Spent five days getting dusty and high on Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey. 2013 marked the 10th edition of the factory organised ride, the first of which was in 1997. Although this was my third Odyssey, the ride was very different as it was the first time I rode down from the mountains. On the way up, riders are too awed by the terrain to focus on anything else. On the way down, the participants were clearly more focussed on the ride.
Some of the riders were freshly minted college graduates who had waltzed through final exams wrapped in warm and dusty dreams of Ladakh. Other riders, irrespective of how old they were, where they came from, and how they rode, were similarly smitten by their Royal Enfields.
It’s always exciting to meet people who go to great lengths to chalk out three weeks of their lives for some “Me time”. I met three colleagues who worked in the same department of a company. They had the Herculean task of convincing their bosses to letting all three of them go for the ride together. The bosses, kudos to them, did just that. Evidently, their passion did the talking.
Ten years back, I don’t think anyone in Royal Enfield could have imagined such sweeping success. The extent of the success isn’t in the over 1 lakh bikes being sold this year or the demographic of their customers. Instead, it’s the customers’ willingness to endure the many months of the waiting period. These very customers remain unperturbed by niggling problems and even take mechanical gremlins in their stride. Simply put, RE is very fortunate to have these customers.
Then there’s the second part. Royal Enfield. Cool designs, backed up by the more reliable, more punchy UCE motor has changed Royal Enfield. The bikes, without being cheap, offer excellent value, especially, if you consider the displacement on offer. What’s more globally the mid-level displacement segment is booming, which means Royal Enfield is very well positioned for the future.
Harley Davidson is expected to enter this displacement class soon and you can expect it to be with a motorcycle full of character, however, it will be tough for HD to offer the kind of value that Royal Enfield offers today. So, we are very lucky to have Royal Enfield too.
And, fingers crossed, RE will maintain the stride. For that, hopefully, that small band of people responsible for infusing RE with new vigour will continue to do so in the larger, bolder and more corporate Royal Enfield. After all, this is only the beginning for RE and passion is even more vital now.