Is Top Gear's idea for a custom motorbike a good one?
I recently ventured up to meet Royal Enfield’s brainiest customs brains to thrash out ideas for TG’s never-been-done-before crossover custom café racer. Apparently, this is the most exciting, creative chapter of a custom bike project – the ‘no idea is a bad idea’ part. That was until I asked the team if we could put a radial engine in it… which was swiftly chalked up as ‘A Bad Idea.’
But this is where my endless bogscrolls through Pinterest and Instagram can be splattered over a mood board and given a feasibility rating. It’s where enthusiasm, ambition and energy confidently outweigh any regard for budget, physics or mechanical ability. That’s why I need Royal Enfield’s brainiest brains to rein me in. And we have one hell of a team working behind the scenes to iron out any FUBARs and starch my warped dreams into a reality.
Our meeting was led by the infinitely cool Adrian Sellers (RE’s custom bike guru) and took place at Royal Enfield’s UK Tech Centre. What looks like a nondescript industrial unit on a WW2 airfield and post-war nuclear bomber base (Bruntingthorpe) is actually a secretive global headquarters for product strategy, development, industrial design and research. It’s where the future of Royal Enfield is being literally thrashed out and tested, all locked away behind faraday-caged rooms and scary NDAs.
With members from all facets of the bike building process (colour and trim, engineering, racing and a gaggle of their greasy-fingered one-off bike builders) present (and plenty of custom bikes on display to get the creative juices flowing), we kicked ideas around and set out a perimeter of what’s possible in our timeframe and budget. The main objective was to settle on a mission statement for what we’re trying to achieve – something I’ve not seen before.
You can call us mad, but what we’re basically going for is a bike that is meant to look like it’s taken a wrong turn out of a pit lane, but is also loaded up like a pack horse in order to do big mileage. At this point we didn’t get too bogged down in wild things like colours and details, rather the hard points. For now, we’re going to leave the engine alone. But we want to swap out the suspension, add some cooler wheels, a race fairing and change the geometry to be a bit more aggressive – more café racer. Then add luggage.
We discussed what we liked and didn’t like in the world of both cars and bikes, drew links and parallels to blend the two worlds and after a few cups of tea (and a mountain of custard creams), we settled on a plan and a mocked up a baseline digital render. Now we just need to build it. Then go crazy with colours and details.
What do you think to the plan? Let us know your thoughts below.