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Indian motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield has revealed 'Project Origin' at EICMA 2021. Project Origin is the fourth motorcycle revealed at EICMA 2021 by Royal Enfield but unlike the other bikes, this one will never go on sale.
Royal Enfield's 'Project Origin' is a faithful replica of the brand's first-ever 'motor bicycle' and is one of the centrepieces of the marque's 120th Anniversary celebration. The first prototype Royal Enfield motorcycle was developed back in 1901 by Frenchman Jules Gobiet, who was working hand-in-hand with Royal Enfield's co-founder and chief designer, Bob Walker Smith. The bike was exhibited later that year at the Stanley Cycle Show in London, in November 1901.
'Project Origin' was conceptualised after Royal Enfield's in-house historian Gordon May laid down a challenge to the marque's design and engineering teams during a historical presentation to celebrate the brand's 120th anniversary.
However, the major challenge facing the volunteer squad of Royal Enfield employees was the fact that to date, no working model of this original motor bicycle had been found to exist. Another roadblock was the fact that there were no surviving design blueprints or technical drawings which gave any usable reference to how the motor-bicycle was constructed.
However, the team of volunteers decided to take up the challenge to create a faithful replica of the OG Royal Enfield motorcycle. The team was aided by a few period photographs, some promotional advertisements and a couple of illustrated news articles from 1901 that gave some basic graphic clues and information as to how the motor bicycle would have looked and might have functioned.
The team of volunteers consisted of teams from both Royal Enfield India and UK technical centres and from Harris Performance along with other experts from within the vintage motorcycling community. This team of volunteers set to work to reconstruct the very first piece of Royal Enfield's DNA.
One of the most challenging features of the original Royal Enfield was the positioning of the engine. The one and a three quarter horsepower engine was mounted onto the steering head above the front wheel. The engine drove the rear wheel via a long crossed-over rawhide belt. The engine also features a horizontally split crankcase to avoid the disastrous consequences of oil dripping onto the front wheel.
The original Royal Enfield also sported Longuemare spray carburettor was situated on the side of the petrol tank some distance lower than the level of the engine's cylinder head. The bike also featured a secondary feed that was taken off the exhaust and passed around the carburettor mixing chamber to warm the fuel and prevent icing.
Starting the motor bicycle engine required pedal power and the carburetter opened up from tick over to full chat with the help of a hand lever located on the right side of the petrol tank. The bike also lacked a throttle and the only way to modulate the speed was a valve lifter which was opened by a handlebar lever.
The front wheel sported a band brake which was applied using a Bowden lever and cable arrangement operated by the rider's left hand. The rear wheel also had a band brake but this was operated by backpedalling.
The bike's saddle was a leather Lycette La Grande and its 26-inch wheels were shod with Clipper 2 x 2-inch tyres. in 1901, the OG Royal Enfield cost exactly £50 which is the equivalent of £4000 / Rs 3.96 lakhs in today's money.
To recreate the bike, Royal Enfield's volunteer team handcrafted the fuel tank from a single piece of brass that was folded, shaped, hammered and soldered using age-old tools and techniques that are almost forgotten to modern manufacturing.
The tubular frame of the motor bicycle was expertly brass-braised by the team at Harris Performance as well as a number of hand machined brass levers and switches.
The engine was built from scratch with the team using the available photos and illustrations from 1901 to develop CAD designs for each component part which were then either individually hand-cast or machined.
The volunteer team also hand turned the wooden handles, manufactured the front and back band brakes, and had the carburettor built from scratch.
Project Origin also sports a host of original parts including the paraffin lamp, the horn, the leather saddle, the wheels that were all reconditioned and nickel-plated.
Thoughts On Royal Enfield 'Project Origin'
Royal Enfield's 'Project Origin' helped the marque recreate the missing original piece of its rich 120-year history. With the recreation of the OG bike, Royal Enfield has reclaimed an important part of its history and is now looking to the future, which we have to say does look bright.