This is a transfer of an older post from a web forum I run (XJRider.com).
Back in July, I went and did what was likely a really dumb thing. I bought a Royal Enfield, sight unseen, two states away. Specifically a 2017 model with 2200 miles on the clock. I live in Denver and the bike was located out in Sturgis.
Why an Enfield? Well, despite being new, these things aren't noted for being the most reliable and much of the technology dates back to the 50's. I like that. A simple bike, easy to work on, slow and a joy to ride. That's why I wanted one. Cruising top speed, realistically, 60 mph. 450 miles at 60 mph on a thumper. Miserable? Probably. Fun and exciting absolutely.
With very short notice, like two days, I managed to talk my sister and mom into driving me out there so I could get the Enfield and ride it back to Denver. In total, I paid $3400 out the door. It's a fuel injected chrome model with questionable reliability, a likely 55mph top-speed, and what I hoped would rekindle a love of riding. Here are the dealership photos from the ad:
Bright and early on a Saturday morning, mom and sister stopped by and picked me up. My daughter decided to come, too. A road trip if only a short one. It took us roughly 7 hours to get there from Denver. Not a bad drive. Not a great drive.
I stopped by the dealership at picked the bike about 3:30 Saturday afternoon. The transaction was easy since I was paying cash; a few signatures on a title application and out the door we went.
I brought a little roll-bag I had in the garage with me; a Prima branded large bag designed for the back of Vespa scooters. Surprisingly, it straped to the Enfield's rear rack like it was made for it.
The bike had both keys, the original tool kit was there and complete, and it even came with a manual. I suppose that shouldn't have surprised me given that it is a 2017 model, but I've never had a bike with the original items still included nor have I ever had a bike this new:
The bike looked great in person, especially with the chrome and black paint shining in the sunshine. The overall quality seemed good and it was in good shape, not perfect, but good. It needed a bath, a polish and wax, and a bit of touch-up; something to look forward to when I get home.
For the first day, I decided to pick up the bike, stay at a hotel and then spend the Sunday riding it home. This would give me time to look it over and fix anything before embarking on the journey.
The ride was fantastic. It's small, lightweight and nimble. The ergos are spot-on for me. The seat height is good, the bars in the right place, and the seating position upright.
The little engine thumps along and it has a nice exhaust note. Quiet at idle, a bit of grunt when you twist the throttle. In the 30 miles from the dealership to the hotel, I puttered along at 60mph down I-90. It is happy to cruise at 55 to 60mph. Ask it to do much more than 65 and the vibrations become quite pronounced. Don't even look for 70mph; it isn't there. And this is exactly what I wanted.
Sunday would bring 50 miles of black hills and 300 miles of Wyoming grasslands. For those unfamiliar with the area or those outside the US, here's the route I chose:
We made it there with enough time to pick up the bike on Saturday afternoon which was good since they didn't open until 10 on Sunday. Here's the bike waiting for me at the Sturgis Indian Motorcycle dealership. I used that Prima bag that I bought a while back and it fit the Infield's rear rack well:
I rode the bike the 30 minutes up I-90 to the hotel, which was in Spearfish. That evening, I gave it a look over and lubed the chain. I didn't have the bike parked 15 minutes before an older gentleman came over to ask me about the restoration. "How long did that restoration take" he uttered as he came closer. "Actually, its a 2017 model" I told him as he looked it over. Later, a guy with two new Harleys popped in to check it out. He was in the middle of replacing batteries discharged by his Lo-jack devices.
