Around England on Enfields
AKA Riding a Café Racer around a British Isle with My Foot in My Mouth.
I’ve never been a fan of Café Racers. With a set of clip-on handlebars, a stretched-out fuel tank and that flat, plank-of-wood style seat. That just don’t spell fun for me. Not when you can have a full race spec liter bike with a license plate these days. A thing that’ll do 200 mph when given enough ground. And with all the technology available to the manufacturers nowadays, a bike that would have once killed you can now be ridden by everybody’s mom. Thanks, wheelie control! So, when Royal Enfield unveiled their Continental GT, a café-esque offering from the formerly British turned Indian owned motorcycle manufacturer, I couldn’t be bothered. We’d planned a motorcycle trip around England during the summer. An 1,800-mile zig-zaggy ride from London to York, Wales to Southampton, or something along those lines. We’d asked Royal Enfield to borrow a couple of bikes, to which they agreed. A shiny black Bullet 500 and a matte blue Classic 500 were on our wishlist. But to my dismay, the solo seat Classic with its World War styling was unavailable, replaced instead by their new GT… Of course.
What followed was exactly as we’d planned. Three weeks around the English countryside, riding from London to Brands Hatch to catch a British Superbike race, then off to Southampton, Stonehenge, Highclere Castle – because Downton Abby – up through Wales to see a few friends, through Liverpool, the Lakes District, an extra few nights in York, and then down the East Cost of the island and back to London. That, obviously, is the abridged version. But I’ll save the story telling, and instead offer a selection of images from our littler adventure around England. Oh, and that Café Racer I was riding? Turns out I’m a big dumb fool. Albeit lowly and slow with its 500cc single cylinder, I fell in love with that Red Racer, and was contemplating ownership by the end of our trip. I’m still not convinced it’s a reasonable motorcycle to own if you’ve only space for one, but in terms of smile making and head turning, it did the trick.