Rajasthan. A state that evokes images of kings and princes, their grandeur evident to this day in princely palaces, impenetrable forts and bejewelled chariots. Only the best was good enough for the proud warriors of Rajasthan. Only the most artful and imaginative artisans could hope to match the expectations of royalty. Slowly, as the royal courts died out, these artisans dwindled and their skills faded.We’ve discovered a richly talented Rajasthani craftsman, who has already made a mark with the new royalty of India. A glance at the works of Rajputana Custom Motorcycles of Jaipur is enough to have you understand their handiwork is a work of art.
The work of art you see here is the Lightfoot, created by Vijay Singh. Look closer and you’ll see a cohesion of design and execution in its minute detail, with very little to let on that this was originally a Royal Enfield Classic 500. The Lightfoot has a clean look, inspired by the ‘Bullet’ of Falcon Customs, California. There’s a leviathan feel to it that’s hard to miss. The low-set headlight sits atop industrial-looking forks. The massive 21-inch front rim has no fender. The sharply dropped handlebar seems to lend this creature ears. The teardrop-shape tank is custom-made and flows backwards into a sprung saddle. The chassis is skinny, stretching back to an almost lonely rear wheel. The electrical box is the only body work there, the rest just a clean void.
Sixty days of build time ensure truly painful attention to detail. The first 20 days were spent getting the chassis stretched, lowered and stiff enough. By stiffened, we mean the shocks were taken out and replaced with solid sections. The front suspension is really old school. The Lightfoot harks back to classic bikes and its hard tail is just one reference. The Lightfoot’s girder front forks look beautiful in matt black, contrasting with the gleaming stanchions and springs. Its front hub and single-side drum brake are custom-made and fitted in keeping with the vintage image.
Classic Indian cues have been melded into Lightfoot. Its lever and ornate Rajputana logo on the tank are hand-made from brass. The leather seat is said to be crafted by the same hands that make saddles for the Indian polo team and is discreetly supported on leaf springs. Unlike coil springs, a leaf spring tucks away and helps give the bike a neater look. That isn’t a one-off for if you pay attention you’ll realise there’s no throttle assembly – yet another attempt to help the clean look. Vijay has used an internal throttle assembly. Rajputana has gone to the extent of shaving screw heads to ensure the cleanest possible, flush fit. The result is a superb finish, surely fit for a king.
Bits that stick out sorely include the shiny new engine, which looks a little too new for such an ‘antiquated’ motorcycle. A bit of ageing and a more vintage look for its crankcases would help the motor blend in still better. The second and larger eyesore we spotted was the battery. Although Vijay has covered it up to some extent, the battery still gobbles up a lot of empty space around the rear.
So would you like to own the next Lightfoot? You can’t. That’s because Rajputana Customs has vowed never to build another Lightfoot. After all, this custom motorcycle has been made for actor John Abraham, who’s known to be a passionate two-wheeler enthusiast. This means Lightfoot will be in good company, easily holding its own while fitting in proudly with his imported superbikes.