Royal Enfield hits the road with quieter models

Sales are once again booming at Royal Enfield, a 119-year-old Anglo-Indian motorcycle maker which has brought its distinctive bikes into the modern era with new and quieter engines, but is finding it hard to roll them out fast enough to cater to the demand.

The company that had almost a laidback attitude sold 74,600 motorcycles in 2011, a 40-per cent increase, all made at its 57-year-old factory in Chennai, and is in the process of upgrading the manufacturing investing $30 million in a bid to double capacity.

The waiting period now for customers is six to nine months.

"Paradoxically, the more we make the more we appear to be falling behind. Only when the new plant kicks in fully next year will we be able to fully address the waiting periods," Venki Padmanabhan, chief executive officer of Royal Enfield Motors, told Reuters.

The bike now sports a new engine in place of the antiquated cast iron engine, which has resulted in boosting acceleration, performance, mileage and reliability besides cutting emissions.

The company is almost synonymous with the powerful Bullet model, but what is driving growth is the Classic series sold 10 million motorbikes were last year.

According to George Koshy who owns four Royal Enfield bikes, including a Classic 500, the company had finally got the markings, the logo and the colour schemes perfect.