Here we are, ready for the next day's ride:
The temporary tag they gave me is pretty cool. Its made of plastic and they include the dealership name on it. I'll probably save it and frame it for the garage wall:
These good people were my support crew. My sister, mom and daughter rode out with me. My mom wanted a Sturgis tee-shirt so we all bought one:
The first leg of the journey took me through the Black Hills of South Dakota:
This area was beautiful and felt much like the mountains of Colorado though more lush and much lower altitude. I had the road to myself and nowhere to be. The Enfield handles beautifully and the thump from its exhaust fits it well. We lazily tooled our way up through the mountains:
Yeah, this is awesome. Good running bike. Cool crisp weather. Open roads. And the sweet smell of pine trees and wild flowers. I'm happy!:
I noticed here that white wild flowers grow along waterways. They lay out like carpet and are quite fragrant. My attemps to capture them on film were less than stellar?:
The road awaited:
And the bike gleamed in the sunlight:
So on I rode. The peak extended to 6 1/2 thousand feet. Not much by Colorado standards. The little Enfield chugged right on up it:
On the way down, I had to stop for the obligatory Welcome To signs:
The Black Hills gave way to grasslands and I rode down into Newcastle, Wyoming, for gas and a snack. The Enfield managed 109 mpg on the first leg of the journey. From there, I headed south toward Lusk, Wyoming:
This section took me along US 85 with a 70mph speed limit. Now this is a good time to talk about the Enfield's speed. It has a 500cc single which is rated at 27hp and 31 ft-lbs of torque. Not much by modern standards. I read somewhere that its 0-60 was 12.4 seconds and that feels about right. It's not meant for speed. It will do 75mph but at the necessary RPM, the engine vibrations are so strong its not comfortable. I found it likes to cruise in the 55-60mph range, quite comfortably. With a 70MPH limit on 85, you get the tourists blowing through at 80, 85 or even 90-mph. I spent much of this section of US 85 being passed by cars, trucks, trailers, RV's and, I even think, a bicycle. Not my favorite leg of the journey but I still made the best of it.
Here we are roadside while I let some cars pass. The scenery has changed to red dirt and bluffs. It looks like New Mexico with more vegetation. Almost exactly like Tulsa.
As I continued along this stretch, the land became more dry and transitioned into grassland and prairie:
Here, the roads straightened out becoming the long, lonely stretches of highway you'd expect in the western United States. In that regard, Wyoming did not disappoint:
With the drier climate came heat. 80F, 85F, 90F. As the heat increased, so did my desire for water and shade. The Enfield didn't seem to notice but I did. Finally, somewhere near Lusk, I pulled of at a rest area and took a bit of a break. Did I mention it was hot?
I rolled into Torrington, tired, hot, with an aching back and an empty stomach. I filled up on on Arby's and topped the bike's tank up. This leg provided 78mpg which I attributed to wind, heat and a higher speed (62mph roughly).
The last leg of the journey took me through Cheyenne, down into Colorado and back home.
This stertch of the journey gave way to greener gasslands and must receive more moisture:
Just after Torrington, I pulled off to chase a gnat out of my helmet. The little bastard kept crawling inside my ear and it drove me crazy:
About an hour north of Cheyenne, I noticed a thunderstorm rolling in from the west. By the 30 mile mark, it was puring on Cheyenne and I was getting wet. Luckily, I was able to skirt the storm and missed the brunt of it. I was quite happy to make it to Cheyenne, though, and stopped for gas again. One the to note about the Enfield. It doesn't have a trip meter and it has a fuel pump. No reserve. So what you get is a low-fuel light. But that's not particularly helpful if it lights up 80 miles from a gas station. So I filled up the bike at each 100-mile mark (or so) just to be safe. I don't yet know its fuel range.
Finally, I made it to Colorado:
I was in the mood to be home and made the last 80 miles without stopping. I must say, Colorado sucks. Of all the drivers, they were the most difficult to deal with in Colorado. They tailgated impatiently. They didn't go around or pass when the road was clear. The cut back in front of me with only a few feet to spare, kicking up rocks from the back of their turbulent SUV's. They didn't use turn signals. I'm ashamed to admit I come from this state, from a driver's perspective and how they treat people with out-of-state license plates.
All in all, I'm glad to be home and I'm glad to have made the trip. I enjoyed the Enfield and its personality and I had a great time that I will remember fondly. Flying out and riding a strange bike a large distance is always a risk and I think that makes it more enjoyable. I love the challenge. Look forward to many more adventures on the Enfield.