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The Bikes

Driving around the world in a vintage Royal Enfield is maybe not the wisest decision we could make.

While traveling we have two very different and polarized reactions about the bikes. Those who do not know anything about them like the bikes a lot, the design, the sound... It is a freaking good looking bike indeed. Now, the bikers and those who know a bit about Royal Enfield ask us if we are crazy. They are right as well, those bikes are not made for this.

So why did we choose them? To get the answer, you will have to experience a ride on a Royal Enfield. The sound of the monocylinder roaring as you open full throttle, the vibrations, the bike is nearly alive. The bike contributes to make this adventure even more adventurous. The mechanical problems are now an integral part of our journey, and if at first we avoided checking them ourselves and asked for the help of mechanics, now we dig deep into the problems and we know our bikes much better. It is an exhilarating feeling to be able to fix your own bike - to be independent.

The love story started with Léopold’s first visit to India early 2014. Over there, the Royal Enfield is the king of the road. The Enfield is venerated. Indians drive them proudly and gracefully through the crowded streets. In the perpetual noise of Indian cities, the roar of a Royal Enfield is the only enjoyable sound. Back in Belgium, Léopold devised a plan to bring one back from India. There were two options available, either shipping it by boat or driving it back. A decision was quickly made.

What seemed like a dream at first became more and more concrete, even more when Thibault and Donald joined the adventure. Starting around the bike, what was just a trip became the project that we called ͞The Royal Silk Road.

We were already in love with the bike but we never drove one. In September 2015 we - the three of us - went for a short trip to New Delhi, to do a test ride for a few days and choose a mechanics to prepare our bikes. We went to Karol Bagh, a part of the city dedicated to all kinds of mechanics. We went to talk to several shops, and in the end, we choose to work with Joga Motors. Rana, the manager, made a very good impression upon us – particularly that she could fulfill all of our expectations. The bikes were stripped down to pieces and we could choose every customization that we wanted: the color; the form of the tank; the air filters; etcetera. Then, to withstand the journey, the engine was totally rebuilt with new parts inside. It took four months for the bikes to be ready, well in advance for our return to India in July.

We rarely have been more excited than for our return to India, to take possession of our bikes. It was like all of our Christmas mornings put altogether, discovering our very own Royal Enfields waiting patiently waiting for us in front of Ranges shop. We have been joyriding for hours in New Delhi.

Now that you know the story, let us introduce you each of our bikes..

Leo's bike

Léopold’s Bike – Still has to be baptized - November 1973

Marine blue, stripped with withe lines in the middle, I love my bike. I have chosen to keep it original, meaning that the gears are located on the right side of the bike. The first gear is up, the others ones are down. When I say the others, it is the three other ones, it is a very original 4 gears bike. On the gear box there is a very uncommon neutral selector, this leaver is used to go back to the neutral position from any gear just by pressing on it. The electronic is kept to the strict minimum and it can only be kick started. The dents in it dates back from some small accidents in Pakistan and a bigger one in Kyrgyzstan. The front light has been broken, and has been replaced in Almaty with the one of an Ural bike dating back from the CCCR. I’ll definitely be keeping it. My bike is not very troublesome, I have had issues with the clutch, even had to weld a nut inside it. The saddle is in dark brown leather and comfortable despite the appearances. It has also been but a little backward, to compensate for my height. A custom rack has been fitted on it to accommodate for all the luggage with are traveling with but it will be removed once in Belgium. The tank is bigger than the stock version, with a 18 liters capacity it allows us to do more than 300 kilometers in one go.

Tibo's bike

Thibault’s Bike – Still has to be baptized - June 1974

For my motorcycle, i had the choice to upgrade it from a 4 speed to a 5 speed, and i did. It gave me the opportunity to get the clutch plate on the left side and the rear break on the right. I choose black! It seemed to be the most discreet color and more adequate for such travel. My motorbike adapted very well to myself: it takes time and patience every morning to wake it up and start it. But once it does, it could ride for weeks! Even with the enormous load of equipment it has the power to get me up the mountains of Pamir, and the power exhaust I added makes it even more powerful!

Donald's bike

Stephanie - May 1971

I choose battle green color for my Bike. It used to be not possible in India because it was the color of the army. With its white stripe in the middle and its power exhaust, i really love its look! We still haven’t figure out why, but it turned out she is the most powerful of the three… Its old engine bends though when it gets hot (which happens really fast) and the oil start getting out. It’s kind of a big mess every day to clean all the sand and dust getting stuck to it because of that, but she deserves it ! Her fittings also have a hard time standing all the wait i am forcing her to carry. You can see all the welding that were made for it not to fall appart. Overall, even though times maybe hard, she never lets me down and is a dream companion for this journey!