In an effort to survive and thrive for 120 years, such as motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield has, companies need to always be upping their game and periodically reinvent themselves. As the oldest motorcycle company in continuous production in the world, Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901. At the 2021 EICMA show in Milan, Italy, it unveiled a concept motorcycle called the SG650 — a motorcycle that marks the beginning of a new chapter.
A division of Eicher Motors Limited, Royal Enfield manufactures its midsize motorcycles (250cc – 750cc) in Chennai, India. Royal Enfield North America (RENA) is headquartered in Milwaukee, and is developing a growing network of more than 140 dealers here in the States, as well as in Canada and Puerto Rico.
The SG650 Concept is the result of a challenge set to Royal Enfield’s Industrial Design Team by Mark Wells, chief of design. At its core, the message underpinning the concept build was about celebrating transition. The aim, through this challenge, was for the Royal Enfield team to embark on a new creative journey with the SG650 Concept, starting from within Royal Enfield’s classic design sensibilities and pushing into a whole new era of what Royal Enfield motorcycles of the future could look like.
“We are a company in transition,” Mark Wells says. “To celebrate this, we wanted to develop a project that really gave our design team an opportunity to stretch themselves creatively. The goal – to build a unique concept motorcycle that pays homage to Royal Enfield’s rich history of custom motorcycles, but one that wasn’t encumbered by the past. A neo-retro interpretation that pushes the boundaries of what a Royal Enfield motorcycle could look like, but at its core still celebrates that iconic Royal Enfield DNA.”
Advancements today are often inspired by the imaginations of the past, and that desire to look forward with optimism and imagine the possibilities is fundamental to the progression of our culture, including motorcycle culture.
“We started this concept with a context rather than a question – imagining a world in the not-so-distant future and our brand’s place in it,” Wells says.
Royal Enfield imagined a world where a cyber, neon-saturated, urban jungle took shape. Old met new in a tangle of concrete, metal, bright lights and shadowy streets. The analog and the digital intertwine and blend, which Wells says was both familiar and alien to Royal Enfield.
“In doing this, we fostered an environment that would force us to think differently about how we approached the aesthetics of a Royal Enfield motorcycle,” he says. “We believe the resultant concept motorcycle, unveiled for the first time at EICMA 2021, inhabits this world fantastically well and offers up something very new, very original and entirely unique to fans of the brand and motorcycle enthusiasts in general.”
Royal Enfield’s design team retained the brand’s analog soul – those classic Royal Enfield lines and design nuances, which are subtle nods to the past – while creatively pushing the boundary of what Royal Enfields of tomorrow could conceptually represent. The SG650 Concept is both recognizably Royal Enfield, but at the same time, pushes the envelope of what a Royal Enfield could be.
The build utilized the company’s teams in industrial design, color trim and graphics and CGI, which each contributed a piece to the concept puzzle. That key concept of transition is conveyed throughout the motorcycle – from the choice of aesthetic finishes to the materials Royal Enfield used. From the heritage-inspired polished aluminum front end, flowing into the futuristic, digital graphic on the tank, this was about bringing the old and the new together and resulting in something timeless.
There are some special elements to this motorcycle that are a first for a Royal Enfield concept – many of the component parts have been individually, one-off fabricated or designed exclusively for this motorcycle. The tank has been CNC billet machined from a solid block of aluminum, as have the wheel rims with integrated ABS, custom designed brake calipers and dual front brake discs. The upside-down forks, integrated aluminum top yoke / nacelle unit and low rise extra-wide bars with all aluminum switch cubes all add elements of originality and design progression to the concept, while the twin rear shocks, mounted to the classic chassis loop, hand-stitched black leather floating solo seat are a clear nod to the past.
Graphically, the blacked-out 650 Twin engine and exhaust system complement the bike’s “near-future” design. The polished aluminum provides a ‘digital transformation’ graphic across the motorcycle to speak to the progression of the brand.
“We’re delighted with the end result and truly believe this brings something completely new in our 120th anniversary year to the ever-developing story of Royal Enfield,” Wells says.
We certainly can’t argue with that, and can’t wait to see this concept motorcycle become a reality soon.
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