A new year, a new section added to the BCMCT website. Bikes
will include reviews of individual models, stories about favorite
motorcycles and anything else we deem suitable for this area.
Our intrepid reporter, Brian Agron, again supplies us with something
interesting. Being an individual of rare distinction and refinement,
he peruses just about anything in print that is motorcycle-centric.
The below letter and story piqued his interest enough to contact
the author and ask him if it would be ok to reprint the letter and
story in the BCMCT website. Read on and see what transpired!
The RE and the Duck
Your recent letter to the editor of Motorcycle
Consumer News was absolutely wonderful!
I and some of my motorcycling friends have an informal website that we add to
now and then. We use it to share future ride information (we ride in the north
San Francisco Bay area every Sunday), review various eating establishments that
we have ridden to for breakfast (some great, some awful) or just share our opinions
about this or that ot various motorcycle related topics.
I would very much like to post your letter on our website ( barbarycoastmct.com
) and I am asking for your permission to do so. Needless to say, we would give
you full credit for it of course, and MCN too for that matter. If that would
be OK with you, do let me know. Sending a copy with your reply (assuming you
do give us permission) would save me the arduous task of retyping it from MCN
and possibly making small errors in the text.
If you have ever considered writing for the motorcycle press, I would strongly
encourage you to do so.
Wow! Thanks for the compliments. Yes you do have permission to print the
letter. The softcopy below is in Word formats. let me know if you a different
format. The second story is about where the RE came from. Of course I must
pictures of the RE and Duck. Sometimes pictures can spoil a good story.
I hope that is not the case but if you are worried that they will then
just trash the pictures. The Distant memory.jpg file is a picture of the
RE in the late 1960s when it was owned by my buddy. You can post any of
the stories or pictures as you please. Let me know if you need anything
My wife and I took a trip to California last May starting in SF. We rented
a convertible and drove to Monterey, then down route 1, over to Yosemite,
down to Sequoia National Forest then down to San Diego. California is a
fantastic state. We have vowed to come back with the Duck to do it again.
Maybe we can meet for breakfast!
Thanks again for all of the accolades.
The RE Interceptor
I started riding in 1966 after graduating from high
school. I had a friend that owned the 65 RE Interceptor at the
time. He said he bought it because it was the fastest machine you could
buy at the time. We had many crazy rides on it in our youth from
which I was lucky to have survived. One week in the spring of 1968
I swapped my car for his Interceptor while I was attending Michigan
State U. A girl I was dating at the time asked me to take her girl
friend for a ride because she had never been on a motorcycle before.
I rode over to Landen Hall to pick her up and when she walked out
of the dorm past the apple blossoming trees I got hit by the lightening
bolt of love. The lady liked the bike and I liked the lady. We
got married a year and half later.
After college I lost track of my RE buddy and learned
later that he died in 1979. My wife ran into his brother in 1992.
He said that his brother was trying to restore it and after he died his
mom sold it to someone in Ann Arbor. My wife tracked down the bike. It
was not an easy task because the owner was from Ann Arbor, MI and had
dozens of old English bikes that he collected along with Civil war marbles.
He fit right in with the Ann Arbor loonies. The RE was a genuine basket
case. It had a cracked fork because the parts sat outside for a few years
and water got inside the fork and froze. The engine was together but
missing many pieces such as a dip stick, bolts, etc. Later I found out
that it had a bad main bearing.
We bought the bike for $500 and after a couple of
years trying to restore it myself I took it to Mike Urschel’s Friendly
Royal Enfield Service in Chicago after reading about him in Cycle World.
After years of pressuring Mike to get it done it was 90% restored in
2003. He did a good job mechanically. It took 11 years but it was worth
the wait and we both love it.
I have done additional restoration after getting it back from Mike. Now
the mufflers are broken in and it rides well and sounds great.
Letter to Motorcycle Consumer News
Based on your Oct 2005 sport touring comparison, I purchased
a 2005 Ducati ST3 while retaining my old 1965 Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor.
Nobody would need to explain why a 2005 Ducati ST3 is more fun to
thread through the country side than a 40 year old 750 Interceptor. It
does take some explaining why half the time I would rather be driving the
This is my humble attempt to explain why that is true. Humble because
of the mystery as to why I feel this way. It may have something to do with
not knowing myself well enough. It may also be that I haven't discovered
all the mysteries of the RE and the intention of those that designed it.
With Amal carbs and Lucas electrics their are a lot of mysteries.
