Pounding down the A41 through Hertfordshire one icy cold December afternoon, however, time was not the only thing freezing for me. The temperature was 2°C, and with 100 kph worth of windchill to boot, my gloved hands were being buffeted by a subzero blast as they held on to the wide bars of a gleaming black 2011-model Bullet Electra 500. Various layers of winter kit notwithstanding, frigid air chilled me like a sausage in a cold-store. It was painful going, and I fervently wished BSM’s anniversary was in July.
But, keeping sedately to the left as cars flew past me in their warm smugness, I had time to reflect on my journey. Here I was, northbound towards Redditch – the industrial West Midlands town that was home to Royal Enfield for some 60 years, until the factory ceased production in 1967, as the entire British motorcycle manufacturing industry went into terminal decline and eventually imploded.
I was taking the scenic route up from London, avoiding the fast but boring six-lane motorways and sticking to the smaller, 60-to-100 kph A- and B-roads. Once the vast urban sprawl of Greater London (and its speed cameras) was behind me, I could open up the Electra. Each relieved surge crescendoed into a thunderous din that filled my helmet, along with a good dose of hand-numbing vibration, until I changed gear. It was like firing a hefty machine gun – dadadadada-chnk!-dadadadada-chnk! – until, in top gear at the 80-90 kph sweet spot, it mellowed into a gorgeous, smooth rumble that could no doubt go on for days on end.
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