SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
Tne 8 h.p. Royal Enfield and Sidecar.
FOR many years the 8 h.p. Royal Enfield was regarded as purely a sidecar machine, in fact the bicycle was not marketed separately ; in the days of touring bars, footboards and handle starting it is doubtful whether there was any demand for a solo model, but with the introduction of the considerably neater sports model it has been found necessary to sell the motorcycle as a solo mount. However, it is as a sidecar outfit that this model has the greatest appeal, and on taking the machine over at Holborn Viaduct we were at once impressed with the sturdy build of the findensemble and the graceful lines of the low aluminium sidecar. The most interesting features of a fairly well known specification are the big twin engine, of Enfield design and the enormous pedal operated brakes on both wheels ; balloon tyres are also a standard fitment.
The engine started easily and” tuffed ” gently through the traffic with a silence and smoothness only equalled by the 350 c.c. model of the same make reviewed in these pages last summer. When cold the engine was apt to resent a too impetuous use of the throttle, but once warm, the machine proved extraordinarily lively in slipping through the London traffic. This liveliness was not dependent upon the use of the lower gears, for smooth pulling and acceleration from low speeds on top gear we have never found a machine to equal the Enfield.
Traffic emergencies also gave us a foretaste of what we might expect from the brakes, though it was not until we reached the open road that we were able to appreciate their full worth.
Both brakes were astoundingly powerful and could be applied smoothly—at the same time, it was easy to lock either wheel on a smooth dry road if sufficient force was applied. The behaviour of the machine when the brakes were applied violently showed that of the two brakes, that on the front wheel was infinitely more useful, indeed we have never had a more convincing demonstration of the superiority of front brakes over rear brakes, given equal power and equal operation. On the Enfield, braking hurled all the weight forward and lifted the back wheel off the ground until it locked, thus transferring the task of retarding the machine to the front brake, a task which fortunately it was well able to perform. This behaviour is common to many modern machines and when manufacturers give us good front brakes,
with improved operation, and forks of sufficient strength to withstand the increased strain, another stage, in the development of the perfect motorcycle, will have been passed. To return to behaviour on the open road, the Enfield’s slow pulling was not only apparent under light load and
we could not find a main road hill in the home counties sufficiently steep to demand the use of second gear. Kop Hill—in terribly rough condition was climbed at about 30 m.p.h. on second gear in spite of a baulk on’ the first steep pitch, so that sheer gradient alone should never stop this motor. We were somewhat disappointed to find that the maximum speed was only about 55 m.p.h. but the ma chine appeared to be somewhat low geared and al though we were told that the machine was not new, two momentary seizures led us to believe that we had been misinformed. These seizures occurred after some hard driving, and were not due to lack of oil, since excessive oil consumption is the one serious criticism we have to
make of this model. No ready adjustment of the mechanical pump was provided, and indeed the seizures seemed to confirm the fact that a lot of oil was needed, but at the same time a gallon every 200 miles is apt to become rather expensive ! Petrol consumption was more reasonable, in the neighbourhood of 60 m.p.g. This figure was probably
not altogether unconnected with a rather small jet which may have contributed to the low maximum speed and overheating.
The machine was comfortable to ride in spite of a rather high saddle position and the front suspension functioned admirably on rough roads. In contrast to the saddle, the sidecar was extraordinarily low and racy, which makes the outfit rather unsociable, but aids stability on left hand corners.
The sidecar body was very comfortable, possessed ample leg room for the tallest passenger and was provided with a very efficient windscreen. A locker in the tail contained the tool kit and sufficient space for a twogallon petrol tin, or perhaps we had better say two gallon oil tins ! Although not unduly fast, the Enfield was an outfit on which good average speeds could be maintained, the super brakes enabled one to leave deceleration very late, while on left hand corners (with passenger) it was usually possible to make the tyres scream before the sidecar lifted ! On right hand corners we did not feel so happy, there seemed to be a certain amount of” wilting,” though the chassis and connections appeared to be sufficiently robust. Possibly the balloon tyres enhanced the feeling of instability. However, we did not overturn in
either direction and the only anxious moments were when the front wheel showed a disinclination to control the direction of the outfit on loose right hand corners.
Most of these small jibes and criticisms would not apply to the average owner and driver, but, somewhat over imbued with the spirit embodied in the title of this journal, we are rather inclined to drive all vehicles on trial in a distinctly hectic manner, as though life were one great race, so that onr remarks must not be taken too deeply to heart. One other aspect of the Royal Enfield must be mentioned : with great temerity and in spite of the rather forbidding nature of the machine, with its big tyres, high saddle and footboards we actually rode it solo ! No dear reader, there is nothing in such a bald fact, as you
suggest, but the occasion was a grass track steeplechase, held on the slopes of a very useful hill. The course was a half mile lap laid out with tapes, and embodied several right angle turns on steeply sloping turf, an extremely precipitous ascent followed by a straight, very bumpy and fairly steep descent and a really fast bend with the wrong camber through the ” start.” On this course the Enfield proved surprisingly easy to handle, though the inadequacy of the powerful back brake was even more noticeable without the sidecar. In spite of the terrific bumps on the fast downhill stretch the machine was kept well under control and could be banked over to a considerable angle without noticeable skidding. The Enfield was ridden by several different riders in this event and made fastest time in the side valve class, which shows that the machine is by no
A mild crash, due to a locked front wheel failed to damage the machine in any way, though many flimsier motors would have suffered bent footboards, handlebars and similar derangements.
Summing up our impressions of the Royal Enfield, which sells at the extremely reasonable figure of £84 we found that it was a really sound, fast touring outfit, capable of comfortably averaging good speeds with remarkable safety, at a price well within the reach of the average man-in-the-street who desires something a little livelier than ordinary touring combination.
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