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2016 Royal Enfield Classic

A Conversation with Rod Copes, President, Royal Enfield North America

by Jason Fogelson

A few weeks ago, I rode and reviewed the 2016 Royal Enfield 500 Classic for Forbes.com. So when I got the chance to have a phone conversation with the manufacturer’s President for North America, I activated my trusty recording app and fired some questions at the man, Rod Copes. You can read my Rod Copes interview on Forbes.com.

If anyone has a chance to succeed with Royal Enfield, it’s Copes. He brings his experience with Harley-Davidson to the table, most of which was focused on developing motorcycle sales in markets outside of the USA. He’s doing the same thing with Royal Enfield – but flipped on its head. He’s taking a brand that is beloved in India and re-introducing it to the US.

RODThe time is ripe for Royal Enfield. The bikes are cool and retro, and they’re relatively cheap. They’ll appeal to the traditional motorcycle buyer – a guy with gray hair and a beard looking to squeeze more adventure out of life. They’ll also appeal to the buyer that every motorcycle manufacturer is chasing – the new rider. The low price, retro looks, light weight and demure performance will attract hipsters, women, young people and city riders. These bikes have a quality that is a buzzword right now: Authenticity. And if Rod Copes can keep the company on track while getting the word out and building a solid dealer network, buyers will discover Royal Enfield.

I think he can do it.

Photos (c) Royal Enfield

2016 Royal Enfield Classic Motorcycle Review

by Jason Fogelson

If you’re not into motorcycles, you may never have heard of Royal Enfield. Even if you are into motorcycles, and you live in North America, the brand may not be on your radar.

It’s all different in India. Royal Enfield outsells all other brands there, and India is an enormous motorcycle market. The brand has been available in the US for decades, but with little impact. Expect that to change, as Royal Enfield North America has just taken over distribution, wiped the slate clean and started over with the marketing, distribution and sales of these middle-weight bikes.

2016RoyalEnfieldFogelson-8The vast majority of motorcycles sold in the US are 800 cc or larger. Royal Enfield’s 2016 US offerings are 499 cc – 535 cc, a range that has been all but abandoned by most companies, who seem to be concentrating on 300 cc starter bikes and heavyweight cruisers, baggers and adventure bikes.

Why would you want a 499-cc bike like the Royal Enfield Classic? With just 31 lb-ft of torque, the bike is very friendly to new riders and returning riders. It is relatively light, and not a bit intimidating. Its retro styling — strike that. It’s not retro. It is authentically old-fashioned, carrying over designs from the 1940s and 50s. Anyway, its styling will appeal to older riders and hipsters alike.

You can read my 2016 Royal Enfield Classic Test Ride and Review on Forbes.com.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson

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