What I do know is that the items listed below are tangible reasons I do
like the my much slower, oil leaking, eye blurring, vibrating, part dropping,
English ride sometimes more than what the boys from Bologna have built.
- Don't need to worry about keeping track of the ignition keys.
The RE has no key. Which leads me to the second reason I like the
- I don't worry much about anybody stealing it. First, it would
take some time searching for where the key is to hot wire it before
the thief would realize it has no key. Secondly without intimate
knowledge about the art form of how to kick start this vintage
twin your local bike bandage could find himself being thrown over
the side with the back of his heal ripped to shreds from his vein
attempts to kick start it. This leads me to reason number three.
- The accomplishment I feel once I fired up the old beast. It proves
I'm still a man's man. After some crazy terrorist nukes the upper
atmosphere to toast all the microprocessors that run everything
from your rifle to your refrigerator I will still be able to fire
up the old RE to get myself and my bride out of Dodge before the
bad guys from Baghdad put cyanide in the local drinking water.
- Buying 110 octane leaded racing fuel, the
smell of which remind me of my youth, which is needed for the
RE. Another ego boasting manly thing. "Hey Mac turn on the pump for that there fancy
racing fuel. I need some in this here 5 gallon container for my
bike." "What kind of bike is that" to which I proudly
reply "A Royal Enfield". Of course this leads to reason
- Nobody knows what the hell a Royal Enfield is. This leaves a
lot of room for lies. More manly stuff.
- Everybody likes to ride a good sounding machine through a long
tunnel. Open the throttle and listen to all the neat noise rattling
off the walls. Advantage Enfield. The Ducati is twice as fast as
the Enfield giving the Enfield twice the time to make the sweet
amplified sounds of the hardworking twin.
- Those manly sounds are not restricted on the RE by anything so
mundane as an air cleaner. Another advantage of the RE. Without
an air cleaner you get the full spectrum of sounds of intake air
at various throttle setting and engine loads. In addition you can
adjust engine idle speed while sitting at a street light by sticking
your finger into the carb to reduce rpm. (This is common require
to free up those sticky Amal throttle slides). Try that on your
- The RE has a right-foot one up and three
down shift lever. Another anti-theft device. The crook will kill
himself at the first curve hitting right foot gearshift instead
of the left foot brake.
If he is unlucky enough to live he will drive himself crazy trying
to use metric or American standard wrenches on this machine that
only understands 19th century Whitworth tools, bolts, and nuts.
More unique stuff to makes others think you have a specialized
- The RE is a straight up standard without a fairing like the one
on the Ducati that pushes bugs into my face at low speed.
- I'm always at low speed because vibration is a better at speed
control than an expensive radar detector which is a necessity on
the jet smooth Duck.
- My rides last longer on the same amount of gas because the RE
is in harmony with nature somewhere between 40 and 55 mph rather
the 60+ mph that the Italian rocket feels comfortable with.
- Automatic turn signal cancellation. You must pull in your left
arm from signaling to use the clutch while making a turn. On the
Duck its easy forget the turn signal is still on because your trying
to look cool rapidly accelerating away from a corner showing off
only to find you look like an idiot with a left signal still on
while doing 110 mph without a corner in sight. Never happens on
- The RE provides a personal sense of accomplishment
on trips of more than 5 miles and making it back to base under
its own power. Modern machinery can only begin to provide this
same feeling after some serious canyon carving without the long
arm of the law tapping you on the shoulder or Mother Nature pull
you in traction for 2 months. The difference on arriving home
is saying to yourself "I'm
back without walking 3 miles" rather than "I'm home,
I'm still alive, and I still have money in my wallet."
- Many of us like to "tinker". The Enfield mandates 1
hour of "tinkering" for every 2 hours of riding. Just
another way of staying intimate with your ride while providing
an excuse to not cut the lawn.
- Owning something that I can actually fix. It may break often
but it is a fairly straight forward machine to machine to work
on. Taking off both carbs, taking them completely apart, cleaning
everything, and reassembly is a 45 minutes operation. It takes
me 45 minutes to find the air cleaner on the Duck.
- Lastly, I like all the wonderful stories
I can tell my friends about the quirky things old English hardware
can do. Like, while waiting in the left lane of a busy intersection
the RE engine can spit back through the carb and stall for no
reason. (Amal's don't need reasons for the things they do. It’s all part of their
English charm). One must frantically kick start quickly before
the gas dripped out of the right carburetor drips any more fuel
onto the magneto. All this while the wife on the back says "should
I get off honey?"
All these reasons and many more make me search my soul to understand why
I like the RE so much.