Royal Enfield presents the most treasured piece of its history at EICMA 2021
Royal Enfield unveiled the Project Origin at EICMA 2021, in Milan. Should you wonder what it is, Project Origin is essentially a full-size, faithful, working replica of the brand’s first motor-bicycle. Royal Enfield had manufactured their first motor-bicycle, or motorcycle, in 1901. (You now know why their tagline reads ‘Since 1901’!) Project Origin embodies this rich legacy to the fullest.
The original prototype of RE’s first motorcycle that was developed by Jules Gobiet, along with RE’s co-founder and chief designer Bob Walker Smith, was showcased at the Stanley Cycle Show in November 1901. However, no healthy piece of this motorcycle has been found to exist today, essentially making it the missing piece in Royal Enfield’s history. The Project Origin aims to fix just this!
Royal Enfield Project One: How Did They Build It?
Conceiving and building the Project Origin was indeed a challenge for the team, as no surviving design blueprints or technical drawings of the original motorcycle were available. Royal Enfield team relied on a few available period photographs, advertisement pieces, and a couple of illustrated news articles from 1901 to imagine and recreate the prototype motorcycle. Project Origin is the product of a healthy collaboration between Royal Enfield’s technical centers in the UK and India, Harris Performance, and a few other experts from the Vintage motorcycling fraternity. The replica comes in as part of RE’s 120th anniversary celebrations. (Another such initiative was the series of special edition helmets launched recently)
As you might already know, the engineering, mechanics, and ergonomics of the OG Royal Enfield motor-bicycle were absolutely different from those of modern-day motorcycles. It had the 1 3/4 hp engine mounted on the steering head above the front wheel. The engine, however, drove the rear wheel via a long crossed-over rawhide belt. The rear-wheel-drive was implemented with the hopes of fixing the side slips associated with Werner motor-bicycles, which were front-wheel driven. Royal Enfield had used a horizontally split crankcase on its first motorcycle, to bypass the risks of oil dripping onto the front wheel.
The engine used a Longuemare spray carburetor and also had a secondary feed from the exhaust, to warm the fuel and prevent icing. The lubrication system on the motorcycle might sound super weird today! It demanded the rider to squirt a few drops of oil into the crankcase via a hand oil pump every now and then! More precisely, the rider had to pump oil every 10-15 miles for keeping the engine lubed! The engine block had a construction that ensured great combustion even at very low revs.
The Royal Enfield team used all the available information and multiple other sets of data to conceive and shape the full-size working replica- Project Origin. It has all its components and parts do absolute justice to the OG motorcycle. The folded brass tank, for example, was handcrafted from a single sheet of brass, through a complex and strenuous process. The tubular frame was brass-braised by the folks at Harris Performance and the engine was built completely from scratch, based on surviving photographs and almost no technical drawings! The replica also has a number of other rare components recreated faithfully, like the paraffin lamp, leather saddle, wooden handles, and wheels.
Enthusiasts will be able to have a real-world experience of the Project origin at EICMA and feel the past with the doof-doof-doof engine. What an epic way of celebrating 120-year legacy!