After a brief period off my trusty Kwak Z1000 a ride round the block left
me feeling that the motorcycle had become just a mode of transport, not what I wanted from a bike so the
decision was made. I’d seen a Royal Enfield Clubman at the previous Bike show in 2011 and knew that’d be my
next bike, kind of a “soft” way into classic motorcycling.
My order was placed with Steve Smith at Midlands Royal Enfield in Wem near
Shrewsbury and waiting time would be approx 8 weeks. It turned out to be more like 11 but the wait was
worth it. I rapidly started to put on the “run in” mileage so I could use the bike as my runaround at the
Manx Grand Prix where I’d be racing at the end of August. First shake down service and I decided to ride
the bike over to Wem, a round trip of nearly 200 miles but through the Snowdonia mountains along the A5. A
short stop at Llangollen for coffee and for the second time the bike caused interest and blokes stopping to
chat. “Good restoration!” seemed a common remark and surprise when they saw the reg. and the ’12 plate. On
returning home it was apparent the bike needed some modification to suit my size as I could hardly move
after 4 hours of riding! No time though, off to The Island!
The Manx, for those who don’t know, is an amateur version of
the TT and includes classic racing. Loads of classic bike fans travel over to watch and wander round the
Paddock looking at exotic classic race machines. I had the Enfield outside my pit tent together with my
pit-crew Martins’ Neracar. It certainly generated lots of conversation and, surprisingly next to such a
rare bike, the Enfield drew a lot of comment. Later that week we took a trip out to Castletown to the VMCC
run out. Parked with dozens of old, fantastic classic and vintage bikes the trusty new Enfield soon had a
crowd around it! A lap of the TT Mountain Course on the bike, albeit on open roads, was a real nostalgia
trip and I managed a fairly traffic free run.
Steve (Smith) may have a copy of the video on his PC if you fancy a look and are in Wem.
You can see the video now by clicking the link below, or at the top of this article, as it is
now on YouTube!!
Back to the Mainland and I started looking to move the footpegs backwards
to make the bike suit my physique. To the rescue came Hitchcocks at Solihul. They do a kit with everything
needed. They told me it should fit but had never tried it on a Clubman. It would at least require an
exhaust modification. It arrived and, yes, the exhaust does need slight modification but it went straight
on. A quick ride out confirmed almost perfect (for me anyway) riding position. Next came a phone call to
Richard at Maxton Engineering. They are suspension specialists and I have their kit on both my modern race
bikes. They supplied direct replacement rear twin shocks, 10mm longer to raise rear ride height. What a
difference, suspension that worked properly! Now, though, it showed the failings of the front end. That was
removed and again sent to Maxton to see if anything could be done. After much scratching of heads and
looking at fork internals we settled on just putting lighter oil in the forks. Back on the bike and a test
ride over roads I know quite well. I deliberately ran over mid corner bumps to test the set up. Wow! No
more trying to tie itself in knots. Handling transformed and the bike still looks pretty much
Now the snow is here and all I can do is wait for some good weather to
take the Enfield out for a proper run, probably up to Betws one Sunday. Wherever I take it though, three
things are for certain, I’ll be riding a bike for bike ridings sake, it’ll draw attention everywhere and
I’ll have a grin the size of Cheshire!