Why Indian Army Love Royal Enfield Bullet: From Battlefield Hero to Made-in-India Icon

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By DT News Desk

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Royal Enfield Bullet, known for their iconic thump, have a rich history that intertwines with the Indian Army’s need for robust and reliable motorcycles. This narrative traces the origin of Royal Enfield Bullets, their entry into India, and how Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision ensured they were not just imported but ‘made in India.’

Why Indian Army Love Royal Enfield Bullet
Why Indian Army Love Royal Enfield Bullet

The Flying Flea and Post-War Popularity:

Post-World War II, Royal Enfield gained popularity for its ‘Flying Flea,’ a 125cc, 2-stroke engine bike supplied to the British Army. The unique ability to be dropped by parachute made it indispensable for paratroopers. In India, Madras Motors imported Royal Enfield bikes, laying the groundwork for their future in the country.

The Indian Army’s Need for Reliable Motorcycles:

In 1952, the Indian Army placed an order for 500 350cc Bullets, seeking reliability for patrolling the newly-created Indian borders. The imported Triumphs and BSAs faced mechanical issues and were not cost-effective. The Indian government, under Nehru, envisioned ‘Made in India’ motorcycles to boost local industrialization.

Formation of Enfield India Ltd:

To meet the government’s requirement, Enfield India Ltd emerged as a 51:49 joint venture in 1955, favoring Madras Motors. The collaboration with T.T. Krishnamachari, the commerce minister, played a crucial role. The manufacturing plant in North Madras started production in 1956, marking the beginning of the ‘Made in India’ Royal Enfield Bullets.

Flourishing in a Protected Market:

Despite a modest start, Enfield India flourished in the pre-liberalization era with limited competition. The rhythmic thump of the 350cc Bullet became synonymous with Indian roads. The company’s growth was steered by KRS’s sons, S. Sankaran and S. Viswanathan, who managed Enfield India while S.R. Subramanian oversaw Madras Motors.

Indian Army’s Enduring Partnership:

The Indian Army’s choice of Royal Enfield Bullets was strategic. Known for their ruggedness, durability, and adaptability to diverse terrains, these motorcycles became an integral part of military operations. The association between the Indian Army and Royal Enfield has endured for over seven decades, fostering strength, valour, and undeterred showmanship.

Evolution of the Tornadoes and World Records:

The collaboration deepened with the formation of Tornadoes, the Indian armed forces’ motorcycle display and stunt team. Starting in 1967 with their first stunt on a Royal Enfield motorcycle, Tornadoes have set over 32 world records. The recent unveiling of the ‘Tornadoes Wall’ in Bengaluru commemorates their achievements, emphasizing the brand’s commitment to the armed forces.

Tribute and Solidarity:

In 1997, nearly 60 motorists scaled the world’s highest ridable pass, Khardung La, marking a breakthrough in adventure rides undertaken by the Indian Army. Recently, Royal Enfield paid tribute to the armed forces by unveiling the ‘Tornadoes Wall’ in Bengaluru, accompanied by the launch of a coffee table book and exclusive motorcycle gear, symbolizing the relentless valour, courage, and power of the armed forces.

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The Strategic Choice: Royal Enfield Bullet in the Service of the Indian Army

The utilization of Bullet motorcycles, particularly the Royal Enfield Bullet, by the Indian Army is rooted in a strategic decision driven by their exceptional attributes. Renowned for their ruggedness, durability, and adaptability to diverse terrains, these motorcycles have earned their place as a preferred choice for the military. With a rich history of deployment in the Indian armed forces, their familiarity and reliability make them indispensable for a range of military operations, including challenging patrolling and reconnaissance missions.

  1. Ruggedness and Durability:

    • Bullet motorcycles are esteemed for their robust design, ensuring resilience in harsh and challenging conditions.
    • The durability of Royal Enfield Bullets allows them to withstand the rigors of military use, offering a dependable asset for the Indian Army.
  2. Performance in Diverse Terrains:

    • The versatility of Bullet bikes is a key factor in their selection, as they exhibit exceptional performance across varied landscapes.
    • Their ability to navigate diverse terrains makes them well-suited for the dynamic operational requirements of the military.
  3. Long-standing Military History:

    • Royal Enfield Bullets have a substantial history of service within the Indian armed forces, establishing a proven track record in military operations.
    • The longstanding association with these motorcycles attests to their reliability and effectiveness in meeting the specific needs of the military.
  4. Familiarity and Reliability:

    • The Indian Army’s continued use of Bullet motorcycles is influenced by the familiarity soldiers have with these bikes, contributing to ease of operation.
    • The consistent reliability of Royal Enfield Bullets further cements their position as a trusted and popular choice among military personnel.
  5. Versatile Military Applications:

    • Beyond conventional transport, Bullet bikes are deployed for a range of military applications, including patrolling and reconnaissance.
    • Their adaptability in challenging environments enhances the effectiveness of military operations in varied scenarios.

The journey of Royal Enfield Bullets from warfronts to being ‘Made in India’ is a testament to their enduring legacy. With a strong foothold in military operations and a commitment to honoring the armed forces, Royal Enfield continues to be an iconic symbol of strength and power on Indian roads. The decision of the Indian Army to employ Bullet motorcycles, specifically the Royal Enfield Bullet, is driven by a strategic consideration of their unparalleled ruggedness, durability, and adaptability. With a rich history of service and a proven ability to meet the demanding requirements of military operations, these motorcycles stand as a reliable and familiar companion in the challenging landscapes where the Indian armed forces operate.

FAQ – Indian Army’s Use of Royal Enfield Bullet Motorcycles

The Indian Army prefers Bullet motorcycles, particularly the Royal Enfield Bullet, due to their ruggedness, durability, and excellent performance in diverse terrains. These qualities make them well-suited for military use.
The Royal Enfield Bullet, specifically the Bullet 350, has been a favorite of the Indian Army since 1949. The military values the Bullet for its reliability and performance, making it the preferred choice for various applications.
The Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is the motorcycle that the Indian Army has been using for an extended period. Customized by Eimor Customs, these bikes meet the specific requirements of the military.
The Bullet 350 is known for providing a comfortable and enjoyable riding experience. It offers better mileage, low maintenance, and is particularly comfortable for long-distance driving.
Bullet 350 EFI: ₹1,71,876 Bullet X 350 ES EFI: ₹1,77,250 Classic 350 (S) EFI: ₹1,78,111 Classic 350 EFI: ₹1,61,731 Classic 350 EFI, Double Disc ABS: ₹1,53,778 Classic 350 EFI with Alloy: ₹2,65,187 Classic 350 EFI with Spokes: ₹2,77,215 Classic 350 EFI Single Disc ABS: ₹2,57,967 Continental GT 650: ₹1,80,785 Himalayan EFI: ₹2,50,759 Interceptor 650 T: ₹1,64,427 Meteor 350 Fireball: ₹1,70,421. These prices are as per Canteen Stores Department (CSD) rates.
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