SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
The 346 c.c. o.h.v. Royal Enfield.
BY “PAUL SADLER.”
OF recent years it has not been customary to associate the name of Royal Enfield with anything connected with the sporting and racing side of motor-cycling ; since the war the firm have concentrated mainly on large sidecar outfits and small two-strokes. However, it must not be forgotten that in pre-war days there was an attractive little 350 c.c. V-twin made by the Enfield concern, which was ridden into third place in the 1914 Junior T.T. It is said, “Once a racing firm, always a racing firm,” so that it is not surprising that the Enfield concern, two years ago, reintroduced a 350 c.c. Sports machine, and ev en entered unofficially in the Junior Race of 1925, when Stanley Woods lost fourth place through crashing and breaking his handlebars on the last lap, thus compelling the marshals to stop him, in the interests of safety.
The 350 c.c. model tested by Motor Sport is based very much on the T.T. machines, but is fitted with a single port J .A.P. engine adapted to the Enfield mechanical pump lubrication, a very neat system, involving only one external oil pipe. The frame is neat and fairly low, while the Terry saddle, semi-T.T. handlebars, and adjustable foot-rests ensure a comfortable riding position. A Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear-box is fitted having a gate change mounted low down the saddle tube. This position necessitates bending well down when changing gear by hand, while the nature of the gate renders foot-changing difficult. A different position for the gear-lever is, therefore, desirable, if such could be arranged without causing the lever to foul the riders’ knee in any of the notches.
Provided the carburetter be flooded, the engine will start first kick every time, but if this is neglected, starting is not quite so certain. Once running, the engine, by virtue of a well-tuned B. & B carburetter, continues to run at an incredibly slow tick-over rate with the throttle lever shut. This tick-over is not confined to idle running of the engine, but is also apparent when crawling along the level on top gear, a habit not to be encouraged, but nevertheless an interesting experiment.
The next feature that impresses itself is the extraordinary silence of the exhaust at small throttle openings, it being quite impossible to hear the engine when crawling through London traffic ; even when the throttle is opened suddenly, the noise is very moderate, and not at all in keeping with the excellent acceleration of which the machine is capable on the lower gears. Fairly close ratios are provided, and about 45 m.p.h. is attainable on the second gear, after which a change up soon puts the speedometer needle between the 60 and 65 m.p.h. marks.
At all speeds the steering is delightfully steady, without being heavy, and a light touch only is needed on the bars even at high speeds. Cornering and road holding seem to be well up to the average, and bill climbing, of course, must not be mentioned in connection with a modern o.h.v. three-speed machine. Reverting to the lower end of the scale again, it is possible to balance the machine without ” wangling ” the bars at a genuine snail’s pace and turn round “feet tip” in the narrowest spaces, a manceuvre which was accomplished several times before admiring crowds (mostly newspaper boys !). At these low speeds the Enfield rubber-block cush-drive system effectually damps out all transmission shocks. The clutch, too, is very sweet and the control very light ; the whole machine
in fact gives a most soothing impre,sion, owing to its silence, docility, easy steering and light controls, so different from the average small sporting machine. The writer can at last almost understand that it is possible to fall asleep on a motor-bike now that he has ridden the Enfield.
Both internal expanding brakes are powerful (the previous paragraph must not cause readers to forget that the Royal Enfield is fast, and needs good brakes), but the rear one must be treated with respect if it is desired to apply the brake smoothly. The pedal for the rear brake is rather high above the footrest for comfortable operation, but this could easily be altered by the owner if the makers do not change it in the near future. The machine in question was fairly new, and as it was driven rather fast, the oil supply necessary proved rather excessive for the sparking plug, when slow running was indulged in. Towards the end of our test the oil supply was cut down, :and there was no repetition of our
only involuntary stops, due to oiled plugs. Under the circumstances no check was made of the oil consumption, but the Enfield covered approximately 90-100 miles to the gallon of petrol, which is quite satisfactory for a sports machine, driven fairly fast. At one period of our test the overhead valve gear developed a squeak, which was traced to the cups on the push rod ends. The rockers themselves are provided with grease cups, but there is no positive means of lubricating or retaining lubrication at the point mentioned, though frequent oiling cures the trouble. In conclusion, the Enfield is one of the best finished and most pleasant machines to handle that we have ever come across, and at ,0o represents really remarkable value for money, since there is nothing shoddy or f
mass produced ” about the machine or its accessories.
At the conclusion of our test the machine was running better than ever, and apart from the oiled plug episode, the tools were never touched.