If you think that I will travel and won't check for a Royal Enfield dealer or store in the area - go home. I check the Enfield store locations even before I know the leaving date for any of my trips :D That's how I roll.
Visiting Japan... uff. The bucket list gets the RE check mark on it and I cannot wait to fly, to see the country, eat the food, meet the people... and pray for meeting some bikers. It always happens, I almost stopped worrying about it. It just does happen.
Royal Enfield's story is amazing. Till 2000 it was the biggest underdog it can be. In the western riding world. It was a niche. It was bike for people with acquired taste. With a taste for something different, very classic, very old style, big history.
Having that bike and taking it out for a ride... heads are turning. Not everybody wants one but everybody looks.
Then, in 2000 the boss of all bosses (in my eyes), the master Mr Siddhartha Lal took over the important things in RE (aka became CEO)... If there are words what happened with the brand after that... I think I can use the words used for the universe beginnings - The Big Bang of RE expansion lol. The brand became global so fast. All the people who were eye balling the brand but could not get their hands on it - it started to became available. All the people from the industry who 'looked down' at the brand - had to stop ignoring it. The sales of the new bikes went through the roof. If didn't happen overnight but... almost. Comparing the progress and evolution of the brand before and after Mr Lal.
One thing is to see the brand in other asian countries to the east from India, like Thailand, South Korea, Philippines. There is a huge culture of small to midsize motorcycles. Now Japan is a whole another customer. It's the country that single handedly changed the motorcycling structure of the United states when they started to export their smaller, super reliable motorcycles into USA. Some brands barely survived and had to really adapt to a new realities imported from the far east.
1. not everything has to be big to sell
2. not everything has to be expensive
3. not everything has to be expensive IN ORDER to be uber-efficient and reliable
And that was back THEN. The japanese quality and reliability only grew from there.
But so did Royal Enfield.
It's 2021 and Royal Enfield brings their motorcycles into Japan. The country of perfection. They perfected their perfection for decades. Yet I see RE doing good here. Why?
There is a huge market for vintage in Japan. They love their rusty / vintage Harleys and British bikes - Triumph, BSA etc. I understand it. I'm the same. In all that super fancy, clean, modern, fast, super strong bike culture - how will you be different? You go the other route. You get a bike that has personality, story in them. Enfield has it. Plenty of it.
It's a romantic brand in my humble opinion. The bikes are not as strong as many others but offer fun. I wrote a thought in my ABOUT link. I wrote:
are GOOD AS ANY
BUT MORE FUN THAN MANY
The train ride there was already exciting, I was looking forward to this very much. To you it might be 'a store visit'. To me it's visiting what I know and love the most but in a different country. It's the 'same same but different' kind of thing :D
The store had every model released sofar. Except the Super Meteor, every other model was there for you to try: the Classic, Meteor, Hunter, Scram, Himalayan, INT(erceptor), Contintental GT.
You call the store with a planned visit and they'll be ready for you. You spend as much time as you wish, try them all if you wish. Bring a helmet and gloves and you go.
I met there two customers, they reserved times for test rides. From what I observed I think they were gone for like 10 min. Retrospectively I SOOOOO WISH I have done that... BIG mistake. Biiiig mistake not to take the opportunity to ride an Enfield in Tokyo. I wanted to take photos but - I did have a helmet, I just dind't want to carry it in the train :( Won't happen next time.
The store shows the soul of the brand good. Again - the bikes are the soul. But then all the accessories examples. The swag is there. From boots to helmets, gloves, shirts, the amazing T-shirts, luggage, accessories, the miniature model toys. It definitely shows to he new potential rider the scope of ... where they can put their money :)
One gentleman was there trying out the machines and I was told that he was very impressed. He came on his BMW. He was saying that with getting older, he kept thinking to switch or add something smaller to his riding. He was absolutely thrilled with the feel and sound of the engines. I saw him jumping from the Classic, to the Twins. I think he did ride the Hunter or the Meteor as well. But I think he 'got it'. Exactly the feel of a new rider who can appreciate what the machines offer. Total joy riders. With abundance of style.
i managed to put aside little bit ot time for hemingway and went to meet a very cool gentleman, biker to the bone, author of an upcoming book Discovering the Motorcycle, Armand Ensanian
(PLUS A SHORT INTERVIEW AT THE END)
thanks to my friend i got in contact with son of armand, who invited me to the meetup. they were shooting some more photos for his book. below is me and the author, armand ensanian. and we park anywhere, eat that no parking sign. and disregard my mad hair, focus on his cool mustache :)