Royal Enfield had come to accumulate a good amount of fan- following within the immediate years after the Second war . During the War, the Redditch-based company made and supplied the ‘Flying Flea’ to British Army as a way of transport for its paratroopers. These 125cc, 2-stroke engine bikes that produced 2.5 hp power might be dropped by parachute during a tubular crate behind enemy lines. Nothing like this had been done before. These bikes were fast enough for army purposes, light-weight, and ready to get through where heavier vehicles wouldn’t .

Some Royal Enfield bikes were also being imported to India by Madras Motors Ltd Its owner K.R. Sundaram Iyer (KRS) also imported a number of other British bikes. In search of greener pastures, KRS and his nephew K. Eswaran had moved to the then Madras from their ancestral village in Kallidaikurichi in Tamil Nadu just before the Second war started.

‘One worked as a fitter within the cycle shop and another as an accounts clerk during a cycle shop they eventually acquired. Then they also took over English Cycle, which was another cycle shop, and English Cycle was also importing bicycles from UK and selling it,’ Kapil Viswanathan, the grandson of KRS, told me in an interview for this book.

Gradually, KRS and Eswaran went on to become importers of motorbike brands like Raleigh, Rudge, Humber, BSA, Hercules, and Enfield.

In 1952, Madras Motors received an order for 500 350cc Bullets from the Indian Army, a model the corporate had launched three years ago within the UK. The motorcycles arrived from Redditch in early 1953 and proved to be an excellent success, being both hardy and straightforward to take care of . the military officers who rode the motorcycle in flat, cultivable lands to patrol Indian borders felt it had been better than the bikes they used.

After 1947, the Indian Army had been using Triumphs and BSAs to patrol the newly-created Indian borders.

However, these motorcycles were susceptible to many mechanical glitches and frequent wear and tear. To compound the matter , they were all imported.

The Indian Army was so impressed with the Bullets that it wanted to put an order for more bikes. However, the Indian government was of the opinion that the bikes be locally manufactured.

The Indian government under Nehru was operating on a shoe-string budget and wanted motorcycles that would be acquired at an inexpensive cost. They were specifically on the search for ones that would be manufactured locally, that would at a later stage be ‘Made in India’. Nehru’s government believed this is able to allow industrialisation to require root within the country.

The British manufacturer agreed to the terms and conditions of the Indian government and presented the 350cc, 4-stroke Royal Enfield Bullet.

The next task was to seek out a venture partner during a mostly barren motorcycle landscape. this is able to come from an unlikely region, one that was faraway from the mountains and therefore the northern plains of India.

‘T.T. Krishnamachari was the commerce minister at the time and my grandfather and he … they knew one another very well . By Independence, my granddad was fairly well established as an outsized cycle importer, seller, and re-seller,’ Viswanathan said.

In 1955, Enfield India Ltd was formed as a 51:49 venture in favour of Madras Motors and owned by KRS and Eswaran. The duo later split the business once it diversified into power transmission within the 1960s. While KRS and his sons retained Enfield India, Eswaran and his family kept the facility transmission business.

Enfield India had a solid start on the rear of their first order from the Indian Army for the 350cc Bullet, whose rhythmic thump is a component of folklore.

In 1956, a producing plant was inbuilt the Tiruvottiyur locality of North Madras and therefore the production of motorcycles began during a phased manner. a complete of 163 Bullets were built by the top of the year. the primary completely ‘Made in India’ Enfield unrolled of the factory in 1962. India was now making and selling Royal Enfield Bullets.

KRS’s eldest son, S. Sankaran, and later, his younger one, S. Viswanathan, took charge of managing the corporate . KRS’s second son S.R. Subramanian headed Madras Motors, distributing the company’s products at the national level. In pre-liberalisation India’s protected market conditions, with limited competition, Enfield India slowly but steadily flourished.

When the Indian Army placed an enormous order for 500 Royal Enfield 350cc Bullets with Madras Motors in 1952, it could have broken a forty-three-year-old colonial record for selling the best number of single-brand motorcycles in India.

The record until then was held by Francis Benjamin Stewart, the famed photographer who had filmed the Delhi Durbar for Lord Curzon in 1903. Stewart ran a corporation based out of Pune called Messrs. F.B. Stewart and Son. Among other things, the corporate was also the distributor of Triumph Motorcycles within the country and that they held the record for selling 136 Triumph motorcycles within the country in but five years.


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