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Gunning forward

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Goa is a place that seems to be wrapped in a sort of time warp, relatively untouched by the frenetic pace seen in other parts of India. It’s a perfect setting then, for riding a motorcycle that seems to have emerged direct from the 1950s — seemingly untouched by five decades of evolution. I am at the 2009 edition of the Rider Mania, in Goa — it’s a celebration of all things Enfield, plus I got the opportunity to swing my legs over the new Classic 500.

Royal Enfield takes pride in the fact that they make their motorcycles the old-fashioned way, and that ethos runs deep with the new Classic (sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it?) but there’s a twist here. Unlike any other period motorcycle, this one can be ridden without a care in the world.

Although styled like a period motorcycle, there is no doubt that the Classic 500 is a modern machine. Fuel injection has given the unit-constructed 500cc motor a sharp thrust forward whenever the throttle is wrung open and this Bullet moves like no other. After having ridden Bullets all my life, I can say this with certainty — this Enfield goes like the blazes.

What keeps you in control around the corners is the stickier rubber. Now downsized to 18-inchers, the tyres give the Classic great cornering ability and braking is now no longer the on-and-off kind. Even under hard braking, the tendency of the bike to lock up and lose the rear end has decreased substantially.

Bullets have long been the steeds of choice for people out to see the country, and even the world, from the saddle of a motorcycle. As I see it, the Classic takes this attribute of the Enfield a notch higher. Capable of holding higher cruising speeds for longer durations of time, the Classic is just the machine to conquer everything, from the frigid mountains of Ladakh to the balmy coasts of the south. A comfortable and upright riding posture does wonders to keep the soreness at bay, and although everything about the trip is in the ride itself, getting to your destination will be a less painful event.

With charming classic styling like the flattened tool boxes and deeply valenced mudguards cocooning a pair of chromed spoked wheels, all deeply infused with modern-day technology and reliability, the Classic is the perfect blend of both worlds — just the machine to sport that old leather bomber jacket, sturdy boots and a top-notch full-face helmet. It’s time you get off that couch and go wherever the road takes you, at a pace where everything that goes by isn’t a blur. Go on then, ride with a retro-cool motorcycle beneath you and a deep thump for company.