Bikernet Blog Search Bikernet
Ride Forever -
Friday Edition

The Financial Weightage of Light-Weight Motorcycles

Volume Sales, Fuel-efficiency, On-road manoeuvrability

by Ujjwal Dey

Share this story:

Well, if you are new to the planet – money does make the wheels go round and round. The obvious benefits of motorcycling are often missed by the Western media because they cannot see beyond the large V-Twins and color-patch-wearing ‘outlaw’ motorcyclists. It’s almost as if these Ivy League grad journalists are stuck in a 1950s movie rerun.

Why did Japanese motorcycle wave wipe-out the UK and then almost the US motorcycling brands?

What was the circumstances in the 1970s and now?

How different is the global economy at present?

1. Not only are motorcycles meant for recreation, it is a legitimate and essential commuter vehicle on most parts of the world.

2. Tiny Jap engines saved petrol at an era when petrol crises plagued the world and petro-dollars came into creation.

3. At present, Asia, South America and Africa purchase more two-wheelers than USA probably did in its entire existence (or rather since motorcycles existed).

4. Lighter the weight of the motorcycles, the easier it is for vast majority of the world’s population to maneuver the motorcycle.

Got a puncture? Out of gasoline? You may not be able to move the V-Twin, but you would be able to push a smaller engine motorcycle to the side of the road all by yourself.

First time riding a motorcycle? Well, why not try to learn riding a horse rather than riding an elephant?
A decade ago, almost all manufacturers released fairly uninspired, derivative lightweight motorcycles that fit the commuter model, and sold like hot cakes irrespective of lacking common features in American bikes. Not to mention they were fugly like Satan’s spawn.

They would make the mid-weight class look like a run-of-the-mill hack job, with the primary focus on cutting costs wherever possible.

Thankfully, Royal Enfield changed all of that and stepped up its game with each new model release.

Lightweight motorcycles are finally getting the attention and respect they deserve. They are not only saviors of the motorcycle manufacturing industry, they are letting people keep their jobs while adding new avenues to employment through aftermarket parts, accessories and apparel finally getting some sales momentum in Asia.
New riders won’t settle for a motorcycle they can’t be proud of. Internet gives them the lowdown and breakdown of every model with multiple owner-reviews, videos, 360 degree photos, at the press of a button.

Primarily, they can now easily evaluate which motorcycles the manufacturers themselves are proud of, as well.

In mythology, a Lord Hanuman sets fire to the golden city of demons. Allegorically, these crap lightweight two-wheeler makers were the demons torturing the masses who needed motorcycles and scooters for daily use. Then an Indo-British company grabbed larger and meatier pieces of the sales pie-charts month after month, growing (literally) exponentially every year. They saw opportunity where others saw a fantasy. Enfield was the Hanuman that destroyed the mediocrity in lightweight and mid-weight motorcycles.

If in 2007, instead of my first Enfield Bullet 350, I had purchased equity shares of the company equivalent to the price of the motorcycle – I would’ve been a millionaire in 2017.

Such was the wildfire and brand mania generated by their new UCE engine, then the Classic 350 retro design and to top it off, an upgraded J1 engine platform. And you know what?

The fire is still blazing!

Enfield is selling dozens of motorcycles of each of its 9 models everyday – with each of them available in multiple variants. Their success and brand recall was such that they also launched a “Make It Yours” app and campaign encouraging the youth to customize their motorcycles as per their vision.

Youth is the key; India has the largest youth population in the world – which means there are millions of educated employed young men and women buying two-wheelers and four-wheelers.

This is reflecting in the sales of four-wheelers as well. Just as young India has passed on purchase of 100cc or 125cc motorcycles, going for 350 or 650cc Enfield engines – similarly, sales of compact cars have dropped sharply in India. The purchasing power, passion and ambition is driving sales of sedans and SUVs.

