original name was WD/RE 125 (WD for War Department) and was built as a means of transport for the British paratroopers that could be dropped by parachute or carried in gliders. The image above shows its compact dimensions. It was powered by a 125cc air-cooled 2-stroke engine that produced 3.5 hp of power at 4,500 rpm. It was dropped with a protective cradle around but only a few bikes were deployed on the field using this style.
Bullet cast iron 350 and 500
The connection between the Indian army and Royal Enfield bikes goes all the way back to the time of our Independence. The Indian government ordered the first batch of Royal Enfield motorcycles in 1949 for the use of border patrol. In 1955, Royal Enfield partnered with Madras Motors in India to form Enfield India and started assembling the bike locally in the country. The Indian Army was still the major buyer the Cast Iron Bullet series. Well kept pieces of either of these two can fetch a pretty big sum in the used market.
Classic 500 Pegasus
Royal Enfield Classic 500 Pegasus was a limited edition model from the brand that is a tribute to the Flying Flea motorcycle. It was limited to only 1,000 units worldwide and the Indian market gets the biggest share of 250 units. The fuel tank of the Pegasus also features stencilled numbering for each of the bikes sold. It features a similar paint job as was available on the original flying flea motorcycle, that is, olive green and service brown. However, Olive Green colour was not made available in India owing to the fact that it is reserved for exclusive use by military vehicles here.
Classic 350 Signals
The Classic 350 Signals Edition celebrates the bikemaker’s association with the Indian Army’s Corps of Signals. It was also the first bike in the company’s lineup that came with ABS as standard. All the chrome bits on the Classic 350 are blacked out on the Signals Edition. It is available in two colour options – Airborne Blue and Storm Rider Sand both of which gel well with the tan-coloured single seat offered with the new Signals Edition of the Classic 350. The fuel tank features stencilled numbering for each of the bikes sold along with the logo of the Army Corps of Signals.
Classic 500 Squadron Blue
The Classic 500 Squadron Blue is inspired by various Royal Enfield bikes in service that are serving air force corps across the world. In a way, it is a tribute to Royal Enfield’s association with the armed forces. The Indian Air Force started using Royal Enfield in the 1950s, most popularly used by the Air Force Police. The Classic 500 Squadron Blue takes design cues from the post-war design of the Royal Enfield motorcycles while maintaining the modern appeal of the bike. This one’s dedicated to the high fliers then.
Classic 500 Battle Green
The Royal Enfield Classic 500 Battle Green is a homage by the company to the Army soldiers providing services on their Royal Enfields since World War II. It comes with a unique paint scheme which reminds one of the war era. It mixes the typical Royal Enfield retro bits in a timeless design to create a retro-modern aura. The styling and design of the bike has been kept similar to the regular Classic model with the only change being the matte green paint.