No wonder, Enfield surprised, nay, rocked their world with a Meteor 650cc tourer which is truly a best-in-class touring motorcycle. It looks better than its Japanese counterparts, more affordable than its European ancestors, very lightweight compared to the American legends.

Enfield has made a large dent globally, by setting up dealerships across UK and Europe. They have a North America HQ right there in Milwaukee, heart of motorcycling industry. Flat-track racing got them noticed and BUILD-TRAIN-RACE program truly made them endearing to custom culture community in USA.

Just as in Hollywood, lot of the macho-image for Enfield in India comes from the movie industry. Out of 121 languages recognized by India, 22 are used commonly in government and civilian life. So, in such a diverse culture, having a common aspect of action-hero on an Enfield is not a small miracle – it’s a reflection of history and society.

Enfield was first imported and then manufactured under license in India for use of its military and police officers. In fact, even today you might spot an Enfield rifle in a third-tier city or village of India. No, you can’t auction that Enfield rifle on Ebay because its government property and civilians are not allowed ownership of guns.

Well, what’s the next best thing to an Enfield Rifle?

Made Like a Gun, Goes Like a Bullet !

No, it’s not a bird or a plane or Superman – it’s the Royal Enfield 350cc Std Bullet model motorcycle – which has never been out of production ever since it was conceived in Enfield, UK. Yes, that is indeed a world record for longest running production model in the world.

What Enfield did for motorcycles, TVS Motors did for scooters. TVS’ innovative design and functionality boosted its scooter brand, thus fighting Honda which had the largest chunk of scooter sales.

So, whereas Europe and USA wants to ban all gasoline engine vehicles, instead of downsizing their ‘gassy’-burger – the Asian, South American and African nations are ‘supersizing’ their two-wheelers.

This is an appetite for destruction. Kipling was right. East is East and the West is West; and never shall the twain meet.

USA’s push for ethanol is reflected in Asia as well. India allows far more ethanol in petrol than their American counterparts. This is because India imports 86% of its crude oil requirements. Hence, to save the pretty petro-dollars, India is giving plenty of sops and subsidies for electric vehicles and allowing ethanol in petroleum.

Yet, there is no consensus among consumers and rightly so. The bloody electric thingies explode on a daily basis. In a nation plagued by terrorists from their unfriendly neighborhood Jihadistan – last thing office-going regular folk want is explosions in the streets and homes.

A benefit USA has over Asia is the number of nuclear power reactors. Asian and African economies depend on coal, hydro-power and other fossil fuels to generate electricity. Therefore, saving of crude oil import while burning more fossil-fuel for electricity basically defeats the entire purpose of switching to electric vehicles. Saving our environment, the planet Earth, if it needs to be saved.

Enfield Shotgun 650 showcased at EICMA
Enfield Shotgun 650 showcased at EICMA

Its stealing from the left hand to feed the right hand – the stomach being of the same person!

In conclusion, all one can say is ICE engines is far from getting dissolved into evil through the lens of global warming. Motorcycles and scooters should be replacing those huge SUVs and sedans. Unless you car-pool daily, you are not in need of a car. This is especially true in most nations outside USA. In India there is a ‘luxury tax’ on certain products which are clearly waste of money by the super-rich. Surely, a$$holes who ride a gigantic truck-sized SUV alone to work in bottle-neck traffic of metro cities in India should not be paying the same price for gas as a motorcycle rider or compact-car driver.
Tax people per square meter of their vehicle size when selling them petrol or diesel. Similar to real estate.

If I have a gigantic motorcycle, make me pay more and make the four-wheel-drive riding maniac pay a whole lot more.

Like I said earlier, in my previous related article (click here), “people don’t change when they are given a choice, people change when there is no choice.”

Meanwhile, celebrate lightweight motorcycles. It's healthy just like you on your bathroom weighing scales. Volume sales for the company, fuel-efficiency for the government, and ease of use for you the rider.

Share this story:

Back to Of Cultural Interest, Special Reports

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.